Monday, April 24, 2006

Pioneers Get No Respect

Ira and George Gershwin wrote a great song called They All Laughed which starts out
They all laughed at Christopher Columbus
When he said the world was round
They all laughed when Edison recorded sound
They all laughed at Wilbur and his brother
When they said that man could fly...
The New York Times also laughed at Robert Goddard in 1920 for his crazy belief that rockets could work in the vacuum of space. And of course they're still laughing at space pioneers today, as discussed by Bob Clarebrough in a great essay called "That Kitty Hawk moment" at The Space Review. Pioneers get no respect.

And they probably won't get any respect until tourists are complaining about how slow the robot room service is in their hotel room on Mars (actually no one will think about space pioneers then, any more than most people think about the Wrights while eating a tiny bag of pretzels in a coach seat en route to Newark). But as Clarebrough suggests, let's at least cut the pioneers a little slack.

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