One of the concepts that will shape our future is nanotechnology, the manipulation of matter on an atomic and molecular scale. Its applications of will radically change the way we live over the course of the next century, so I was surprised to learn today that the Romans had more than a passing knowledge of it, so much so that they were able to create a chalice that appears green when lit from the front but turns red when lit from behind, an effect that takes place because the glass was impregnated with very small particles of silver and gold. For decades the chalice remained a mistery for scientists who found the explanation only very recently.
The news reminded me that it was only a couple of months ago that scientists finally discovered the secret mix of lime and volcanic rock that the Roman concrete was made of. It is vastly superior to most modern concrete, more environmentally friendly and mind-numblingly durable: just take a look at the Pantheon if you doubt it!
Talk about being ahead of your time.