Past events that disproved the impossible: one person’s impossibility is another person’s possibility
In many areas of life, the study of things that were deemed “impossible”, actually opened up completely unexpected domains in many human endeavors—especially science and technology.
Many events in recorded history have proven that what one person thought was “impossible”, was often regarded by another person as a “possibility”—actually, one person’s food is another person’s poison.
Past events that illustrate how people who studied the impossible, changed the course of world
It is sad to note that there were times in the past when certain reputable media outlets, professional bodies and scientists lacked positivity and belief, and declared that a number of scientific and technological ideas were hopelessly impossible:
The New York Times
During the 1920s and 1930s, Robert Goddard, who has been regarded as the founder of modern design & operation, was severely criticized by people who believed that rockets would never travel in space—in fact, they disdainfully called his pursuit “Goddard’s Folly”.
An unforgettable incident occurred in 1921 when the then editors of “The New York Times” made a disgraceful statement against Dr. Goddard’s work: “Professor Goddard does not know the relation between action and reaction and the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react. He seems to lack the basic knowledge ladled out daily in high schools”.
The editors believed it would be impossible to send rockets into space because there would be no air in space for rockets to push against.
Unfortunately for the unbelieving editors, there statements have been found to be misguided and worthless for over several decades after their unfair criticism and utterances.
Nineteenth century chemists
Chemists of the nineteenth century popularly declared that it would be impossible to find a substance—popularly known as “the philosopher’s stone”—that could turn lead into gold.
Back then, 19th century chemistry was based on the fundamental immutability of elements such as lead; fast forward to this generation and see the big difference because lead atoms can now be turned into gold.
Lord Kelvin, who is widely regarded as prominent physicist, declared that “heavier-than-air” devices such as aircraft, would not be able to fly; also, he assumed that X-rays were deceptive, a hoax, and that the idea of the “radio” would be fruitless and without any future.
It’s surprising to witness how much time has passed by, and yet all the things Kelvin thought were impossible, have become possible, and continue to remain so till date.
At the end of the nineteenth century, most scientists thought it was impossible for the Earth to be up to a billion years old. Lord Kelvin widely declared that molten Earth would take between 20 to 40 million years to cool down; his statement contradicted that of geologists/Darwinian biologists who claimed that the Earth could be up to a billion years old.
Finally, the impossible was proven to be possible after the discovery of nuclear force by Madame Curie and other scientists showed that if the center of the Earth is heated by radioactive decay, it could be kept in a molten state for billions of years.
Initially, in the 1930s, Albert Einstein believed it would be impossible to make an atomic bomb.
Atomic physicists had already known that there was an appreciable quantity of energy located deep within nuclei—in accordance with Einstein’s equation, E = mc2; however, they wrongly assumed that the energy in each nucleus was too insignificant to use in making an atomic bomb.
On the other hand, atomic physicist Leo Szilard remembered H. G. Wells prediction in a 1914 novel titled “The World Set Free”, in which Wells predicted the development of the atomic bomb.
According to the book, Wells believed that the secret behind the atomic bomb would be discovered by a physicist in 1933.
Fortunately for Szilard, after he came across Well’s book in 1932, it inspired him to develop an idea in 1933 by magnifying the power of a single atom through a chain reaction, so that the energy generated from splitting a single uranium nucleus could be magnified trillions of times, and employed in making the atomic bomb.
Szilard conducted more experiments and held secret negotiations with Einstein and then American President Franklin Roosevelt; this led to “The Manhattan Project” which was used to build the atomic bomb.
“Black holes” were once regarded as “science fiction”. In fact, Einstein wrote a paper in 1939 that “proved” that it would be impossible for black holes to be formed.
Yet, in the present-day, the Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray telescope have proven the existence of thousands of black holes in outer space.
The great cosmologist Stephen Hawking tried to discover a new law of physics that would prove that time travel is impossible—he called his idea “chronology protection conjecture”.
Unfortunately, after many years of research, he was unable to disprove time travel. In fact, contrary to his idea, physicists have demonstrated that a law which would prevent time travel is beyond present-day reality.
And because there is no law that can prevent the existence of time machines, physicists see the possibility to create time machines and do time travel in the near future.
Each person has the power to believe in all types of possibilities and not be affected by the negative beliefs and influences of faithless reputable media outlets, professional bodies, people, and even great scientists.
Knowledge is power: the reason that certain technologies were deemed impossible was due to the obvious fact that some basic laws of natural science were not known, and this created huge gaps in the understanding of science back in the day—no wonder many scientific and technological ideas were considered impossible.
Throughout history, time and time again, people who studied things that were deemed “impossible”, stretched and broadened the boundaries of science and life, and inspired other scientists to believe that anything is “possible”.
The ideas and technologies that are regarded as “impossible” in the present-day, will become possible in a few years, decades, or centuries into the future.