Author Archives: Roger Launius

Wednesday’s Book Review: “The Beginning of Infinity”


The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations that Transform the World. By David Deutsch. New York: Viking, 2011. 496 pages. Acknowledgments, illustrations, bibliography, index. ISBN: 978-0670022755. $14.50 USD paperback. What explains the workings of the physical world? For millennia humankind has tried to … Continue reading

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Covering Apollo: Jules Bergman at ABC News


The son of New York business people Irving and Ruth B. Bergman, Jules Verne Bergman was born to cover the Apollo program in the 1960s and early 1970s. Educated in journalism Bergman went to work for CBS, then Time magazine, … Continue reading

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Something Fun for a Friday: “50 Favorite Firefly Quotes”


I was sold on the short-lived “Firefly” TV series the first episode I saw. A joy to watch, it was Joss Whedon’s contemplation on living and dying on the edge free from the restrictions of society and the regimentation of … Continue reading

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Wednesday’s Book Review: “Mankind Beyond Earth”


Mankind Beyond Earth: The History, Science, and Future of Human Space Exploration. By Claude A. Piantadosi. New York: Columbia University Press, 2012. Vii + 279. Bibliography and additional readings, index. Hardcover with dustjacket. ISBN: 978-0-231-53103-0. $31.50. Columbia University Press has … Continue reading

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Robert Gilruth and the NACA’s Entry into Space Technology


During the latter part of World War II leaders of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the predecessor to NASA, had become interested in the possibilities of high-speed guided missiles and the future of spaceflight. It created at the … Continue reading

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One for the Record Books: The Stardust Sample Return Mission


This is one of the most interesting, but little known, missions NASA has ever undertaken. Stardust was the first U.S. space mission dedicated solely to returning extraterrestrial material from beyond the Moon. I am pleased to have played a role in … Continue reading

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Wednesday’s Book Review: “The U.S. War with Mexico: A Brief History with Documents”


The U.S. War with Mexico: A Brief History with Documents. Edited by Ernesto Chavez. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2008. The 1846-1848 Mexican-American War may be interpreted as a bald-faced adventure in conquest; it may also be interpreted as an unfolding of … Continue reading

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The Beatles Come to Kansas City, Fifty Years Ago


Time flies. It seems like only yesterday, but it was actually 50 years ago. My colleague, Mike Green, and I published a biography of Charles O. Finley, owner of the Kansas City/Oakland A’s between 1960 and 1980 in the summer of 2010. … Continue reading

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Some Thoughts on Walter Cronkite and the Space Program


Walter Cronkite (1916-2009) was the longtime anchor of the CBS evening news between  1962 and 1981. A dedicated journalist, he became a voice of trust for many Americans in the 1960s, providing news summaries and commentary on the most critical … Continue reading

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Wednesday’s Book Review: “Cooperstown Confidential: Heroes, Rogues, and the Inside Story of the Baseball Hall of Fame”


Cooperstown Confidential: Heroes, Rogues, and the Inside Story of the Baseball Hall of Fame. By Zev Chafets. New York: Bloomsbury, 2009. I have enjoyed the National Major League Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum (HoF) for many years, having visited … Continue reading

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