Friday, January 27, 2006

Challenger 20 Years On

Today is the 20th anniversary of the Challenger explosion. I remember it well, because I was home with a 16-day old baby (now a 20 year old, of course) and watched it live on TV. Fortunately, my godmother was with me that morning because I started freaking out and she took over dealing with the baby. A horrible and completely preventable tragedy.

The Challenger investigation also involved one of my heroes, the physicist Richard Feynman. He was on the investigation commission and may have solved the mystery behind the explosion. He dramatically demonstrated how the O-rings had become fragile that very cold morning in 1986 by dropping O-rings into a glass of ice water at a commission hearing, taking them out and showing how they had become brittle.

Space exploration is a risky business, but we must not stop or slow down -- its our destiny as a species to move out into the universe.


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