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100 years ago, NY Times demonstrated journalism isn't rocket science

  1. June 14, 1914: the father of American rocketry Robert Goddard files a patent for the world's first liquid-fueled rocket.


    1920: A NY Times editor publishes an article mocking Prof. Robert Goddard work on his invention, claiming rockets cannot fly in the vacuum of space:

    "As a method of sending a missile to the higher, and even highest, part of the earth's atmospheric envelope, Professor Goddard's multiple-charge rocket is a practicable, and therefore promising device. Such a rocket, too, might carry self-recording instruments, to be released at the limit of its flight, and conceivable parachutes would bring them safely to the ground. It is not obvious, however, that the instruments would return to the point of departure; indeed, it is obvious that they would not, for parachutes drift exactly as balloons do...

    That Professor Goddard, with his 'chair' in Clark College and the countenancing of the Smithsonian Institution, does not know the relation of action to reaction, and of the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react -- to say that would be absurd. Of course he only seems to lack the knowledge ladled out daily in high schools.

    But there are such things as intentional mistakes or oversights, and, as it happens, Jules Verne, who... deliberately seemed to make the same mistake that Professor Goddard seems to make. For the Frenchman, having got his travelers toward the moon into the desperate fix of riding a tiny satellite of the satellite, saved them from circling it forever by means of an explosion, rocket fashion, where an explosion would not have had in the slightest degree the effect of releasing them from their dreadful slavery. That was one of Verne's few scientific slips, or else it was a deliberate step aside from scientific accuracy, pardonable enough in him as a romancer, but its like is not so easily explained when made by a savant who isn't writing a novel of adventure."

    100 years later, NY Times tradition of fake news and yellow journalism continues...