Happy Sputnik Day!

(picture courtesy of NASA: check out their Sputnik informationals at http://history.nasa.gov/sputnik/index.html and http://history.nasa.gov/sputnik/sputorig.html)

Yes, 50 years ago today, Russian scientists put the first arteficial satellite in orbit. It didn’t crash into a crystalline sphere of Heaven, it did orbit around a spherical Earth, and in doing so (and sending back its telemetry by radio) it demonstrated the power of science to increase humanity’s understanding of, and power within, the natural world. It inspired many a youngster to awe and excitement and a deeper interest in science, and many an American politico to fear and envy and a determination to show that Americans could do just as well as the Russians or better. (Fortunately that’s true; science works equally well for everybody, regardless of ideology, if its methods are followed honestly.)

~ by B.T. Murtagh on October 5, 2007.

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