[LMB] Re: OT: Rocket Scientist = Genius

Alfred Kelgarries alfredkelgarries at hotmail.com
Thu Apr 6 10:19:33 BST 2006

>Does anyone know why rocket scientist seems to be synonym with genius (at 
>least in the US, I am not sure about other anglophone countries, it is not 
>the case in the Netherlands/Dutch)?

IMHO Rocketry was the first major discipline to have wide media attention 
after the second world war, mainly because a firing rocket is one h*ck of a 
shot for newsreel and then TV. And since *all* the disciplines involved, 
from the materials science, fluid dynamics (plasma in a rocket behaves 
rather like a fluid, IIRC) through orbital mechanics, required (shudder) 

Given that the average"educated" adult American of the late 1940's and early 
1950's barely completed basic algebra, men who routinely solved equations so 
complex they required a ***COMPUTER*** (size of a freight car, powered like 
a steel smelter, run by men in lab coats with reels of tape doing arcane 
things...) could easily be viewed as so much smarter than the average person 
as to be "like Einstein" (whom everyone knew was a genius and whom everyone 
knew did hideously complex math stuff). Thus the idiomatic association.

Me , I HATE differential equations. They just seem so .... clunky....

And given that our best way to solve them is on a computer with a very 
snarky set of assumptions (a technique named for two Indian mathematicians 
which I cannot remember right now because It is four in the morning here and 
I just finished installing the web support for Visual Studio Team Foundation 
Server (MAY BILL GATES ROT IN H*LL!!!!) but which IIRC truncates rather 
cavalierly), IMHO a nobel and/or math to prize is just waiting for somebody 
to make a breakthrough in that field...

Alfred Kelgarries
"War is the art of lying to  your enemies better than they can lie to  you." 
Sun Tzu, modern version

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