[asa] Re: The Hockey Stick Holds Up

From: j burg <hossradbourne@gmail.com>
Date: Thu Sep 11 2008 - 14:20:51 EDT

On 9/11/08, Rich Blinne <rich.blinne@gmail.com> wrote:

"Thanks for clearing that up. Do the endnotes support the conclusions
reached? What about the criticisms about special pleading, e.g.
electric cars?"

One of the reasons I will probably get the book (now due at the
library shortly) is to look into that question more deeply. Muller is
skeptical about the electric car (although he drives a Prius himself).
But I, in turn, am skeptical that he has made some basic assumptions
which might turn out to be too pessimistic.

At the risk of boring everyone, I'll tell a true story. As a young
punk in 1948, in high school, I was "turned on" to physics and,
particularly, rocketry. Old family movies show me shooting rockets off
in the field behind my house in Youngstown, Ohio. When I went to
Carnegie Tech to study physics, this continued; I joined an
organization known as The American Rocket Society (since merged with
the IEEE). Still have the members lapel pin somewhere. Getting to the
moon was my dream (this was in the early 50s).

In graduate school, still studying physics, a well known scientist (I
think his field was chemistry) lectured to us one day in 1954. He
absolutely PROVED to us all that getting to the moon at all was simply
beyond the capability of chemical rockets. His science and logic were
inpeccable; my recollection is that he quite convinced all us grad
students and physics faculty. About that time I began to lose my
enthusiasm for physics and my desire to go into space work with NACA
(later NASA). I dropped my ARS membership.Three years later, after a
physics "career" of making war machines for the US military, I went
into the computer field. How much did the lecture contribute to my
career choices? I think a lot.

Of course, the esteemed professor was 100% correct. Using chemical
rockets, it IS not possible to get to the moon. But he forgot that a
rocket need not be a single stage. I think Arthur Clarke had come up
with the idea of multiple stages-- don't know when -- but that little
design change made the professor's conclusion null and void. Too late
for me though!

So maybe -- just maybe, Muller has made the same error in his
analysis. All over the world garage inventors are working to show him
wrong. Who knows what new ideas will certainly come along?

Agree with Muller -- or not. The book is worth a read.


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Received on Thu Sep 11 14:21:27 2008

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