Thursday, September 2, 2010

Early Interests

One of the first influences I remember is Disney's "Man In Space" series which had Werner Von Braun as a consultant. As a 5 year old, watching,  probably in my dad's arms, it is a memory I cherish. This was the first of several series on space and science by Disney (possibly the pinnacle of Disney's influence, pure cartoons next.) It's incredible how close they were to the actual steps of space development. They even include a possible space disaster (like Apollo 13). Even re-watching it now I feel the possibilities I felt as a young child. What a rush!.

Later on the series of "All About ..." books from Random House provided much of my young science education. It's ironic but a close friend had all of these books in his own home library but with dyslexia had difficulty reading and enjoying them, I didn't know this (the dyslexia) until I was an adult. As a child/adolescent I just envied him. I rode my bike to the library downtown each week to check them out and read them. But I hated math. My mother had to bully me through long division.

Electronics fascinated me. We had a neighbor, an amateur radio operator, who had a 4 character call sign. (Think of the age of commercial radio stations with 3 letter call signs.) I understood he had learned radio and operated during World War I. One of the first science oriented Christmas gifts was a crystal radio set. How interesting that a coil of wire and a small "cat-whisker" crystal (which I now understand as a point-contact diode) could pick up radio broadcasts. I also had the typical Erector sets and an Electrical building set.

In high school I learned basic math (Algebra and Geometry). I did not have the chance to take Trigonometry and Calculus. I had Chemistry and Physics. One influence is my instructor's insistence (this was 1965) on learning the use of the slide rule. What a quick education on the relationships of numbers! (thank you Father Lane!)

In college, despite a 'Liberal Arts' education (History major, philosophy and psychology minors) I also pursued Amateur Radio as a pastime. After college, with the last remnants of the 'War In Vietnam' and 'The Draft' looming I opted to pursue a more predictable path in the US Air Force. OK, so I'm not GI Joe. My 'draft number' (if you don't know about that check Google) was 11. My friend had the enviable number of 366 (remember leap years). Imagine two fingers symbolizing '11' spread apart in the symbol for 'Peace'.

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