6.30.2012

June 1962: A one-way trip to the moon

Among the many technological questions in the space race was this: How, exactly, to put a man on the moon? From the book "Chariots For Apollo: A History of Manned Lunar Spacecraft" (NASA, 1979):

Another approach was the proposal to send a spacecraft on a one-way trip to the moon. In this concept, the astronaut would be deliberately stranded on the lunar surface and resupplied by rockets shot at him for, conceivably, several years until the space agency developed the capability to bring him back! ... In June 1962, John M. Cord and Leonard M. Seale, two engineers from Bell Aerosystems, urged in a paper presented an Institute of Aerospace Sciences meeting in Los Angeles that the United States adopt this technique for getting a man on the moon in a hurry. While he waited for NASA to find a way to bring him back, they said, the astronaut could perform valuable scientific work. Cord and Seale, in a classic understatement, acknowledged that the would be a very hazardous mission, but they argued that "it would be cheaper, faster and perhaps the only way to beat Russia." There is no evidence that Apollo planners ever took this idea seriously.

* "One-Way Space Man" (by David S.F. Portree, www.wired.com, April 2012): @
* "Summary of proposal" (discussion board, www.alternatehistory.com): @
* Excerpt from "This New Ocean: The Story of the First Space Age" (William E. Burrows, 1999): @
* Excerpt from "Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void" (Mary Roach, 2011): @
* "Chariots for Apollo": @

6.27.2012

Wednesday, June 27, 1962: Christo and Jeanne-Claude

The artists install "Wall of Oil Barrels -- The Iron Curtain," blockading rue Visconti, a Paris street, with 89 oil barrels. It is their response to both the Berlin Wall and the barricades set up in Paris during Algeria's war for independence.

* Details from christojeanneclaude.net: @ and @
* Excerpt from "Christo and Jeanne-Claude: A Biography" (Bert Chernow, 2002): @
* Entry from "The Grove Encyclopedia of American Art" (Joan Marter, editor in chief, 2011): @

6.25.2012

Monday, June 25, 1962: Engel v. Vitale

The U.S. Supreme Court rules that voluntary prayer in public schools violates the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment prohibition of a state establishment of religion. New York state's Board of Regents had written and authorized a voluntary nondenomination prayer that could be recited by students at the beginning of each school day. In 1958-59 a group of parents that included Steven Engel in Hyde Park, N.Y., objected to the prayer ... and sued the school board president, William Vitale. The prayer which proponents argued was constitutional because it was voluntary and promoted the free exercise of religion (also protected in the First Amendment, was upheld by New York's courts, prompting the petitioners to file a successful appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. ... The decision, the first in which the Supreme Court had ruled unconstituional public school sponsorship of religion, was unpopular with a broad segment of the American public. (from www.britannica.com)

The prayer in question: "Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our Country."

The vote was 6-1, with Justices Byron White and Felix Frankfurter not taking part in the decision. (The case was argued on April 3, but White did not take his seat until April 16. Frankfurter suffered a stroke on April 5, leading to his retirement in August.)

Photo from Corbis Images, taken June 27, 1962, the day after the ruling, in San Antonio, Texas.

* Text of ruling, including links to concurring opinion from Justice William O. Douglas and dissenting opinion from Justice Potter Stewart (from www.law.cornell.edu): @
* Short summary and link to audio of oral arguments (from www.oyez.com): @
* Entry from www.uscourts.gov: @
* Entry from "The Encyclopedia of American Law" (David Andrew Schultz, 2002): @
* "Prayer and Scripture Reading in Public Schools: (from www.firstamendmentstudies.org): @
* "Atheists vs. Evangelists: The School Prayer Decision of 1962" (The Saturday Evening Post, 2012): @
* "Engel v. Vitale: Prayer in the Schools" (book by Susan Dudley Gold, 2006): @

6.18.2012

Monday, June 18, 1962: X-rays from outer space

From the book "Atlas of Astronomical Discoveries" (Govert Schilling, 2010):

In the summer of 1962, the first source of cosmic X-rays is discovered, heralding the birth of high-energy astrophysics. ... On June 18, 1962, a Geiger counter is sent into space for the first time, on board the U.S. Air Force's Aerobee sounding rocket. The rocket flight, from White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, lasts less than six minutes, with the rocket reaching a maximum height of about 130 kilometers. Yet in those few minutes the Geiger counter does register X-rays coming from the direction of the constellation Scorpius. It is already known that the Sun emits X-rays, but Scorpius X-1 is the first X-ray source outside the solar system.

Photo of Aerobee payload from Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (details: @)

* NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory: @
* NASA's High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center: @
* X-Ray Group, Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge: @
* "X-Ray Vision" (Discover magazine, 2005): @
* "A midlife crisis for X-ray astronomy" (Nature magazine, June 2012): @
* Entry on X-ray astronomy from www.astronomyca.com: @
* From the book "Exploring the X-Ray Universe" (Philip A. Charles and Frederick D. Seward, 1995): @
* From the book "The Invisible Sky: Rosat and the Age of X-Ray Astronomy" (B. Aschenbach, Hermann Michael-Hahn and Joachim Truemper, 1998): @

6.16.2012

Saturday, June 16, 1962: 'Silent Spring'

The first of three installments of Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" is published in the June 16 issue of The New Yorker magazine. The book examines man-made threats to the environment and wildlife, especially from the widespread use of chemical pesticides. Carson had worked as a marine biologist, with three well-received books on ocean life to her credit. "Silent Spring" would be published in book-length form on September 27, increasing environmental awareness and activism.

* First installment (from archives.newyorker.com): @
* Second installment (June 23): @
* Third installment (June 30): @
* Virtual exhibition from Environment & Society Portal: @
* Rachel Carson page from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: @
* "The Story of 'Silent Spring' " (from National Resources Defense Council): @
* "Power in the Pen" (from The Pop History Dig): @
* New York Times book review (September 23): @
* "Rachel Carson and JFK, an Environmental Tag Team" (Audubon magazine, 2012): @
* Episode of "Bill Moyers Journal" (PBS, 2007): @
* Silent Spring Institute: @
* Rachel Carson Council: @
* www.rachelcarson.org: @
* www.silentspringmovie.com: @
* DDT fact sheets from National Pesticide Information Center: @ and @

6.14.2012

Friday, June 15, 1962: The Port Huron Statement


We are people of this generation, bred in at least modest comfort, housed now in universities, looking uncomfortably to the world we inherit. ... 
If we appear to seek the unattainable, as it has been said, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable.
     -- the opening and closing words of the Port Huron Statement, the founding document of the Students for a Democratic Society, which met June 11-15 in Port Huron, Michigan.

In 1962, college students who had been active in the civil rights movement and the peace movement created Students for a Democratic Society. SDS represented what was called the New Left. At its organizing meeting in Port Huron, Michigan, SDS adopted a manifesto drafted by Tom Hayden, a graduate student at the University of Michigan. The Port Huron Statement was a wide-ranging critique of American society -- of racial injustice, the dangers of nuclear war, the failure to develop peaceful atomic energy, the Cold War, the maldistribution of wealth, the political apathy of students, and the exhaustion of liberal ideology.
     -- From the 2000 book "The American Reader: Words That Moved a Nation" (edited by Diane Ravitch):

* Complete statement (from Institute of Advanced Technology in the Humanities, University of Virginia): @
* Original draft (from www.sds-1960s.org): @
* "The New Left" (from www.digitalhistory.uh.edu): @
* "The Port Huron Statement at 50" (New York Times, March 2012): @
* "The Port Huron Statement: Still Radical at 50" (from In These Times magazine): @
* "The Port Huron Statement Today" (comic book, from Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, New York University): @
* Entries on tomhayden.com: @
* 2010 video of Hayden: @
* Earlier post on Young Americans for Freedom and The Sharon Statement (September 11, 1960): @

Thursday, June 14, 1962: The Boston Strangler

Anna Slesers, 55, is found dead in her Boston apartment, strangled by the cord on her bathrobe. Her death is the first attributed to the Boston Strangler. In 1965, Albert DeSalvo would confess to killing Slesers and a dozen other women, though the ensuing years would see doubt cast as to whether he had committed all the crimes.

* From "The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers" (2010 book by Michael Newton): @
* From "Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters" (2004 book by Peter Vronsky): @
* From www.trutv.com: @
* From massmoments.org: @

6.12.2012

Tuesday, June 12, 1962: Underground school / fallout shelter



Abo Elementary School in Artesia, New Mexico, is dedicated. The school, built entirely underground, also functions as a fallout shelter. Classes would begin on August 28.

From the 2011 book "Artesia," by Nancy Dunn and Naomi Florez of the Artesia Historical Museum & Art Center:

Conceived at the height of the Cold War and the era of bomb-shelter construction, the school was built 18 feet underground and covered by a 21-inch thick, steel-reinforced concrete slab. Heavy steel doors said to be designed to hold up under a nuclear explosion were placed inside the aboveground entrances. The school's campus covered 10 acres, and the roof doubled as a playground. Besides having traditional school features, such as classrooms for 540 students, a cafeteria/multipurpose room, and modern restrooms, Abo School boasted an emergency entrance equipped with a shower to remove fallout particles, an air-conditioning system designed to filter out radioactivity, a generator to supply emergency power, and a morgue. Emergency rations were stored in the teachers' room. By 1989, the rations, outdated medical supplies, and body bags were discarded, and the morgue was used to store cafeteria supplies. Abo School was replaced by Yeso Elementary School in 1995. ... Because the school was underground, it was felt that students would be able to concentrate better on their lessons, as there were no windows to look out of, and the air-conditioning system was thought to help children with allergies and asthma.

* Excerpt from "Underground Buildings: More Than Meets the Eye" (book by Loretta Hall, 2004): @
* Excerpt from "Survival City: Adventures Among the Ruins of Atomic America" (book by Tom Vanderbilt, 2010): @
* Excerpt from "Fallout Shelter: Designing for Civil Defense in the Cold War" (book by David Monteyne, 2011): @
* "Incorporation of Shelter Into Schools" (Office of Civil Defense, November 1962): @
* "Civil Defense Shelter Options for Fallout and Blast Protection (Dual-Purpose)" (IIT Research Institute, May 1967): @
* "460 Atomic-Age Kids in Underground School" (Sarasota Journal, August 1962): @
* "Underground School is Fallout Shelter" (Popular Science, October 1962): @
* Earlier post on fallout shelters (September 1961): @
* Earlier post on fallout shelter sign (December 1, 1961): @

6.11.2012

Monday, June 11, 1962: Escape from Alcatraz

From a June 13 story by United Press International:

Air, sea and ground patrols searched the San Francisco bay area today for three escape artists bidding for the first successful break from Alcatraz prison.
The missing convicts were John William Anglin, 32, and his brother, Clarence, 31, both of Montgomery, Ala., and Frank Lee Morris, 35, New Orleans.
All three are convicted bank robbers who were sent to the island prison for escape attempts from other penal institutions. The yellowed "rock" in San Francisco Bay, considered on the world's most nearly escape-proof institutions, became a federal prison in 1934 for the nation's toughest convicts.
The Anglin brothers and Morris were last seen at 9:30 Monday night and were missed at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday when prisoners were lined up outside their cells to go to breakfast. The brothers had adjoining cells, and Morris was four cells away.
The men left dummies in their beds with plaster-like faces which had been painted and topped with hair. The "bodies," under blankets, were of blankets and pillows.
Warden Olin D. Blackwell, called back to the prison from a vacation fishing trip, said the men removed the metal mesh from the eight by 12-inch ventilation openings and used sharpened kitchen spoons to enlarge the holes in the concrete wall.
They squeezed through the holes into a vertical utility pipe tunnel, climbed 30 feet to the top of the building, pried apart bars to escape through an exhaust duct, crossed the top of the building and climbed 40 feet down a kitchen vent pipe to the ground. They also had to climba a 12-foot wire fence to reach the bay.
Photo from history.com.

* Newsreel: @
* From www.alcatrazhistory.com: @
* FBI summary (2007): @
* Documents from www.fbi.gov: @
* NPR report (2009): @ and @
* Alcatraz entry from Federal Bureau of Prisons: @

6.06.2012

Wednesday, June 6, 1962: The Beatles and George Martin

The Beatles, with Pete Best still on board as drummer, audition for George Martin of EMI's Parlophone label. Four songs are recorded -- "Love Me Do," "P.S. I Love You," "Ask Me Why" and "Besame Mucho." Though liking parts of what he had heard, Martin is noncommittal as to whether the label will release any songs by the group.

* Entry from www.beatlesbible.com: @
* Entry from www.the-beatles-history.com: @
* Excerpt from the book "The Beatles: Day-by-Day, Song-by-Song, Record-by-Record" (Craig Cross, 2005): @
* Excerpt from the book "Way Beyond Compare: The Beatles' Recorded Legacy, 1957-1965" (John C. Winn, 2008): @
* Summary by Gordon Thompson, author of "Please Please Me: Sixties British Pop, Inside Out" (2008): @ and @
* Interview with Martin (1971, Melody Maker magazine; from aboutthebeatles.com): @
* Short Martin biographies: @ and @

Earlier posts:
* Stuart Sutcliffe dies (April 10, 1962): @
* The Beatles get a manager (January 24, 1962): @
* At the Cavern Club (February 9, 1961): @
* In Litherland (December 27, 1960): @
* The Beatles (August 17, 1960): @

6.02.2012

Saturday, June 2, 1962: Project Coldfeet

From www.cia.gov:

During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union battled for every advantage, including studying the Arctic for its strategic value. For seven days in May 1962, under Project Coldfeet, the U.S. intelligence community pursued a rare opportunity to collect intelligence firsthand from an abandoned Soviet research station high in the Arctic.
The Soviet drift station -- located on a floating ice island -- had been hastily evacuated when shifting ice made the base runway unusable. Since the ice was breaking apart -- and normal air transport to the island was now impossible -- the Soviets felt the remote base and its equipment and research materials would be crushed and thoroughly destroyed in the Arctic Sea. Unfortunately for the Soviets, they were wrong.
On May 28, using pilots and a B-17 from CIA proprietary Intermountain Aviation -- accompanied by a polar navigator borrowed from Pan American Airlines -- two intelligence collectors were successfully dropped by parachute onto the ice.
The B-17 -- now rigged with Robert Fulton's Skyhook -- returned on June 2 to recover the team and their take. The Skyhook was a unique airborne pickup device that included a nose yolk and a special winch system. The key measure of Coldfeet's success was the unprecedented safe removal of the investigative teams and many critical items.
The mission yielded valuable information in the U.S. intelligence community on the Soviet Union's drift station research activities. The team found evidence of advanced acoustical systems research to detect under-ice U.S. submarines and efforts to develop Arctic anti-submarine warfare techniques.

Undated photo from U.S. Air Force.

* Longer CIA article: @
* Entry from "Inside CIA: Lessons in Intelligence" (book by Sharad Chauhan, 2004): @
* "Project Coldfeet: Secret Mission to a Soviet Ice Station" (book by William M. Leary and Leonard A. LeSchack, 1996): @
* "Fulton Skyhook Aerial Recovery System" (Lockheed Aircraft Corp.): @
(PDF provided by the website Entropic Memes; click here for the site's skyhook entry.)
* Video of system in action (from www.militaryvideo.com): @
* Poster left behind at station by Soviets (from Naval War College Museum): @

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