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You Were Wrong: The Worst Scientific Predictions Ever Made

May 15,2015 by Edulab

You Were Wrong: The Worst Scientific Predictions Ever Made

We have all said dumb things at times, things that we have later regretted. A lot of us have also predicted something that we were certain would/wouldn’t happen, only to be embarrassed when proven wrong.

Now imagine being a well known and prominent figure in science and making a bold statement or prediction with enough conviction that everyone believes that you must be right – only to be proven completely wrong.

A whole host of historical figures have attempted to make scientific predictions in the past only to be proven wrong later on in history.

Here we have chosen just a selection of our favourite scientific predictions that didn’t quite happen as they predicted.  These people looked into the future – and got it well and truly wrong.

Albert Einstein and Nuclear Energy

Einstein is thought of as being one of the greatest and smartest scientists of all time. There are a number of reasons for why he is so famous, including his two theories of relativity and receiving The Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921.

However, his most well known accomplishment is thought to be a very simple mathematical equation: e=mc^2 – which showed that mass and energy could theoretically be transformed into one another. Despite this, he argued for years that the process could never be controlled.

He was famously quoted as saying “There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. That would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will.”

12% of the world’s electricity is now provided by nuclear power!

See – even geniuses can be wrong!


New York Times and The Rocket Prediction

The New York Times posted in 1936 that they believed that a rocket would never “be able to leave the Earth’s atmosphere.”

It was only 10 years later that the New York Times were left feeling red faced. On October 24th 1946, one of Germany’s captured V2 missile rockets was launched by the US from New Mexico.

The missile was equipped with a 35 millimetre motion film picture camera – reaching the height of 65 miles in just three minutes. It was this camera that recorded the first views of the Earth ever seen from Space.

We’re not sure how New York Times got this one wrong – surely papers are known for always reporting facts!

Lord Kelvin and The X-Ray Hoax

Lord Kelvin, who was the president of The Royal Society, announced in 1883 that he believed that “X-rays will prove to be a hoax.”

Three years later when Kelvin was shown evidence that X-rays actually did work – he graciously accepted that his prediction was wrong and he apologised! And we all know important X-rays are in today’s medical world.

He might of been painfully wrong, but at least he admitted his mistake!


We hope that you’ve enjoyed reading about these failed scientific predictions just as much as we enjoyed writing them!

Here at Edulab, we’re fascinated with all things science. We specialise in providing an amazing selection of scientific laboratory supplies to meet all your science needs. From laboratory glassware to laboratory plasticware, we have a brilliant range of products.

If you would like any further information on any of our products and services, then please do not hesitate to contact us. You can call us on 01366 385777 and a member of our friendly staff will be happy to help you out.