in the news 1948
Above: Screen cap from the Columbia pictures serial Bruce Gentry. Based on a comic-strip series portraying the hero's adventures in aviation, the Columbia serial was premised on unnamed foreign powers seeking the takeover of America. Their ultimate weapon -- the "flying disc" pictured above. The series would mark the first representation on film of the emerging modern phenomenon. 1948 also saw the first book -- albeit fictional -- published on the flying saucers. Stories below.
OCTOBER 30, 1948 THROUGH DECEMBER 31, 1948:
Indianapolis, Indiana Star - 31 Oct 48
Future Submarines Pictured As Atomic Rocket Launchers
By CARL F. BISSELL
Milford, Conn., Oct. 30 (AP) -- Inventor Thomas Alva Edison Lake says that in future wars submarines may bombard enemy targets with atomic torpedo-rockets without surfacing from the bottom of coastal waters.
Lake's conception of both the future submarine and the torpedo-rocket are taking shape on his drawing boards.
The submarine appears little different from the conventional underseas craft, except that it is bigger and wears "bustles."
Lake, for 30 years close collaborator with his father, Simon Lake, designer of the first successful submarine, says these and other atomic weapons "must be developed to meet the threat of World War III."
Inventor of many submarine and aircraft devices, Lake says that "like any thoughtful American I have tried to determine what must be done to prevent World War III."
IF EFFORTS TO AVERT war should fail, Lake thinks the United States "may have to fight its first aggressive war to bring everlasting peace to the world."
To that end, he says he believes, the United States should "greatly increase" its stockpile of atomic weapons, build a "massive fleet" of supersonic aircraft, step up universal military training and develop atomic powered jet-propelled submarines, both for combat and transport purposes.
The Bikini tests, says Lake, showed the submarine to be the least vulnerable to the atom bomb.
"These tests," Lake asserts, "appear to have made surface warcraft and transports obsolete. The successful warcraft of World War II will operate in the air and beneath the surface of the sea."
THE SUBMARINE sketched on Lake's drawing board would be propelled by atomic energy, through what he calls "hydro-jet bustles" on each side of the hull, and with a third hydro-jet unit astern for steering and trimming the vessel.
In addition to conventional torpedo tubes, Lake's projected craft would have an upwardly inclined tube foor [sic] launching the torpedo rockets while the craft is submerged.
The rockets have the appearance of an orthodox naval torpedo, but there the resemblance ends. For when Lake's torpedo rocket reaches the surface the warhead detaches itself from the rest and continues to its target as a free or as a guided missile.
The torpedo's means of propulsion to the surface are the same as those of a regular torpedo, so that the submarine is freed from the shock and recoil of rocket firing. The warhead would not become alive until "safely away from the submarine."
JUST BEFORE the rocket portion has reached the firing position at the surface, says Lake, hinged side-plates would fan out from the torpedo half to act as a sea anchor and a base for the recoil of firing the rocket portion, which then would fly a predetermined course or one set for it by co-operating aircraft.
Lake says the advantage of launching rockets from a submerged submarine would lie in the saving of rocket fuel permitted by the closer approach to enemy targets. This fuel saving, he says, would permit a corresponding increase in the rocket's destructive power. Rockets launched from surface ships standing far off shore would have to sacrifice destructive power for propelling fuel, the inventor claims.
As in the case of the rocket-launchers, Lake says that cargo and troop-carrying submarines would be atom-powered to minimize detection.
Popular Science - Nov 48
Do You Know Your New Air Force?
Jet takes the lead in this array of new Air Force planes. See how many you can name, then check answers printed ... across the bottom of the page.
1. Of conventional design, this was the first six-jet bomber in the world to be flown. The plane is still in experimental stage.
2. There should be no mistaking this tailless, propellerless craft. Note the eight jet exhaust of this new long-range bomber.
3. The Air Force is getting this new plane ready for production. An all-weather, jet-propelled fighter, it has a speed of 600 m.p.h.
4. This one you should get easily. It's the most famous USAF jet fighter. There's an air scoop on each side of the fuselage.
5. Yes, it looks like the B-29 Superfortress, but it's really 75 percent new plane. Engines are more powerful, and range is greater.
6. A single jet engine powers the world's first fighter with sweptback wings. It is designed to fly faster than 650 m.p.h.
7. Sweptback wings again, but this time it's a bomber with six jet engines slung under the wings. It's still in experimental stage.
8. Called the world's largest bomber, it is designed to carry 10,000 pounds of bombs 10,000 miles. Note the six pusher props.
9. Air for the single jet engines of these fighters is sucked in through the nose. Their speed is rated at more than 600 m.p.h.
10. It may look like a twin-jet fighter, but there are two jet power plants in each of this huge new bomber's two nacelles.
11. This medium bomber also has a slender fuselage. It is powered by four jet engines that speed it along at close to 500 m.p.h.
Answers: 1. Martin XB-48; 2. Northrop B-49; 3. Curtiss XF-87; 4. Lockheed F-80; 5. Boeing B-50; 6. North American F-86; 7. Boeing XB-47; 8. Consolidated B-36; 9. Republic F-84; 10. Consolidated XB-46; 11. North American B-45.
Science Illustrated - Nov 48
V-2 TESTS are providing vital data about the upper atmosphere.
FRICTON of atmosphere resulted in this meteorite explosion.
Escape From Earth
SUPPOSE IN 1948, YOU HAD BEEN standing on Mars watching an 8,000-mile-diameter planet, third in distance from a dwarf star or sun in the Milky Way. You would have noted that on this planet, earth, living creatures took part in important events. These events pointed toward space travel.
Important events on a planet in the galaxy of the Milky Way during 1948 interested many scientists. Did they point to space travel?
Studying a list of these events, you would have noted that with one of them no living creature was involved until it was over. And in seeking an answer to the question, "Is interplanetary travel possible?" you might have asked: "Is the Planet Earth working toward as spectacular an achievement in the giant space of the universe as it has already accomplished in the infinitesimally small space inside the atom?"
Further study would have brought to light an important point. The remarkable events on your list were not in the fiction category. Serious, solemn men, sometimes a little embarrassed, were chiseling away at the problems of space travel as though they had never scoffed at it as "impossible."
SUPERSONIC guided missiles like this Ames Aeronautical Laboratory model must be perfected before space ships take off.
Here are the events you would have found on your list headed "Travel Outside Earth's Atmosphere":
Event 1. A rapidly moving body, composed of angular pieces of a chalky white mineral (enstatite) in a finer, gray, ground mass, on the morning of February 18, was on a collision course with the Planet Earth. At an estimated 26 miles per second, the space body plunged into the earth's atmosphere. Fire, smoke, and explosion followed. The unburnt portions of the space traveler crashed into the earth on farms near Norton, Kansas.
Scientists immediately started scouring the earth's surface for fragments of the space traveler. It was vital to their plans to know what had happened to this body on its trip through outer space. Were "the fragments radioactive? Had cosmic radiations of space changed them? Did they contain new variations of known elements (isotopes)? The importance of the event lay not in the collision between earth and the space traveler, but in what the scientists learned from it. (For the story of Event 1, see page 22).
Event 2. After long hours with slide rule, logarithm tables, and complex equations, a scientist wrote a letter to the editor of Science, the Journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. A possible four per cent of rockets shot to the moon, he stated, would collide with meteoroids in space. The meteoroids would probably "vaporize, explode, blow a hole in the rocket, and very likely destroy it."
On the other hand, astronomy professor Fletcher Watson of Harvard University was still hopeful. "By the time space ships are built," he wrote in his letter, "and the other details of interplanetary travel are settled we may have means of fending off or dodging the oncoming particles."
Event 3. The U.S. Navy, on its 150th birthday, was playing with space rockets. It changed the name of its newest and longest range rocket from Neptune to Viking and prepared to shoot it on a journey 235 or more miles above the earth's crust.
Meanwhile, every few weeks, the U.S. Army Ordnance Department, assisted by the Air Force and the Navy, was sending rockets into the atmosphere from White Sands, New, Mexico, to measure radiation, temperature, and other physical factors important to space travel. These rockets -- modified German V-2's -- were not space ships in themselves; but an attempt already had been made to fire baby rockets from a V-2 at the top of its flight, more than 100 miles above the earth. The idea was to give the baby rocket particles sufficient velocity to counteract the earth's gravitational pull. One step further would make the secondary-rockets circle the planet as manmade "satellites."
EARTH-GIRDLING satellite, fired from this V-2 warhead, was first attempt at space travel. It failed, but the work continues.
The first attempt failed, but work on the experiment continued with plans for additional attempts. Success of the plan would mean that two important things had been achieved:
A. The only known method of escape from the earth would be fact instead of theory. As scientists well knew, no fuel-and-engine combination then available could achieve 5,000 rocket-miles per hour, while 25,000 miles an hour, or seven miles a minute, was needed to counteract earth's gravity in order to escape into outer space.
B. The process of a fragment from space striking the earth would be reversed. At least for the record, space travel with the earth as a transportation stop would be an accomplished reality.
Event 4. As an important follow-up on Event 3, Dr. James A. Van Allen of the Applied Physics Laboratory of Johns Hopkins University (the laboratory where scientists developed the proximity fuse for World War II) notified the Association of Terrestrial Magnitude, meeting in Oslo, that American scientists were seriously considering the development of an artificial satellite -- a moon in the shape of a missile -- to continuously circle the earth at a 600-mile altitude. The purpose: to collect, and transmit to earth by radio, data on the outermost fringes of the earth's atmospheric envelope. More recently the Canadian Rocket Society exhibited blueprints for a $1,500,000 200-foot atomic-powered rocket which the Society hoped to send to the moon -- and back -- sometime before 1960. The launching base alone for this rocket will cost $500,000.
LIQUID HYDROGEN, heated by an atomic pile, would be the driving force of this space ship designed by Kenneth W. Gatland, a Fellow of the Royal Interplanetary society.
Event 5. A screen of silence was set up in Washington and California to hide the details of a fabulous research program known only as Project Rand, or the Rand Corporation.
Facts: Large sums of U.S. Air Force money, top scientific and aeronautical brains, and the Douglas Aircraft Company, were involved.
Rumors: A contract to place a rocket on the moon within three years had been signed by a U.S. Government agency (less than three years ago the U.S. Army Signal Corps was proud of merely bouncing a radar signal off the moon's surface). Project Rand included a score of varied long-range reseach [sic] assignments such as guided missiles, upper atmosphere investigation, intercontinental warfare with transoceanic, high-altitude rockets and aircraft. Trips to the moon or Mars came in only as part of the end-result of a long-range series of secret research programs.
Investigation: SCIENCE ILLUSTRATED sent reporters to the gleaming white building at Fourth Street and Broadway in Santa Monica, California, head office for Project Rand, and to the Pentagon Building in Washington. In California, F.R. Collbohm, a Douglas engineer who had been with Project Rand from its inception more than two years ago, stated that he would like to see Project Rand explained, but he could not even confirm or deny rumors, nor give any facts, without permission from Air Force headquarters. Asked if "we are nearer to realization of space travel in rockets as a result of what Rand has been doing? Is a rocket to the moon a year distant, or two years distant as a result of Rand?" he replied, "Better not give us any credit for such influence now."
In Washington, SCIENCE ILLUSTRATED'S reporter was told that Rand was concerned with "high altitude research and intercontinental warfare," that 30 papers on Project Rand research work had been compiled, and that the Air Force had no knowledge of the rumored contract to place a rocket on the moon. Air Force officials also pointed out that they could not help materially in combing inaccuracies or errors from a story about Rand, for to correct them might reveal classified information. They indicated, too, that a report on some of Rand's unclassified sections might be made public in the near future.
Event 6. The editors of the highly respected Army Ordnance Association's Army Ordnance, remembering the raised eyebrows that greeted a 1939 article in their magazine by Major James R. Randolph on "What Can We Expect of Rockets?" accepted an article from the same author on the "Occupation of Mars." They noted editorially that Major Randolph was a "mathematician of note, long experienced as a teacher in several of the outstanding engineering schools of the country." Major Randolph wrote that "In World War II we found it necessary to occupy bases in remote parts of the earth ... In World War III we cannot limit such occupation to the earth alone, we must extend it out into space as far as rockets can go and to our neighbor worlds in space." He explained how it could be done, and why it was important.
Event 7. Professor Francis H. Clauser, associated with the same university as Dr. Van Allen (Johns Hopkins), who reported the satellite considerations noted above, wrote a paper on "Flight Beyond the Earth's Atmosphere." He read it to a group of scientists and engineers and then published it in the sober pages of the Society of Automotive Engineers Journal. Professor Clauser's theme: "Space travel will come, but by gradual process of developing better sounding rockets, longer range rocket missiles, and eventually undertaking the construction of a full-fledged space ship. [sic, no end quote]
Event 8. The engineers and scientists who will fly the rockets of tomorrow, now students in engineering schools, were reading and writing seriously about the problems of space travel. Examples: Ben-Ami Lipetz and Alvin Feldman, discussed "Next Step -- Space," in the Cornell Engineer. They worked out typical orbits for flights to the moon, use of the moon's and the earth's gravitational pulls as braking power for rockets slowing down in circles around their objectives before coming in to land.
The editors of Massachussetts [sic] Institute of Technology's Technology Review published a report by author and rocket-enthusiast Willy Ley on "Space Station," a serious presentation of the Nazi plans drawn up during World War II for a station spotted 5,100 miles above the earth.
Event 9. Government agencies gave high priority to a contract between the U.S. and an aircraft company for the development of nuclear or atomic power plants for aircraft. Like Project Rand, secrecy surrounded Fairchild Engine & Airplane Corporation's work on Nuclear Energy Propulsion for Aircraft, but it was admittedly making good progress under the direction of Russian-born, 34-year-old Andrew Kalitinsky. Officials banned talk of time-tables, but experts in the aviation field said that a successful NEPA engine for aircraft could be built in five years. From there to a NEPA engine for rockets would be but a step.
(For a close look at man's achievements in exploring space, and the conditions he must still overcome to achieve interplanetary transportation, see Chart, pages 24-25.)
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LESS THAN 50 years ago, most people thought flying machines were but dreams of crackpots. Today, man flies faster than sound.
and Space Unexplored
Today, too, the kind of scientist and engineer who had confidence in man's ability 50 years ago now has confidence that someday man will penetrate space, travel to the moon and beyond. But they know that up to now the surface of what must be known before space travel becomes a reality has just been scratched. Although theory indicates what a space traveler ought to find, actual knowledge of space fades away beyond the 100 miles up to which man has sent his missiles away from earth.
To give you an idea of what man has done, and what yet must be done before space travel is accomplished, SCIENCE ILLUSTRATED has prepared this chart. Not shown here, however, are the engineering problems still to be overcome. What does a space ship crew do, for example, when there's no gravity to hold them in their seats? A lively article by John W. Campbell, Jr., in a forthcoming issue of SCIENCE ILLUSTRATED, tells how such problems might be solved.
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1. EXPLODING METEORITES are rarely caught in the act. Here is the Norton stone disintegrating 35 miles above earth.
2. OBSERVERS like Mrs. H.R.S. Davis, of Norton, aided in finding fragments by showing direction in which they saw explosion.
3. FIRST FRAGMENT of Norton stone was found by George Tansill while harrowing a clover field with his tractor.
4. SEARCH PARTIES organized by Dr. Lincoln LaPaz, above, used transits to locate spots where fragments may have fallen.
5. SURVEYS resulted in dramatic moments like one above; Mrs. LaPaz (pointing) found meteorite fragment on Tansill farm.
6. ACHONDRITIC substance of meteorite is extremely fragile, so fragment found, left, had to be carefully removed from soil.
7. SCIENTIFIC value of meteorite pieces caused residents of Norton County to submit even ordinary rocks for examination.
8. RADIOACTIVITY studies of fragments are made at Chicago's Institute for Nuclear Studies by Dr. Harrison Brown (see text).
The meteorite that exploded above Kansas on February 18, 1948, made scientific history. Because of its importance, SCIENCE ILLUSTRATED asked Dr. Lincoln LaPaz, an outstanding authority on visitors from space, to prepare the following account of the Norton County stone.
When he prepared this article, the largest fragment of the meteorite found weighed only slightly over 100 pounds. But later, Dr. LaPaz telephoned SCIENCE ILLUSTRATED from Norton to report the finding of a new section of the stone. After completing its excavation -- the stone had penetrated 11 feet into the ground -- Dr. LaPaz reported that it weighed over 2,000 pounds, that it was 20 times as big as any achondrite (a stony meteorite) previously recovered. This find means that the New Mexico Institute of Meteoritics, of which Dr. LaPaz is director, as well as other scientific institutions, now have additional material with which to pursue their analyses of what happens to a body traveling through space.
ON FEBRUARY 18, 1948, at 4:55 P.M., Mrs. Orville Manning and her son, Ralph De Wester, were walking in the backyard of their home on the huge McKinley Ranch in Norton County, Kansas. Twenty odd miles west and south of the Mannings a convalescent, shell-shocked veteran was loading fodder on the farm of W.J. Yoho. A few miles south of the Yohos, Creta Carter, 11 years old, of Jennings, Kansas, was stretching up to reach a clothesline built for adults. Some ten miles east of the Mannings, the bay mares of Dale Severns' favorite team were grazing quietly on the grassy slopes of the pasture that had been their home for many years.
Seconds later, Mrs. Manning and Ralph, petrified with astonishment, were gazing upward at an angry boiling cloud, showing an occasional reddish streak, that had suddenly blossomed out in the clear blue sky. The air around them seemed filled with unearthly whizzing sounds.
On the Yoho farm, the veteran crouched in a state of collapse while a cannonading louder than any that he had ever heard in Europe beat down from the sky.
In Jennings, tiny Creta, undismayed by both a brilliant fireball that had flashed centrally across her field of view, and strange thundering sounds that followed its passage, was marking very carefully where the fireball had disappeared behind the town's tallest building.
On the Severns' farm, the bay mares, trapped on their sides between the precipitous walls of a narrow muddy gully into which they had blundered while racing desperately away from the deafening noise, were pawing blindly toward suffocation.
Similar experiences were recorded throughout several hundred square miles in northwestern Kansas and the adjacent portions of Nebraska. Near the center of this vast territory, in Norton, Norcatur, and Oberlin, Kansas, and in neighboring towns, these noises were of unparalleled intensity. Thousands of persons driven out of doors by these startling phenomena saw mushrooming far overhead clouds compared by many to those accompanying atom bomb explosions. Few of the observers actually saw the fireball whose flight across the sky was the precursor of all the tumult that followed. Unlike Creta Carter, the average eyewitness did not have his face turned skyward at the crucial instant. Consequently, although the fireball was bright enough to be visible near Greeley, Colorado, approximately 250 miles away, it was seen only by a few.
For weeks after the startling events of February 18, the chief topic of conversation in Norton County was the nature of the fireball and the explosive noises and long enduring, high-level clouds that attended its flight through the sky. Scientists unhesitatingly advocated a meteoritical origin for these phenomena. But most the [sic] populace, influenced by the state of international relations, attributed the "Norton incident to a rocket or similar missile gone astray from the White Sands Proving Ground, or directed Kansas-ward by an enemy country.
Shortly before 6:00 P.M., on February 18, an account of the Norton incident reached the Institute of Meteoritics of the University of New Mexico through Lt. R.E. Young of the Kirtland Field Civil Air Patrol office. In the next few hours additional information was secured through C.A.P. channels and long-distance calls. Then a huge volume of correspondence was carried on with actual observers of the fall in Kansas and Nebraska. Eyewitnesses were visited by Institute of Meteoritics representatives, to obtain transit measurements of the position of various points on the meteor path as seen by them.
Fragment of Meteorite Found
As soon as decent weather permitted full-scale field search, an Institute of Meteoritics party entered the area in which observers' lines of sight to the end point of the meteor's path intersected. On April 28, they found a fragment of the meteorite itself in the hands of George W. Tansill, almost the first farmer interrogated in the intersection area. Mr. Tansill had picked up this fragment on April 6 and being familiar with the rocks of the area, knew at once that it was foreign to the region. However, he had to wait until the arrival of the Institute of Meteoritics party to have his surmise that it was a meteorite confirmed. Further search resulted in the discovery of several hundred additional meteorites, mostly quite small. Still later, a mass weighing over 100 pounds was found by Ralph DeWester and Mrs. Haskell McKinley, deeply buried in an area already searched by the Institute of Meteoritics party.
These discoveries and the laboratory examination of the materials recovered showed that the "Norton incident" resulted, not from the explosion of a rocket, guided missile, or satellite vehicle, but solely from the fall of a meteorite. Further, the Norton County meteorite, as scientists labeled it, was of an extremely rare and interesting type.
Three Main Groups
Meteorites, the very occurrence of which was denied even by scientists only a little over a century ago, are now known to be classifiable into three main groups. Scientists label one group the irons. These resemble closely fragments of a nickel-iron core such as the earth is believed to possess. Another group is the iron-stones, presenting similarities to fragments of the intermediate zone of silicates mixed with nickel-iron, thought to surround the core of the earth. Finally, there are stony meteorites or aerolites. They resemble in composition and structure fragments of that portion of the outer rocky zone (lithosphere) of the earth lying beneath the superficial granitic layer.
Long ago, Boisse and Meunier, reflecting on the curious density spectrum of the meteorites, ranging from the very dense irons to the lightest aerolites, were led to conjecture that the meteorites might be simply the fragments of a body, in constitution much like the earth, which had been shattered by some catastrophic disruption. Half a century later, in 1901, Farrington of Chicago was independently led by consideration of the structural characters [sic] of meteorites to theorize that they originated in the disruption of a spheroid of subplanetary dimensions. Quite recently, Harrison Brown of the University of Chicago, was awarded the American Association for the Advancement of Science prize for his remarkable discoveries supporting the "meteorite-planet" theory. At the present moment, this theory of the origin of meteorites is certainly on a firmer basis than any of the many competitive theories.
If we assume that a meteorite-planet once existed, it appears likely, on the basis of the discovery of such achondritic meteorites as those of the Norton County fall, that this planet had, before its disruption, a lithospheric zone like the earth's.
Obviously, the biography of a specimen as rare and significant as the Norton County meteorite is interesting to scientists and laymen alike.
Cause of Disruption Unknown
Until the disruption of the meteorite-planet, the particular mass that fell in Kansas on February 18, 1948 must have lain quite deeply buried in its lithosphere. Just what caused the disruption of the meteorite-planet, we have no certain means of knowing. It may have been an internally induced explosion, tidal disintegration, or a collision between the meteorite-planet and another planet.
The last of these possibilities now seems to be the most probable. Certainly it offers the most sensational possibilities, but these are not always developed with a weather eye on the hard facts. For example, in April, 1948, a popular weekly of enormous circulation ran a lavishly illustrated account of the newest theory of the origin of the solar system, giving considerable space to an illustration of the collision between the meteorite-planet and another planet, both moving between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.
Unfortunately, the ghostly wakes trailing behind the colliding planets and the caption "head-on collision" make only too clear that the planets in question were regarded by the artist as moving in opposite directions about the sun -- a most distressing error since the newest theory of the origin of the solar system, like all such theories that have gained any measure of acceptance, only gives birth to planets moving in the same direction around the sun! Considering the kinetic energies involved in the impact between a meteorite-planet moving in a nearly circular orbit and another planet traveling in the same direction about the sun but following a more eccentric orbit intersecting the first, it is easy to see that a head-on collision of these bodies is not required in order to bring about their fragmentation or even their partial vaporization.
Granting that some sort of collision between planets resulted in the disruption of the meteorite-planet, the Norton County meteorite was "born" sometime within the last billion years or so somewhere in the ring of space enclosed between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. We can designate the place a little more precisely than the time of birth because a great multitude of the Kansas meteorite's bigger brothers can actually be observed circulating about the sun between Mars and Jupiter. These are in the region where a curious law, long ago discovered by Bode, predicted that a planet should exist. This "missing planet" of Bode and our hypothetical meteorite-planet are now believed to have been one and the same.
Same Point at Same Time
How long the Norton County meteorite continued to move in an orbit lying far out beyond that of Mars, we do not know. However, eventually it was thrown, probably by the effect of the giant planet Jupiter, into a less circular orbit. Some portion of this lay within and nearly or actually intersected the orbit of the earth. The orbit may have been traversed by the meteorite countless times, each passage near or through intersection with the earth's orbit representing a potential meteorite fall that failed to materialize simply because the earth-target was not there to be hit. Finally, on the late afternoon of February 18, 1948, the earth and the meteorite arrived at the same point in space at the same time. The latter, rushing at many miles a second down through the terrestrial atmosphere, gave rise to the startling effects described above. All of these phenomena originated in the extremely rapid transformation of the enormous kinetic energy of the rapidly moving meteorite into other forms of energy, such as radiant-, ionization-, acoustic-, and mechanical energy, as a result of the atmospheric resistance to the motion of the meteorite.
Initially, in the rarified outermost layers of the atmosphere at elevations of 100 miles or more, this resistance was a bombardment of the bare outer surface of the meteorite by individual air molecules. As the meteorite penetrated into the denser layers of the atmosphere, this bombardment rapidly increased in intensity. The heat generated by the countless molecular impacts distilled off enough meteoritic material to generate a mantling atmosphere of vapor about the solid core of the meteorite. This greatly increased the effective size of the target exposed to bombardment by the air molecules.
Effects Became Spectacular
At about this stage the meteorite first became visible as a bright meteor or shooting star. From this point on, the effects produced by air resistance became more and more spectacular; the meteor blazed out into a fireball so brilliant as to be visible for at least 250 miles. The relatively fragile meteorite exploded several times under the increasing air pressure (one such explosion seems to have occurred at the unusually great height of 37 miles). These explosions resulted in "smoke" clouds and trails that were one of the most widely observed features of the Norton County fall. Finally, the relatively small solid fragments of the meteorite that survived whizzed down to earth accompanied or followed by the bedlam of sounds produced by the swift passage of the meteoritical projectile through the air.
Scientists at anytime would welcome a meteorite as unusual as the Norton County fall. Manned rockets and spaceships seem just around the corner and, with the advent of such vehicles, a premium will be placed on every scrap of knowledge that might be of value to the etheronauts.
Right now fragments of the Norton County meteorite are being studied painstakingly by workers at the Institute of Meteoritics at Albuquerque and by Dr. Harrison Brown at Chicago University's Institute for Nuclear Studies. Their findings, which will be greatly aided by assistance from volunteers who report meteorite finds, will add to the growing pile of knowledge that will be needed before manned rockets can fly out of the earth's atmosphere.
Portage La Prairie, Manitoba Leader - 4 Nov 48
Three Portagers See "Flying Saucers"
Three Portagers have seen what they think others claim to be "flying saucers," and they saw them south and west of the city between 5.30 and 5.45 p.m. on Sunday and heading west. The "saucers" were seen by Frank Ogletree and Mr. and Mrs. H. Mann. Mrs. Mann told the Leader the story. "We had just reached the farm and got out of the car when my husband exclaimed 'Look at this thing in the sky.' We all looked. It was extremely bright. I thought it was some sort of arc light."
It had a tail, but the tail seemed to be going straight up behind the object. It was in sight for about 15 seconds.
"It dropped out of sight west of us."
Mrs. Mann said they saw it about the same time that the people at Ninette claimed they saw 'saucers'. To her it seemed more like a meteor than a saucer. She thinks it must have been very much higher in the sky than people think.
All three of them saw the object and saw it together. Mrs. Mann was surprised that no-one else had reported seeing it.
Reports of a strange bright object hurtling through the sky were also given at Grandview Sunday. There, it was described as a greenish white light.
The Grandview report said four men saw the object about 20 miles south west of town as it appeared in the eastern sky.
It travelled west, they said, and saw it for 30 or 40 seconds before it disappeared.
Holland, Michigan Evening Sentinel - 4 Nov 48
Engineer Predicts Pilotless Planes
Washington Nov. 4 (UP) -- John K. Northrop, noted aeronautical engineer, predicted today that within 11 years supersonic pilotless aircraft with intercontinental range will all but replace manned bombers and fighters.
So effective will these guided missiles be that defense against them becomes an almost insurmountable problem, he said.
"The very survival of American civilization (is left) pretty much in the hands of the diplomats," he added. "Science has far outreached our ability to control its destructive potential."
Northrop is president of an aircraft company, and of the Institue [sic] of the Aeronautical Sciences. He spoke here under auspices of the Library of Congress and the National Air Council on Aviation History from 1903 to 1960. Northrop designed and built the huge B-49 flying wing, eight-jet bomber soon to go into production for the Air Force.
He predicts that pilotless missiles with wings and remote control devices will come into military use within two years "and will form the main backbone of the air force's offense and defense by 1960."
He also said that atomic engines for aircraft can be developed well before 1960. They will give unlimited range and very high speed but will be so expensive that they will be few in number. They "will be inferior to the guided missile in their ability to deliver a warhead to enemy territory at the lowest cost to our country's economy," he said.
Adelaide, Australia The Mail - 6 Nov 48
It's a real "flying saucer"
London, Saturday. -- British rocket technicians have completed blue prints for a real flying saucer -- an inhabited space station revolving moon-like round the earth 22,000 miles up.
CHIEF designer Mr. H.E. Ross told the Inter-Planetary Society today how to get it space-borne and what it would do. He said:
"It will provide a watching post for effective international control of atomic energy. All large-scale explosions would be reported immediately, making secret atom-bomb tests almost impossible."
This space station would be 20 ft. wide and would weigh 2,000 tons. It would be prefabricated and taken up piecemeal by piloted freight rockets making 66 journeys and dumping each load in space, to be picked up later.
Mr. Ross said the bits would not fall, but would circle the earth, passing exactly the same spot, at precise intervals.
If any object could be given a speed of 6,500 m.p.h. at 22,000 miles' altitude, gravitation would be balanced and the object would rotate.
"Because gravity was defeated, anybody leaving the space station would similarly circle the earth at the same speed.
"So engineers in rigid space suits supplied with oxygen could easily put together the 'dumped' sections of the space station. They would jet propel themselves about by squirting gases from cylinders strapped on their backs."
One engineer, he said, could lift the heaviest girder, because it would have no weight. Tools could be put down on nothing and wouldn't fall, but merely would accompany the engineer at the same speed.
The power of the sun's rays would be needed to spin the saucer round its hub and produce artificial gravity, because, without it, the men, their food, instruments, and bedding would float in chemically made air.
Men would lead normal lives, except that they would have to stand horizontally with their heads pointing to the hub -- although Mr. Ross claimed they would feel as if they were standing upright.
Purposes of the space station which would be connected with the earth by the rocket services would include accurate weather forecasts, world-wide re-diffusion of television, astronomical and other scientific research.
Mr. Ross added the project would cost about £130,000,000.
Greatest height yet reached by a rocket is 113 miles, but one to be launched soon in America is expected to travel 235 miles.
Aberdeen, Scotland Press and Journal - 13 Nov 48
Bernard Newman Forecasts
TRUST Mr Bernard Newman for an up-to-the-minute thriller. A rocket, constructed of a metal unknown to the human race, arrives in Leicestershire. The world is still speculating when another hits Mexico. By the time the world's scientists are convinced that the rockets are from Mars, still another falls on Soviet soil.
It is all part of an extraordinary but -- as is proved -- effective scheme devised by the eminent British scientist, Professor Drummond, to force the nations of the world to unanimity of thought and action.
Mr Newman's story, The Flying Saucer, describes how, faced by the threat of Martian destruction, the nations get together, and in the closing pages we are given a glimpse of the free new world which emerges.
The author does not hesitate to poke fun at the various countries and their leaders and legislators, especially when the leaders and legislators go into serious conclave in their respective assemblies, and later in a U.N.O. atmosphere, following the arrival of the Martian rockets.
We find Newman at his sauciest as he describes some of the exchanges in the British Parliament, in Congress, and in the assembly of the nations of the world.
No author can improve on his technique in this respect, and we enjoy it all the more because of the thinly disguised identities of his statesmen characters.
We race through page after page of mysterious happenings, rich satire and top-grade espionage, until we reach the stage where Mr Worton Spender, Leader of His Majesty's Opposition in the British Parliament, is invited by the nations of the world -- and at the request of the Soviet Union forsooth -- to get them out of all this Martian trouble.
This is how Mr Worton Spender rallies the world against the threatened Martian invasion:
"Let us gird ourselves for the combat. There may be setbacks, even shocks, for we are mortal and know not the mind of our foes. But this is certain, that if we are united, we can rid our earth of this dread menace. To the battle -- all of us!"
Yes, Mr Newman leaves us in no doubt about the identity of Mr Worton Spender!
Tucson, Arizona Daily Star - 19 Nov 48
Night-Flying Saucer Reported Over Tucson
A night-flying saucer was reported skyrocketing westwardly over the Santa Catalina mountains last night by Hugh Downs, former naval flyer, of the Casa Grande highway.
Downs said the strange object flashed into view over the Catalinas about midnight and disappeared 20 to 30 seconds later over the Tucson mountains. He described it as a white-bluish glow, about 3,000 to 5,000 feet altitude, travelling at an estimated speed of about 1,000 miles per hour.
Neither the Davis-Monthan nor Municipal airport towers reported seeing the object, and no local aircraft were reported in the air at the time.
Darmstadt, Germany European Stars and Stripes - 23 Nov 48
Two Flying Discs Reported by Danes
COPENHAGEN, Nov. 22 (AP) -- Flying discs have been reported by several people at Skagen, Northern Jutland. They reported that two unidentified missiles passed Skagen yesterday at a high altitude and disappeared northward over Skagerrack.
N. Heilman, of the Danish coast guard at Skagen, reported he saw one flying disc moving northward at several thousand meters altitude, leaving a white column of smoke behind it. Then -- this time through binoculars -- he saw another, "shining like silver, traveling in a different direction."
Several other persons, among them the keeper of Skagen lighthouse, reported having seen the two discs.
Cessnock, Australia Eagle and South Maitland Recorder - 23 Nov 48
"Flying Discs" Off Danish Coast.
The coastguard at Skagen, North Jutland, reported on Sunday having seen a "flying disc speeding northwards leaving a white trail of smoke."
He said he saw a second disc of a similar description and followed its flight with binoculars.
The coastguard believes that the objects he saw were remote controlled rockets.
The keeper of Skagen lighthouse, off the Danish Coast, and others, said they also had seen the discs.
In July 1947 people in 9 States of America reported having seen "flying saucers" in the sky.
They described the objects ranging in size from "five-roomed bungalow" to a "baseball."
Last July another flood of "flying saucer" reports swept America.
Scientists put the reports down to mass hysteria and collective illusion.
Last February Scandinavian visitors to Britain reported that rockets had been seen flying over Sweden, Norway and Denmark at high speed.
Canberra, Australia Times - 26 Nov 48
"FLYING SAUCERS" WERE PLANES ON NIGHT FLYING
Several Canberra residents claimed last night that they had seen "flying saucers" in the south-eastern skies approximately at 7.45 p.m.
Calls were received at the Office of "The Canberra Times" from persons in Ainslie and Reid, who said they had seen two star-like objects, in the shape of saucers, moving in a westerly direction at an incredible speed.
The informants refused to give their names.
The aeradio station at Fairbairn aerodrome gave a possible explanation. They said that planes were engaged in night manoeuvres, and two planes took off almost together at approximately 7.45 p.m. and flew in a westerly direction.
A report from the Mt. Stromlo Observatory, said that nothing unusual had been observed last night.
Life Magazine - Dec 48
JET WINGS. These 100-ton Flying Wings were lined up at Hawthorne, Calif. last week to have their conventional internal combustion engines replaced with much speedier turbojets. These nine planes, with a bomb load of 15 tons each compared to 10 tons for the B-29, fit into same space as four standard bombers would require. The air force has an additional 30 Flying Wings on order.
Blytheville, Arkansas Courier News - 1 Dec 48
Missouri Farmer Reports Seeing Flying Discs
NEVADA, Mo., Dec. 1. (AP) C.D. Sise, a farmer south of Nevada, yesterday reported sighting a disc like airplane for the second time.
Two weeks ago, Sise said, he two bright objects dropped about a large disc-like plane from which two bright objects dropped about 200 or 300 feet and then flew off to the southwest [sic, entire sentence]. The mother plane continued to the Northeast.
Yesterday his daughter, Joy Jean, 14, called his attention to a glistening, aluminum-appearing plane which flew toward the southwest at "terrific speed." Sise said it was about the size of the small planes which he saw two weeks ago.
Darmstadt, Germany European Stars and Stripes - 1 Dec 48
New Navy Missile Sets Record for Sustained Flight
WASHINGTON, Nov. 30 (INS) -- The Navy revealed that one of its guided missiles has set a new record for sustained flight by robot aircraft with ram-jet engines.
The record was achieved by a "stovepipe" Gorgon IV which remained aloft for "more than 10 minutes." The missile was piloted from the ground by remote control and tracked by radar at Point Mugu, Calif.
The Navy reported that the Gorgon IV was kept at subsonic speed during the test but said its ramjet engine is believed to have "almost unlimited possibilities for driving missiles at speed far in excess of sound."
No figures were given on the distance covered but it was pointed out that at only 500 miles per hour, the missile could have spanned about 100 miles.
The Gorgon IV is an all-meter [sic] high-winged monoplane, 22 feet long with a wing span of 10 feet. Its gross weight is 1,600 pounds, nearly half of which constitutes 116 gallons of ordinary gasoline.
Balaklava, Australia Producer - 2 Dec 48
Flying Saucers Seen Near Balaklava
Two Balaklava residents claim to have seen a flying saucer on [sic] similar phenomenon in the South-West sky on Tuesday about 5.15 p.m. They say the object appeared in the direction of Avon and lasted for a minute or so. It first appeared to be travelling away but later lost height and seemed to be approaching in the direction of Balaklava. A vapour trail or smoke trail was also visible it is claimed.
This statement follows other recent reports in this State of eerie lights and strange phenomena.
Readers of The News reported a green ball of light seen at 1.50 a.m. last Thursday and a Sandy Creek reader and a companion claim to have seen a ball of green light with a yellowish tail travelling at high speed in a North-westerly direction. On first appearance they thought it to be headlights of an approaching car. The time was 11.20 last Saturday night and both men claim to have been perfectly sober.
We are interested to know whether Tuesdays [sic] report can be substantiated by any other readers of The Producer.
Salt Lake City, Utah Tribune - 4 Dec 48
M'Narney Sees 10,000-Mile Atomic Missile
NEW YORK, Dec. 3 (UP) -- Gen. Joseph T. McNarney Friday envisioned a 10,000-mile atomic missile that would steer itself direct to a target by continually calculating its own position from the stars.
McNarney, head of the air materiel command, and former U.S. commander in Germany, warned, however, that push-button warfare is not just around the corner.
"We must not consider ourselves as prepared for the era of pushbutton warfare today," he said. "The time lag must be measured in years, perhaps decades."
Speaking before the National Association of Manufacturers, McNarney said the critical problem in developing a true weapon of push-button warfare was accuracy. The best steering system, he added, would be one carried along by the missile itself and therefore not subject to enemy jamming, like remote-control radio steering.
"An automatic celestial navigation system does the job of a skipper on a sailing vessel," he explained. "It continuously determines the position of the missile by celestial fixes and transmits signals to the auto pilot in the missile to make corrections and keep the missile on course."
McNarney said that the weapon visualized with mention of the words "push-button warfare was the weapon which would be launched from our own territory, maybe Omaha, Neb.; maybe Alaska, by the push of a button and travel to distant targets at ranges up to 10,000 miles."
The air force veteran said several nations undoubtedly had the know-how already to develop guided missiles that could travel 5000 miles. But he emphasized that accuracy was a critical problem.
"A promising solution," he added, "seems to be automatic celestial navigation."
Shreveport, Louisiana Times - 4 Dec 48
Settling A Problem
Most everyone remembers -- or do they? -- the furore caused not long ago by experiments to create rain through "seeding" clouds with dry ice. Rain showers were created in this way. A couple of western states even began to threaten litigation because one claimed its water was being brought to ground by a neighboring state.
Then the Air Force began to experiment. Could dry ice be used to dispel fogs on air fields? Could it be used to create rain in enemy terrain and thus bog down both land and air operations?
The experiments are concluded. The answer is "no." Dry ice cannot create rain in sufficient quantity, and where wanted, to be of either military or agriculture value, the Air Force has settled this matter. But, Mr. Air Force, what about those flying saucers? Did you ever find out what they were, where they came from, and where they went?
Billings, Montana Gazette - 5 Dec 48
Air-Borne 'Flaming Wheel' Mystery to Be Investigated
Bellefontaine, Ohio, Dec. 4. -- (U.P.) Police Saturday sent the remains of a "flaming wheel" that fell out if the sky to Wright-Patterson air base in the hope officials of the air force experimental center could give an answer to the mystery.
The flaming object hurtled out of the sky Friday night and crashed in a residential section. The object lighted up the entire area and smoked so profusely that it blacked out near-by residences.
Police Chief A.D. Paden said the object looked like a tire rim off an airplane or automobile. He said the mysterious "wheel" disintegrated in the hands of a patrolman who sought to salvage the remains. Only a couple of tiny pieces remained intact, Chief Paden said.
These bare remains, the chief added, will be sent to Wright field, some 45 miles south of here, for study.
Paden theorized the object might have been part of an experiment in guided missiles being conducted at Wright-Patterson air base. He said the condition of the salvaged bits of metal indicated the object had been subjected to exceptionally high heat.
The police chief at first believed the "wheel" had fallen from an airplane. A check of airfields in the area disclosed, however, that there had been no reports of any airplanes having lost any parts over Bellefontaine.
At Wright field, meanwhile, Colonel C.H. Welch, public relations officers [sic], said field officials were anxious to examine the remains of the object. He said he knew of nothing on an airplane that would behave as did the "flaming wheel" He said he also knew of no experiments being conducted at the field that could supply an answer to the mystery.
Adelaide, Australia Advertiser - 7 Dec 48
Vapor trails left by a high-flying plane over Adelaide yesterday. The plane changed direction over the city with the result that when the photo was taken two trails were visible.
Plane -- 4 Miles Up -- Leaves Vapor Trails
High above Adelaide soon after 3 p.m. yesterday, an invisible plane drew a hard white chalk line across the blue sky and through the thin clouds, while far below people stared, wondered -- and besieged the Weather Bureau, Parafield aerodrome and newspaper offices by phone to ask what it was all about.
Was it a meteor? Or a flying saucer?
Phone callers choked the lines to the Weather Bureau for about an hour, and many of the calls came from the country.
Some who rang "The Advertiser" were alarmed, but most were just curious.
South Australians were seeing something that became so commonplace in England during the war that people scarcely bothered to look. High up -- so high that it could be neither seen nor heard -- a plane was flying, leaving behind it a tight, white vapor trail which diffused after a while into a broad, woolly streak.
Parafield said that it was not a civil plane, the RAAF station at Mallala disclaimed all knowledge of it.
But an observer at the Bureau, who watched the plane through a theodolite, identified it as a four-engined aircraft.
This is how he explained the phenomenon: -- "What people saw was a condensation trail from a big plane flying at between 20,000 and 25,000 ft. At that level, the air was super saturated and, owing to the pressure effect of the aircraft moving through the air, the temperature dropped enough to condense the water vapor into cloud. The trail of cloud was forming in the slip-stream of the four motors."
The trail was first seen against the sun in the south-west. Then the plane turned and crossed its own cloudy track and disappeared into the north.
There was nothing abnormal in the weather which caused the trail. They are rarely seen here because planes do not ordinarily fly four miles above the earth.
Massillon, Ohio Evening Independent - 8 Dec 48
As everyone knows, a "drone" plane is one controlled in the air by radio from the ground or from a "mother" plane also in the air. Since the end of the war these flying robots have been found very useful both in gunnery practice and in work in the realm of guided missiles.
The pilotless fighter plane that got away from its mother during flight from the Choncoteague [sic, should be Chincoteague] naval air station, the other day, could not qualify as a Frankenstein's monster. It didn't come back to wreak vengeance on its human inventors. But Captain Vieweg, commanding officer of the station, must have been a very unhappy man as he waited for the thing to crash.
This drone was a big plane, a standard-size fighter. Crashing in a town or on a road or farmhouse it could do untold harm. It might crash before it ran out of gas. Captain Vieweg had sent up piloted planes to try to track and catch the runaway. Would there be a chance to shoot it down without doing damage where it struck? Would the phone ring and some policeman report a tragedy in Maryland or Delaware?
But nothing happened. Apparently the plane went out to sea and sank when it ran out of gasoline.
Pittsfield, Massachusetts Berkshire Eagle - 9 Dec 48
Subs May Guide Air Bombs 1000 Miles
WASHINGTON (UP) -- Submarines will never fly. But the Navy says that, in another war, they may get in their best licks from the air.
The idea is not much beyond the dream stage. But no less a sailor than Adm. Louis E. Denfeld, chief of naval operations, is doing the dreaming.
It would work out like this:
An aircraft carrier has its eye on a tough target. So tough that its planes can't get through. Neither can other Navy surface ships.
So up comes the guided missile department, with a self-propelled load of destruction the size of a B-36. This missile will cross an ocean under its own power. It will travel, of course, at speeds faster than sound. If it ever gets to the right place it will give the enemy plenty to think about.
Getting it there, wwith [sic] pinpoint accuracy, is where the submarines come in. The carrier stands 1000 miles away from the target, in safety.
The submarines line up, under water, every 100 miles or so along the route to the target. They are equipped with radar, and so is the missile.
All the submarines have to do then is pick up the missile as it comes within range and guide it along by radar impulses. This, way, a bull's-eye is practically certain.
Not for Near Future
The whole thing, the Navy admits, is several years away, at best. Present guided missiles travel only 300 miles, are not so big, and don't go so fast.
The Navy's crystal ball gazers also have come up with the self-propelled, supersonic bomb, for planes that go too fast for ordinary bombing.
The faster a bomber travels, the farther its bomb travels while falling, and the sooner they have to be dropped. Planes of the near future will go so fast the bombs must be cut loose before the bombardier gets in sight of the target.
This doesn't make for accuracy.
So future bombs, the Navy said, may be power-driven. This would enable bombardiers to get nearer the target before letting go.
The Navy already is testing a 2000-pound bomb at speeds faster than sound.
Valparaiso, Indiana Vidette Messenger - 14 Dec 48
Eventually the world may become accustomed to war's alarms and take them -- or leave them -- as a matter of course.
Almost daily there are indications mankind is tuning up for another great conflict, a conflict on a scale so gigantic that what now passes for civilization would be destroyed and humanity put back on a basis of pre-civilization communism.
The United States and Russia are developing weapons of power so deadly they are almost beyond human comprehension. Man's hopes for peace and security are being discounted.
The state of fear in which the American people find themselves gives rise to all sorts of incidents. They are quick to see portents in the sky. The so-called flying saucers kept the populace on edge for many days. Recently a "strange, flaming object" fell in the residential section of an Ohio city. Resembling a wheel, it spiraled out of the sky, lighting up the whole area as it burned itself out, smoking profusely. Remnants picked up by police crumbled in their hands, leaving no clues us to its nature or origin.
Immediately it was suspected by the most fearful of being part of a guided missile, that horrible weapon which is to be turned upon the nation's great cities by an enemy.
A logical explanation may be forthcoming, but in the meantime the worst will be believed. Wars and rumors of wars have the world stage.
Miami, Florida Herald - 17 Dec 48
It's a Kite! It's a Blimp! What Is it?
Odd Phenomenon Seen In Sky
People are seeing odd things in Florida skies again.
It's nothing so monotonous as flying saucers or blazing meteors, though. This time it's a "burning planet" at South Bay, and something that looks like a "great, big kite" at Riviera Beach.
Several persons at South Bay described a Monday night sight that looked as if "one of the larger planets was on fire with the light blazing and dying down."
"Observed through field glasses, the phenomenon was beautifully colored in reds, blues and yellows," one witness said.
Several enterprising spectators even looked at the thing through binoculars. they reported it looked like a circle or halo or stars surrounding a blazing star.
At Riviera Beach, several persons, including a fireman and a special deputy, happened to be looking out over the ocean about dusk Tuesday.
"We saw a strange flying object," they reported. "It was silver colored with a big white spot on it like an airplane marking. It was a long way off, but it looked to be about 20 feet across.
"It looked like a great, big kite," they said.
It couldn't be a blimp, they decided. The way it dodged, slid and speeded up was very unblimplike.
The Miami weather bureau didn't know anything about it, and the Navy stated emphatically that it was not to blame for either of the incidents.
New York, New York Times - 22 Dec 48
U.S. Now Has Fuel That Could Send rocket To Moon at 30,000 M.P.H., Expert Declares
COLUMBUS, Dec. 21 (AP) -- Liquid hydrogen now could send a rocket to the moon at a speed of 30,000 miles per hour.
Ohio State University today took the top off its rocket fuel research for the first time to announce that all that stands between interplanetary travel is lack of a ship strong enough.
Prof. H.L. Johnston of the OSU Chemistry Department said laboratory experiments with liquid hydrogen rocket motors had produced enough energy to send an object beyond the earth's gravitational pull.
"All we need is a ship to put the liquid hydrogen in," Professor Johnston remarked, "and that's coming."
The OSU work is supported by the U.S. Air Force, and is on the secret list. Professor Johnston refused to comment on the possibility of using the fuel during a war.
Professor Johnston, under whose supervision the fuel has been developed, is the first scientist to work with liquid hydrogn [sic] in rockets. Liquid hydrogen has been known, however, since 1898.
Liquid oxygen is used with the hydrogen as an oxidizer, he said. The hydrogen, he added, is the best known rocket fuel. Oxygen is "practically" the best known oxidizer.
Professor Johnston and his helpers work in an isolated laboratory on the edge of Columbus. When their fuel is in operation it is controlled from behind an 18-inch, reinforced concrete wall and observed through a four-inch, bulletproof window.
"We've never had an accident," he said, "but any rocket work is dangerous."
The fuel reaches a temperature of 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit when emitted from a rocket. It produces 1,500 times as much heat as an average house furnace.
The hydrogen must be cooled in liquid air to 423 degrees below zero before it can be used, Professor Johnston said. OSU, he explained, has facilities to produce more of the fuel than any other laboratory in the world. He estimated he could turn it out at the rate of 25 liters an hour. A liter is slightly more than a quart.
The cost of propelling a rocket by liquid hydrogen is secret at the moment, Professor Johnston said. "It probably would never be used for ordinary flights as the cost would be prohibitive."
One possible use suggested by Professor Johnston was sending a rocket around the world, like a satellite, to aid the United States Weather Bureau in making its calculations.
"From such a ship the whole world could be observed," he explained, "and weather forecasting could become almost exact."
Kokomo, Indiana Tribune - 30 Dec 48
Guided Missiles May Evaporate In Thin Airways
By HOWARD W. BLAKESLEE
Associated Press Science Editor
New Haven, Conn., Dec. 30. -- (AP) -- Maybe a guided missile shooting at you from half way around the world will evaporate before it gets here.
This evaporation of solids traveling fast -- 50 to 100 miles above the earth -- was reported to the American Astronomical society today at Yale university.
Shooting stars, astronomers said, sometimes simply vanish because of their speeds in the airways of future wars. Their impact on the thin air produces heat that peels off their atoms.
This study is part of a ballistics program of the U.S. navy reported today by Dr. Fred L. Whipple of Harvard college observatory. The military authorities are using shooting star photos to study the upper reaches.
The shooting stars are mostly sand grain size. Few are larger than marbles. Many of these evaporate completely. A big rocket, or other flying weapon won't evaporate so easily. But if it goes fast enough it is likely to suffer from this vanishing trouble.
In Canada, radar is in use for an even bigger shooting star study, not only for guided missiles but also for radio communication.
The Canadian work is by the dominion observatory at Ottawa and the national research council, it was reported today by Dr. Peter M. Millman and Dr. W.H. McKinley.
Radar finds shooting stars the eye never sees. It finds 50 times more. Around Ottawa radar has been finding 10 shooting stars a minute, and recorded a total of 1,800,000 since last summer. Radar hears these meteors as whistles, and also photographs their tracks. The photos show heights and positions. The pictures also reveal long trails of electrified air often left by the meteors, but invisible to eyes or cameras.
The shooting stars show that the thin upper air is somehow lumpy. This lumpiness appears on radar as spots of extra electrification. What this may mean to weapons or radio is not known.
Austin, Texas American - 30 Dec 48
Paging Buck Rogers!
US Studying Military Base Near Moon
WASHINGTON. Dec 29 -- (AP) -- The United States, leading in the world weapon race, is now studying the possibility of creating a military outpost hanging like a tiny "moon" far up in the skies. Disclosure of a fantastic earth satellite vehicle program" was tucked away in an annual report by Secretary of Defense Forrestal. One theory, completely unofficial, is that a man-made satellite platform might be established about nine-tenths of the distance to the moon, beyond the earth's gravity pull.
Aside from the name of the project and indication that earlier separate studies by the Army, Navy and Air Force now are combined under the central guided missiles project, there was no other official information in Forrestal's report.
However, it may be presumed the program still is the very early stages of theory, mathematical calculation and studies of high altitude rockets.
Some scientists believe that the nation which first creates an outer space platform for the guidance or launching of atomic warhead rockets will dominate the earth. They say the idea now seems fantastic but its eventual reality is highly probable.
Forrestal's reference to the weird space base project was contained in a brief general reference to the guided missile program. It said only this:
"The earth satellite vehicle program, which is being carried out independently by each military service, was assigned to the committee on guided missiles for coordination. To provide an integrated program with resultant elimination of duplication, the committee recommended that current efforts in this field be limited to studies and component designs; well-defined areas of such research have been allocated to each of the three military departments."
German wartime scientists, including the developers of the V2 rocket weapons, studied the feasibility of sending up ultra-long range rockets designed to stop their flight at the perimeter of the earth's gravity and then float at a fixed distance from the earth.
Scientists estimate the earth's gravitational pull would become neutralized at between eight-tenths and nine-tenths of the distance to the moon. Estimates of the moon's distance range at about 250,000 miles (the mean distance 233,857, the maximum 252,710).
Thus, a man-made satellite might be at a position a little short of the distance to the mean.
The first such satellite might not be manned, but merely equipped with automatic instruments. An artificial earth satellite, manned or unmanned, would have both military and non-military use. Scientists suggest these uses:
1. Military -- in long-range rocket firing, the present great difficulty, aside from extension of the present 200 to 300 mile range, is accuracy control.
Radar beams for tracking and control are deflected by the curvature of the earth and would be useless for "homing" a rocket into a target on another continent. But if an electronic transmitter were installed on an artificial satellite, the rocket could ride the electronic beam to a pre-fixed point, then begin its descent toward a target on the earth.
From an altitude of more than 200,000 miles, the direction-controling [sic] satellite would have the whole earth in its "bomb sight." Beyond the possibility of an unmanned, automatic transmitting satellite is the possibility that ways might be found to send men and equipment to the satellite, there to launch direct rocket attacks on earth targets.
2. Non-military -- a satellite in a precisely known and permanently fixed position could be used to overcome present-day handicaps of radio and television or as a new and easily-located "fix " from which navigators could work out their positions in planes or ships.
Radio, television and radar waves could be "bounced" from the satellite and deflected back to spots on the earth permanently or temporarily "blind" to reception of such signals. Television, like radar, is particularly handicapped by the refusal of waves to follow the curve of the earth. They shoot off into space.
Forrestal's brief disclosure of the scope of scientific plans for the future was contained in an assessment of progress in the field of more conventional weapons, including the atomic bomb.
He transmitted a report of the military establishment's research and development board which said:
"In return for a dollar investment in the neighborhood of a half billion dollars, the United States has, so far as can be determined, a fair margin of superiority in practically every technical area of weapon development."
Manchester, England Guardian - 31 Dec 48
Satellites to Order
Once upon a time Stephen Leacock's phrase about moonbeams from the larger lunacy might have been the fittest tribute to the stories which have been started by some remarks by Mr. Forrestal, American Secretary of Defence, in his annual report to Congress. He did, it seems, mention an "earth satellite vehicle programme" -- and from that it has been deduced that there are schemes for launching off by rocket energy "space platforms," out of the reach of earth's gravitational pull that will hang about like little moons between the earth and the real moon and from which observation may be kept on the world's activities. Apparently those activities are expected to be a little more unwholesome than ever, since atomic explosions are mentioned as one item that will be watched; and it is added as a discouragement to aggressors that huge mirrors may be used from the "space platforms" to focus the sun's rays and turn the whole of the malefactor's territory into scorched earth.
It sounds a pleasant little nightmare to have introduced in the last days of the old year. But as no explanation is given of how the observers and mirror-focusers are going to breathe on a platform "22,000 miles from the earth," or how they are to get back to this world at the end of their tour of duty, it seems unlikely that we shall be seriously troubled by satellites during 1949. It is, however, quite possible that the next stage will be people who claim to have seen them, probably on the lines of those frequently reported "flying saucers." It would be more impressive now to arrange to see the cup and teapot as well. The picture of "a nice cup of tea" would then be complete.
Salt Lake City, Utah Tribune - 31 Dec 48
The first flying disc to find its way into at least partial reality is that devised by Sam Katzman for his Columbia serial, "Bruce Gentry." A half dozen of them were built for the film and they fly around the screen, land, take off and burst into flames. How they do it, however, is going to have to remain a secret of the Columbia property department.
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