“A permanently manned base on the Moon, memory implants in the brain, the rise of a Chinese scientific superpower and unlimited, pollution-free energy.” These are all predictions for the future from a group of 50 eminent British scientists. Meanwhile, back here in the US, a political science professor at the University of Alabama has asked his colleagues to help him compile his own annual list of predictions.

Two of the best known presidential hopefuls will drop out of the race in 2007, sales of hybrid and diesel fueled cars will increase as American car manufacturers make a dramatic comeback, and senior citizens will join the IM generation, according to the 26th edition of “Educated Guesses,” a series of annual predictions offered by University of Alabama faculty.

“By the end of 2007, two of the current ‘frontrunners’ for president?Clinton, Obama, Giuliani and McCain?will have dropped out of the race or decided against entering,” predicts political science professor David Lanoue.

“Sales of hybrids will continue to increase in 2007, even though diesel engines are the most fuel efficient on the open road,” predicts engineer Clark Midkiff.

Technology expert Dr. Barrie Jo Price says the use of instant messaging will “go gray” in 2007. He says, “The immediacy of communications like cell phones and IM will move into the ‘senior’ generation as more older Americans use communication devices that allow more mobile, immediate communications.” This means you can get your dad a BlackBerry NEXT Christmas!

Doug Gibler, another political scientist, thinks that the United States will reduce the number of troops in Iraq, in part with the “help” of Iran. He says, “Iran will play a major role in the draw down of US troops in Iraq. Much of the insurgency seems to be driven by Iranian support, and it seems likely that the United States will have to reach some sort of power-sharing arrangement with Iran in order to remove troops from the region.” He also thinks that a regime change in North Korea is much more likely in 2007, and says, “While regime changes are incredibly difficult to predict, the recent testing of a nuclear device may be an indication of the relative weakness of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il. The pursuit of nuclear weapons may be a maneuver to reinforce the legitimacy of the Kim Jong-il regime internally.”

Chemical engineer Peter Clark thinks that the price of oil will stay around $60 dollars a barrel, if there are no major upsets in the world. He says, “Without major investments in offshore drilling and liquefied natural gas terminals, the long-term outlook for natural gas supplies is not good. This will be reflected in a steady increase in the price of natural gas over the next few years.”

Mathematician Michael Hardin predicts that business and government will collect more personal data in 2007, and people will continue to worry about their privacy as a result. He says, “As computer storage capacity and speed continually increases, even more data will be collected and there will be even greater demands to effectively utilize these investments.”

Law professor Bryan Fair doesn’t think that the US Supreme Court’s first full term with Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito on board will result in any blockbuster decisions. He says that, despite the presence of the two new Bush appointees, the Supreme Court will “seek to avoid sweeping constitutional change.”

Making travel plans for 2007? Hotel management expert Kim Boyle predicts that hotel occupancy will increase as more baby boomers retire, and offers of plush bedding will increase. However, she says, “Guests won’t be able to distinguish between one property’s plush bedding and another’s, so it will lose its effectiveness in drawing business,” so they’ll soon have to move on to other perks?if there are any empty rooms available.

Education expert Stephen Katsinas predicts that congressional hearings and the subsequent reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act will produce major changes in the act in 2007, but since these cost money, they may not all be GOOD changes.

Unknowncountry.com is a pioneer in web site news, but there will be even more of us here in the upcoming year. Journalism professor Bill Keller predicts that more of us will read our morning newspaper on a web site BEFORE we read it on the printed page. He says, “Publishers and editors know that they must find ways to continue to reach readers of the printed page as well as to attract readers who may read news only on the internet.” Will we take our laptop to the breakfast table with us?

When it comes to reliable edge news on the internet, we were not only here first, we’re the ones who do the BEST job. We take everything we hear seriously, but we also investigate it thoroughly?and if we goof, we admit it (although we DO have a lot of fun on April 1st!) We also believe that sometimes fiction can tell you as much as nonfiction?if you know how to read it.

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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