Lanchester was arguably the first to somewhat accurately describe the physical mechanism for the generation of lift. In 1894, the Birmingham Natural History and Philosophical Society read his paper, but according to Anderson

he never published that paper, because at that time he had his eyes on the Royal Society. However, a member of the Royal Society suggested that the work was more appropriate for the Physical Society. When Lanchester submitted his paper to the Physical Society, it was rejected.

Anderson goes on to explain that the reason for this rejection

was Lanchester's poor writing style. His explanations were not easy to follow.

Wikipedia, meanwhile, explains without citation that the paper was "too advanced for its time."

Neither of these explanations seems particularly convincing to me. To the first point, we can read a lot of Lanchester's writings contemporary to the paper in question (which is not known to have survived), and some relevant thoughts in his Aerodynamics (although this work was published some ten years later). While his explanations could be more lucid, they are not impenetrable to the modern reader, nor should they have been to the learned people of the day. To the second point, the unsourced claim on Wikipedia seems more of a fanciful cliché to me than a practical reason.

Are there other factors that could have influenced the society's rejection of the paper, or am I missing something in the given explanations?

  • $\begingroup$ Anderson does not offer lack of calculations as an explanation for the rejection by the Physical Society. He calls it "the second problem", and quotes Joukowski from 1910, while the rejection was "the first problem" back in 1894-7. Aerodynamics is from 1907, and we can not tell how well the paper was written from a book of over ten years later, so bad writing is possible. Unfortunately, Anderson does not tell us where he got "poor writing style" from or why he is so sure about it given that the paper is lost. $\endgroup$ – Conifold Nov 25 '17 at 3:40
  • $\begingroup$ I think that's a better reading of Anderson than my initial one. I've edited the question to accommodate it. Thank you! $\endgroup$ – Peter Schilling Nov 25 '17 at 6:38

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