October 8, 2007 |
Fifty years ago, America was shaken out of technological complacency by a beeping 180-pound aluminum ball orbiting overhead. Sputnik was a shock because we had always assumed that Russia was nothing but a big, lumbering and all-brawn bear. He could wear down the Nazis and produce mountains of steel but had none of our savvy or sophistication. Then one day we woke up and found he had beaten us into space, placing overhead the first satellite to orbit the Earth since God placed the moon where it could give us lovely sailing tides.
April 21, 2007 |
When East meets West in classical music, it's usually artistic fusions between, oh, Beijing and Vienna. Recent days at the Kimmel Center, however, suggested that a far wider gap can yawn between Philadelphia and San Francisco. Cases in point: Terry Riley's multimedia piece Sun Rings performed by Kronos Quartet Thursday at the Perelman Theater, and John Adams' Harmonielehre performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra yesterday at Verizon Hall (in a program with the superb young violinist Janine Jansen)
March 2, 2006 |
Outer space isn't a vacuum. But it's getting awfully sparse out there. Space operas have always been an integral part of the TV menu, from Captain Video to Farscape. But at the moment, apart from the various Stargate series starring that guy from MacGyver, the only franchise still in orbit is Battlestar Galactica (Fridays, 10 p.m.) on the Sci Fi Channel. That series is zipping along in its own curious warp drive. Because Battlestar Galactica is an extreme overhaul of a beloved '70s series with the same name, it both invites and shatters preconceptions with every episode.
August 19, 2005 |
It was a cinematic coincidence that ranks up there with the debut of The China Syndrome just a few days before the 1979 nuclear accident at Three Mile Island. I'm referring to the news of the discovery of a 10th planet in our solar system on the same day a network showed the movie K-Pax, in which a mental patient who claims to be from another world tells his psychologist that 10 planets, in fact, revolve around the sun. Apart from the bizarre timing, the observation by Kevin Spacey's self-proclaimed spaceman was one of the rare occasions when conjecture of this sort has turned out to be the right stuff.
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.
September 29, 2004 |
WHEN YOU first hear about SpaceShipOne, it sounds like billionaire Paul Allen has run out of things to buy on Earth. Allen, who founded Microsoft with Bill Gates, surpassed the stage where millionaires finance yacht races about three zeroes ago. He owns half of DreamWorks studios, Oxygen Media, the Seattle Supersonics, the Portland Trailblazers and he's buying up every acre of available real estate in the Northwest corner of the United States that...
July 21, 2004 |
An Irving Berlin wartime ditty featured the famous line, "Oh! How I hate to get up in the morning. " We've all had mornings like that, when we felt that it didn't pay to get up. I knew I was having one of those mornings when I found myself wondering why other people were smiling and laughing and, in general, not looking as miserable as I felt. Recognizing these as early symptoms of depression made me even more miserable. Then something stopped me in my tracks. I opened the newspaper and saw the photographs of Saturn sent back by the bus-size Cassini spacecraft as it sped toward that planet at 54,000 m.p.h.
May 16, 2004 |
Some important visitors dropped by the Abington Friends School recently. But despite high security, their appearance was not one of any gravity. In fact, these visitors would not have known gravity if it hit them like a meteor shower. They were travelers from the moon. Small bits of rock and soil, they were snatched from the lunar surface by successive Apollo moon missions from 1969 through the early 1970s. And now they were in Jordan Burkey's physics classroom, silent emissaries from outer space encased in a clear, plastic disk.
February 4, 2003 |
Living in the Space Age has benefits for all of us. But Tang isn't one of them. Neither is Teflon, nor Velcro. Those inventions, despite oft-repeated myths, did not grow out of space research. But NASA has documented more than 1,300 technologies that have played a role in life on Earth - including more than 100 spin-offs from the space shuttle program. For instance, NASA says, the same rocket fuel that helps launch shuttles can help destroy land mines. An infrared, handheld camera used to observe the shuttle's blazing plumes is also capable of scanning for brushfires.
February 2, 2003 |
As the nation mourned yesterday's crash of the space shuttle Columbia, four Norristown middle schoolers experienced the disaster in particularly personal terms. The eighth graders from East Norriton Middle School - Jack Casey, Brian Letrinko, Christopher Delaney and Andrea White - were among about 30 student groups from across the country participating in NASA's Space Experiment Module, an educational program in which children design science projects that are loaded on to the shuttle and shipped into outer space.