That argument undercuts itself, though. Certainly it would've been known at
that time that there was theoretically some combination that would allow
heavier-than-air flight. The question, though, is whether just knowing that is
enough to immediately suggest how to get that combination. The huge
number of failed attempts and the widespread conviction among the experts that
it just wasn't possible to get that combination argues that what the Wright
brothers did wasn't immediately obvious once the problem was stated. And
that's the very definition of novel, something where the solution isn't
immediately obvious once you know the problem to be solved. The Wright Brothers'
invention wasn't the exact combination of weight, power, lift and drag needed to
get a plane to fly, it was figuring out how to build an aircraft that provided
that combination. Lots of people undoubtedly could calculate what that
combination must be, but the Wrights were the ones who figured out the hard
part: how to build the sucker.
[ Reply to This | Parent | # ]