[ExI] Discontent with the path physics is taking

Kelly Anderson kellycoinguy at gmail.com
Wed Aug 17 19:56:01 UTC 2011

On Wed, Aug 17, 2011 at 12:47 PM, spike <spike66 at att.net> wrote:
>>... On Behalf Of Kelly Anderson
> Subject: Re: [ExI] Discontent with the path physics is taking
> Two fun examples.  In the early 90s I took graduate class up at Stanford in
> orbit mechanics.  The text kept referring to a book from way back, so I
> looked up the reference.  It had all the necessary equations for rocketry,
> orbit maneuvers, specific thrust, pretty much everything in a modern orbit
> mechanics text, originally published in... 1865.  While Johnny Reb and Billy
> Yank were popping Minnie balls at each other with smooth bore percussion cap
> muskets, someone somewhere was working out the equations that were used in
> the Gemini program to do on-orbit docking a century later.  The original had
> nothing about fuels, no LOX, no hydrogen, none of the mechanical parts, but
> he had started with Newton and worked out the propulsion requirements, what
> we would now call top level systems engineering, way back in the middle of
> the 1800s.  Cool!

To follow up on the thought though... what would it have hurt the
world if these equations had been worked out in the 1960s instead of
the 1860s? And, more importantly, would the world have been better off
if the lone genius in 1860 had been working on some technology related
to winning the civil war more quickly? Improving tin cans? Working on
the manufacturing technology of steel? Improving the safety of rail
roads? Or something else a little more in his time?

I worked on a system in the mid 1990s that the world is only
recognizing that they need in the last few years... I feel like
working too far ahead of the curve is counter productive, and it
certainly isn't helpful to business or the betterment of mankind. Yes,
we do need to think years ahead about what is possible, but I don't
think day to day work on stuff that won't be practical for a decade or
more is anything I want to spend significant time on. I feel more
fulfilled working on things that will be helping people in a couple of
years. I do obviously enjoy thinking further out, but I'm talking
about significant time that distracts from what can be done today with
today's technology.

While it's cool that the math for CAT scans was worked out in the
1920s, would it have hurt if they had waited to develop it until the
1970s when they needed it?


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