June 15, 2005 |
On May 18, Tim Weiner reported in the New York Times that the Air Force is seeking President Bush's approval for a national-security directive that would bring the country closer to deploying offensive and defensive weapons in outer space. The article suggests that such a move poses the danger of provoking a space arms race, particularly with Russia and China, and that costs could escalate into the trillions of dollars. The obvious question is: Why are we doing this? A close look at the U.S. space program over the last 50 years suggests an answer.
July 18, 1997 |
Rocks. Rocks. And more rocks. That's what a team of scientists found on Mars in the 1950 sci-fi classic "Rocket Ship X-M. " Unlike NASA's Sojourner vehicle (so far, anyway), the X-M team also found hostile, radiation-riddled Martians who tried to take over their rocket ship, killing two of the scientists in the attempt. In this movie, the Martians are desperate to escape their rocky landscape. Mars, it seems, had been a lovely place to live until warring factions atom-bombed it back to the stone age. (A word to the wise, Earthlings.
February 28, 2012 |
AS A WRITER, Matthew Quick has traveled from Collingswood, N.J., to outer space and inner teenage psyche. Quick, who grew up in South Jersey and taught at Haddonfield High School, is the author of "The Silver Linings Playbook," the Collingswood-set novel that recently got the big-picture treatment from Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro and director David O. Russell (it's slated to hit theaters in November). But Quick's last two books have been young-adult fiction, first with "Sorta Like a Rock Star" and now with "Boy21," which hits bookstores next Tuesday.
November 16, 1990 |
A thin, filmy blue arch sweeps across the screen. Above is the blackness of outer space. Below is the living Earth. The planet is huge, the abyss even greater, and all that separates one from the other is the frail blue line - our atmosphere. The atmosphere that we are polluting, tampering with, poking holes in. This scene, taken with special 70mm cameras from an orbiting space shuttle, in one spectacular image rams home how delicate is the world we treat so rudely. This is the sobering yet vivid vision of Blue Planet, opening today at the Franklin Institute's Omniverse Theater.
June 15, 1990 |
It is apparently impossible not to write a fascinating book about one of the century's most enduring tragedies, the sinking of the Titanic on its maiden voyage. Someone must have overheard the infamous line - "Not even God himself could sink this ship" - because on April 14, 1912, it did sink, taking more than 1,500 passengers with it. Among the many ironies of the event is that the disaster was predicted in an 1898 novel called Titan by Morgan Robertson. Among the analogous facts: three large propellers, only 24 lifeboats to save 2,000 passengers and a claim that the ship was unsinkable.
May 12, 2002 |
One day, 10-year-old Jamal Badie may want to be an astronaut. "You get to float around, and you get to see stuff you never saw before," the fourth grader at Evergreen Avenue Elementary School said wistfully. His signature will at least make it into orbit. Jamal's class launched the school's participation in "Student Signatures in Space," the highlight of a national education program to get students interested in outer space. Students from 530 U.S. schools - including Thomas E. Bowe Elementary School in Glassboro, Whitehall Elementary School in Williamstown, Thomas O. Hopkins Middle School in Burlington Township, Kenneth R. Olson Middle School in Tabernacle, Delran Middle School, and St. John's School in Collingswood - signed and decorated posters that will travel aboard a space-shuttle mission in the fall.
August 14, 1995 |
SPACE FOR SALE; THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD Once man ventured into outer space, could advertisers be far behind? A Swedish company is betting not. The Gazolin&S advertising agency is seeking bids to send the first commercial into outer space. A 280-square-foot section has been reserved for advertisements aboard a Maxus rocket scheduled for liftoff Nov. 28. The 15-minute flight, funded by the European Space Agency, will be launched from Esrange, Sweden. "It is a small step for the people behind the project but a giant leap for modern marketing," quipped Gazolin&S executive Robert Bryhn.
June 7, 1986
My pre-school class recently took a trip to the Philadelphia Zoo. How very innovative of the zoo to let the wild animals roam free while the civilized animals are locked up. We were trapped on the monorail with a group of teenagers who conversed in screams and gave out mating calls to the boys below with as many dirty words as could be managed. Some children with the name of a South Philadelphia school printed on their shirts were hanging from the branches of trees until the tree broke.
October 23, 1986
President Reagan says now that the Strategic Defense Initiative, "Star Wars," is our insurance policy to guarantee that the Soviets adhere to a nuclear weapons agreement. Some guarantee! Experts don't know if it'll work, and 95 percent reliability would mean failure, since if only 5 percent of attacking missiles got through it would be all over for U.S. survival. Would you buy an "insurance policy" from super salesman Ronald Reagan? Insurance policies guarantee payment in the event of loss or death or a fixed amount on a date certain.
June 21, 1987
Sometimes it's hard to get a good idea off the ground. Take for instance, space burials. The ingenious entrepreneurs who want to launch the cremated remains of loved ones - "cremains" as they're called - are encountering all sorts of problems. Astronomers are protesting. They argue that the orbiting mausoleums would reflect light from the sun and impair scientists' views of the stars. The sky already has become a graveyard of space junk, they say, and heaven knows the situation would only worsen if Celestis Group Inc. of Melbourne, Fla., wins approval to send off as many as 10,330 people per launch into outer space.