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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

soothsayers had the very best

Don't go West young man. (Advice to Columbus.)

I. A Voyage to Asia would require three years.
II. The western Ocean is infinite and perhaps   
III. If he reached the Antipodes he could not get back.
IV There are no Antipodes because the greater part 
   of the globe is covered with water, and because 
  St. Augustine said so.
V. Of the five zones, only three are habitable.
VI. So many centuries after the Creation,
    it is unlikely that anyone could find unknown lands      of any value.
- Report of the committee organized in 1486
 by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella  to study Columbus' plans

Aeroplanes and fear of flying

Samuel Langley's experiments with airplanes

Comment in the New York Times one week before the successful flight of the Kitty Hawk by the Wright brothers:

"...We hope that Professor Langley will not put his substantial greatness as a scientist in further peril by continuing to waste his time and the money involved, in further airship experiments. Life is short, and he is capable of services to humanity incomparably greater than can be expected to result from trying to fly....For students and investigators of the Langley type there are more useful employments."

Source: New York Times, December 10,1903, editorial page

I confess that in 1901 I said to my brother Orville
that man would not fly for fifty years.
Two years later we ourselves made flights.
This demonstration of my impotence as a prophet
gave me such a shock that ever since
I have distrusted myself and avoided all predictions.
- Wilbur Wright (1867-1912) 
[In a speech to the Aero Club of France (Nov 5, 1908)]

Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value.
- Marshal Ferdinand Foch, French military strategist, 1911. He was later a World War I commander.

Space travel

  • A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth's atmosphere.

  • The New York Times, January 13, 1920.

    The Times offered a retraction on July 17, 1969, (Apollo 11)

 Nuclear energy

There is not the slightest indication that [nuclear energy] 
will ever be obtainable. It would mean that 
the atom would have to be shattered at will.
- Albert Einstein, 1932.


manufacturing cars

  • With over fifteen types of foreign cars already on sale here, 
  • the Japanese auto industry isn't likely to carve out a big share of the market for itself.           Businessweek, August 2, 1968.


There is no reason for any individual
to have a computer in their home.
- Kenneth Olsen, president of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977.

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