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Thread: It's winter 1957, Russia just launched Sputnik, WHAT DO YOU DO?

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    Default It's winter 1957, Russia just launched Sputnik, WHAT DO YOU DO?

    Yesterday during my lunch break I was reading a copy of "CQ" magazine, a ham radio nerd rag. They had an extensive article containing firsthand accounts and memoirs about people where were alive at the time and how Sputnik affected them. It's a great read; lots of interesting stories, especially the military guys who were instructed to sit in the radio room, tune the dial around 20.000 and 40.000 MHz and then report on what they heard.

    Some amateurs even sent reception reports to Moscow and received a QSL (record of contact) card back! Personally, I was a bit surprised at those stories. I mean, the science aspect is great, but I sort of wonder if Uncle Sam started a dossier on the people who sent in signal reports…?

    I wonder if CPFers are more the "send in the signal report in the interest of science and international goodwill" types, or more like "forget stocks and bonds, I recommend investing in shotguns and canned food!"

    INTERESTING ARTICLE
    Last edited by scott.cr; 11-08-2007 at 09:41 AM.

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    Default Re: It's winter 1957, Russia just launched Sputnik, WHAT DO YOU DO?

    I was born back in 47, remember going outside with binoc's and looking for the object that was only in my SiFi comics, Kids do wonderfully stupid things; it would have taken the exact az/el&time with minimum of 8" lens to find that wonderous object. The thing that upset me was our reply,with the Army being last to try with the most compentent response. Compliments of the modified V1 that VonBroun(spell?)designed for us. Later in life, I tracked the marvelous objects for NSA. My CPF handle 98j30 is my Army MOS (Non-Communications Electrical Intercept Analyist) I had to warn the world if the object in orbit was just inquisitive or a bend over and kiss your ass good-by.

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    Default Re: It's winter 1957, Russia just launched Sputnik, WHAT DO YOU DO?

    I wasn't around then, but in retrospect I've always wondered why people felt so threatened by what was essentially a small metal sphere with a transmitter in it. It had to have been the paranoid times where anything Soviet was seen as the end of the world, plus the ignorance of the general public (unfortunately that part hasn't changed much in 50 years). Now when both sides started putting nuclear warheads in orbit in the 1960s that was another matter. Thank goodness we put a stop to that nonsense.

    And I've long felt the Cold War was a colossal waste of resources by both sides. It's a pity we didn't have leaders who could have worked out their differences. War is really a failure of leadership. I also wish there had been more cooperation between the US and Soviet space programs, instead of the nationalistic one-upsmanship which existed. We might well have had Mars bases by now.

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    Default Re: It's winter 1957, Russia just launched Sputnik, WHAT DO YOU DO?

    I was about to turn six when Sputnik went up. No memory of it or of my parents talking about it. I do remember watching the Echo satellite (big mylar balloon) going over a few years later.

    Geoff

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    Default Re: It's winter 1957, Russia just launched Sputnik, WHAT DO YOU DO?

    I remember that time vividly. I was born in late 1946 and was in the family car (an English Triumph Vanguard) travelling near the Rideau Canal in Ottawa when we heard the news report over the car radio. Later, I remember my Dad looking skyward at night to catch a glimpse of it. Sputnik triggered the space race between the US and the USSR.

    What really affected me were reports later in the Fifties of huge hydrogen bombs exploded by both the Americans and the USSR. Newspapers were filled with warnings about cow's milk contaminated with radioactive strontium 90 carried by air-borne fallout. I had horrible nightmares for years.

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    Default Re: It's winter 1957, Russia just launched Sputnik, WHAT DO YOU DO?

    Quote Originally Posted by jtr1962 View Post
    And I've long felt the Cold War was a colossal waste of resources by both sides. It's a pity we didn't have leaders who could have worked out their differences. War is really a failure of leadership. I also wish there had been more cooperation between the US and Soviet space programs, instead of the nationalistic one-upsmanship which existed. We might well have had Mars bases by now.
    Amen to that. Its so sad to imagine where we would be today had so many resources (intellectual and material) not been wasted on absolutely nothing. Future generations will likely deem this era the second dark age.
    Keep it simple.

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    Default Re: It's winter 1957, Russia just launched Sputnik, WHAT DO YOU DO?

    In the late 1950s the space race was huge and Sputnik, literally, had a major local impact in 1962 when a glowing chunk of it embedded itself into the main street of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, about ten miles away from me.

    Ironically it landed in front of the Rahr West Museum, where a replica of the piece is on display.

    Check out the Sputnik Fest link. http://sputnikfest.blogspot.com/
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    Default Re: It's winter 1957, Russia just launched Sputnik, WHAT DO YOU DO?

    I don't remember anything, Ah! I wasn't around for a very long time until mid 60's when I was born.

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    Default Re: It's winter 1957, Russia just launched Sputnik, WHAT DO YOU DO?

    Quote Originally Posted by jtr1962 View Post
    ...And I've long felt the Cold War was a colossal waste of resources by both sides...
    Not to oversimplify, but...

    By that measure, WWII was an even bigger waste of resources. It would have been much cheaper to learn to speak German and teach the Hawaiians and Californians to kneel to the emperor.

    By another measure, war is the only force which can counterbalance true evil when it manifests itself on the planet...

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    Default Re: It's winter 1957, Russia just launched Sputnik, WHAT DO YOU DO?

    War isn't necessicarily a waste of time. A waste of life, yeah. It has been responsible for many if the world's medical and technological advances. Too bad these developments had to paid for with so much blood.

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    Default Re: It's winter 1957, Russia just launched Sputnik, WHAT DO YOU DO?

    Quote Originally Posted by nerdgineer View Post
    Not to oversimplify, but...

    By that measure, WWII was an even bigger waste of resources. It would have been much cheaper to learn to speak German and teach the Hawaiians and Californians to kneel to the emperor.

    By another measure, war is the only force which can counterbalance true evil when it manifests itself on the planet...
    War is failure of leadership on both sides. If one side for whatever reason can't find common ground, then both sides must go to war. That is the real tragedy of it. WWII was necessary simply because of the failed leadership of Japan and Germany, but it was still nonetheless a collosal waste of resources. As for any technology advances, I'll grant that some of it carries over to the civilian sector, but a lot of what is developed has no use other than in a theater of war.

    Getting back on topic, the space race due to the Cold War was probably a little of both. Microchip technology undoubtedly created a revolution. However, by the same token the race to be first often meant that a particular goal was achieved just for its own sake, with no thought given to taking it to the next level. The lunar landings were such a thing. They were great achievements but we never took the next logical steps-building a base, and then going to the outer planets. These steps would have had enormous commercial implications eventually, more than making the initial investment to get to the moon worthwhile. Had space exploration taken place out of the context of the Cold War, we may well have seen more space technology trickle down to the average person, and therefore more grass roots support for the space program. We certainly would have been able to devote more resources to space if we weren't building nuclear submarines or ICBMs to counter those of the Soviets.

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    Default Re: It's winter 1957, Russia just launched Sputnik, WHAT DO YOU DO?

    Watching a small, bright, star-like, satellite quickly cross the night sky was a rare event just like seeing a jet's contrail. Now so many jets are aloft their contrails counter global warming to a surprising degree. We'd be warming at a faster rate without the jet traffic. How times have changed.
    I'm absolutely certain that I need another flashlight.

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    Default Re: It's winter 1957, Russia just launched Sputnik, WHAT DO YOU DO?

    1957...dunno, waiting to be born?


    It sounds laughable today...but theres been several occasions of people digging fallout shelters under their house

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    Default Re: It's winter 1957, Russia just launched Sputnik, WHAT DO YOU DO?

    Some houses of that era were built with shelters as part of the construction plan. Most of them ended up as extra, basement, storage rooms. I hope that's one "fashion" cycle that doesn't return.
    I'm absolutely certain that I need another flashlight.

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    Default Re: It's winter 1957, Russia just launched Sputnik, WHAT DO YOU DO?

    Quote Originally Posted by jayflash View Post
    Some houses of that era were built with shelters as part of the construction plan. Most of them ended up as extra, basement, storage rooms. I hope that's one "fashion" cycle that doesn't return.
    It wasn't fashion, it was fear. Let the islamists successfully set off a dirty bomb in the US somewhere and think how people might start building air filtered safe rooms into their homes...

    It's hard to appreciate a time without having been there. Lots of things which seem unreasonable decades later were very understandable in the context of that time.

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    Default Re: It's winter 1957, Russia just launched Sputnik, WHAT DO YOU DO?

    Having been there I remember the fear factor. Not being alarmist, but considering the international unrest, a shelter's, perceived, need might be returning.
    I'm absolutely certain that I need another flashlight.

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    Default Re: It's winter 1957, Russia just launched Sputnik, WHAT DO YOU DO?

    Quote Originally Posted by nerdgineer View Post
    Not to oversimplify, but...

    By that measure, WWII was an even bigger waste of resources. It would have been much cheaper to learn to speak German and teach the Hawaiians and Californians to kneel to the emperor.

    Thats similar to saying the movie "Red Dawn" was a likely scenario.
    Keep it simple.

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    Default Re: It's winter 1957, Russia just launched Sputnik, WHAT DO YOU DO?

    Quote Originally Posted by tygger View Post
    Thats similar to saying the movie "Red Dawn" was a likely scenario.
    yea, well, if you can get the other guy to agree that it's a waste of resources and cut it out, then you dont have to waste your resources as well. Unfortunately such decisions are rarely made for practical reasons like that.

    The whole idea about sputnik is like magic. They proved you could orbit! Orbiting is like magic! You're falling to earth, but you're going so fast sideways that as you fall the earth falls away underneath you as it's round you know, and the vector of gravity is always to the middle.. So you keep falling, but the curve of the earth keeps it from ever hitting you! Thats pretty cool and pretty magical and while we knew what it would take at that point to do it, it was still impressive that they managed to toss something high and fast enough to do it. If they could toss something that hard, they might also be able to decide where it fell...
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    Default Re: It's winter 1957, Russia just launched Sputnik, WHAT DO YOU DO?

    What do I do? Well, I go to Jodrell Bank, here in the UK and track it!


    This is something you may not know...

    Russia had the ability to build a transmitter and put it into orbit, but they had no means of tracking it (no radio telescope powerful enough)! They actually sent the flightpath details to Jodrell Bank and requested that we track it with the Lovell telescope.

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    Default Re: It's winter 1957, Russia just launched Sputnik, WHAT DO YOU DO?

    Quote Originally Posted by jtr1962 View Post
    I wasn't around then, but in retrospect I've always wondered why people felt so threatened by what was essentially a small metal sphere with a transmitter in it.

    The answer is rather obvious.

    The ability to loft a small metal sphere overhead implies the ability to loft an A-bomb overhead. Not long after Sputnik, both Russians and Americans did indeed have that ability.

    Before Sputnik, most people conceived of bombs being delivered by slow, vulnerable, range-limited airplanes.

    After Sputnik, average people were forced to think of their cities being bombed by intercontinental missle - with very little warning time.


    Quote Originally Posted by jtr1962 View Post
    And I've long felt the Cold War was a colossal waste of resources by both sides. It's a pity we didn't have leaders who could have worked out their differences.

    Remember that over 100,000 American and British troops lost their lives slowing the advance of Russian armor through the Fulda Gap into West Germany. Pushing back the Russian incursion into France was even more expensive in American, British, and French lives.

    Talk about a colossal waste of resources...

    Of course you don't remember that because it didn't happen.

    But, it would have happened if the Russians weren't terrified that a conventional invasion of West Germany would escalate inexorably into ICBMs flying in both directions.

    Nuclear weapons have saved many more lives than the numbers they killed at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    .

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    Default Re: It's winter 1957, Russia just launched Sputnik, WHAT DO YOU DO?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeSalt View Post
    Russia had the ability to build a transmitter and put it into orbit, but they had no means of tracking it (no radio telescope powerful enough)! They actually sent the flightpath details to Jodrell Bank and requested that we track it with the Lovell telescope.
    Yeah!! That is actually quite interesting. I read that the U.S. had an orbital satellite tracking station that was supposedly receiving on a different (i.e. incompatible) frequency, so they couldn't use it to track Sputnik...

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    Default Re: It's winter 1957, Russia just launched Sputnik, WHAT DO YOU DO?

    I remember those times well. Sputnik is a dim memory if a real memory at all. I do remember the paranoia of the time. Bomb drills in school where you hid under your desk and covered your head, stay away from windows, don't look at the flash. I even remember a city wide test where schools were let out and everyone ran to their home as quickly as possible and crouched in the safest place. Anyone walking on the street during the drill was immediately sent home.

    You had an action plan in case of attack regardless of where you were. Major cities had designated bomb shelters with the nuclear symbols that designated shelter. You were instructed to always be prepared in a car so that if you need you would find a bridge, culvert, ditch, anything to shield you from the blast.

    Bomb shelters were considered being really prepared. Several of my friends had such shelters. They were well stocked with food, water, flashlights, batteries for the vent fans (with filters of course), and for the really well prepared, a geiger counter of some kind.

    Anytime something could be launched into space, and orbited, it was a big deal. This meant that delivery of nuclear warheads was possible anywhere on the earth. Prior to that delivery was limited to within about 6K miles from a foreign country. Now we were all vulnerable.

    Many a night we went to bed scared that our world was going to end and we would all be radiated and be dead in a couple of days.

    Yeh, Sputnik set off a lot of alarms. The world truly changed that day.
    RayT

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    Default Re: It's winter 1957, Russia just launched Sputnik, WHAT DO YOU DO?

    Quote Originally Posted by ringzero View Post
    Remember that over 100,000 American and British troops lost their lives slowing the advance of Russian armor through the Fulda Gap into West Germany. Pushing back the Russian incursion into France was even more expensive in American, British, and French lives.

    Talk about a colossal waste of resources...

    Of course you don't remember that because it didn't happen.

    But, it would have happened if the Russians weren't terrified that a conventional invasion of West Germany would escalate inexorably into ICBMs flying in both directions.

    Nuclear weapons have saved many more lives than the numbers they killed at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
    I didn't say it was necessarily a waste to have nuclear weapons as a deterrent. I meant that the rest of what we spent on the Cold War for things like nuclear submarines, conventional forces, navies, etc. was a waste. Once you have nuclear weapons, why do you even need a conventional army at all? So long as your opponent thinks you have your finger on a nuclear trigger they won't dare try anything. I submit that one reason we have some of the ongoing problems we have now is precisely because the last time we used nuclear weapons in war was in 1945. Used very occasionally, and mostly against military targets, they might have prevented many wars since. So yes, I basically agree with you. Most recently, when we were knew OBL was in the caves at Tora Bora beyond the reach of conventional weapons, a few nukes might have ended the problem once and for all at minimal, if any, loss to civilian life. And the fact that we were willing to use them might have kept a few other would-be tyrants in line. Unfortunately, since we were concerned about world opinion, this option was likely never on the table.

    There was also a brief time before the USSR developed its own a-bomb, that we could have virtually wiped it out as a threat, had we chosen to do so. That's probably a topic best left to the Underground, however.

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    Default Re: It's winter 1957, Russia just launched Sputnik, WHAT DO YOU DO?

    After Sputnik, the childrens bedtime prayer that said ".....If I should die before I wake....." took on a whole new meaning!
    Bright...Small...Long Runtime.......You can have any two but NOT all three!

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