Rocket Science – It’s Not Rocket Science!

We know it’s a synonym for something very difficult but really, it’s a misnomer. Where did the term come from? It was obviously coined by someone who doesn’t understand how simple it really is. Have you ever farted in a closed room and noticed people moving away from you? No? Er… actually neither have I but you can imagine the result. That’s basically rocket science but probably not what prompted Sir Isaac Newton to state that “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” more than 300 years ago. Newton failed to see the childishly amusing interpretation of a falling apple as a tree farting fruit onto the sleeping scientist. But that was all about gravity, something rocket science is meant to overcome.

It was Robert Goddard who, in the early 20th century, took Newton’s famous words and discovered he could mix some liquid chemicals together to make a rocket fart and cause the entire planet to move away. See? The concept is still simple enough for most minds. But Goddard obviously knew the rocket, being somewhat less massive than the earth, was the object moving away, something Albert Einstein would have said is all relative.

Goddard had a vision. In his vision he could see violently flatulating rockets heading for earth orbit, the moon and beyond. He realised to achieve this he must find a way to control the strength and timing of his rocket’s, er… gaseous emissions. Many people saw the resulting complex mathematics as a huge grey cloud of smelly numbers and sanitised it in their minds as “Rocket Science”.

Armstrong reminds us, while it might take more than a small step for some individuals to understand rocket science, it was a giant leap for mankind. But it’s not the hardest thing man has ever done. Predicting the weather accurately, for instance. Or solving world poverty. There are so many problems that man as not yet solved, yet a catchy synonym meaning “hard” is not equated to any of them.

Man has achieved so many things using rocket science. We’ve sent probes to the moon and planets. We landed the aforementioned Armstrong and his colleague pretty close to the mark — 384,400 kms away – and brought them back again! With Voyager 2 we played pool and bounced the cue ball off four different sized coloured balls without missing one or potting the black. We’ve fired a washing machine at a comet the size of sports stadium and hit it – from 2 billion kms away. Come on, that’s impressive! And just this week we landed yet another probe on Mars using the allegedly difficult science.

Sounds to me like we’ve got it pretty much down pat. Not bad for something so hard, yet is really only as simple as a mere fart.

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