On this day in 1857, Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky was born in Izhevskoye, a village in Ryasan Province in Russia. One of eighteen children of a forestry worker, he suffered a bout of scarlet fever at the age of 10, which cost him his hearing. At 14, due in part to his disability, he dropped out of school. But fortunately, Tsiolkovsky was a prodigious autodidact. As a teen, he moved to Moscow for several years and educated himself by reading voraciously in the city’s libraries, devouring both scientific texts and the novels of 19th century Sci-Fi pioneer Jules Verne.
After the fall of the Russian monarchy and the rise of the Soviet Union, officials recognized the potential importance of Tsiolovsky’s work. They made him a member of the then-new Soviet Academy of Science in 1919, and in 1921 gave him a government pension that allowed him to quit teaching and devote himself entirely to writing and research. He didn’t disappoint them, producing more than 500 scientific papers and the 1926 treatise “Plan of Space Exploration,” detailing his vision of colonizing the solar system; and the 1929 book “Space Rocket Trains,” which described how multi-stage rockets could achieve escape velocity and propel a vehicle into Earth orbit. His 1932 book “Cosmic Philosophy,” completed three years before his death at age 78, argued that human colonization of space was a necessity for the species’ ultimate survival. “Earth is the cradle of humanity,” he wrote. “But mankind cannot stay in the cradle forever.” Today, Russians consider him the father of space travel, and his vision still inspires new generations of engineers and cosmonauts to explore the heavens.
And with that, here are the science and technology stories of the day.
Apple adds wireless printing to iPhone, iPad. You can already do this with third-party apps, but even so, it’s yet another sign of the zeitgeist migration away from PCs and to mobile devices.