The Future Times Ten Intro

For people engaged in condensing and presenting information, Charles and Ray Eames’s film Powers of Ten—a sweeping panorama encapsulating virtually all scales of human activity in less than nine minutes—is seminal. The film begins with a couple picnicking in the park; the camera then moves ten times farther away every ten seconds, reaches the end of the universe, reverses, and ultimately ends inside an atom. Twenty-seven years after its creation, the clever film reinforces a timely message: everything connects. In an era of population growth, dwindling resources, and rapid technological change, this is truer now than ever.

So in homage to Charles and Ray—the ultimate futurists—our Powers of Design feature looks at the built world of the future from ten different perspectives, from the global (water) to the physical (health care) to the molecular (nanotechnology). All of these new technologies and new ways of thinking underscore another Eames tenet: the power—and the obligation—of design to solve problems.

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