9 thoughts on “A Newly Discovered Space Pioneer”

  1. As much as I want to cheer on my fellow Canadian, the fact that his paper received no attention at all for 150 years means that he really had no effect whatever on the history of spaceflight. It isn’t enough to publish: people have to actually read what you write.

    1. Normally it’s publish or perish, but unfortunately in this particular case it was publish and perish!

    2. It makes this an interesting story though and it is nice to give some recognition to people history passed by.

    3. Valid comment. In my paper I underscore the fact that his work remained in print for at least 60 years and sold over 500,000 copies, without his name attached. It went into three editions in the USA with his name and a dozen more without, and it was also exported to Australia. We’ll never know if he had an influence or not. In another paper I wrote recently I revealed that Hermann Oberth was very definitely influenced by Hans Dominik, but no history book mentions him because he was a Nazi who wrote about spaceflight in the early 1900s. He was expunged from history, but his influence was very real.

  2. It does make you wonder how much other stuff gets lost or discovery postponed indefinitely because someone died young or just didn’t advocate it in visible enough places. I know in math and physics there was a bunch of possible lost opportunities, such as Bernhard Riemann who pioneered the mathematics used in general relativity and died at almost 40 in 1866. There was the potential to discover general relativity decades earlier than Einstein actually did it (in 1915).

    In addition to that is the premature death of Karl Scwarzschild during the First World War (though apparently of an unrelated illness) who discovered a non-trivial exact solution to the general relativity equations, the non-rotating black hole. Who knows what else he could have done given the chance.

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