Friday, March 17, 2006

Incorrect predictions

One thing that really gets on my nerves is when people are dismissive.
"The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to no one in particular?" -- Associates of David Sarnoff responding to the latter's call for investment in the radio in 1921.
Hindsight makes these predictions seems ridiculous, especially when taken out of context of the times and what was known as "common sense" or "what any educated person would know." Unfortunately, people have only have their own experiences and expertise to draw upon. The model and framework by which we can evaluate and make sense of something new is by what we know.
"Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible." -- Lord Kelvin, British mathematician and physicist, president of the British Royal Society, 1895.
"X-rays will prove to be a hoax." -- Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society, 1883.
"There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now; All that remains is more and more precise measurement." -- Lord Kelvin, speaking to the British Association for the Advancement of Science, 1900.
"Radio has no future." -- Lord Kelvin, Scottish mathematician and physicist, former president of the Royal Society, 1897.
Lord Kelvin was a major contributor to physics and engineering. I mean, he has a unit of temperature named after him. It's just that he operated on the framework that he knew of. It's very very hard to jump out of what you know and start all over. But some people just don't event try.


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