Good article, but I should point out that de Rozier's balloon didn't explode. In fact, it couldn't (that sort of thing had to wait for the development of the hydrogen balloon). Neither, by the way, was it an airship. Airships are by definition steerable. Jules Verne made the distinction in his aviation novel, Robur… » 10/14/14 9:29am 10/14/14 9:29am

I looked in vain for a credit to Jack Williamson's classic short story, "Born of the Sun" (1934), in which a series of anomalies on the moon, including huge cracks splitting the surface, result in the revelation that the moon is in fact a gigantic egg. The egg hatches and a gigantic winged creature emerges. » 10/12/14 6:40am 10/12/14 6:40am

When I was in college in the late 60s I belonged to the local SF fan club and not only contributed art and articles to its fanzine, but to many others as well. I eventually gave my entire collection to the library of the National Air & Space Museum when I went to work there in 1972. The smell of ditto fluid and… » 9/25/14 1:09pm 9/25/14 1:09pm

The IAU definition had a built-in bias from the get-go, and that was the need to come up with a definition that made sure that the earth would be included. The idea that the earth had to be a planet slewed the definition to the point where it really didn't define anything. One result was that—as was pointed out in the… » 9/22/14 3:31pm 9/22/14 3:31pm