Skip to content

It’s not rocket science

October 13, 2012

This popular expression, which I often use myself, is actually based on a false premise. As Bryan Appleyard remarks in his book, The Brain is Wider than the Sky, ‘ “It’s not rocket science” is often said to suggest that something is very simple. The point being that rocket science is seen as very difficult. In fact, it isn’t.’

Appleyard quotes the aerospace engineer Burt Rutan: ‘A rocket… is a bomb with a hole in one end.’

The science is not hard to understand: the rocket blasts downwards and travels upwards. It’s Newton’s Third Law of Motion in action. What is difficult is rocket engineering: working out the best shape and design for the rocket and the size the fuel tank needs to be. But ‘It’s not rocket engineering’ doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Perhaps we need a new expression for this idea? I’ve always liked Basil Fawlty’s ‘It’s not a proposition from Wittgenstein.’ 

Advertisements

From → Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: