Science With A Vengeance: How the Military Created the US Space Sciences After World War II / Edition 1

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The exploration of the upper atmosphere was given a jump start in the United States by German V-2 rockets - Hitler's "vengeance weapon" - captured at the end of World War II. The science performed with these missiles was largely determined by the missile itself, such as learning more about the medium through which a ballistic missile travels. Groups rapidly formed within the military and military-funded university laboratories to build instruments to investigate the Earth's upper atmosphere and ionosphere, the nature of cosmic radiation, and the ultraviolet spectrum of the Sun. Few, if any, members of these research groups had prior experience or demonstrated interests in atmospheric, cosmic-ray, or solar physics. Although scientific agendas were at first centered on what could be done with missiles and how to make ballistic missile systems work, reports on techniques and results were widely publicized as the research groups and their patrons sought scientific legitimacy and learned how to make their science an integral part of the national security state. The process by which these groups gained scientific and institutional authority was far from straightforward and offers useful insight both for the historian and for the scientist concerned with how specialties born within the military services became part of post-war American science.

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Editorial Reviews

DeVorkin examines the process of scientific alignment in an era when the vehicle for research and the motivations for it were initiated and funded by the military and were available to scientists through no other means--when those who entered such activities either had to adapt to an utterly new research environment, or were raised in that world during WWII and had to find the means to establish themselves in the world of science. The study is limited to the American experience in the development of upper atmosphere and space research. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780387941370
  • Publisher: Springer New York
  • Publication date: 11/11/1993
  • Series: Springer Study Edition Series
  • Edition description: 1st ed. 1992. Corr. 2nd printing 1993
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 404
  • Product dimensions: 0.88 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 10.00 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Introduction 1
2 Establishing the High Atmosphere as a Site for Research 7
3 Erich Regener and the V-2 23
4 The V-2 Travels West 45
5 Organizing for Space Research 59
6 Members of the V-2 Panel 73
7 A New Site for Research: White Sands Proving Ground 109
8 The First Launch Season: Technical Problems 135
9 Advocating Upper Atmosphere Research 151
10 New Vehicles for Upper Atmosphere Research 167
11 The Sun from Rockets 197
12 Pointing Controls and the Race to Lyman Alpha 221
13 Beyond Lyman Alpha and Ozone 235
14 Migrating from Particles to Fields 247
15 Gaining Authority for the High Atmosphere 273
16 On the Periphery of Ionospheric Research 301
17 Getting the Word Out 323
18 Conclusions 341
19 Sources 347
Index 379
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2000

    Sure to become a classic on early space exploration.

    Having interviewed scores of American scientists, military personnel, and German rocket scientists who were brought to the United States after World War II, Dr. DeVorkin highlights the early rocket launches at White Sands Proving Grounds and provides us with a fascinating look at how American space research first reached beyond earth by riding piggyback aboard the captured V-2s. In this book you will meet the men and women who made some of the very first discoveries outside of our planet¿s atmosphere, the first to photograph the earth from space, the first to observe unknown energy levels beaming from the sun, the first to probe electronic mysteries and magnetic oddities at the edge of space. Rich in facts and footnotes, it¿s a must-read for any scholar of space exploration or serious model rocketeer, and yet DeVorkin¿s easy-going writing style allows everyone to relive the pulsing flames and thunder, the roaring heat that launched science to the stars...

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