Posts Tagged ‘Smithsonian’

Space Science Center Works to Display Shuttle Prototype and to Affiliate with Smithsonian

November 17, 2014

 

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The relatively new whitewater experience in downtown Columbus has impressively increased the number of tourists visiting the Columbus area.  Hundreds of thousands were already coming because of the National Infantry Museum,  the National Civil War Naval Museum, and the Columbus State University Coca-Cola Space Science Center.  And now, the Coca-Cola Space Science Center could be on the verge of making Columbus an even greater national tourist destination.

CCSSC Executive Director Dr. Shawn Cruzen told members of the Rotary Club of Columbus that adding the 1/4 scale model space shuttle to the center’s museum and affiliating with the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. will make the CCSSC an even greater tourist attraction, as well as enhance the educational aspects of the facility.

Dr. Cruzen told me that the space shuttle model played a large role in the development of the space shuttle. It was used as a testing prototype.  Developers of the shuttle had to know if the three elements involved in the launching of the shuttle, the main rocket, it’s attached fuel tank, and the shuttle, could withstand the violent vibrations that would  happen during a launch. They found out by submitting the prototype to those vibrations created by a machine. That makes the prototype, a $9.3 million gift of NASA’s to CCSSC, a highly valuable historical artifact.

However, it will take an estimated $2 million to modify the CCSSC building to display it.  As part of the efffort to raise the funds,  the center brought Dr. Valerie Neal, Director of the “Space History Division” of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, to Columbus to speak at fund-raising events. She was also scheduled to speak to the Rotary Club of Columbus, but commercial flight problems caused her to miss that; However, Dr. Cruzen and Mary Johnson,  Assistant Executive Director of CCSSC,  impressively substituted for her, in my view. Their presentations were well-received by the audience.

The CCSSC will do what it takes to make the affiliation application to the Smithsonian  next year, and has a goal of achieving affiliation in 2016.  There are all sorts of educational and promotional benefits in becoming an  Smithsonian affiliate, including use of artifacts and bringing Smithsonian experts to Columbus to speak.

I hope Columbus leaders will give full support to this initiative.  The Coca-Cola Space Science Center is a valuable asset for the area.  Shows in the world-class Omnisphere planetarium alone are worth a visit, thanks to the creativity and skills of its director, Lance Tankersley. 

 

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Huh?

March 9, 2014

What is huh? in German? Huh? French? Huh? English? Huh? Spanish? Huh? And, in at least six other languages, including Chinese.  I learned that in an article by Arika Okrent in the Smithsonian magazine.  

I looked it up in Merriam-Webster and, indeed, it is a word, an interjection meaning a whole  bunch of things.  It’s all in the way you say it.  Depending on your intonation, it can mean that you’re asking if someone agrees with you, and that you misunderstood or didn’t hear what another person says, or you can use it to show surprise, disbelief, or disapproval.

You can thank Mark Dingemanse and the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, in Nijmegan, the Netherlands for bringing that to the world’s attention. Huh? is the first “universal word” studied by modern linguist.

Remember, you read it here.

For Folks Under Age 45, Moon Walking is Something You Read About in a History Book

January 31, 2014
AStronaut Buzz Aldrin walking on the Moon.  (NASA Photo)

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin walking on the Moon. (NASA Photo)

I just read a story in the Richmond-Times Dispatch about the Smithsonian’s new $79 million dollar conservation hanger at the National Air and Space Museum at Dulles International Airport,  where among its many artifacts that are being prepared for conservation are Apollo-era spacesuits.  Those spacesuits are now 40 and 50 years old. They are fragile, brittle and deteriorating.  Conservators are working on ways to slow the decay.

It made me reflect on the fact that the incredible act of putting a man on the  Moon is a historic event.  America put 12 men on the Moon between 1969 and 1972, and then stopped.  No man has set foot on Earth’s natural satellite since December, 1972.

China, the 3rd country to successfully conduct a soft moon landing – the U.S. and the former Soviet Union being the first two –  safely landed a robot called Jade Rabbit on the moon in December and it has sent back scientific information, but it has suffered a mechanical problem and could stop working.  The robotic rover was named Jade Rabbit after the Chinese mythical rabbit that was said to have lived on the moon.

How well I remember that first Moon landing in 1969.  I was working at WIS-TV in Columbia, South Carolina. My son Rick, a small boy at the time,  and my late wife Judy, and I could look out our den window and see the bright full Moon as we watched the lunar landing on TV.  We had just bought our first color set to see it in color. It was telecast in black and white.  Still, we then had a color TV to enjoy for many years.

Rick was ten years old at the time, so he can remember the event, so it’s not just history to him.  But, it is just history for anyone over 45-years-old.

Will any country put a man on the Moon in the future?  It’s possible, but with sophisticated robots to give us scientific information about it, why spend all that money and risk human life?  Space exploration continues, but it’s a robot’s game.  Who would want to spend the 150 to 300 days in a small space ship it would take to get to Mars?  That’s what it has taken for the different spacecraft that have made the trip over the last 50 years.