Friday, January 28, 2011



Twenty five years ago, today, my girlfriend and I skipped work to enjoy an afternoon of rather "explosive" joy in each other's arms. When we got back to the TV studio where I worked, we saw our colleagues standing dazed, looking ashen in front of the TV in the lobby. The Challenger had just blown up. I looked to my gal and she looked at me. We both felt like maybe this was our fault. Crazy thinking, but the idea did flash across both our minds.

Then, I thought of my favorite teacher, Mr. Monoogian. He taught me to really love science in the 7th Grade. I'd recently run into him again, and he had told me that he was sort'a disappointed that he was only the runner-up to be the first teacher Astronaut to fly into space. A lady named McAuliffe had gotten the gig. But for his bad luck, it would have been his rear end that was blasted to bits on that morning.

Anyhow, Marty Monoogian is retired today. In his career, I bet he taught a lot more kids than just me to aim for the stars. Christa McAuliffe did the same, and still does today, even after she has long disappeared into the high winds.

A few months after The Challenger exploded and incinerated its crew, one of the smartest guys then on the our planet, Richard Feynman, explained how it had happened. The problem was, the most complex machine that Humans had yet created was held together with what were basically rubber bands. Rubber freezes and gets brittle. Feynman pulled a rubber band from a glass of ice water, and crushed it into shards to demonstrate his point in a very simple experiment. NASA had tried to launch a very complicated vehicle loaded with the most potent explosives, a big gadget stuck together with rubber bands, on a very cold morning in Florida. Whoops!

Now, people that puts their rear ends on top of things that explode with the power of a small atom bomb must know the risks. They've seen those before them blown up, burned up, tumble out of the sky on fire, suffocate, and be crushed even on the ride home. This business of going toward the Heavens is no fooling around. Still, I would love to get on a rig with old Marty Monoogian and aim for the stars.


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