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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 9, 2012/ 19 Tammuz, 5772

The Telstar revolution: Fifty years ago, a 3-foot orb was sent aloft and spawned a new era in communications

By David Shribman




JewishWorldReview.com |

ANDOVER, Maine -- It was the largest air-inflated structure in the world, 161 feet high and 210 feet wide, constructed of polyester and synthetic rubber. Inside was a 177-foot-long horn-shaped antenna that weighed 380 tons. Not a trace of it remains. But here in a tiny rural town nestled in a valley that provided natural shielding from radio interference, a revolution was born 50 years ago Tuesday.

That revolution doesn't seem remarkable today, but a half-century ago the notion of sending a television signal from North America to Europe shook the world. A generation remembers the first transmitted image vividly -- a fuzzy shot of an American flag fluttering in a Maine village -- but millions more have been affected by the telecasts that have become unremarkable as a result of what happened here -- by the televised coverage of Olympic violence, royal weddings, airplane hijackings, the fall of Hosni Mubarak and Moammar Gadhfi.

Settled in 1789, the year the Constitution took effect, Andover for nearly two centuries was a tranquil outpost near the Canadian and New Hampshire borders, midway between Boston and Montreal but resolutely nowhere. Its citizens ran small farms and worked in the forests, always showing themselves, as a resolution by the state legislature noted, as "very resilient, resourceful and independent." But people didn't move too quickly here, toward the future or anyplace else; if you drove your horse over the covered bridge faster than a walk you were vulnerable to a $3 fine.

Until Telstar -- a 3-foot-diameter sphere weighing 170 pounds with 1,064 transistors and 1,464 diodes -- was sent aloft by a Boeing Thor Delta booster that split the skies and opened the age of satellite communications. The iconic black-and-white image transmited via the giant antenna in Andover was so stunning a breakthrough that President John F. Kennedy predicted it would "throw open to us the vision of an era of international communications."

Now the future has left Andover behind, though Verizon Wireless still runs a satellite communications operation amid the white pine, elm and birch copse that once changed the Earth. A few abandoned foundations remain at the site, which you access by passing a sign with the words painted out, but no physical evidence hints that an era began here that rendered undersea cable and radio transmissions relics of a fast-receding past.

"No one incident in history has meant as much to the Town of Andover," the Rumford Falls Times wrote in 1962, "as has the decision of the American Telegraph and Telephone Co. to erect the satellite ground station in that town."

Only memories remain. Even Telstar High School is somewhere else, in Bethel, down Route 5, more than a half-hour south.

"Some people were apprehensive," recalls Trudy Akers, secretary of the Andover Historical Society. "They were worried that if there was a war the Russians would bomb us. But it was great for a small town. Lots of new people moved in. Some of them stayed for many years. It was a window on the world for all of us here."

Telstar I operated for less than a year -- eventually its command decoders wouldn't accept instructions from Andover -- but it was followed by a second Telstar, four and a half pounds heavier, positioned farther out in space and better situated for communications with Asia. But the telephone call between AT&T's chairman and Vice President Lyndon Johnson 15 hours after blastoff, followed by the shaky image of the flag, carved a new future in communications.

"Very-high-frequency radio and TV stations, which are limited to line-of-sight range, suddenly saw their future reach out beyond the horizon, around the curve of the Earth," bellowed Time magazine.

Today's communications-driven world was unimaginable in Telstar's time, but it would have been unattainable without it.

"Telstar opened up an area of activity that has transformed the world," says John M. Logsdon of George Washington University, perhaps the leading historian of the space program. "It has made instantaneous global communication possible. Before Telstar and what followed Telstar, you had to book ahead to make an international telephone call. There was very limited capability and it was very expensive. Now we have Skype."

For all its achievements, Telstar was a product of the wrong technology. It depended on movable antennae -- Andover's rotated every which way to capture Telstar's signals -- and a truly global network based on the Telstar model would have required a long string of satellites, almost certainly at a higher orbit. That's because in the early days of satellite communications scientists didn't think they could launch geosynchronous satellites, manmade space objects whose orbital period and pattern matched that of Earth, keeping them stationary over a particular location. It turned out that that ability was only a few years off.

But Telstar was a giant leap forward, one of the wonders of the world, or at least of that world.

"Telstar involved problems of a scope and magnitude far beyond any we had faced [before]," according to the late John R. Pierce, a Bell Labs engineer and author who wrote a history of Telstar. "The transistor and the traveling-wave tube were key components but they had to survive a rocket launch and survive for a long time in space." Those elements seem antiquarian today, when the word "transistor" seldom passes the lips, and that achievement seems modest given last summer's conclusion of the Space Shuttle era.

While Telstar was a precursor to dramatic and significant breakthroughs in telecommunications, it also spawned an important cultural marker -- the Tornados' hit instrumental "Telstar," which remains familiar and irritating but was the first single by a British group to reach No. 1 on both the American and British pop charts.

Like the satellite whose bleeps it was intended to imitate, the song paved the way for even greater cultural developments. The second single by a British group to achieve those ratings was called "I Want to Hold Your Hand."

Comment by clicking here.

David Shribman, a Pulitzer Prize winner in journalism, is executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


Previously:



07/02/12 It's got only four electoral votes, but Romney and Obama will be fighting for them
06/25/12 A little noted rebellion over a lonely stretch of land helps tell the American story
06/18/12 You're nothing special: Luck is what you make of it . . . and what it makes of you
06/11/12 Anybody can talk authoritatively about the presidential election. Here's how
06/04/12 Candidates love to ally themselves with admired presidents, in sometimes unexpected ways
05/29/12 Americans aren't in a new burst of patriotism but they are in a new burst of appreciation for the military
05/21/12 Inside out: Almost nothing about this year's presidential election conforms to conventional analysis
05/14/12 Lugar grew into an elder statesman, which is why he'll be leaving the Senate
05/07/12 50 years later, MacArthur's farewell to arms continues to inspire
04/30/12 The likability factor: We're going to find out how important it is in these troubled times
04/23/12 Romney's four battles: With the nomination essentially in hand, he must turn to new challenges
04/16/12 For GOPers, expect the frustration to build, not abate
04/09/12 The political battles you cannot see
04/02/12 Romney's roadmap: Doing better in Democratic states may complicate his fall campaign
03/26/12 Romney struggles with same GOP forces his father faced long ago
03/19/12 The writer and the president
03/12/12 Romney could learn from his rivals after Super Tuesday
03/05/12 The GOP race continues, and Republicans continue to grouse about their choices
02/27/12 The turnout threat: when voters vamoose
02/20/12 The Winter's Tale: Republicans are engaged in a 'problem play,' full of psychological, and real, drama
02/13/12 Which Ike to like?
02/08/12 A tale of two elections: Voters today are making their most profound choice since 1912
01/30/12 Whither the GOP establishment?
01/23/12 The Democratic coalition is breaking up
01/09/12 The verdict that wasn't
01/02/12 These are the keys to who will persist
12/19/11 Another Gingrich rebellion
12/12/11 A defining fight for the GOP
12/05/11 A distinct lack of enthusiasm
11/28/11 For GOPers, the winds are beginning to pick up, the horizon is darkening
11/21/11 Today's polarized politics . . . blame FDR and the political scientists
11/11/11The sporting life
11/07/11 Ron Paul, true believer
10/31/11 Why Cain isn't able
10/10/11 GOP starting over
10/03/11 The Forgotten War of 1812
09/26/11 The way we live now
09/19/11 The crisis this time
09/11/11 But what will it mean?
09/05/11 A horse race column: Who might win the GOP nomination and how it might unfold
08/29/11 The vacuum calls
08/22/11 Passion and politics: How Barack Obama and Mitt Romney got crowded into the same dangerous corner
08/15/11 Eleanor's little village
08/08/11 The agony of August
08/01/11 The politics of the impossible: What a country this might be if the political class served the broad interests of the majority
07/25/11 Pennant fever grips 'Burgh
07/18/11 Exemplar of an era
07/11/11 On summer
07/04/11 The soul of the party
06/27/11 What the Secretary said
06/20/11 Romney has big advantages over his rivals, but they will be coming after him
06/06/11 One question each
05/30/11 The 14-week challenge
05/23/11 Delay tactics
05/16/11 Republicans are waiting
05/09/11 Bin Laden is dead. What does it mean?
05/02/11 From nobodies to nominees
04/25/11 The founders left slavery for future generations to settle, and we still haven't fully come to terms with it
04/18/11 From audacious to cautious
04/11/11 Dreaming of space
12/12/10 The GOP takes control
12/06/10 DECEMBER 7
11/29/10 GOP presidential hopefuls already are lining up local supporters in what is now a red state
11/22/10 Burning down the House
11/15/10 Institutions of higher learning are finally beginning to teach important lifeskills
11/04/10 The war has just begun
11/01/10 Echoes of a speech 40 years ago this week still resonate today
10/25/10 50 years ago America chose between two men who were dramatically different --- and eerily similar





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