Alpha Centauri pp 167-267 | Cite as

What the Future Holds

  • Martin Beech
Part of the Astronomers' Universe book series (ASTRONOM)


The German physicist and pioneer of quantum mechanics Neils Bohr was once heard to remark that, “Prediction is difficult; especially if it is about the future.” Indeed, the future is very difficult to pin down, and invariably the majority of futurists get it wrong. But, for all of its mercurial character, predicting the future is a little like looking out upon a fog-enshrouded landscape. Some features in the foreground and middle distance can be clearly seen. Even a far off mountain might just be visible, but much is obscured and no clear path to the emergent peaks can be discerned. All that is known for certain is that there is a road immediately before us, but how it branches and divides, and how it might weave and bend over in the long-run are completely unknown. We take a step, and then another and eventually arrive somewhere, but there is no guarantee that the arrival point is anywhere near where we were initially heading for. The path for each step ahead may have been fully illuminated and clear, but the end of the journey is not visible or even predictable from the starting position. We are in the realm of the ultimate butterfly effect, where even the smallest, most minute of changes in cadence and/or direction will have dramatic and initially unknowable consequences.


Solar System White Dwarf Cometary Nucleus Asymptotic Giant Branch Habitability Zone 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Beech
    • 1
  1. 1.Campion CollegeThe University of ReginaReginaCanada

Personalised recommendations