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A special kind of wrong

January 8, 2012

Check out this quote from 1901 by Rear Admiral George Mellville, chief engineer of the U.S. Navy (I read this in Alexis Madrigal’s book about the history of clean energy in the U.S.):

Outside of the proven impossible, there probably can be found no better example of the speculative tendency carrying man to the verge of the chimerical than in his attempts to imitate the birds, or of no field where so much incentive seed has been sewn with so little return as in the attempts of man to fly successfully through the air. Never, it would seem, has the human mind so persistently evaded the issue, begged the question, and ‘wrangling resolutely upon the facts’ insisted upon dreams being accepted as actual performance, as when there has been proclaimed time and again the proximate and perfect utility of the balloon or of the flying machine.

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