Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sputnik

Remember the song, "Mama, don't let your kids grow up to be cowboys?" Well, I'm changing the words to: "Don't let your kids grow up to be ignoramuses."

I was listening to WIP, sports radio talk show this morning with Angelo Cataldi, Al Morganti, Ricky Botalico, and Rhea Hughes. A caller, a Phillies season ticket holder who is knowledgeable about the USA space program, mentioned Sputnik in the conversation. Not one of those four, highly paid, intelligent? show hosts knew what Sputnik was. One said, what a good name for a dog. Another one commented that Sputnik would be a good name for a potato dish.

The caller had to explain that October 4, 1957 was a turning point in space travel. That was the day that the Soviet Union (remember them?) launched the first man made satellite into space. This tremendous scientific breakthrough caught the United States by complete surprise. Our rocket scientists were working on a satellite that could circle the earth but they had not mastered the concept of multiple powerful rockets as launchers.

Our landing on the moon, and John F. Kennedy's interest and financial investment in NASA, gained impetus from the Sputnik launch. The USA took over the space race and "won" it with our landing on the moon.

The demonstrable lack of knowledge by people who rule the airwaves needs to be recognized as an indictment of our educational system. We cannot expect everyone to know everything. But we can expect everyone to know about the important events in the development of humanity, especially in breakthrough events of historic importance.

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