Imagine the plight of the first ancient mariner to point toward the horizon and say, “No more hugging the coastline for me, I’m going direct.” I think his name was Harpolos. For the purposes of this column, let’s say it was.
The townsfolk must have thought Harpolos was mad. Crazy as a loon. The rational man, the reasonable man, would think to himself, “What possible good can come from tempting fate? We hug the coastline because there are no monsters there. We know this to be true. No one but a lunatic would venture into the deepest waters to disappear over the horizon, very possibly to never return.”
And so it goes with discovery. There is always someone willing to give it a try, and there are always legions of nay-sayers who believe to their socks (or sandals) that the boldest among us are just plain nuts.
Robert Goddard may be the father of modern rocketry, but that didn’t stop the dunderheads at the New York Times from publicly mocking him in 1920. [Read more…]