Category Archives: History

90 Years Ago

90 years ago today Robert Goddard launched his first liquid fueled rocket.  Powered by a mixture of liquid oxygen and gasoline the rocket reportedly rose 41 feet (~12 meters) and traveled 184 feet (56 meters) before landing in a cabbage patch.

Goddard’s diary entry:

March 17, 1926. The first flight with a rocket using liquid propellants was made yesterday at Aunt Effie’s farm in Auburn…. Even though the release was pulled, the rocket did not rise at first, but the flame came out, and there was a steady roar. After a number of seconds it rose, slowly until it cleared the frame, and then at express train speed, curving over to the left, and striking the ice and snow, still going at a rapid rate —  Lehman, Milton (1963). “This High Man: The Life of Robert H. Goddard”. New York, NY: Farrar, Strauss, and Co..

Today, 90 years later we have space probes: at the extreme edge of the solar system, orbiting comets and moons and planets, we have put robotic travelers on other worlds and it all started on Aunt Effie’s farm.

Video from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

LIGO Details

Now for some more detail on the discovery of gravitational waves.

The press release from the Caltech LIGO website:

LIGO Opens New Window on the Universe with Observation of Gravitational Waves from Colliding Black Holes

WASHINGTON, DC/Cascina, Italy

For the first time, scientists have observed ripples in the fabric of spacetime called gravitational waves, arriving at the earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe. This confirms a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity and opens an unprecedented new window onto the cosmos.

Gravitational waves carry information about their dramatic origins and about the nature of gravity that cannot otherwise be obtained. Physicists have concluded that the detected gravitational waves were produced during the final fraction of a second of the merger of two black holes to produce a single, more massive spinning black hole. This collision of two black holes had been predicted but never observed.
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LIGO Does it!!!

The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory or LIGO has made history with the detection of gravitational waves predicted by Einstein.

This is HUGE! So huge I didn’t believe it, but it’s true – WOW. To say this ushers in a whole new era in observing the universe is not an exaggeration.

This video from PBS – Space Time is a nice introduction to the discovery.


Edgar Mitchell

Sad news. Astronaut Edgar Mitchell (USN Capt. Ret.), who became the sixth man to walk on the moon during the Apollo 14 mission to the highlands of Fra Mauro, died on Feb. 4 in West Palm Beach, Florida at the age of 85. Mitchell’s death occurred on the eve of the 45th anniversary of his landing on the moon aboard the lunar module Antares with Apollo 14. Mitchell spent 33 hours on the lunar surface.