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I also remember what Sputnik did to the schools. Small towns could not attract good science teachers but they could buy the fancy new textbooks and fine lab equipment with their bigger budgets. For example, my high school chemistry teacher knew nothing about chemistry but he WAS a good football coach and they needed him to teach something. Even so, if you actually read the textbook, it was possible to emerge from the experience with a working grasp of chemistry.
And of course, Sputnik gave us the space race. I was such a space fan that I pretended to be sick so I could stay at home to listen to the live account of John Glenn's orbital journey on the RADIO.
Unfortunately, the space race also gave us some absurd forms of paranoia. Worries over the militarization of space is probably the most amusing. The idea that there would be some advantage to parking some nukes in orbit so they could be dropped on us like rocks from an overpass ignores some pretty serious realities such as targeting, re-entry concerns, and most importantly, the roughly $25,000 per gram cost of placing anything into orbit.
"Remember the I35W bridge--who needs terrorists when there are Republicans"
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