By Robert Lee Hotz
ometime before October 2000, as the last days of the 20th century count down, a sleek Delta II rocket will roar into a polar orbit from a seaside launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base. It will carry aloft a daring challenge to modern physics conceived more than 37 years ago by three naked Stanford scientists musing between laps at a men's swimming pool.
The result of that poolside encounter between William M. Fairbank, Robert Cannon and Leonard Schiff is methodically taking shape at Stanford today as a remarkable three-ton, trumpet-nosed spacecraft called Gravity Probe B. It is the focus of a unique $500-million NASA experiment designed to probe the invisible forces that weld together space, time and gravity.
What happens if
you prove me wrong? What will it mean for modern science?
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