thumbnail of Dimensions of a new age; Public education for the space
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
This is. From radio and television. You know. We are all of us newly arrived in the age of space and we have come so quickly swirling about us are powerful influences likely to have upon our lives the most prodigiously impact known to mankind in the last 500 years. Yet we can barely grasp the magnitude of these social forces. We can only guess at their meaning. What does it signify for us to live in a world of such suddenly extended proportions. Toward the answer radio television the University of Texas has prepared this recorded radio series produced under a grant from the National Educational
Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. We present dimensions of the new age. And now here is our moderator Roderick Meyer. For the people to survive and live effectively in this tough fast moving age of space it is essential that they be kept in continuous touch with major developments on our program today we will hear from three people closely involved with this prodigious task of public education. The first is administrator of the civilian agency charged with directing this country's space program. The other is the science editor of Associated Press and the chief of The Office of Information for our Air Force air training command headquarters. On October 4th one thousand fifty seven there occurred an event which pinpointed the competitive aspects of the Space Age and set men thinking in terms of the space race. It was on that date as part of the International Geophysical Year
operations that the Russians beat us into outer space with the successful launching of their Sputnik 1. They repeated this feat a month later with Sputnik 2 some weeks there after we launched our first successful satellite Explorer 1. In this climate of aerodynamic agitation some months later the National Aeronautics and Space Administration was born. Just what is Nassau and a it is a civilian agency established by Congress under a law that was passed and signed July twenty nine thousand nine hundred fifty eight. And in that law siring this progeny of science and space Congress declared it to be a policy of the United States that and we quote activities in space should be devoted to the peaceful purposes for all of mankind. End of quote. Administrator of the civilian agency to which Congress has entrusted our space activities for humane and peaceful purposes is Dr. Tiki Glenna to talk to us about the work of
the National Aeronautics and Space Administration what it is doing what it hopes to do and why. Here is Dr. Glenn. Well I would like to give you some feeling of confidence that perhaps we are we have solved some of the problems which have beset the beginnings of the space age in this nation and that we're well on our way to solving many of those still remain. So it is an agency that was built on the foundations of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics a 43 year old organization which throughout its years had become the foremost aeronautical research establishment in the world. And I say it is an organization which had to be running very fast on its feet first hit the ground and had the problem of carrying out tasks which had been initiated by the military in that period when there was no National Aeronautics and Space Administration or civilian agency. And it hasn't helped the problem of organizing
itself providing management and providing a national space program. What is that program. Consists of several important parts I'll sketch them very briefly for you. During the early years the acquisition of knowledge and development of techniques and technology is of prime importance. We are going to be doing science in space we're going to be active in fields of astronomy and learning something about the radiation fields that surround this earth. We're going to learn something about gravitational and magnetic fields the properties of materials and people in a weightless condition. Sounds a little bit impractical doesn't it. Well some people would say so useless and impractical a product of eggheads and and long hairs. You have nothing in the space field that has an underlying strong program that is necessary if we are to get any place in the years ahead. So as part of the program we have
experiments which will be going on in the lunar field shots to the soft landing that is landing on the moon that it won't be broken up in the landing process but can be used in finding bits of material that will be analyzed the information sent back to us what does that consist of that type of thing. After all this is a body that's been there for a very long time and perhaps locked up in it. Well the information that will tell us something about the origin of our own earth. We have programs in meteorology and in communications and here again we must have a great deal of fundamental information before we can develop the systems that will be useful to mankind in weather forecasting and in solving some of the problems that are going to be upon us within a very few years of having enough capacity so that all the people talk to all the other people in this world at the rate that they seem to be wanting to do that these days. We have perhaps 40 percent of our effort in this broad field.
The second major program is man in space about 15 percent of our effort at the present time is in that area. You heard about a Project Mercury the X-15 is a small part of this program it's the first vehicle where a man will start from the ground and will leap into space and come back like a fish jumping out of water. Man in Space is well organized. It's on schedule so far as as I am able to tell the Argo program must underlie all of the programs that I've spoken to. People say we're behind and I admit we're behind in this business of being able to propel into space. The things that we want to put in space any time and to any distance it's simply because the propulsion systems have not been available to us. This does not mean that the missile systems are not completely satisfactory for the task. They have to do in a military sense. I want to make that just as clear as I possibly can. The guidance systems on those missiles are just as good as they need to be for the job that they have to do. Our vehicle program over a
period of several years to the Saturn device a cluster of presently available rockets which Dr Von Braun and his people are involved in working on. And finally to a single chamber engine of a million that happens thrust which in itself can be clustered to give us nine to 12 million pounds of thrust. All of these things are going to be available to us as time goes on and in the meantime we are using the systems that are able to be put together out of the devices that are. On the shelf which allows us to do as good science as the Russians have done and probably better at the present time. There are other things that we need to do in terms of tracking and data acquisition systems and he's putting them up there unless you can bring back from them the information that they are deriving from outer space. Why did we do all of this. I would answer this in two parts. One second the pace at which we're now going. The first reason is the conviction that I have surely shared by almost every thinking person
that research in space will turn up great amounts of new information that will be useful to man. The point is that mans progress today has resulted from his search for new knowledge and the application of that knowledge to his benefit in the eradication of oppressive conditions of labor and the abolition of routine drudgery and the elimination of hunger and the second of my reasons for a national space program concerns the matter of significant contributions to be made to the defensive strength of the United States. Advances in the development of operational techniques necessary to the performance of difficult research tasks in space will surely contribute substantially to the defense program OF THE NATION. This point becomes increasingly as the developing technology employed involves increasingly sophisticated methods of guidance and control systems and data acquisition systems. Third we have to leave on an adventurous from terror and thus the search pushes him on
toward manned space flight. We're confident in our conviction of course that I am just an instrument of space vehicles will gain for us vast amounts of very useful information. But there is no substitute for man as an observer is nature's finest piece of instrumentation if you will is judgement. I think manned space flight is the immediate symbol of supreme achievement in the space field and to me success in this venture venture will be peculiarly a part of the tradition that has made this a nation of individuals free to risk their futures as each may choose. My concern is the possibility of discovery of life on the far off planets. Such a discovery could very well become the crowning achievement of man's quest for knowledge and space and achievement that historically speaking could transcend any present considerations of competition with Russia or any near future benefits from satellites and space. But now to get back to the compelling reason for doing this program and doing it with a
sense of urgency with a sense of purpose and the pace of my going already even an accelerated pace it's clear the competition that arises out of our activities and the achievements that they have made in this field remember that for decades has regarded this country as preeminent scientific technological and real field. They've known us by our works and consider them to be larger and they're heavier than our satellites. The Russian space program into orbit around the sun millions of miles from earth to be far far followed suit. There's no denying that the Russian successes in space that hit our prestige but success without some failures is contrary to scientific experience and this is the part of their program in space. For my part I don't think that makes very much difference. It really doesn't. They've done the things they've done and the US the Soviets have managed to convince many even
in the relatively sophisticated western nations and certainly in the US and desperately developed nations that Russian achievements in space are the true measure of scientific and technological advancement and thus the measure of the strength of the cultural achievements in space appear to have made more credible Soviet statements in other fields in the economic and the political and ideological propaganda drive is especially impressive to the people of nations with little industry or technology of their own. Millions are taking the technological accomplishments the Russians publicized as models for their own ambitions not knowing fully how these advances were made. They reason that the Russian president himself by his bootstraps in less than a lifetime lifting himself to technological peaks and critically critically they wonder if all their marginal peoples might not be well advised to step in behind the communist bandwagon in the hope of being scrapped overnight and practically painlessly. That ladies and
gentlemen is that international problem we face to counter the spreading communist influence that is based on Soviet space accomplishments. It is imperative that the United States pursue its own space program actively effectively and with all of the engine that we can muster. Note that I said pursue its own problem and with determination to win. We have a mandate to be a leader in this field when there are only two people in a race you can't run second very long and be a leader. We must for the present do what we can do logically in accordance with a well-developed plan and an expanding program. We must do it urgently. Now what does it mean to you people like yourselves this country over. First it means we're in the space business and you're going to be in the space business throughout your lifetime so it's a great adventure and your time exploration of limitless space. Second and this is an important thing
to you when you speak about citizenship seminars a recognition of the place of government and undertakings of this magnitude and with the immediate international implications this one no single company no group of companies would undertake could undertake with stockholders money the kinds of expenditures that we must undertake in this kind of an activity. And third the recognition of the fact that government is people. It's not some structure over here on the corner that you look at once in four years when you elect a president or in two years when you are like the representative of its people and there is a need in this country for the young men and women to work in politics and government to make a proud profession that it really can be. You cannot continue to let George do it and causing me some of my own attitude on this base business of I haven't made it apparent to you already. Mark Twain speaking on the Mississippi made this statement when steamboats were about to come in when it steamboat time.
This is space time and we must seize this opportunity to regain and to continue to exert leadership in the science and technology that are involved. And finally. There's a passage in Shakespeare that I think particularly appropriate here. It's an act for your Caesar or brother says there's a tide in the affairs of men which taken at the flood leads on to fortune. Almost all of our edge of their life has bound in shadows and miseries on such a full sea are we now afloat and we must take the current when it serves or lose our adventure. I nees and gentlemen I propose that we you and I so conduct ourselves that we do not lose our venture in the space competition on which we embark from Dr. Tiki Clinton's remarks concerning our complex space activities. It is clear that the public information specialist has no easy assignment
for first hand information on the duties of such specialists and the difficulties involved in relaying space age developments to the public. We went to the Associated Press Building in New York. There we talked with Mr. Elton L. Blakeslee the Associated Press science editor and Colonel Willis Hellman Toller chief of The Office of Information for the Air Force air training command headquarters. Just what are your problems gentlemen in arriving at statements which will be readily understood by the public. Mr. Blankley. One of the basic problems is to translate any technical terms into basic English which we all understand each one of us a specialist and a great number of ways and yet a chemistry example would not understand the terminology of an astronomer. If the astronomer talking purely in his own specialized language. So our problem is to translate technical terms into terms that understand understandable by all intelligent people who are interested in.
The subject also to acquire the information. Which makes it significant and meaningful. And here we need the cooperation of the scientist who is willing to. Explain these things in these ways. After a bit of experience with the physicists he learned some of his terminology so that you don't have to ask such basic questions. You can. Understand these concepts. He is dealing with and therefore the significance. We need their assistance very much in giving us this kind of background or acquiring it ourselves so that we can understand the significance of what some event in physics space. Age means that we can translate it into the general public. I think one of the most difficult. Things that I have had to deal with it has. Getting the statement by the scientists down to manageable size. If you try to simplify it to where. A busy person would take time to read it
they say this is an oversimplification. That's true to an extent certainly but I don't think the average reader is going to be interested in the small nice and easy as long as we try to get across an honest impression to him of what's going on. Girl I think I agree with you fully on this that. A scientist must realize that he is just one segment of our population that if you want to talk to a real estate dealer about his problems and what he is doing he could give you such a long story. He doesn't ask your question what does the house sell for it doesn't translate into the terms of a meaningful to the average person. The scientist today I think has a great appreciation of this and is making somewhat more effort to realize that things must be expressed simply and without the great and Cork confusing detail. There are messages that he wants to get across I mean easy to get. I think I'm going to thing is that our scientists always like to do just a little more experimentation
before they give you a firm statement on that on the subject. There things are still tentative and people like to know well at least I think you'd like to know. Well how are we doing tentatively at least. And I think if I were the scientist I feel much the same way but it does present when the difficulty is that you bring up again that trying to report what is going on in this space age just a blank slate from the standpoint of security you find that the military sits on some things unnecessarily. I suspect they do that very often out of their interests you know because they don't. They may not know I'd like to ask about this. As to whether very often security regulations are brought to bear or carried too far because nobody is certain as to what the influence might be if this information came out I think that the development of the atomic energy program that much information was kept secret.
For example it would have been very useful to other scientists within our country they could learn about this to perhaps make a discoveries out of their own original thinking had they been had access to the basic information which is developed within the APC. I was the same type of thing happening in the space program. Any time you restrict the flow of information free flow of information you hamper whatever program you're trying to get along with you make it more difficult to accomplish. It has to be a matter of judgment and I just don't think anybody's got that perfect judgment because in the end let me interrupt for just a minute. In a case the military you got so many people in on the judgment. Does it tend to be over conservative in his judgment that something is secretive because there are so many people involved in expressing opinions as to what the potential might be of this information. I would guess that would be true there would be and I think there would be human nature for one to be conservative rather than risk
putting it out. I think just say well it's it's there now and it's not hurting anybody particularly let's just leave it like that for a while. Isn't it difficult though in this age of space where everything that's being done as far as launching satellites or missiles or whatever. Everything so big it can be seen for miles actually and it's got to be transported and for the most part it's transported over the roads because it won't fit on anything else and and it's being built maybe in an aircraft factory and there just aren't more places where leaks can occur that something is brewing. Nobody knows what and doesn't this just complicate your job. All of these things do complicate the job and sometimes it's almost impossible to understand why. We wouldn't go out with the information at a particular time. There's at least one theory that is. Gaining even months in a particular area of
scientific effort in particular in the military field is very valuable to us if we can withhold information from our competitors and by our competitors I mean unfriendly nations. That down. We have gained a military advantage and that's after all what we as military people get paid for is gaining a military down into this struggle. Well I don't think there's any question of the loyalty of American newspaper and radio TV people going along with all this. Very often there can be. Pressures of leaks information which either. Intentionally put somebody at a disadvantage of not writing about a subject until the official word comes. In this a very great deal of criticism of American policy particularly during the. Bye Gyi period immediately after when the Russians set up this booklet.
That. We had talked in advance of what we were going to do and made to look foolish because the Russians simply succeeded. That was a I g y meeting in Washington just the week before Sputnik went up with time when Russians said we don't brag about things. Thank you Bill. Talk about deliberate compass. This also gives a marvelous opportunity not to talk about your misfires in Russia you simply have no information coming up. Basically controlled countries that there were any misfires This is the impression to give to the rest of the world. Whereas we do talk openly about plans because we are under Democratic support and we want to know where and when he is going and when we have misfired as may be presented that we are in prose. Fact of the matter is that Russian and utterly have had misfires as you will have in any new field of science or technology. Things just don't go perfect but can we I wind up this discussion by having each of you make a little comment previously on this program. Dr.
Kiki Glenn an administration National Aeronautics and Space Administration has stressed the need for public education and so that naturally is why we came to you gentlemen who are responsible really for informing the public. Do either one of you have comments to make on this need for education. Space age is going to have profound effects on human lives. I thank. You very much for the better and the space program will be supporting the Kurds develop faster as the public understands potentials can come from it. From not only weather satellites communication satellites but they can also appreciate some of the military possibilities that we simply can't stand here doing nothing. Furthermore it's one of the great human adventures of all time man to put his senses out into space of satellite so you can go exploring themself to other planets. And this is a
human story which raises tremendous questions in the minds of people who hear about these things and wonder how that happened. It's our responsibility telling. These fascinating things going on. Clear and concise fashion. They cannot help but be advantages they are tools to come home to. Well as an air force information officer I have an obligation to the public to try to inform them about what we're doing in the Air Force and I have a theory that isn't original at all but it's one I operated under. PROFESSOR ROSS Harvard once about this. He said what people understand they tend to trust and when they trust they may support.
If they understand the Air Force program and what it's trying to do they may trust us in doing this job this very big job of satisfying the military requirements in space and if they do trust us to do this job they may support us but I think we have a common agreement here we have a democracy in which the democracy as decisions are supported to the degree that people understand what the problem is so they can understand the problem. Right from Mr LTL Blakeslee science editor of Associated Press and Colonel Willis Hellman Toller chief of The Office of Information for the Air Force air training command headquarters. We have learned some of the hurdles to be cleared in public education for the age of space. We are indebted also to Dr. T Keith Glenn and director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for his picture of our space activities. Weather observation production and control have been dramatically affected by the
vaster dimensions of this age of space. Next week at this time Dr. Henry Wechsler director of meteorological research for the United States weather bureau and Dr. John P. Hagen of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration will describe for us some of the important weather developments in the space age. These programs were produced and directed by the Reich Meyer who serves as moderator coordinator and writer Mary Dee Benjamin. The series was under the supervision of Robert F.. Jim Morris speaking.
Dimensions of a new age
Public education for the space
Producing Organization
University of Texas
KUT (Radio station : Austin, Tex.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-2f7jtr8h).
Episode Description
This program features guests discussing public education during the space age.
Series Description
This series explores the new developments and challenges that have emerged in the wake of the "space age" that occurred in the mid-20th century.
Broadcast Date
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Director: Rightmyer, Roderick D.
Host: Grauer, Ben
Producing Organization: University of Texas
Producing Organization: KUT (Radio station : Austin, Tex.)
Speaker: Glennan, Thomas Keith, 1905-1995
Speaker: Blakeslee, Alton L.
Speaker: Helmantoler, Willis
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 60-56-4 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:12
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Dimensions of a new age; Public education for the space,” 1960-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed October 5, 2022,
MLA: “Dimensions of a new age; Public education for the space.” 1960-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. October 5, 2022. <>.
APA: Dimensions of a new age; Public education for the space. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from