A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from April 23, 2015
“It’s not rocket science”

"Rocket science” is used in an idiom that means “a complex subject.” “It’s not rocket science” is a popular saying; an earlier saying is “it’s not brain surgery.”

The expression is frequently used in sports. “But coaching football is not rocket science and it’s not brain surgery. It’s a game, nothing more, no matter what anyone says” was cited in 1985.

“It can be like rocket surgery at times”—a blend of “rocket science” and “brain surgery”—was cited in 1997.


Wiktionary: rocket science
Noun
rocket science
(uncountable)
1. (uncountable) the science or study of rockets and their design
2. (uncountable, idiomatic) anything overly complex, detailed or confusing
It’s not rocket science. Just screw in the bulb and flip the switch.

22 December 1985, Sunday Intelligencer (Doylestown, PA), “David Shula? He deserves a shot at coach” by Phil Sheridan, pg. B-6, col. 3:
Football is a game. No one is suggesting that 26-year-old David Shula rule the universe. That’s a job for someone a little older. But coaching football is not rocket science and it’s not brain surgery. It’s a game, nothing more, no matter what anyone says.

7 January 1989, Rockford (IL) Register Star, “Who’s No. 1? It’s just a game” by Hal Bock, pg. 3C, col. 1:
That’s all we’re dealing with here. Just a game. Not neurosurgery. Not rocket science. Not Armageddon. Just a game.

11 June 1989, The Advocate and Greenwich Time (Stanford, CT), “Woman who lived with Cary Grant tells all” by Amy Wilson (Fort Lauderdale News & Sun-Sentinel), pg. D7, col. 1:
This ain’t rocket science; we’re not curing cancer here.

29 June 1990, State-Times (Baton Rouge, LA), “Baseball isn’t just a game anymore” by Jim Litke (AP), pg. 7-E, col. 6:
All those times you watched players play and managers manage and official scorers score and said to yourself, ‘Hey, this isn’t rocket science—well, it turns out you may have judged the participants too harshly.

OCLC WorldCat record
It’s Not Rocket Science - Imagine this: Your company is making weapons for Armageddon, and you’re trying to keep up with a computer from the Stone Age
Author: C Barnett
Publisher: [Boston, MA : CFO Pub. Corp., c1985-
Edition/Format: Article Article : English
Publication: CFO : the magazine for chief financial officers. 10, no. 5, (1994): 30
Database: ArticleFirst

OCLC WorldCat record
Explaining the Science of Agriculture: It isn’t rocket science...or is it?
Publisher: [Niles, IL, etc., Century Communications, etc.]
Edition/Format: Article Article : English
Publication: Agri marketing. 33, no. 9, (1995): 26
Database: ArticleFirst

Google Groups: comp.os.linux.misc
Win32 (was Re: stop complaining! MS Windows rules!)
David F. Skoll
10/25/97
(...)
> It can be like rocket surgery at times, but if you know how to use it
> it’s quite powerful.

“Rocket Surgery?” You mean “Brain surgery.” Or “Rocket science.” grin

OCLC WorldCat record
Scorecard - Sporting Seinfeld . The law lays down in Kentucky . Is Venus ascendant? . It ain’t rocket science . WNBA coup . Faces in the Crowd . SI View
Publisher: [Los Angeles, CA, etc., Time, Inc.]
Edition/Format: Article Article : English
Publication: Sports illustrated. 88, no. 19, (1998): 19
Database: ArticleFirst

Urban Dictionary
rocket surgery
(n.) a play on words which mixes two common metaphors: “rocket science” and “brain surgery”
(...)
by fugitive247 November 07, 2004

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityEducation/Schools • Thursday, April 23, 2015 • Permalink