Re: a cornucopia of satellites

From: Ed Davies (
Date: Sat Jun 21 2003 - 06:11:38 EDT

  • Next message: Thomas Fly: "Re: a cornucopia of satellites"

    Tom Wagner wrote:
    > P.S. Does anyone know who it was that said (in the 1900s?) that there was no
    > propellant strong enough to hurl an object into orbit?  As I recall he said
    > that dynamite couldn't do it and at the time that was the most powerful
    > "propellant" known.
    According to Arthur C. Clarke's book, Profiles of the Future, it was 
    Professor A.W. Bickerton in 1926 who wrote:
      "This foolish idea of shooting at the moon is an example of the absurd
      length to which vicious specialization will carry scientists working in
      thought-tight compartments.  Let us critically examine the proposal.
      For a projectile entirely to escape the gravitation of the earth, it
      needs a velocity of 7 miles per second.  The thermal energy of a gramme
      at this speed 15,180 calories...  The energy of our most violent
      explosive - nitroglycerine - is less than 1,500 calories per gramme.
      Consequently, even had the explosive nothing to carry, it has only
      one-tenth of the energy necessary to escape the earth ... Hence the
      proposition appears to be basically impossible...
    ACC then proceeds to tear this argument into tiny shreds, of course.
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