Friday, July 20, 2007

Secret Scientist

What’s amazing to me is that even today no one knows. NASA actually had a scientist in and out of Russia from 1962 to 1971 during the space race and the Cold War. Yes, Mr. Krushchev actually allowed a space medical scientist from the US to help keep alive the Russian cosmonauts.

My research on the subject showed that after the Cuban Missile Crisis, Krushchev softened his stand against America. But I had no idea that he was so soft he would allow an American scientist to observe the take-offs and landings of Yuriy Gagarin.

Yet, the scientist and Yuriy were pals. In fact most people on the Russian space team from Chief Manager Korolev to the first woman cosmonaut, knew this man and liked him.

He was a big friendly Irishman, but he was also a consummate professional and what he said, you could make book on. Not long after the scientist’s first trip to Baikonur, the secret launch site (that wasn’t a secret after all), a US government memo went to NASA, saying in effect, “I want you to make plans to cooperate with the USSR on outer space projects.” It seems like the result of personal diplomacy to me, from the scientist who was fast becoming a fixture in Russia.

Does the CIA have a thick file on the scientist? They sure do but will not give it up. So does another intelligence agency. So does NASA, of course.

Why is it such a big secret about our space medicine scientist who helped the Russians? I don’t know. But it does appear that those clever Russian engineers who beat us in the early stages of the space race were weak in knowledge about keeping their cosmonauts alive. Maybe the bosses in Russia just do not want to let the Russian people know that they needed help. Maybe there was a quid pro quo I haven’t found yet.

But one thing I do know is that the scientist was a good friend. Also he was an American hero for taking the chances he did by flying secretly into the far reaches behind the Iron Curtain. I am writing about him now and hope to have a book about him finished this year.

I only wish I could use his name.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Politics and Religion

It is only human. Whenever a religious person gets mixed up in politics, his religion goes out the window. He soon warps his religious ideas so that they support his politics. It never seems to work the other way, that a man’s politics change to accommodate his religion. I can imagine that is why our Constitution separates one from the other—so that there is no state supported religion.

It is a bad combination, politics and religion. When I taught school and the subject was pertinent, I always told the kids that when they grew up to vote or to run cities, states or even the country (we had that quality of kids), they must keep their religious leaders from being their political leaders. “Or else,” I told them, “you will have politicians who would try to convince them that if they would give up their lives for one political cause or another, they would win a place in heaven.” I told them that political leaders are usually the last to know about heaven.

Don’t tell me it can’t happen. It happens all the time. What about Japanese Kamikaze pilots in WWII and Suicide Murderers (bombers) in the Middle East? And then there is always Jim Jones and his Kool Aid fan club.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Great Time to Be Alive

A friend called me today and asked if I wanted to go for a cup of coffee. I did, because I have been researching the Soviet space program all day for the Cold War period. It is background for a book I am writing.

Always unpredictable, I had an iced tea instead of coffee. While we were consuming our beverages, we got to talking about modern technology. I recalled the rapid changes we humans have been going through.

In our ancient human history, mankind was said to have doubled its knowledge every thousand years. That knowledge was stored in people’s heads, for the most part. Some was on the walls of caves. Then books were invented and mankind’s knowledge doubled every hundred years. That knowledge, good and bad, was stored in libraries. The computer was invented and soon mankind’s knowledge doubled every ten years. That knowledge was stored in libraries and on tapes and CDs. Next, the Internet was created and mankind’s knowledge is said to double every year. That knowledge is stored on CDs, DVDs and on hard drives all over the world. No libraries or collection of libraries could hold it all, if it were written in books.

Then we talked about the future. I think that the really big events of the future will concern themselves with health and energy. I wrote about these things in book about time travel called Time Out of Joint. In it I emphasized the role of energy. I have the notion that when energy is more equally distributed, international tensions will ease. No, religious differences will still be important. But many “religious” differences are spurred on by economics, the battle between the haves and the have nots.

Whatever the case, some ass will first have to write a book about how awful everything is—stagflation and the disappearance of the quality of life as we know it. Several books of this type were published around 1970, just as the computer age appeared. I am waiting for the next such book, because the timing of the doom-sayers is almost universally 180 degrees out of phase.

And I will have an iced tea in the writer’s honor because something good is about to happen.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Jefferson and Adams Day

Sacred to both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, July 4th is also special to many Americans. Both former presidents stretched out their lives so that they would die on this day in 1826. When Jefferson woke for the last time in 1826, he asked if it were the fourth yet. When told that it was, he allowed himself to die. Former presidents Jefferson and Adams had faith in men’s ability to rule themselves and knew of the importance of the date.

Alexander Hamilton did not have the confidence in man’s ability to rule his own life. While still a great man and an important contributor to the founding of this country, Hamilton looked toward Europe and a king to rule America.

Even today we have a few Hamiltons in government who look toward Europe’s form of government and whatever else of Europe they can adopt in order to “reform” Americans and put us on the right track. They are the elites who have little faith in our ability to rule ourselves.

Does anyone remember a day sacred to Alexander Hamilton?