In 1920 the New York Times famously stated “That Professor Goddard, with his chair in Clark College and the countenancing of the Smithsonian Institution, does not know the relation of action to reaction, and of the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react—to say that would be absurd. Of course he only seems to lack the knowledge ladled out daily in high schools.”
Robert H. Goddard (October 5, 1882 – August 10, 1945) was a professor of physics and the pioneer of modern rocketry, but perhaps more importantly he was a scientist who dared to speak the unspeakable… that man could one day travel to the moon… He was dismissed as being a crazy person.
He spent his life building, testing and perfecting liquid fueled rockets, he was often laughed at and ridiculed with newspapers running headlines like “Moon rocket misses target by 238,799 1/2 miles.” He never gave up.
50 years after that embarrassing New York Times blunder, and the day after the Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, the New York Times issued an apology. It read “Further investigation and experimentation have confirmed the findings of Isaac Newton in the 17th century, and it is now definitely established that a rocket can function in a vacuum as well as in an atmosphere. The Times regrets the error.”