Good article... reminds me of what one my professors' used to often reminisce with his students. Prof. Jan J. Tuma (now deceased) who wrote an excellent engineering math handbook as well as many structural analysis books used to be a professor at Oklahoma State U before moving to ASU. When the Sputnik went up in the sky, there was quite a bit of panic in the US about lagging behind the Russians, hence NASA was established. Prof. Tuma took part in teaching many batches of NASA engineers. He was a traditional teacher, always carried a yard stick and neatly drew on the blackboard all diagrams with a chalk piece! He impressed upon students the multiple ways to do manual yet accurate calculations, including slide rules! Being a great engineer and a mathematician, he taught engineering based on fundamentals.
Though I took his classes several decades later and happily used scientific calculators (he was also in my dissertation committee), I feel very fortunate to have been taught by such professors. Which leads me to the point relevant to this article -what the Apollo generation of engineers accomplished in a short time is monumental. There were so many advances made, in materials, analysis, propulsion, rocket & jet engines, aerospace components, simulations, electronics, mission planning and operations, etc. NASA Structural Analysis, now NASTRAN grew out of that effort establishing what is now a $2B FEA software industry. That generation accomplished so much without sophisticated computers and technology.
"Mighty Nova over twenty-five stories high, will be boosted by four new rocket engines, each of 1,500,000 pounds' thrust. With Nova, sometime in the late 1960's, the U.S. will finally be able to land a man on the moon and return him safely to earth"
A great article written a year before Kennedy was elected. It's amazing for how much of what it predicts actually happens. It is truly excellent journalism of the kind we don't see much of anymore.
When the world was developing less and dreaming more, things were advancing really fast, because there were so many ideas to develop and it needed cooperation in many fields. There was a time when parents use to encourage children to have a PhD in electronics. But right now the world is moving towards a stalled innovative society because there is large amounts of production and less number of dreams, and even if you have a dream, without proper funding, nobody cares about you, and this creates the vicious cycle of money making. Right now most parents encourage children to just have a degree and start their work hours for an MNC.
"Apollo 11 confirmed that, if you could dream it, evoke it, champion it, and finance it, almost anything could be accomplished"
As a parent of two tech-savvy high-school daughters, I really hope this is true. Your article also makes me think of XPrize. And, did we need an XPrize because our commitment to dreaming drifted so far away?