07 September, 2007

The "Space Age" is 50 years young

Next month, humans will have been mucking about in space (and performing the odd bit of scientific research) for 50 years - Sputnik 1 was hurled spectactularly skywards on a pillar of flame by the Soviet Union on the 4th of October 1957...it's amazing to me (I guess because it all started way before I was born) to have it reenforced that it's actually only been 50 years (excepting, of course, all the Nazi war research that largely made it possible)...to me, the fact that we can do it has always been part of my accepted state of reality...

Anyway, New Scientist this month have a fantastic feature, refreshingly bereft of the oft-repeated bits of space history (only one mention of Apollo 13, for example), so if you have any interest in this kind of thing, pick up a paper copy if you can - I especially enjoyed the great piece on why we should think seriously about colonising Mars (and I quote "the first words spoken on the moon were in English, not because England sent astronaughts but because it planted a colony in North America that did"), that made me laugh... ;)

Something that didn't make me laugh was learning that North America, fearing disruption of communications following a nuclear war decided to create a fake ionosphere by dumping 480 million fragments of copper wire into orbit, they were supposed to thin out and form a nice harmelss reflective carpet, but instead (of course) they all clumped together into large mats (some of which are big enough to be detected by radar)...

Anyway, plenty to learn in there even if you thought you had heard it all before (won't spoil it)... ;)

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