Category Archives: History

Mr. Feynman goes to Washington

BBC: The Challenger Disaster. (YouTube, 1.5 hours)

This movie tells the story of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986 and Richard Feynman‘s work in the Rogers Commission.

By the way, you can watch the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident Hearing of February 25, 1986, on YouTube – all 5.5 hours of it. And here is Feynman’s demonstration that the O-rings lose their flexibility in ice water (YouTube, 1:16min).

Kürzlich lief in der ARD eine deutsche Synchronfassung des Films unter dem Titel Challenger – ein Mann kämpft für die Wahrheit. (ARD Mediathe, 1,5 Stunden, verfügbar bis 28.11.2021 05 Uhr)

9/11 twenty years on

Of course this is all over the news, so I’ll share just a few links.

Fray: Missing Pieces, which was published just a few days after the attacks.

“On September 11, 2001, an unthinkable act of terrorism occurred in New York City and Washington DC. It left holes in our lives, holes in the skyline, holes in our spirit. These are some of the stories of those who were there. These are our missing pieces.”

History: 102 Minutes That Changed America. (YouTube, 1 hour 36 minutes)

“History’s Emmy® Award-winning, and critically acclaimed documentary chronicled the terror of 9/11 in real-time. It is a minute by minute account of the catastrophe unfolding, using footage from numerous sources, including personal camcorder footage, police and fire department recordings, and in-the-moment commentary from first responders and witnesses. This anniversary edition includes interviews and perspectives from those featured in the film, and people who can speak to the events that followed the attack.”

Anil Dash: Twenty is Myth.

“Every year, for twenty years now, I’ve written an observance of this day. Sometimes it’s for myself, sometimes it’s for the small cohort of folks who’ve checked back in with me on this day every year since then, a group which has shrunk a bit over the years. But this was the first year I thought, “maybe I shouldn’t do this anymore”. Because the events of that day are not remembered in society, or honored by our culture, in a way that resembles the feelings that I, and so many others, had in the moment. It’s degenerated fully into myth, some parts good, most of it pretty awful, and even taking part in the observances feels like amplifying this larger, destructive myth that’s been constructed.

It’s impossible to accurately represent the grief, the confusion, the absurdity of that day, let alone the months that followed.”

mRNA-Technologie aus der Krebsforschung für einen Impfstoff gegen das Virus

Der Bundespräsident: Gespräch mit Özlem Türeci und UÄŸur Åžahin in der Reihe #miteinander. (Video, 45min)

“Bundespräsident Frank-Walter Steinmeier hat am 24. März ein Gespräch mit den Impfstoff-Entwicklern Özlem Türeci und UÄŸur Åžahin auf seinen Social Media Kanälen veröffentlicht. Im Anschluss an die Verleihung des Großen Verdienstkreuzes mit Stern des Verdienstordens der Bundesrepublik Deutschland an die beiden Biontech-Gründer sprach er mit ihnen über ihre Erfahrungen in der Forschung und ihre Arbeit als Wissenschaftler und Unternehmer.”

“Always do the right thing for the right reason at the right time with the right people. [And] you will have no regrets for the rest of your life.”

NPR Obituaries: Remembering Allan McDonald: He Refused To Approve Challenger Launch, Exposed Cover-Up.

“On Jan. 27, 1986, Allan McDonald stood on the cusp of history.

McDonald directed the booster rocket project at NASA contractor Morton Thiokol. He was responsible for the two massive rockets, filled with explosive fuel, that lifted space shuttles skyward. He was at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the launch of the Challenger “to approve or disapprove a launch if something came up,” he told me in 2016, 30 years after Challenger exploded.

His job was to sign and submit an official form. Sign the form, he believed, and he’d risk the lives of the seven astronauts set to board the spacecraft the next morning. Refuse to sign, and he’d risk his job, his career and the good life he’d built for his wife and four children.

“And I made the smartest decision I ever made in my lifetime,” McDonald told me. “I refused to sign it. I just thought we were taking risks we shouldn’t be taking.””

Link via MetaFilter.