Visions of a future that may come to pass…

It was 11:59 on a Wednesday night, smack in the middle of midterm season, and I was standing in line in the Butler Blue Java. The night was still young, but my eyes were bleary all the same amid the gloomy lights in Butler and the many hours I’d spent studying through the time-honored technique of Quizlet cramming. With Butler’s in-house supply of caffeine to procrastinating students cutting off at midnight, I was one of the last two customers inside the Blue Java.

The other person in line was somebody I hadn’t met before. Now, weeks removed from this encounter, I can’t seem to remember what their face looked like, only fleeting images of their appearance: a wry smile, glittering eyes, a trench coat, black boots. The stranger seemed a prototypical vagabond, with the aura of somebody who moves with the speed and fickleness of the wind. I wondered if I’d come across not a human, but a wandering spirit, a traveler who’s seen worlds beyond our comprehension.

Naturally, after finishing our business in the Butler Blue Java, the two of us got to talking, much as two mysterious travelers might trade stories at the bar of a dimly-lit medieval tavern. Before we prepared to go our separate ways, the stranger told me their most curious story yet. They explained to me that they’d come into possession of a flux capacitor, with which they’d built a time machine, like one in a film they’d seen. Now, presumably like most of you readers, I’m well-acquainted with the Jonas Brothers’ seminal bop “Year 3000”, so this particular story (and its phrasing) piqued my interest and also raised my suspicions.

(Author’s note: While very seriously researching this very serious article, I discovered that the Jonas Brothers’ “Year 3000” is actually a cover, and it censored part of the original 2002 release by a pop-punk band called Busted, and this shook me to my very core. Am I the only one who didn’t know this?? Is this common knowledge?? How much of my life has been spent in blissful ignorance of the true origins of the Jonas Brothers’ second-biggest* bop?)

* “Burnin’ Up” is and always will be my JB jam of choice

The stranger told me they’d traveled to the year 2100 and visited Columbia University as it existed in this timeline, seventy-nine years from now. They shared some insights on what has become of Columbia in the year 2100. Now, as I stated above, quite some time has elapsed between this encounter and the writing of my account, and the encounter as a whole was extremely dreamlike and ethereal. But I remember what the stranger said, and I have transcribed their account for you:

  • I would be remiss not to note that between the current day and 2100, humanity inevitably embarked upon a mass migration to Mars in the midst of Earth’s climate crisis. This migration was led by the three most prominent billionaires of the 21st century— Stormi Webster, X AE A-XII Musk, and Jeff Bezos, who legally died in 2037 after eating poisonous berries he found on a walking trail in Los Angeles, but he used his deep pockets to simulate immortality by cryogenically preserving his body and transferring his consciousness into a robot. Bezos’ ‘will and testament of the flesh’ specifically requested that everybody refer to his robot avatar as ‘Jeff Botzos’, which, predictably, everyone thought was stupid and refused to do.

  • Naturally, upon relocating to Mars, Columbia found a nice, thriving Martian community to gentrify, and officially rebranded as ‘Columbia University in the City of Olympus Mons’.

  • Columbia’s most popular majors in 2100:
  1. Space Economics
  2. Space Political Science
  3. Space Computer Science
  4. Hologram Theory
  5. Philosophy
  • The rest of the Ivy League also relocated to Mars, although their makeup has been noticeably altered in the ensuing seventy-nine years. Before the Martian relocation, Columbia and Cornell engaged in an extensive conflict for territorial control, after Cornell foolishly described themselves as the ‘kings of New York’, with Columbia prevailing through a combination of legal challenges and guerilla warfare tactics. Cornell was thus replaced in the Ivy League by Stanford. Also, upon relocating to Mars, the rest of the Ivy League universities decided to collectively pretend that UPenn did not exist.

  • Columbia University in the City of Olympus Mons is administered and overseen by a legion of robotic lions that patrol and surveill campus. The robot lions collect data and centralize it in a comprehensive data bank; they are controlled by a vast artificial intelligence called the Algorithmic Linear Matrix of Automata, or A.L.M.A.

  • As the centerpiece of the new Olympus Mons campus, Columbia constructed a new Butler Library; it is a near-replicate of the original, but they decided to revamp the archaic set of names inscribed on the colonnade, to be replaced by names of modern artists including but not limited to: Kanye West, Banksy, Willow Smith, Nate Silver, Cher, Aaron Sorkin, Phoebe Bridgers, Amanda Gorman, Tony Hawk, Cher (yes, her name is listed twice, once for her music and once for her contributions to Twitter) and Robert Downey Jr.

  • Also, the new Butler is technologically capable of launching into orbit at a moment’s notice, with rocket boosters built into the pillars, reactors hidden in the stacks, and the wind tunnel converted into an airlock chamber.

  • The former Manhattanville campus moved to the Mare Erythraeum, while what was once the Irving Medical Center is now the main feature of Columbia’s new campus on the moon of Phobos.

  • Unrelated to Columbia, but for the sake of the historical record, by the year 2100, the Jonas Brothers’ seventh album, Happiness Ends, has not yet outsold Kelly Clarkson, who experienced a late-career renaissance in the 2030s.

  • And, lastly, in the year 2100, Columbia still balks at providing its grad student workers with a living wage.

Prophetic future image via Bwarchives