in the news 1948
Above: State-of-the-art aircraft as given in the stories below. From top to bottom: Sikorsky R5-A, Twin Mustang, Boeing "Pacusan Dreamboat", Lockheed Shooting Star, Bell XS-1.
JANUARY 1 THROUGH JANUARY 2, 1948:
Battle Creek, Michigan Enquirer and News - 1 Jan 48
Inflation and U.S.-Soviet Rift Top 1947 News
Editors Vote Prices Year's Biggest Story -- Taft-Harley Law, Texas City Blast, Europe Aid, War Contracts, India Freedom, Royal Wedding Also Cited.
The biggest story of the crisis year of 1947 was told in millions of newspaper headlines and in show windows in every city, town and hamlet in America. With sinking hearts American wage earners and housewives read:
Butter $1 per pound ... steak $1.25 ... milk 23 cents ... bread 16 cents ... candy bars 6-10 cents ... good homes for immediate occupancy $15,000 to $35,000.
Crisis Almost Every Day
Newspaper editors, asked by The Associated Press to name the 10 biggest stories of a year that seemed to develop a crisis of some kind almost every day, had a difficult time deciding between the high cost of living and its attendant inflation and this nation's wide open rift with Russia but when the final ballots were counted the bread and butter story drew the Number One position. The worry about the Russian Bear's giant, encircling paws was on everybody's mind, in everyone's conversation but the rantings of Ma and Pa over high prices upon their return from shopping went deeper. It affected even small children. Some didn't get enough to eat.
Store Incident Is Typical
What happened in a grocery stores was typified by this incident:
A woman was offered a wire pushcart to gather her groceries when she entered a large store.
"Oh, I won't need that," she said sadly. "I've only got $5 to spend."
As the year passed into history, President Truman and the lawmakers were trying and studying ways to trim the high cost of living. Prospects were dim. Everything was up or going higher.
On March 12, President Truman stood before a taut-faced, tense and anxious Congress. In mild tones of sympathy he dealt in detail with the plight of Greece and Turkey. His voice hardened as he struck out at aggressive totalitarianism. He said:
Cites Armed Terrorist Activity
"The very existence of the Greek state is today threatened by the terrorist activities of several thousand armed men, led by Communists, who defy the Government's authority ... Totalitarian regimes imposed upon free peoples by direct or indirect aggression, undermine the foundation of international peace and hence the security of the United States."
It was a historic turning point of American foreign policy. The President asked for $400,000,000 to help Greece and Turkey. He didn't name Russia but it was a plain attack. The speech and its after effects was rated the second biggest story of the year. The open fight against Russia was on without letup, carrying into the Foreign Ministers' Conference at London where Secretary George Marshall refused to mince words as the old year passes.
The remaining eight biggest stories were arranged in this order by the editors:
3. THE TAFT-HARTLEY LAW. Republicans were back in the saddle in Congress. Sure they understood one of the reasons that carried them back, they and enough Democrats who thought likewise over-rode President Truman's veto to pass into law perhaps the most controversial labor bill of this century -- the Taft-Hartley law. The new legislation, bitterly attacked by organized labor, left collective bargaining, the strike and the strike threat as vastly important factors in the American scene but limited labor unions in what they could do and what sort of contracts they could get from employers.
One provision developed more headlines than perhaps all others combined. It specified the National Labor Relations Board can not help a union unless the union has filed certain information with the Government, including statements from their officers swearing they are not Communists. There was hell and fury about this provision. Many unions first announced they wouldn't comply. And yet, within four months of the date the law became effective, most of the unions had fully complied.
4. TEXAS CITY EXPLOSION. It was a quiet news day in April. In the war-swollen area known as Texas City, Tex., dock workers toiled under the warm April sun. Suddenly a terrific explosion was heard for miles around. A nitrate loaded French freighter was obliterated. Its entire crew perished. A chain of explosions was set off, and before it was all over much of the boom industrial city was destroyed. Hundreds died. Thousands were injured, millions of dollars lost. A former war correspondent, flying over the flaming city, likened it to Nagasaki, Japan, victim of the second atom bomb.
TEXAS CITY HOLOCAUST -- This spectacular fire, set off by explosion of French ship Grandcamp on the Texas City, Tex. waterfront.
TWO TRAINS MEET -- The "friendship train" bearing gifts of food to Europe's hungry, and the "freedom train," touring the U.S. with historic documents meet at Harrisburg, Pa.
5. U.S. AID TO EUROPE. Editors picked this heartwarming but controversial story as number five. It could have been first. Tied up in it was not only a story of a great nation's' mercy but the economy and cost of living of an inflated but well-fed nation. In it was the Marshall plan to feed hungry Europe thereby to stop encroachments of Russia. It had all the elements -- mercy, politics and danger.
6. WAR CONTRACTS INVESTIGATED. Uncle Sam, like any person who had undergone great expense, was checking back on the cost of war. Into the early picture stepped plane maker Howard Hughes. Then his press agent, plump and babyish looking Johnny Meyer, followed almost in turn by a retired airforce [sic] general, Bennett Meyers. The Congressional investigators and their witnesses heard everything from big business deals to nightclub adventures to scandals and it was one field day after another for headline writers and photographers.
7. INDIA'S FREEDOM. A new day, some of the hours in it shaded with blood, dawned for long troubled India. India's 400,000.000 people shed their hated role of subject peoples in August. A new chapter of two independent dominions began.
8. ELIZABETH'S MARRIAGE. Princess Elizabeth wed her Prince amid glittering pageantry as Britain, harassed and hungry, cheered the great romantic tidbit of British life. It was a real royal love match, we were told, and the British loved it all.
9. PALESTINE TROUBLES. As the old year flickered, blood was being spilled in the Holy Land. The partition of Palestine, designed to give a homeland to Jews, led the Arabs to swear a Holy War. It was the biggest single work of the hoped-for United Nations.
10. FLORIDA HURHICANE. Everyone knew one of the worst hurricanes in Florida's history was approaching. Years of planning and study braced the people for the shock. But when it came it landed feinting, jabbing and jolting like Joe Louis fighting an outclassed opponent, spreading death and millions of dollars of property damage, not only in Florida but along the Gulf Coast and into New Orleans.
Plane crashes, tornadoes and sports fell among the also-rans in the editors' selections of the biggest news stories but some came out for an eerie occurance [sic] that could get headlines perhaps only in America. It was the story of the Flying Saucers, round, high-speed mysterious objects in the heavens. They were seen day and night; they roamed over the United States from June 25 to July 12, and they stopped as suddenly as they began -- without explanation, except as an illusion of people who are still worried about a coming war in the air. These editors perhaps regarded the news of the year as a Flying Saucer. It truly was.
New York, New York Times - 1 Jan 48
The Once Flying Saucers
No review of Important Events of the Old Year would be complete without a mention of the flying saucers. At the time they made their appearance, more or less everywhere at once, it was hot enough to melt some of the mountains of snow behind which New York is hiding (and would that it was that hot again, if only for a day or two!).
Looking back to what transpired then, Dr. C.C. Wylie, of the University of Iowa is concerned about the mass hysteria which the saucers brought in their wake. In a report to the American Association for the Advancement of Science he had this to say about the causes of the flying saucers: "In driving west in the morning hours, if an airplane crosses the road some distance ahead, the sunlight reflected from its windows may obliterate the outline of the plane, giving the appearance of a round or oval, and brilliant, spot of light moving about in the sky."
That seems a reasonable explanation. Dr. Wylie notes that a good many pranksters contributed to the saucer legend, one way or another, and that a fanciful literature was built up. He says that the first reports of saucers were not investigated, for the reason that there is no national policy of getting at the real facts behind such phenomena. That, in so many words, is how the mass hysteria came about.
To combat this state of affairs, and to recognize authentic reports of V-2 bombs, high-speed planes or bomb-carrying balloons, in the interests of national defense, Dr. Wylie suggests the formation of a "sky patrol." It is a good idea. The appropriate agencies of the military should add this function to their duties. We do not care too much for unexplained happenings in the skies, unless there is improvement in the feeling among nations.
Pittsfield, Massachusetts Berkshire Evening Eagle - 1 Jan 48
Justice Dept. Studies XS-1 Speed 'Leak'
Air Force Sees Security Rule Broken by Magazine
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A controversy between the Air Force and a magazine involving the right to publish information considered secret by the military landed in the Justice Department today.
The Air Force referred to the government's legal branch for study the question of whether military security was concerned when the magazine Aviation Week printed a story last month reporting that the experimental rocket plane XS-1 had flown faster than sound at the Muroc, Cal., air base.
The Air Force had declined to discuss the story in any form.
Earlier, Secretary of Defense Forrestal had invoked security regulations directed specifically at keeping secret data on the Air force's high speed flight work.
Robert Hotz, news editor of the magazine, told a reporter a copy of the article was shown to an FBI agent before it was published. Asserting that the present case is a continuation of a long standing disagreement over aviation security policy, Hotz said:
"Aviation Week takes the stand that the Air Force should adopt a uniform and realistic security policy."
Robert H. Wood, editor of the magazine, said on December 21 that he had withheld the story from publication for several weeks at the request of Air Force officials. He added that he had decided to publish it when he learned the Air Force was preparing to release information that the XS-1 had attained supersonic speed.
The Air Force spokesman said no such release was being prepared.
There was no official immediately available who could suggest what line the Justice Department investigation might follow. A voluntary censorship code, agreed to by the nation's press and radio, ended with the Japanese surrender in 1945.
The fact that the Air Force had referred the issue to the Justice Department came to light indirectly.
A terse announcement yesterday morning said Secretary of Air Symington would hold a news conference. The subject was unspecified.
Late in the day a second memorandum to the press was posted. It said the conference had been called off, that Symington had intended "to discuss security matters in connection with the XS-1," and added cryptically: "These matters have been taken under study by the Department of Justice which has requested the postponement of the proposed discussion."
An Air Force official later said that "the publication of recent XS-1 data in Aviation Week" had been referred to the Justice Department for consideration but that he could not say whether this was the reason the department requested postponement of the scheduled news conference.
The magazine article said that the XS-1 first flew faster than sound more than a month earlier with Capt. Charles Yaeger [sic, should be Yeager] as pilot. Later, it said, the speed was duplicated on several occasions by Yaeger and two test pilots of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, a governmental research agency.
(The speed of sound is estimated to vary between about 600 and 900 miles an hour, depending on the altitude and temperature.)
Lima, Ohio News - 1 Jan 48
335,000 In Air Force
WASHINGTON, Jan 1 -- (UP) -- The Air Force now has a total of 335,000 officers and men in its ranks -- fully 34,000 above its June, 1947 postwar low. The all-time high, set in March, 1944, was 2,411,000.
Albuquerque, New Mexico Journal - 1 Jan 48
B-50 Bomber Fleet Ordered by Air Force
WASHINGTON, Dec. 31 (AP) -- The Air Force announced today award of a $60,000,000 contract for 82 bombers to the Boeing Aircraft Co.
This is the second contract for the long-range bombers let under a program which contemplates eventual purchase of a total of 215. A previous contract provided for 133. Only two of the bombers have been delivered up to now, the Air Force said.
The B-50 is similar in appearance to the wartime B-29 but can cruise 25 per cent faster and has a top speed approaching 400 miles an hour. Its maximum range considerably exceeds that of the B-29.
Glenboro, Manitoba Western Prairie Gazette - 1 Jan 48
Scientist Planning Rocket-Borne "Sky Cameras"
AZUSA, Calif. -- Rocket-borne telescopes photographing the heavens at heights of 300 to 600 miles -- and artificial meteors from the earth bombarding the moon and Jupiter -- were envisioned by a California Institute of Technology scientist.
"Rocket-borne telescopes are destined to relegate earth-tied telescopes no matter how big and powerful, such as the 200-inch, to a secondary role," said Dr. Fritz Zwicky, professor of astrophysics. The institute’s 200-inch mirror is to be installed soon on Mt. Palomar.
He said he is now laying plans for research on large primary rockets such as the V-2 which would carry secondary rockets. The latter, he hopes, would reach 300-600-mile heights, bearing scientific equipment. The telescope and camera-bearing rockets would return to earth for examination by scientists.
Decatur, Texas Wise County Messenger - 1 Jan 48
V-2 ROCKET SOARS INTO SPACE -- Leaving a cloud of gases and a fiery tail, a German V-2 rocket roars into the upper spaces during a test by U.S. Army Ordnance personnel at the White Sands, N.M., proving ground. This was the 29th of the 100 captured V-2's brought to this country for study.
Santa Cruz, California Sentinel - 1 Jan 48
Claim Human Can Ride In V-2 Rocket
CHICAGO, Dec. 31 (UP) -- A Navy scientist said today that it was possible for a human to ride in a V-2 rocket 100 miles above the earth, and that "several" persons had volunteered to take such an unprecedented journey in the interest of science.
This expert on rocket research, Dr. Thomas J. Killian, science director of the research division, office of naval research, said that all the offers from persons to take the first ride in a rocket had been ignored.
He said, however, that such a flight was "entirely possible," and that those who had written asking for the chance, wanted to be sure that they would get down safely.
"The big problem," Killian said, "would be just that -- getting a rider out of the rocket before it crashed into the earth. However, it could be done."
Killian, here to report on rocket research to the annual meeting of the American association for the advancement of science, said there are ways to slow down the rocket's descent to a speed which would permit a human to leave by parachute or a series of parachutes.
He said also that it might be possible to make a rocket that would glide to a landing, similar to the technique used by airplane pilots.
Wilmington, Delaware Morning News - 1 Jan 48
Young Scientist Wins Prize For Meteor Genesis Theory
CHICAGO, Dec. 31, (UP) -- A 30-year-old assistant professor today won a $1,000 prize for a scientific paper in which he reported that a single cosmic catastrophe millions of years ago was the cause of all meteors.
The award was made by the American Association for the Advancement of Science to Dr. Harrison Brown of the University of Chicago's Institute for Nuclear Studies, part of the institution's $12,000,000 program in atomic research.
Brown, one of the youngest scientists competing with some of the best scientific minds in the nation, based his report on studies of 107 meteorites which have fallen on the earth in the last 100 years.
He explained at a news conference that the first step was the compilation of a master-list of meteorites from all parts of the world, translating their chemical analysis.
Second step, he said, was comparing the meteorites mathematically and chemically and deducing answers from the comparison.
"Now," he said, "we are using ultra-delicate methods devised primarily for atomic bomb work to isolate minute chemical components of many meteorites.
"The only way to account for the observed chemical phenomena," he said, "is to deduce that all the fragments came from an exploding planet which had a molten core of nickel-iron at about 3,000 degrees centigrade and an internal pressure of more than 100,000 atmospheres."
He estimated the planet was "somewhere between the earth and Mars in size," and almost identical to the earth, chemically speaking.
St. Clair, Missouri Ozark News - 1 Jan 48
New Telescope Discloses Proof of Life on Mars
Existence of intelligent life on Mars finally may be proved by Mount Palomar's 200-inch "Big Eye," California Institute of Technology astronomers predict.
This is one of many of man's age-old questions about the universe which may be answered when the world's largest telescope -- really a giant camera -- peers a billion light years into uncharted space. But it probably will raise more new problems than it will solve.
If the canals show up on a photo, astronomers believe their existence will indicate intelligent life exists or has existed on the planet.
The 200-inch "Big Eye" will be used mostly to view more distant space, however. The world's largest precision instrument may confirm or repudiate the theory that distant nebulae are receding from the earth at great speed, and hence that the entire universe is expanding.
Hagerstown, Maryland Daily Mail - 2 Jan 48
You're Needed In Army Or Air Force.
The United States Army and Air Force Recruiting Service today launched an all-out drive to make January an outstanding month of record enlistments.
With the appointment of a special Advisory Board under the chairmanship of Gen. Joseph W. Byron, Ret., and with the adoption of the slogan: "Start The Year With A Career" the local Army and Air Force Recruiting agency swung into action today with the objective in view of refilling the large gap caused through the discharge of men whose enlistments have expired.
The manpower shortage in the Air Force, and especially the Army itself, has reached the "crisis" stage. Today, when more than ever before we are in need of a strong system of defense, the ranks of our first line of defense are sadly depleated [sic]. The idea that the next war, if there is another one, will be a "push-buttom" war is one accepted by those living in a false world of security. According to our nation's leading scientists it will be 10 to 25 years before we have anything more than just the "button."
In the interim we have allowed our Army and Air Force to slide downhill to such an extent that we find it difficult to even meet our commitments as far as occupation duty is concerned let alone try to put a defensive fighting force into the field if needed. At the present time, Army strength is barely 600,000, some 40,000 below minimum requirements. The Air Force is in nearly the same predicament with a shortage of some 70,000 against a 400,000 man requirement. However, our Air strength has been rising slowly but steadily since July 1, and there is a definite possibility that it will eventually reach the 400,000 mark.
This newspaper, quite aware of the manpower shortage existing in the Army and Air Force today, offers what cooperation that might be needed to bring to the attention of the young men of this area, the advantages of service with the military services. The advantages of a career in such services are far greater today than at any time in the history of this nation. It behooves our youth to give careful consideration to such a career.
Charleston, West Virginia Gazette - 2 Jan 48
Five Records Set By U.S. Air Force
WASHINGTON, Jan. 1. -- (AP) -- The United States Air Force set five international records during 1947.
It listed them today as follows:
Altitude record for helicopters Feb. 10 at Patterson field, O., when a Sikorsky R-5A climbed to 19,167 feet.
Inter-city speed record -- Honolulu- New York, Feb. 28, with "Twin Mustang" North American P-82 long range fighter. It flew the 5,000-mile course in 14 hours, 33 minutes.
Speed record -- P-80R Lockheed "Shooting Star" jet plane, averaging 623.8 miles an hour on four passes over a course at the Muroc, Cal., air base. This flight on June 19 returned the record to the United States from Britain. A United States Navy Douglas "Skystreak" jet took the record away from the Air Force in August with a speed of 650.6 miles an hour.
International closed course speed record -- flying a course between Patterson field and Benson, Ariz., July 29-30, the Boeing "Pacusan Dreamboat" averaged 277 miles an hour, covering the 10,000-kilometer course in 22 hours, 27 minutes.
International closed course distance record — "Pacusan Dreamboat," flew for 39 hours on a triangular course between MacDill field, Fla., Tuscon [sic], Ariz., and Andrews field, Md., for a total distance of 8,854.8 miles.
Hamilton, Ohio Daily News Journal - 2 Jan 48
Jet Fighter Planes Set New Speed Marks Of 777 And 780 Miles An Hour
Tokio, Jan. 2. Helped along by tail winds, two P-80 jet fighter planes have marked up what may be new speed records, the United State [sic] Fifth Air force announced today.
The 350 miles from Hiroshima to Tokyo was flown in 27 minutes by Lieut. William K. Thomas, Seattle, Wash. -- an average ground speed of 777.7 miles per hour, headquarters reported.
On the following day, Lieut. John B. Chichering of New York City, flew from Misawa in northern Honshu to Sendai -- a distance of 175 miles -- in 13 minutes, 27 seconds, for an average ground speed of 780 miles per hour.
The announcement said "these unusual speeds were made possible by the pilots taking advantage of tremendous tail winds peculiar to the upper atmosphere over Japan at this season of the year. It is not unusual for these upper level winds to exceed a velocity of 200 miles per hour."
Galveston, Texas Daily News - 2 Jan 48
Sky Patrol to Seek Out Warlike Objects Sought by Scientists
CHICAGO, Jan. 1. (AP) -- A nationwide "sky patrol" designed to recognize promptly whether some object that might appear in the heavens is a war machine or just some explanable [sic] natural phenomenon, was proposed before the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
"In these days of international tension," declared Dr. C.C. Wylie of the University of Iowa, "our country should have the means of recognizing promptly authentic reports of V-2 bombs, high speed planes, or bombcarrying [sic] balloons seen in the air.
"A report of such an object would be lost now in the mass of (astronomical) material which is ignored, or investigated by persons without proper training."
(Wylie did not specify in his prepared report whether he meant mechanism that might be launched by a foreign country, or mechanism that might be under test by the United States.)
Addressing the section on astronomy at the association's 114th meeting the Iowa astronomer declared. [sic]
"The present failure of scientific men to explain promptly and accurately flaming objects seen over several states, flying saucers and other celestial phenomena which arouse national interest is causing the public to lose confidence in the intellectual ability of scholars.
"The mass hysteria over simple, but unexplained, phenomena is bad for the morale of the country. Many of these reports refer to detonating and stone-dropping meteors, and information on these would be of great value to astronomy."
As for "flying saucers," Wylie gave this view:
"The first reports were not investigated, so far as we know, but they suggest that certain pilots saw what we, and no doubt many of you, have seen.
"In driving east in the morning, if an airplane crosses the road some distance ahead, the sunlight reflected from its windows may obliterate the outline of the plane, giving the appearance of a round or oval, and brilliant, spot of light moving about in the sky. Later reports obviously referred to various other things, and even to tricks played by pranksters."
Declaring that he and a group of Iowan colleagues had worked out a system in several Midwestern states for promptly interviewing persons who reported seeing something unusual in the sky, Wylie said it had been possible to trace various apparitions to natural phenomena.
He recommended that the American Meteoritical Society work out such a program on a national basis, with volunteer co-operation from science teachers in schools and colleges and from volunteers working for the United States bureau.
Pittsfield, Massachusetts Berkshire Evening Eagle - 2 Jan 48
Plane To Drop 'Flying Saucers' With Hoop Tickets
LEE -- This town will be "showered" with "flying saucers" tomorrow at 11:30 AM if the well-laid plans of the Lee post of the American Legion don't go astray.
What's more the varicolored saucers will contain free tickets to the much heralded American Legion-Renaissance basketball game which will be played Monday night at the High School auditorium.
The commander of the post, Alfred F. Turner, said today that the 12 saucers would be dropped over the center of town, and it is hoped that all saucers will land on Main Street.
The ski-plane dropping the saucers will be a Super Cruiser of the same type that recently flew around the world. Pilot Clarence Dohoney, who has contributed his services and the plane, will use a special bombing device designed by Ferd Boll, a former U.S. Army radio man. The flight will be made if weather permits Saturday. However, if the ceiling is too low at that time, the tickets will he dropped either Sunday or Monday.
The Cub Cruiser has been renamed the Reformation in the hope that the Lee Legion might conquer the Renaissance team, Comdr. Turner explained. Pilot Dohoney held target practice over the Great Barrington Airport Wednesday and also conducted a trial run.
The Rens, who have been called the greatest attraction in basketball, are currently in a 50-consecutive-game winning streak, and are expected to be in form for their only local appearance.
Dothan, Alabama Eagle - 2 Jan 48
By John Temple Graves
...Even though I was not one of them I am going to organize a Society of People Who Believed Orson Welles' Attack From Mars. We laughed at them at the time, but so many unbelievable things have happened since that if the broadcast had come in 1948 millions more of us would have believed. Some who fell for the story were fatuous and superstitious, no doubt, but others were just admirably openminded [sic] to science and its wonders yet-to-be. There ought to be a society. Who knows but that such a society might in time celebrate annually with an excursion to Mars!
But some of us who thought last summer's flying saucers related to the atomic split, will be disillusioned upon reading a clipping from The Helena, Montana, World for July, 1897, which Mrs. C.P. Mooney, Sr., widow of the South's great publicist and statesman, sent me yesterday from Memphis. The 50-year-old clipping is a statement signed by five witnesses, as follows: "We, the undersigned, do solemnly affirm that we saw at 6:15 p.m. on July 4 an oblong, buoyant body of the size and shape commonly attributed to airships. Said oblong body appealed in the southwestern horizon, moved swiftly north by northeast, and disappeared or evaporated suddenly . . ."
Bend, Oregon Bulletin - 2 Jan 48
Representative Harris Ellsworth of the fourth district gave some slight encouragement to the flying saucer cult of sky gazers a few days ago, suggesting that the Russians may have been responsible. Now a Bend policeman pops up with a report of one and presently the air will be full of dishes, we suppose. We hope Harris won't start anything of the kind back in Washington, where the supply of distractions is already sufficient.
Los Angeles, California Times - 2 Jan 48
Will Palomar Find Secret of Space?
By JAMES BASSETT
ONE billion years ago, somewhere in the remote recesses of Space, a star flared.
During this coming spring or summer the light which began traveling earthward from that star 1,000,000,000 years in the past will be caught on the 200-inch, gently concave reflector of the Palomar Mountain Observatory telescope.
When this happens, a 20-year-old dream will have become a dramatic reality.
ON PALOMAR MOUNTAIN the observatory is ready to begin its dramatic quest. Is the universe expanding or constant? Does life exist on other planets?
The Palomar project, conceived by the late Dr. George Ellery Hale, started with a $6,000,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation in 1928. From 1936 until last October the monster disk underwent grinding-polishing operations at California Institute of Technology.
Scant weeks ago the finished disk was trucked to Palomar Peak, nearly 6000 feet above sea level. But the unique aspects of the world's most Powerful telescope do not end with the mirror itself.
MASSIVE MIRROR installation is pictured here. The dark protective shield opens to expose the mirror for night observation. Note size of the men.
Five hundred tons of semitube, installation yoke and horseshoe, guide-car and beams roll noiselessly and smoothly on a microscopically thin oil bed. Complex automatic compensators will keep the telescope sighted dead on its heavenly target, despite the earth's movement, celestial movement or the scope's own inevitable variations.
YOKE AND HORSESHOE cross in front of barrel of the 500-ton telescope. Complex mechanisms account for movement of earth and celestial bodies.
Actual observations, carried out jointly by Caltech and the Carnegie Institution, will include time-exposed photographs and spectographic analysis of the gaseous-chemical and mineral content of stars and nebulae.
Two fundamental problems attract these scientists who now control man's most potent space-exploration weapon.
They hope to acquire new data on the very source of stellar energy and the origin of chemical elements. Perhaps, they already have hinted, the 200-inch may unlock the mystery of the universe itself: that is, to determine whether it is expanding or constant and somehow limited.
Mt. Wilson's 100-incher has indicated the possibility that nebulae are racing away from the earth at tremendous speed.
More romantically, Palomar may disclose at last some evidence of life on near-by planets, such as Mars. In short, according to a Caltech announcement, "Darkness will be pushed back."
Lansing, Michigan State Journal - 2 Jan 48
What's Next in Science for 1948?
Here are sure things and long shots for science in the new year or in the years to come.
By WATSON DAVIS
(Director, Science Service)
In 1948, good bets include:
THE GREAT 200-inch telescope, world's largest, on Mt. Palomar, Cal., will go into service, reaching a billion years into the unprobed depths of space. While new close-up views of the moon, Mars and other planets will be obtained, greatest astronomical interest will be in the photographs of the spectra of distant stars in remote galaxies. They will tell whether the unsampled remote regions of the universe are like the part we live in.
Important new discoveries about early man, particularly in the western hemisphere, are forecast for 1948. One site which may yield more clues about the earliest Americans is at the base of the high bluff cut by Lime creek, northwest of Cambridge, Neb.
NEW discoveries of the remains of ancient man, especially in Africa and North America, will be sought, attempting to push back the antiquity of man in the western hemisphere to 30,000 to 40,000 years ago.
FLIGHTS of new jet planes and further development of guided missiles will be made, some of which will be kept secret for military reasons. Range of V-2 rocket may be doubled to beyond 200 miles.
ATTEMPTS will be continued to control weather and make rain by sprinkling clouds from airplanes, or new techniques possibly with some practical success.
PEOPLE will see in the night sky a fairly bright object, Bester's Comet. It should be second or third magnitude (as bright as many well-known stars) along about March.
AIRPLANES will be fitted with CAA-developed crosswind landing gear, raising possibility of using single-runway landing fields for all types of planes, reducing airport size and allowing ports closer to cities.
NEW fundamental knowledge in biology and medicine of immediate practical importance will be discovered through use of radioisotopes from atomic pile.
SUPERCONDUCTIVITY, the extraordinary loss of electrical resistance at certain low temperatures by certain substances, will be further explored and possibly applied practically.
BEGINNING of construction of a gigantic billion-electron-volt atom smasher may take place, which should eventually duplicate cosmic radiation and bring about transmutation, nuclear rearrangements and possible release of atomic energy by new mechanisms.
ATTEMPT may be made to send a small rocket to the moon, its arrival to be signaled to earth by a flash on the moon's surface.
A flash on the surface of the moon (below) will be made by the first man-made missile to reach the moon, a possible achievement in the coming year. The artist's conception of first rocket to strike the moon was made on a photograph taken by the 100-inch telescope at Mount Wilson observatory. New close-up views of the moon will be made in 1948 with the 200-inch Mount Palomar telescope.
These are just ten top possibilities of scientific achievement likely to climax in 1948. Some things that scientists are working on are more important but their future timetable is less definite. For instance:
Discovery of the secret of photosynthesis, how the green leaf converts sunshine into food and energy, may possible [sic] in the future through research now in progress. If a photosynthesis process of even low efficiency were pratical [sic] on an industrial scale, it would be more important than the peacetime use of atomic energy. It would be the major industrial advance of the century.
The discovery of the cause and cure of cancer (or at least the more prevalent kinds of the many varieties of cancer) is another great research objective, eventually to be achieved, but not really to be expected within the coming yar [sic].
* * * * *
MANY DISEASES and potential epidemics need conquering through research, despite the great advances made in the last two decades. The world health picture is clouded for the future by our fear that in some places on the face of the earth scientists are working to create new and more deadly diseases to be used as weapons of war.
Failure to achieve international control of atomic energy and biological (germ) warfare under the United Nations places a large question mark before the future of civilization, including the progress of science.
Will the "cold war" now being waged, the chaos in many parts of the world, and eventually a fighting war, neutralize real scientific progress? War or conflict of any sort stops new fundamental research out of which the practical applications of the future must come. Applied military research now being accelerated in the United States, the U.S.S.R. and elsewhere is done largely at the expense of fundamental research.
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EXCEPT FOR MILITARY research and development, science in the United States is still without major governmental support through a National Science Foundation. It may possibly be authorized by congressional and presidential action in the coming year.
On the international science scene, some progress in world cooperation is being made by UNESCO and the various international science unions. Look for some steps toward an international observatory where astronomers of various nationalities will be able to work together under United Nations auspices.
More interchange of scientific information and more travel of scientists in various countries will be stimulated by UNESCO and other international agencies. The Fulbright act that allows Americans to study and conduct scientific work out of the proceeds of the sales of war surpluses abroad will provide means of travel and research abroad.
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THE ACUTE WORLD food situation will call for the cooperation and talents of scientists throughout the world, particularly on agricultural production. The foot-and-mouth disease invasion of Mexico will continue to be a major problem and a menace to the livestock industry of the western hemisphere.
Expect to hear about some more new insecticides for special uses and greater application of the older ones, such as DDT, developed during the past few years. More cities will join in the summer of 1948 the list of those communities that were made virtually flyless by clean-up campaigns and DDT spraying. There should be nationwide campaign to eliminate the menace of poison ivy now that ways of eradicating it are known.
You will hear more about methods of farming that are useful in special situations, such as killing weeds by flaming them or treating them with 2,4-D chemical.
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UNDER THE U.S. atomic energy commission, several high-powered research centers are getting underway. It will take many months for than to begin producing on a large scale, but the long time benefits will be great and some immediate results can be expected in 1948. Brookhaven on Long Island, N.Y., Argonne near Chicago, and Oak Ridge in Tennessee, are the principal laboratories devoted to general exploration of the results of atomic fission, as well as those that have military applications. Add to these the outstanding Radiation Laboratory at Berkeley, Cal., General Electric's atomic laboratory near Schenectady, N.Y., and dozens of projects in university and industrial laboratories and you have a full-blown attack upon the secrets of the atomic nucleus in all its ramifications.
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MENTAL ILLNESS continues to be a great economic and social loss as well as personal disaster. Group psychotherapy is likely to grow in favor in the coming months, and the general practitioner will be found to take a greater interest in the psychological aspects of medicine. Electric shock therapy is likely to be used less in the treatment of mental disorders.
Science Service has an excellent record for calling the shot in the world of scientific advancement. Last year's prognostications are reviewed here in brief.
Last Year's Predictions
In aviation, for instance, it was predicted that instrument push-button landing would come into use and the round trip across the Atlantic was one of the past year's major flights.
The first jet-propelled transport took to the air, as foretold.
The CAA ordered radar installed in some transport planes as an anti-collision device. Availability of such radar commercially was forecast.
Doubt was expressed as to whether the National Science Foundation would be created. Congress and the President were unable to agree on how it should be operated and it is still unfinished national business.
The solar eclipse in May was observed by extensive expeditions. This was a sure thing, of course.
The great 200-inch telescope did not actually go into service, as hopefully predicted, but its mirror did make the journey to the top of Mt. Palomar.
Some new and useful insecticides were introduced into large-scale use, notably benzene hexachloride, chlordane, chlorinated camphene, and hexaethyl tetraphosphate.
Soilless gardens in Japan did begin providing our occupation forces with fresh vegetables.
The U.S. atomic energy commission got its peacetime development and research program underway.
Some of the admittedly long shots predicted for 1947 did not come through, but are still future possibilities:
Discovery of the secret of photosynthesis.
Control and prevention of some kinds of cancer.
Discovery of a new chemical element.
Operation of an atomic energy plant.
Charleston, West Virginia Gazette - 2 Jan 48
Science Has Hope for Future, But Worries Over Tired World
By Watson Davis
Director, Science Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 1 -- To the scientist every day is the beginning of a new year or a new epoch — a time when he expects to discover something better.
The world is so unfinished. New problems entice inquiry. The next experiment beckons perpetually. When change is unwelcome, the scientific attitude of mind departs.
Scientists, thousands of them, have just met in a dozen places in this country during the holidays to report and discuss their latest discoveries. They are returning to their laboratories with new ideas and new researches they wish to undertake. They are encouraged by some big discoveries and many little successes. They have learned much from their negative or "unsuccessful" experiments which they often don't report.
Scientists Are Worried
Most scientists, like other people, are worried about the state of the world, about the two worlds of the international scene. They wonder what can be done to prevent the insanity of another war, either "cold" or one waged with atomic bombs, germs, and poison for the minds of men.
This is the greatest problem of science, as it is for the human race -- this problem of war in an atomic age.
Will we have enough uncommon sense to turn to the psychiatrists, the psychologists, the anthropologists, the scientific philosophers, and the specialists in food, resources and population for their advice and suggestions in this, world crisis?
Difficult To Convince
Those fighting mad, those disgusted with attitudes they do not understand, will not wish to listen to facts they do not wish to hear. It may be difficult to convince them that a socio-scientific approach toward attempts at world understanding is cheapest -- and perhaps the only one that can hope to succeed.
Science is less ready to attempt to solve this problem of international human behavior than almost any other problem. Yet it is the prime problem. We are not spending more than a few millions of dollars on it although its solution would save us billions of dollars and millions of lives -- perhaps yours and mine.
Mystery Of Sunlight
The world faces other problems:
How do green leaves capture the energy of the sunlight? When science solves this mystery of photosynthesis we shall have an energy source more important than atomic power.
What is life? The nature of life may be hidden in the protoplasm of the living cell and its action, a process more complex than any in factory or industry.
Whence did we come? Where are we going? How long has the universe existed and how long will it last? These are universal questions, and we ask the astronomer, physicist and philosopher to help solve them with great and powerful telescopes and with great and penetrating theories.
Questions That Puzzle
When will vast unconquered areas of disease be conquered? Despite magnificent advances in disease conquests of the past decade, there are degenerative diseases, such as cancer, heart and circulatory disorders, nephritis, ills of the brain, etc., and virus infections, including colds, infantile paralysis, virus pneumonia, etc. They need their sulfa drugs and antibiotics.
How can we cure our mental ills, ranging from chronic grouches to disabling psychoses? The mind and emotions, determining fundamentally the behavior of the individual and masses of individuals, must be understood if we are to keep peace in our personalities, families, communities, nation and world.
With a scientific approach to such great problems as these, there is more reason to say: "Happy New Year."
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