I enjoyed John Lanchester’s review in the LRB of a book about the Wright Brothers and a biography of Elon Musk.
It’s all good, but the part around how no one took notice of the Wright Brothers’ first (ever in the history of humankind) flight, in 1903, was amazing, especially this:
The first eyewitness report was written by a bee expert from Ohio called Amos Root, who broke the story in his own publication, Gleanings in Bee Culture. He sent a copy to the editor of Scientific American. The magazine’s response, an entire year later, was to explain why the Wrights couldn’t possibly have done what was claimed of them:
If such sensational and tremendously important experiments are being conducted in a not very remote part of the country, on a subject in which almost everybody feels the most profound interest, is it possible to believe that the enterprising American reporter, who, it is well known, comes down the chimney when the door is locked in his face … would not have ascertained all about them and published … long ago?
So they don’t believe it, because if it were true, somebody would have told them so – leaving aside the fact that somebody already had.
Going by Lanchester’s review, it sounds like it was nearly five years after the brothers could fly before the media and public believed it, and even then, only in France.
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