50 & 100 Years Ago

    50 Years Ago

    Last week's first Saturn V flight (called Apollo 4) may have helped NASA to catch up on the lagging timetable for landing two Americans on the Moon by 1970. By combining in one flight the first operational tests of several important components, time has been saved and many of the tactical obstacles to the first manned flight in the Apollo capsule cleared away. That flight is now fixed for autumn 1968, employing the less powerful Saturn I as booster for a low Earth orbit to check the capsule under “live” conditions ... There is no doubt of the technological achievement of the first Saturn V flight, however misplaced or outdated may now seem the goal of a manned Moon landing by 1970.

    From Nature 18 November 1967

    100 Years Ago

    In the summer of 1850 a small party of engineers arrived at Dover in order to lay a cable across the Channel ... At that period it was considered absolutely unnecessary to test copper wire ... The project excited much good-natured ridicule amongst the town folk. A man was found cutting the cable with his knife to show his friends that there was a wire inside ... On an ideal calm day the pioneers laid the cable from Dover to Grisnez, but they were destined to bitter disappointment ... the anchor or the trawl of a fishing-smack cut the cable in two not many hours after it was laid. They were thus prevented from carrying out experiments which would probably have enlightened them considerably on the laws governing the transmission of submarine signals. As it was, they had no conception that their failure was mainly due to ignorance of the laws of electrical capacity and induction.

    From Nature 15 November 1917

    Footnote 1

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    50 & 100 Years Ago. Nature 551, 304 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/551304a

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