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CHAPTER TWO

MASTERS OF THE PROBLEM

By far the greatest obstacle to the progress of science and to the understanding of new tasks and provinces therein is found in this—that men despair and think things impossible.

Francis Bacon (1561–1624),

Lord Chancellor of England

SIMON NEWCOMB was not among those who gathered along the Potomac River on October 7, 1903, to witness Professor Samuel Langley’s first attempt at manned flight. Newcomb, the only American since Benjamin Franklin to be made an associate of the prestigious Institute of France, was one of America’s most gifted and honored scientists. He was a renowned Johns Hopkins mathematician, a ...

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