Columbia Library columns (v.9(1959Nov-1960May))

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  v.9,no.1(1959:Nov): Page 15  

Early space-Travellers                            15

place of Lana's vacuum. It was only a matter of time before the
first successful ascent of the Montgolfier balloon—with its cargo
of a cock, a duck and a lamb.

Yet Lana, who believed that he had solved the problem, was
the first to raise a warning voice about the dangers of aviation.
"Other difficulties I do not foresee that could prevail against this
invention," wrote the real inventor of the flying-machine, "save
one only, which to me seems the greatest of them all, and that is
that God would never surely allow such a machine to be success-
full." The airship, if actually invented, Lana \vent on to warn,
would "create many disturbances in the civil and political govern¬
ments of man." It could be "steered over the squares of cities, over
the courtyards of dwelling houses," over navies at sea. From it
men could throw fireballs and bombs, so that "not ships alone,
but houses, fortresses and cities could be thus destroyed." Surely,
wrote the man who was both a great scientist and a reverent son
of the Church, God will never permit man to fly. This, let us
remember, was in the year 1670.

Perhaps the first scientists were poets and romancers whose
imaginations soared into space, untramelled by reality, dreamers
who believed that their dreams might come true. They have be¬
come true—but the dream may yet prove to be a nightmare. Which
voice will conquer—that of optimism or dread of extinction—only
time will tell.
  v.9,no.1(1959:Nov): Page 15