One Million Minutes of Archive Footage Reveals Scientists Ahead of Their Times

Associated Press and British Movietone put one million minutes of history on YouTube, including plenty of science moments.

|
Jul 23 2015, 4:20pm

Image: British Movietone/YouTube

In the most epic upload moment on YouTube to date, news agency Associated Press and newsreel archive British Movietone have made one million minutes of historic footage available to the masses.

Sifting through the whole "view-on-demand visual encyclopedia" of videos from 1895 to the present day might take a couple of years, so here are some cool and quirky science and tech moments specially selected from the archive:

Early Driverless Car in 1971

Long before driverless cars became an official thing in 2014, scientists were already prototyping their initial designs. Back then, researchers at the Road Research Laboratory in the UK predicted that autonomous vehicles would be hitting our roads by 2000.

Scientific Blow-up

In 1957-1958, scientists decided they'd detonate 25 tons of explosives on a lake bed in the French Alps. It may sound crazy, but it was actually a way to study the structure of the French Alps, and one of the Geophysical Year's experiments.

Chimp in Space

In 1961 an US astro chimp dubbed "Ham" made history. After months of training, where he was taught to feel comfortable in a space capsule and to operate a series of buttons to relay info back to base, Ham was launched into space in a rocket. Though the boosters carried the rocket further than intended (155 miles up), Ham parachuted down into the Atlantic, surviving with just a small bruise on his nose.

Eric the Robot

Forget the killer robots; back in 1928, robots obeyed human commands. In this video, a robot dubbed Eric, which looks like a forefather to American robotics company Boston Dynamics' Atlas robot, moves about just as it's instructed. Though there's no official explainer on how Eric moves, it looks just as smooth as Atlas.

Japan, Tokyo: Hi-Tech House Revealed

Smart, internet-of-things-connected (IoT) homes, where household appliances sync up, are becoming a reality now. But back in 1999, a bunch of researchers in Japan were prototyping the early designs, and expected "smart homes" to be a thing by 2003. Designed by Matsushita Electric Industrial Company (now known as Panasonic), this futuristic home allowed you to shop via a digital network, look through a computer screen to have health checks and attend lectures virtually.

Flying Saucer

This unidentified flying object was actually man-made in 1975. The UFO-lookalike Skyship No 1 was intended to be "a serious and practical attempt to solve the problem of fast but safe transport."

John West, who made the 30 foot prototype, hoped to build a helium-filled jumbo saucer with a 700-meter diameter, if he found funding.

These are just a few tasters of what the archive offers, but it's fasinating to see just how ahead of their times some scientists were.

Stories