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Timeline»21st century»2040-2049»





The majority of primate species are disappearing from the wild

During this time, most of the world's primate species are finally going extinct in the wild, despite many decades of conservation efforts. This includes the majority of prosimians, monkeys, lesser apes (i.e. gibbons) and great apes such as gorillas. More than 300 of the 504 known species are lost by the end of this period,* surviving only in zoos or private collections.

The relentless expansion of the global economy and the pressures to achieve ever more "growth" resulted in severe depletion of primates' habitat. Demand for palm oil, rubber and other commodities – along with a general increase in urban sprawl, road building, mining and other activities – led to millions of square kilometres of forest being cleared. In addition, climate change rendered vast areas more vulnerable to drought, fire and other damage. Poaching and the trade in body parts were yet more factors.

With a population now exceeding 9 billion, humanity's ecological footprint was growing so large and so rapidly that it was impossible to preserve these fragile environments on the timescales required. Although some conservation successes are achieved, they are few and far between; the overall outlook for primates remains poor. Preservation of DNA material is now being prioritised in the hope of resurrecting these species at some future date.


primates extinction timeline future




Tanzanite reserves are depleted

During the mid-Ediacaran – the geologic period immediately preceding the Cambrian – massive plate tectonic activity occurred in the area that would later become Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain on the continent of Africa. Occurring about 585 million BC, this process created intense heat and pressures, resulting in sedimentary strata being compressed and shaped into extremely tight, isoclinal folds. Within the "hinges" of these folds, small amounts of vanadium produced a blue and violet variety of the mineral zoisite.

In the late 20th century, humans discovered this mineral – which they named tanzanite – in a very small area just 7 km (4.3 mi) long and 2 km (1.2 mi) wide near the Mererani Hills in Tanzania, East Africa. The deposits appeared to be unique, located nowhere else on Earth, and found exclusively within this geologically complex part of Tanzania.

Following its discovery in 1967, two million carats (400 kg) were extracted over a four-year period before nationalisation of the mines. Production then declined with most work done by small-scale, artisanal miners. In 1990, the government split the mines into four sections: Blocks A, B, C and D. Large operators were awarded Blocks A and C, with Blocks B and D reserved for the local miners.

With Tanzania shifting away from socialism and into a market economy, investment grew rapidly. Between 1995 and 2000, the production of tanzanite increased more than ten-fold, with a resulting drop in prices.


tanzanite future value 2040s timeline


In 2001, rumours emerged of Al Qaeda using the gemstone to raise funds for terrorist activities. Some retailers announced they would no longer sell it, and this led to a further decline in prices. However, a CIA report in 2002 cleared the industry of any links to Al Qaeda, and sales growth returned.

For the next several years, prices surged – reaching as high as $600+ per carat for the highest grades. While the Great Recession affected the gemstone at medium and lower grades, it remained in high demand at the finest grades. Prices began returning to pre-recession levels in the early 2010s.

Tanzanite had become highly popular in jewellery items. Its rarity and beauty made it the fifth leading gemstone in worldwide sales value – behind only diamond, emerald, ruby, and sapphire. However, Tanzania's new and incoming President, John Magufuli, identified serious problems in the region and took a hardline approach to the industry.

Rampant smuggling, tax evasion, and other illegal activity had plagued the mining operations for some time. Amid a decline in production, Magufuli ordered the military to build a 24 km perimeter wall, checkpoints, and CCTV cameras, to improve security and surveillance. His actions led to a drastic decline in smuggling and a major boost in tax revenue.

In June 2020, a new record for the world's largest rough tanzanite was set, after a small-scale miner found stones of 9.7 kg (21.3 lbs) and 5.1 kg (11.2 lbs) and sold them to the government for 7.74 bn Tanzanian Shillings (US$3.35 million),* shattering a previous record set in 2005.

Tanzanite continued to grow in popularity, fuelled by demand from China, India, and other emerging markets. An additional, longer-term factor now began to influence the price trend: scarcity, particularly of the finest grades. In 2018, Tanzania's National Bureau of Statistics estimated the total reserves of tanzanite at 109 million carats (21,800 kg).* Block C, by far the largest of the mining sites, had an estimated 87.1 million carats (17,420 kg) according to a separate report published in the same year.

While some flexibility remained in terms of further prospecting, the overall situation now appeared obvious – at projected extraction rates, tanzanite production would be nearing its end soon. Block C had been given a Life of Mine (LOM) until 2042,* while Blocks A, B and D had a similar outlook.*




White people are a minority in the USA

America is a country founded on immigration.* Today, its population is more diverse and multicultural than ever. Following the 1965 immigration reform (which grew from the civil rights movement), the number of non-white people increased dramatically. This was particularly true of Latinos, who went from 6.3m in 1960* to over 50m by 2010.*

By the early 2010s, non-whites had already begun to outnumber whites in California, Hawaii, New Mexico, Texas and Washington DC, while nearly half of all children in the nation were non-white.* This trend continued over subsequent decades. By 2042, white people themselves are a minority.**

This rapid change in the demographic makeup has significantly altered the political disposition of the country. Latinos,* blacks* and other minorities tend to be left-leaning.* Other factors have influenced voters' preferences – such as the growing urbanisation of the country, with cities tending to favour more liberal and progressive policies than smaller, traditional rural communities. Generation X and Generation Y (the latter now entering their middle age) have also reshaped the political stage, most of them favouring the Democrats.*

This and other factors have converged to make the old-style Republican Party unelectable. By now, the GOP has been forced to drastically moderate its policies and rhetoric compared to earlier decades.*




16K virtual reality is mainstream

By the early 2040s, the audio-visual aspects of virtual reality (VR) have been largely perfected for mainstream users. Gaming and other applications now provide near-fully immersive experiences of both real world and imaginary places.

Most headsets now come with 16K as standard, which is quadruple the quality of 8K displays from 2030 and more than 16 times the pixel count of 4K devices from 2020.* The 16K format offers a photorealism that is practically impossible for the human eye to distinguish from the real world.**

Meanwhile, a mid-range graphics processing unit (GPU) of 2042 has more than 10 petaFLOPS of processing power, or about 1,000 times the equivalent product of 20 years earlier.*

Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) have similarly improved by orders of magnitude. The somewhat niche and experimental BCIs of the 2020s and 2030s are being replaced by much more sophisticated versions, making brain signal data less noisy, aided by intelligent algorithms and improved sensor and wireless technology. This includes bidirectional read/write links to manipulate a user's peripheral vision* and expand their field of view, so the feeling of wearing a headset disappears and they are placed entirely "inside" the game. A player can move a character's limbs by merely thinking about them, while performing actions that are far more complex than with BCIs of previous decades.

This sense of immersion is enhanced in other ways – such as improved noise-cancelling techniques in the latest earphones, to block external sounds and further isolate a user from the real world. Audio in general is richer, more atmospheric, more varied and realistic, with sound waves manipulated in exquisite detail as they bounce around virtual environments and are influenced by different objects, surface textures and weather conditions. In addition, gone are the days of repetitive dialogue by non-player characters (NPCs), which can now generate and sustain natural conversations of indefinite length.

This variety and realism is apparent in character models too, which can use generative adversarial networks (GANs) to improve faces, expressions, clothing and fluidity of movements. While a certain 'uncanny valley' remains, the overall quality of graphics has now reached a breathtaking level, especially when experienced in 16K virtual reality.

The processing power of the latest CPUs and GPUs is allowing these NPCs to be placed in extremely complex and lifelike worlds. This is beautifully showcased in development platforms such as Unreal Engine 8.0, three generations more advanced than version 5.0 in 2020. For instance, an entire forest can now be rendered with sub-millimetre precision, showing unique and random features such as individual leaf marks or insect bites. Large cities are fully explorable in terms of shops, bars and other interiors, allowing a player to enter and meet with AI that responds in nuanced ways – as opposed to the limited number of venues and interactions in games of earlier decades.

This combination of 16K resolution, petaFLOPS of processing power, human-like AI, more advanced BCIs and audio techniques has allowed virtual reality to reach a whole new plateau of sophistication and capabilities. New form factors have emerged too, such as contact lenses with embedded displays.*

With graphical and audio effects in VR being essentially perfected, attention is now turning to the other senses (tactile, olfactory and taste), which have yet to achieve this level of immersion. Although some exciting developments have occurred in haptic feedback, such as new gloves and suits, a lot more research is needed on this technology. The olfactory and taste senses, meanwhile, remain at an even earlier stage, with only a few novelty consumer devices of poor quality and limited appeal. However, technology is becoming ever more compact and miniaturised, offering new possibilities for the decades ahead. Computer chips will soon reach the size of individual blood cells,* for example, enabling the first laboratory experiments of so-called "full-immersion virtual reality" in animal models.


16k virtual reality 2040 2042 2040s



NASA Uranus mission

Although visible to the naked eye, Uranus was never acknowledged as a planet by ancient observers, because of its dimness and slow orbit. With the advent of larger telescopes and new observational techniques, it was finally recognised by William Herschel in 1781. Initially believing he had found a comet or stellar disk, his later studies revealed its true nature and location as a world of our Solar System beyond Saturn.

Named after the Greek god of the sky, Uranus was calculated to orbit the Sun once every 84 years (compared with 11.9 for Jupiter and 29.5 for Saturn), at an average distance of 20 AU (3 billion km; 2 billion mi). This made it considerably more remote than its larger siblings, with a much lower temperature and greater concentration of "icy" volatiles such as water, ammonia, and methane. In fact, the lower atmosphere of Uranus was later determined as being one of the coldest places in the Solar System, at 49 K (−224 °C; −372 °F). Another notable feature was its axis of rotation being tilted sideways, placing the equator where most other planets would have their north and south poles.

Herschel discovered the first two moons – Titania and Oberon – in 1787. More were identified in 1851 by William Lassell (Ariel and Umbriel), and in 1948 by Gerard Kuiper (Miranda). These five had planetary mass, meaning they could be considered (dwarf) planets if they were in direct orbit about the Sun. The other remaining moons were discovered after 1985. All of these satellites were named after characters from the works of William Shakespeare and Alexander Pope. Rings around the planet were discovered in 1977; intermediate in complexity between the more extensive set around Saturn and the simpler systems around Jupiter and Neptune.


nasa uranus mission


Until the late 20th century, the exploration of Uranus was solely through telescopes. This changed in 1986, when NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft made its closest approach and passed within 81,500 km (50,600 mi) of the cloud tops. As it sped by, it studied the cold atmosphere, discovered 10 moons and examined Uranus' ring system, discovering two new rings. It also imaged the five largest moons, revealing that their surfaces were covered with impact craters and canyons. Voyager 2 was only a flyby, however, as opposed to an orbiter, so its time at Uranus was relatively brief.

Decades passed without further exploration of the ice giant – with attention instead shifting to Jupiter (Galileo and Juno), Saturn (Cassini–Huygens) and Pluto (New Horizons). Ongoing telescopic studies revealed various new moons, bringing the total number to 27. Several mission concepts for Uranus were discussed by NASA and ESA in the late 2000s and early 2010s, including a joint collaboration between the two agencies. However, these were considered to be of lower priority than Mars and Jupiter.

By the late 2010s, following the success of these various other missions around the Solar System, new exploration targets were needed and Uranus was now seen as a more promising candidate. Astronomers had recently discovered that exoplanets weighing about the same as Uranus and Neptune were more common than gas giants like Jupiter and Saturn. Determining the basic composition and interior structures of these ice giants would fill an important gap in the knowledge of how other star systems formed. A close-range study would also reveal more clues about the surprisingly dynamic icy moons, rings and bizarre magnetic fields; as well as potentially finding new satellites. Furthermore, in the decades following Voyager 2's visit, the orbit of Uranus had changed enough to illuminate more of its equator. This was making its atmosphere less bland and featureless than before, with a number of dramatic storms and swirls becoming visible.*

In its decadal survey for 2013-2022, NASA had included a return to Uranus or Neptune as one of its longer term objectives, with Uranus being favoured due to more convenient planetary alignments. In June 2017, NASA released a follow-up analysis – Ice Giants: Pre-Decadal Survey Mission Study Report* – as a precursor to the next decadal survey (2023-2032). This comprehensive, 529-page report outlined in more detail the options available for a return to both Uranus and Neptune; most of the concepts proposed detachable probes to be dropped into the ice giants' atmospheres, with the main spacecraft remaining in orbit for two to three years. Because of reduced sunlight in the outer Solar System, it was advised that a nuclear power source be used instead of solar. The science payloads of up to 150 kg included cameras (with spatial resolution of less than 100 metres), magnetometers, spectrometers and doppler imaging for the detection of "seismic waves" around the rocky core and icy mantle layers.

For Uranus, the optimal launch window was between 2030 and 2034, with a journey time of around 12 years. However, the development of new and more powerful rockets, such as NASA's heavy lift Space Launch System (SLS), provided the option to cut four years off the transit time. Thus, a mission timeframe of between 2038 and 2046 appeared most likely.* Using the SLS would require aerocapture techniques upon arrival – skimming the planet's outer atmosphere as a "braking manoeuvre" to avoid overshooting the target.

Despite aiming for a 2030 launch date, NASA experienced the usual delays and budget setbacks that had befallen so many of its earlier missions. Consequently, the Uranus mission was pushed closer to the end of its launch window. However, the SLS had been demonstrated for deep space travel and was now utilised for more rapid transit across the Solar System, offsetting the aforementioned delays.

By 2042, the Uranus mission is well underway, revealing a wealth of new scientific data about its atmosphere, interior, rings and satellites. The planet is globally surveyed with unprecedented detail; its dozens of moons are imaged in stunning resolution, while new moons are discovered too.


uranus future missions 2030s 2040s timeline



The Diary of Anne Frank enters the U.S. public domain

The Diary of Anne Frank was a book of the writings by the German-born diarist, Anne Frank, who documented her life in hiding between 1942 and 1944 during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in World War II. She and her family were apprehended in 1944, with Anne herself dying of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp the following year.

Anne's father, Otto, the only survivor of the family, returned to Amsterdam after the war to find that her diary had been saved by one of the helpers, Miep Gies, and his efforts led to its publication in 1947. It became one of the world's most widely known books, with Anne gaining fame posthumously as perhaps the most discussed victim of the Holocaust. It was translated into more than 60 languages and formed the basis for several plays and films.

The diary received widespread critical and popular attention on the appearance of its English language version, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Doubleday & Company (USA) and Valentine Mitchell (UK) in 1952. The book later appeared in several lists of the top books of the 20th century.

The copyright of the Dutch version, published in 1947, expired in 2016, 70 years after the author's death as a result of a general rule in copyright law of the European Union. Following this, the original Dutch version was made available online. It then appeared on Wikisource, an online digital library of free content operated by the Wikimedia Foundation.

However, the diary was soon removed from Wikisource, after concerns over copyright. The Wikimedia Foundation was under the jurisdiction of U.S. law and therefore subject to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) – specifically title 17, chapter 5, section 512 of the United States Code. As the Foundation had noted in 2013: "The location of the servers, incorporation, and headquarters are just three of many factors that establish US jurisdiction ... if infringing content is linked to or embedded in Wikimedia projects, then the Foundation may still be subject to liability for such use—either as a direct or contributory infringer."

With 70 years having passed since Anne's death, her diary entered the public domain in the Netherlands on 1st January 2016 (although there was still some dispute about this). In the United States, however, the original text would remain under copyright until 2042.* This was due to a combination of several factors. Firstly, works published before 1978, in general, had a copyright of 95 years from date of publication, which in the case of Frank's diary was 1947. Secondly, foreign works of countries that were treaty partners to the United States were covered as if they were U.S. works. Thirdly, even if a country was not a treaty partner under copyright law at the time of a publication, the 1994 Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA) restored copyright to works that: had been published in a foreign country; were still under copyright in that country in 1996; and would have had U.S. copyright but for the fact they were published abroad.


diary of anne frank copyright 2042



The City of Trees project is completed in Manchester, England

The City of Trees is a project to plant three million new trees, one for every man, woman and child in Greater Manchester, England. Initiated by charities including the Community Forest Trust, it aims to transform over 20 square kilometres of unmanaged or vacant land into a productive and healthy state. This is achieved with help from public volunteers, community groups and local companies.

The trees are planted all over Manchester – in urban areas, streets, parks and gardens, as well as existing woodlands to expand their habitats and link to neighbouring areas of tree cover, which helps to improve biodiversity. Entirely new forests are also created.

The 25-year project is largely completed by the early 2040s.* Many of the first trees that were planted back in the early stages of the project have now grown to full maturity. Alongside the uptake of electric vehicles and other measures, the city is now enjoying much improved air quality, as well as better resilience to climate change. The benefits of trees include reduced heat* and air conditioning costs (saving up to 10% on energy consumption) and a reduction in flood risk (trees absorb surface water runoff, which would otherwise overload drainage systems, and reduce it by up to 80%* compared to asphalt surfaces). The presence of trees can also improve mental health,** increase educational performance and cognitive development, and create new jobs in timber and forest management.


city of trees project manchester 25 years timeline future 2040s 2042
Manchester, England. Credit: Moomusician



Older IBM mainframe clocks are overflowing

IBM first introduced a Time-of-Day (TOD) clock on its S/370 range of mainframe computers in 1970. The TOD provided a high-precision measure of real time, suitable for the indication of date and time of day. It appeared in subsequent generations of machines, such as the ESA/390 of 1990 and the IBM Z of 2006.

In addition to using a binary counter, the TOD clock required the specification of a time origin, or starting point. IBM defined this "epoch" as the time at which the TOD value would have been all zeros. The S/370, ESA/390, and IBM Z established the epoch for the TOD clock as 1st January 1900, 0 a.m. GMT.

The cycle of the clock is just under 143 years, meaning it wraps on 18th September 2042.* This reset has the potential to cause glitches for older computers that still operate as legacy or archive systems – similar to the Y2K phenomenon, 2038 problem, and SQL Server wrap of 2079.


2042 ibm s-370 time of day clock overflow
IBM S/370 mainframe computer. Credit: Oliver.obi, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons




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1 Majority of primate species may vanish in next 25 to 50 years, New Scientist:
Accessed 19th April 2017.

2 Tanzanite: Tanzanian miner becomes overnight millionaire, BBC News:
Accessed 28th June 2020.

3 National Environment Statistics Report – Tanzania Mainland, National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) (Tanzania):
Accessed 28th June 2020.

4 Presentation By H.E. Baraka H. Luvanda, Tanzania High Commissioner Of Tanzania Minerals And Metals Outlook, 2030, The High Commission of the United Republic of Tanzania - New Delhi:
Accessed 28th June 2020.

5 Tanzanite Mining, TanzaniteOne Mining Ltd:
Accessed 28th June 2020.

6 History of immigration to the United States, Wikipedia:
Accessed 26th February 2012.

7 A Portrait of American Catholics on the Eve of Pope Benedict's Visit to the U.S., The Pew Forum:
Accessed 26th February 2012.

8 Hispanics Account for More than Half of Nation's Growth in Past Decade, Pew Hispanic Center:
Accessed 26th February 2012.

9 America's Tomorrow: Equity is the Superior Growth Model, PolicyLink:
Accessed 29th December 2017.

10 United States Population Projections: 2000 to 2050, United States Census Bureau:
Accessed 26th February 2012.

11 Minorities set to be US majority, BBC:
Accessed 26th February 2012.

12 President's Approval Rating Drops, but He Leads 2012 Rivals, Pew Hispanic Center:
Accessed 26th February 2012.

13 Blacks and the Democratic Party, FactCheck.org:
Accessed 26th February 2012.

14 Exit Polls – Election Results 2008, New York Times:
Accessed 26th February 2012.

15 10 page report:
The Generation Gap and the 2012 Election,
Pew Research Center:
Accessed 26th February 2012.

16 "Democrats are right when they say that demographic change will eventually make it impossible for a conservative Republican to be elected president. Following the 1965 immigration reform, the population share of Hispanics is projected to grow from about 4 percent in 1960 to 30 percent in 2050. Hispanics unmistakeably lean Democrat, in part because of low average income and support for redistribution. They and other Democrat-leaning minorities which are growing their population share will sooner or later make conservative Republicans nationally unelectable."
See Hispanic Vote Unlikely to Save Obama in 2012, Wall Street Pit:
Accessed 26th February 2012.

17 Virtual reality – future trends, Future Timeline – Data & trends:
Accessed 31st May 2021.

18 AMD's graphics boss says VR needs 16K at 240Hz for 'true immersion', TweakTown:
Accessed 31st May 2021.

19 Abrash: VR Needs to Hit 16K to Match 'Retinal Resolution', VR Focus:
Accessed 31st May 2021.

20 NVIDIA's GeForce 30 series – a major leap in graphical processing power, Future Timeline Blog:
Accessed 31st May 2021.

21 Wireless brain linkage gets DARPA funding, Future Timeline Blog:
Accessed 31st May 2021.

22 "We predict that Apple's MR/AR product roadmap includes three phases: helmet type by 2022, glasses type by 2025, and contact lens type by 2030–2040."
See Kuo: Apple to Launch Mixed Reality Headset in Mid 2022 and Augmented Reality Glasses by 2025, Mac Rumours:
Accessed 31st May 2021.

23 World's smallest single-chip system is <0.1 mm³, Future Timeline Blog:
Accessed 31st May 2021.

24 Strange mega storms sweep Uranus, BBC:
Accessed 25th June 2017.

25 Ice Giant Mission Study Final Report, NASA:
Accessed 25th June 2017.

26 Revisiting the ice giants: NASA study considers Uranus and Neptune missions, The Planetary Society:
Accessed 25th June 2017.

27 Wikimedia Foundation removes The Diary of Anne Frank due to copyright law requirements, Wikimedia Foundation:
Accessed 15th March 2017.

28 Project aims to grow a 'city of trees', BBC News:
Accessed 1st April 2017.

29 Urban trees can improve millions of lives by reducing air pollution and temperature, says report, Future Timeline Blog:
Accessed 1st April 2017.

30 Greater Manchester Transport Strategy 2040, Transport for Greater Manchester:
Accessed 1st April 2017.

31 Green spaces deliver lasting mental health benefits, Science Daily:
Accessed 1st April 2017.

32 Green space keeps you from feeling blue, Science Daily:
Accessed 1st April 2017.

33 Server Time Protocol Planning Guide, IBM Redbooks:
Accessed 4th December 2022.


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