Re: [asa] LHC, TOE, and the limits of knowledge

From: j burg <>
Date: Wed Sep 17 2008 - 16:55:19 EDT

On Wed, Sep 17, 2008 at 11:39 AM, George Cooper
<> wrote:

> George had written that in "Burgy's earlier comment, I'm not sure that it was Clarke who first
> suggested multi-stage rockets".
> There seems to be a number of inventors dating as far back as the 14th
> century.
> I vaguely recall that it was not part of the original Von Braun program, but
> came in to solve the Apollo weight dilemma.

All I have on this one is my own personal recollections. They are
vivid, but one can never be sure of memories over 50 year old ! <G>

This is what I remember: 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 the 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!

On the question of particle acceleration. The invention that will
shrink this to a desktop experiment will almost certainly involve a
new approach to the problem altogether, one which is not the
equivalent of dropping pianos off a 20 story building and deducing
their structure from analyzing the sounds made when they hit the

IMHO of course.


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Received on Wed Sep 17 16:55:47 2008

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