Sunday, 29 June 2014

If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It

When technology becomes indistinguishable from magic.

"The only limitation is your imagination."
A few weeks ago I featured a few t-shirts featuring cool quotes, and one of the t-shirts included this cool quote from Walt Disney...

"If you can dream it, you can do it."

However, not everyone follows the above philosophy, and even scientific geniuses have occasionally got it wrong due to an inability to dream big.

Here are a few examples of scientific doubters (some of them geniuses) who suffered from 'That's impossible!' syndrome, only to ultimately be made to look a bit foolish when science proved them wrong...

1) Flight

Lord Kelvin was the genius who determined the temperature of absolute zero, and he's the dude who the Kelvin temperature scale takes its name from.  However, Kelvin dropped a bit of a short-sighted clanger when he confidently declared:

"Heavier than air flying machines are impossible."

It turned out that Lord Kelvin was wrong and I can reveal that in fact heavier than air flying machines are possible.  As of 2014 approximately 93,000 scheduled commerical flights take place every day.

Scientists will recognise that the above illustration
shows nuclear fusion, rather than nuclear fission
which is used in nuclear power stations.
However, I didn't have a diagram of nuclear fission
so I decided to use this one instead out of laziness.

2) Atomic Energy

Lord Rutherford is commonly regarded as the father of nuclear physics, but even he was initially a sceptic when he remarked:

“The energy produced by the breaking down of the atom is a very poor kind of thing.  Anyone who expects a source of power from the transformation of these atoms is talking moonshine.”

In fact this 'moonshine' turned out to be scientific fact, and as of 2014 there are currently 435 operable civil nuclear reactors in the world, producing over 2,500 billion kilowatt hours of electricity (approximately 13% of global electricity consumption).

Figures found on the World Nuclear Association website.

3) Rocket Science

Robert Goddard was the builder of the world's first liquid fueled rocket and is commonly recognised as the founding father of modern rocketry.  However, when he first began his work he was regularly mocked in the press who ridiculed his theories on using rockets for space flight.  For example, The New York Times made the following mocking comment:

"Professor Goddard does not know of the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react ... to say that would be absurd.  He seems to lack the knowledge ladled out daily in high schools."

In actual fact thrust is possible in a vacuum and man has since achieved such great distances in space travel that on 25th August 2012, Voyager 1 (launched aboard a Titan-Centaur rocket) became the first man-made object to leave the heliosphere* and enter interstellar space.

* The area of space surrounding The Sun which extends beyond the solar system.

4) Black Holes

A black hole, pictured yesterday.
(Photo Copyright of NASA)*
In 1939 even Einstein was guilty of falling victim to 'That's impossible!' syndrome, when he wrote a paper that 'proved' that black holes could never form.  Illustrating that even Einstein gets it wrong occasionally, in recent years the Hubble Telescope has discovered thousands of black holes throughout the universe.

However, on the subject of the impossible and possible, despite this one-off error of judgement, Einstein was generally quite astute, as shown by his following quote:

"If at first an idea does not sound absurd, then there is no hope for it."

Finally, if any future scientific geniuses happen to be reading this, just remember this wise and insightful quote from Henry Ford:

"Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right."

Actually, it's not just potential scientific geniuses who the quote applies to, because everyone faces challenges in their life at some point that we think might be too difficult.  However, as Henry Ford points out, sometimes your state of mind is one of the key factors in deciding whether or not the goal you strive for is achievable.

. . . . . . . .

This post was written by Charles Fudgemuffin.  Not the quotes obviously (they were written by Kelvin, Rutherford, Einstein, etc) but the bits inbetween were written by Charles Fudgemuffin.

Charles is the author of the alien comedy 'How To Save The World' books, and as an introductory offer you can currently get the first book in the series for free from the following link:
Download the first 'How To Save The World' book for free!

As a cautionary note, the 'How To Save The World' books are not recommended for prudes or squares.

* Please note, the photo of the black hole isn't really copyright of NASA.  It's just a blank image and not really a black hole.

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About The Author

The 'How To Save The World' books
by Charles Fudgemuffin
Charles Fudgemuffin is the author of the alien comedy 'How To Save The World' books which are available for Kindle from Amazon.  The first book in the series is available from the following link:
How To Save The World: An Alien Comedy

As with all Kindle books, you can also download a free sample of the first few chapters.

Please note, the 'How To Save The World' books contain material suitable for ages 18+ and are not recommended for prudes or squares.