Saturday, April 18, 2009
Semi-regular George Will watch:
In Sunday's Washington Post
, Will writes
The Soviet Union was a Third World nation with First World missiles. It had, as Russia still has, an essentially hunter-gatherer economy, based on extraction industries -- oil, gas, minerals, furs. Other than vodka, for what manufactured good would you look to Russia? Caviar? It is extracted from the fish that manufacture it.
Funny, I don't recall Will saying that Sarah Palin was governor of, essentially, a Third World nation.
So, does one dig nuclear submarines out of the ground or do they grow on trees?
They put the first artificial satellite into orbit, the first man into orbit, and the first woman into orbit. The first man to walk in space was one of theirs, too.
Not bad for a primitive tribe of hunter-gatherers.
Yes, but they had German Übermenschen telling them how to do it (What, the US did the same? That must be a librul lie!) ;-)
A lot of pioneering work for submarines was also done in Russia (including the independent invention of the periscope).
There are also reports that the first ever manned balloon was launched in the Ukraine (although with fatal results).
Yes, but they had German Übermenschen telling them how to do itNot entirely, no. They (and, earlier, the Russian Empire) had Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, who developed theoretical astronautics, the basis for all space flight. In the US, Robert Goddard was a similar figure, though Tsiolkovsky's work predated Goddard's and the latter concentrated more on practical rocketry than on theory. Both men were essentially ignored until the Germans concentrated the minds of their respective governments by lobbing V2s at Britain.
As it was, the US acquired and employed most of the best Nazis, whilst the Russians had to make do with reading the leftover blueprints and a handful of German assistants. It was Sergey Korolyov, the head of the Soviet space programme, that actually led the way into space: just about all of the major firsts were his doing, with the US and Wehrner von Braun playing catch-up.
I am well aware of the Russian pioneers in rocket science (and of Goddard). I was just poking fun at the "the Russians are too primitive to invent anything without foreign help" meme.