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The whole procedure [of shooting rockets into space]...presents difficulties of so fundamental a nature, that we are forced to dismiss the notion as essentially impracticable, in spite of the author's insistent appeal to put aside prejudice and to recollect the supposed impossibility of heavier-than-air flight before it was actually accomplished. Richard van der Riet Wooley, British astronomer, reviewing P.E. Cleator's Rockets in Space, Nature, March 14, 193

About Michael Brooks

Image of author Michael BrooksI am a journalist and author. My writing has appeared in various places, including the Guardian, The Independent, The Observer and Playboy. Mostly, though, it appears in New Scientist, a weekly magazine with over three quarters of a million readers worldwide. Until August 2006, I was a senior features editor at New Scientist, co-ordinating, writing or editing many of the magazine's major feature projects. I left New Scientist to write 13 Things That Don't Make Sense, which is based on a cover feature I wrote in 2005. The online version became the sixth most circulated article on the internet that year, and weirdly - continued to be the most visited article on the New Scientist site for a couple of years after that. It still ranks pretty highly.

I live in Lewes in the south of England. It's a fantastic place to live: it has access to the beautiful rolling Sussex Downs and to the coast, of course. Maybe one day 'll put some pictures on my website but then you might all want to come and live here and, frankly, there isn't room.