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'Star Wars' Concept

October 06, 1985

To quote some of the nay-sayers on the "Star Wars" defense system mentioned in your series.

"It's a very attractive idea. Too bad it's a fantasy." (William Perry)

"When you consider what the President intended, which was a leakproof umbrella, I think that that's something that very few scientists think is going to be possible." (Paul S. Brown)

"I think that the great majority of the lab's technical people view the President's speech as somewhat off the wall and the programs being proposed as being, in the end, intrinsically rather foolish." (Hugh E. DeWitt)

"Most of the money will be wasted: we wouldn't trust the system if we did build it." (David L. Parnas)

How interesting and ironic that in this same section of The Times there was an article on the Hoover Dam.

The writer related that the Hoover Dam's power, surging to Los Angeles, fueled aircraft companies, shipbuilders and arms manufacturers, making the region the nation's arsenal and laying the ground work for today's aerospace industry.

It prevented chronic flooding and for the first time ensured reliable irrigation of 700,000 acres of the arid California and Arizona desert, which together now produce more than a billion dollars' worth of crops a year.

But the nay-sayers were there--back in the early 1930s.

Quoting Northcutt Ely, 82, who helped arrange for construction, "Back then, the risks were so great and the disputes so bitter, that the prospects for failure were much greater than the prospects for success."

Those who say "it can't be done" have been with us since time immemorial.

"Everything that can be invented has been invented" (Charles H. Duell, director of U.S. Patent Office 1899)

"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?" (Harry M. Warner, Warner Bros. 1927)

"Sensible and responsible women do not want to vote." (Grover Cleveland, 1905)

"There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom." (Robert Millikan, Nobel Prize in Physics 1923)

"Heavier than air flying machines are impossible." (Lord Kelvin, president Royal Society, 1895)

"Babe Ruth made a big mistake when he gave up pitching." (Tris Speaker, 1921)

VANITA M. WINKER

Thousand Oaks

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