Rocket Science

In 1921, a curious editorial appeared in the New York Times critiquing the revolutionary work of rocket scientist Robert Goddard:

"Professor Goddard does not know the relation between action and reaction and the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react," it declared. "He seems to lack the basic knowledge ladled out daily in high schools."

[Goddard knew the Times was wrong. He had used airtight chambers to show that a rocket could indeed fly in a vacuum, thanks to Newton's third law. Sure enough, after the Apollo 11 mission (in 1969), the Times published a retraction: "Further investigation and experimentation have confirmed the findings of Isaac Newton in the 17th century, and it is now definitely established that a rocket can function in a vacuum as well as in an atmosphere. The Times regrets the error."]

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