Small big dogs of discovery

This is the story of two dogs I know. It is also a story of the US Navy, aviation and nuclear weapons. Sometimes it’s easy to see things in dogs or other people, but it’s hard to see the same things in ourselves. It’s a good thing that dogs can’t read (which we know) because it’s an embarrassing story for Doc. He is a sweet good natured dog and he is a rather large labradoodle. He occasionally visits another good-natured dog, Rocky – a shelter much smaller than a dock.

I say Rocky is good natured and he’s with people. But he doesn’t pay much attention to other dogs. I often suspect he doesn’t realize he’s a dog and he’s surprised by the behavior of the other dog. You would think that when the dock came to visit, the big dog would dominate the small dog, wouldn’t it? Apparently, Doc doesn’t realize that he’s much bigger than Rocky, and – obviously – Rocky doesn’t realize that his Doc should be scared. So Rocky leaves Doc embarrassed. Rocky will stop him from the door, for example, and Doc will be unable to muster the courage to overcome the terrible Rocky.

It makes you wonder how many times we can do something without “knowing” that we can’t do it. Or we may believe someone we can’t tell. Doc can cut Rocky’s side if he wants and he can put Rocky in his place too. But he does not realize that these things are possible.

You see it a lot in terms of technology and innovation. Often big advances come from people who don’t know that experts say something is impossible or that they don’t believe it. The point is, people were anxious to fly in the early 1900’s. People have been dreaming of flying since early morning and it seems that this may be possible in reality. People like Alberto Santos-Dumont, Wright Brothers, Clement Adder and Gustav Whitehead have claimed that they flew first. Others, such as Sir George Kelly, William Henson, Otto Lilienthal, and Octave Chanuet, have been experimenting with gliders and driven craft with some success.

In the Navy

In the future, the US Navy will become a heavy user of aircraft. But Rear Admiral George Melville, the Navy’s chief engineer-in-chief, wrote an article in 1901 about the human desire to fly for the North American Review. He described the idea as childish and a waste of effort, saying there was no other field where “so many innovative seeds have been sown with so little income.” In 1902 the director of the U.S. Naval Observatory stated that “flight by a machine heavier than air is impractical and trivial, if not impossible.”

Fortunately, the Wright brothers were very busy reading the papers.

In 1903 – nine weeks before the Wright Brothers made their first flight – there was an article in the New York Times about a failed flight attempt. It read: “… It can be assumed that the flying machine that will actually fly could have evolved in one million to ten million years through the combined and constant efforts of mathematicians and mechanics – but of course, we can already do this with inorganic matter. Eliminate such minor errors and embarrassments as the existing relationship between weight and energy. “

That’s great. Glad the Wright brothers didn’t get the New York Times. Even the famous Lord Kelvin did not believe in airplanes (or X-rays, apparently, although he was right about transatlantic wires).

Even in 1910, the director of the Harvard College Observatory said that planes could never reach the potential speed with trains and automobiles. Around the same time, French General Ferdinand Foch thought the planes had no military value.

Rocket man

The philosopher Wittgenstein, who died before Sputnik began his space race, used the idea of ​​man going to the moon as an example of something absurd that we all know is not possible. In 1950, he wrote: “What we believe depends on what we learn. We all believe that going to the moon is not possible; but there may be people who believe that it is possible and that it happens sometimes. We say: These people don’t know much about what we know. “

Of course, in his lifetime, going to the moon was impossible and there are still people who think that we did not go to the moon despite irrefutable evidence to the contrary. But many people were skeptical that landing on a moon was a reasonable goal for a few years in the 1960s.

In each case, they have seized it, despite obstacles we can scarcely imagine. ” When Edison announced that the lightbulb was about to become a reality, the British government formed a commission to look into it. Their conclusion? “Good enough for our transatlantic friends … but unattractive to practical or scientific men.”

99 balloons

What if Germany had a bomb in World War II?

But perhaps the most important and fortunate bad statement of an expert happened during World War II. You must have heard of Warner Heisenberg. A notable physicist, he led the German effort to use atoms. At the beginning of the war, the idea of ​​building an atomic bomb using uranium was considered until Heisenberg calculated that the U235 would have a significant mass of 10 tons.

With so much uranium being produced and transported, the Germans tended to experiment with heavy water and more or less ignored the fact that the Americans would successfully build bombs using much lower U235. The exact number of critical masses of the U235 is over 100 pounds and using reflection, compression and other techniques, a bomb really takes about 20 or 30 pounds of the U235 and even less plutonium 239 or uranium 233.

Historians have long debated what this means. Heisenberg was an excellent physicist, so it is hard to imagine that he would make such a big mistake. It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post. Heisenberg and some colleagues were “guests” of the British when the news announced the bombing of Hiroshima. The hidden microphones elicit Heisenberg’s response: “Some isolated people in America who know very little about it have deceived them,” he said. “I don’t believe it has anything to do with uranium.” He noted that it was impossible for the Allies to have ten tons of pure U235. If he hadn’t performed for the hidden microphones, he suspected that there was – which is certainly possible – looking like he really thought it would take a lot of material.

Impossible to dream

So which projects do you decide are not possible? I know you have a little mood for it. No matter how badly you want to invent perpetual motion or warp drives, they seem out of reach. Then again, so the moon.

Vince Lombardy is credited with saying that “if we do not make them impossible, we will achieve much more.” Good advice for all of us. Especially Dr.

[Banner Image: “One of the first airplanes built in Canada” by ArchivesOfOntario, Public Domain]

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