THE SPACE EDUCATORS' HANDBOOK

GALLERY OF POPULAR SCIENCE SPACE COVERS

POPULAR SCIENCE MAY 1958

POPULAR SCIENCE MAY 1958 Cover

Copyright, 1958, by Popular Science Publishing Co., Inc.


DISCUSSION

The cover story is U.S. SCIENTIST SETS TIMETABLE TO MOON. How accurate were the predictions contained within the article by Dr. I.M. Levitt (Director, the Fels Planetarium of the Franklin Institute)? This is what Dr. Levitt wrote in 1958, "Many of the older people and all of the young who read this will be around when a human being lands on the moon. This will take place by the year 2000 A.D. - give or take a few years. It may be longer if wars intervene to halt the rapidly accelerating technological advances. It will be shorter if a technological breakthrough like a nuclear-powered rocket materializes." How accurate were these predictions? The first man set foot on the Moon in 1969 more than thirty years prior to the prediction. Did wars intervene to halt the effort? No, in fact, the cold war stimulated a race to the Moon which advanced the time table. Did a rapidly advancing technology like atomic propulsion provide a catalyst to the effort? No, in regard to atomic propulsion. The concept of contamination from atomic propulsion caused the idea to be dropped. It is remarkable that a novel written almost a century before Dr. Levitt's predictions was considerably more accurate about the journey to the Moon. Jules Verne's FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON proved to be most accurate among those predicting the first journey to the Moon.


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