Author Archives: Roger Launius

Ten Great Improvised Scenes on Film


In honor of the passing of Robin Williams, CineFix has offered up a list of 10 outstanding improvised movie scenes. They include disturbing scenes by Marlo Brando and Martin Sheen from Apocalypse Now, Malcolm McDowell’s “Singing in the Rain” scene … Continue reading

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Announcing the Publication of “Hubble’s Legacy: Reflections by Those Who Dreamed It, Built It, and Observed the Universe with It”


David H. DeVorkin and I have just published a collected work on the history of the Hubble Space Telescope. Hubble’s Legacy: Reflections by Those Who Dreamed It, Built It, and Observed the Universe with It appeared in August 2014 (ISBN 978-1-935623-32-8) as part … Continue reading

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Wednesday’s Book Review: “Turning the Black Sox White”


Turning the Black Sox White: The Misunderstood Legacy of Charles A. Comiskey. By Tim Hornbaker. New York: Sports Publishing, 2014. The dominant interpretation of Charles Comiskey was established for most in the United States by  Eliot Asinof in his 1963 … Continue reading

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Guaranteeing Aeronautical Innovation: Is that Possible?


For the twentieth century no set of technological innovations are more intriguing than those associated with aviation. Perhaps no technological development in this century has more fundamentally transformed human life than the airplane, coupled with its ground support apparatus and … Continue reading

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Are There Ways to Speed Up MLB Baseball Games?


There has been a lot of commentary of late about the length of time being required to play major league baseball games. I know from personal experience that many of the Washington Nationals games are more than three hours in … Continue reading

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Wednesday’s Book Review: “Historians of the American Frontier”


Historians of the American Frontier: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook. Edited by John R. Wunder. (Greenwood Press, Westport, Connecticut, 1988. Pp. viii, 827. Bibliography, index. ISBN 0-313-24899-0, $75.00.) I have been asked recently by several people what they should know about the … Continue reading

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The NACA Makes the Jet Engine both More Efficient and More Powerful


I have been working on a general history of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the predecessor to NASA, and I have been working on a section of jet research in the 1940s and 1950s. Comments on this draft … Continue reading

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The NACA and the Documenting of Progress in Aerodynamics


The aeronautical research that the NACA between 1915 and 1958 undertook found dissemination in a complex set of technical publications that the agency made available to all on an equal basis. Most NACA research was accomplished “in-house” by scientists or … Continue reading

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Wednesday’s Book Review: “The Astronauts Wives Club”


The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story. By Lily Koppel. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2013. Illustrations (some color), author’s note, acknowledgments, 272 pages, hardcover with dustjacket. $28 USD. On one level Lily Koppel’s new book is a breezy, entertaining … Continue reading

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Model Research in the NACA’s Wind Tunnels (And Some Full-Sized Efforts)


Nearly thirty years ago historian Alex Roland published a very fine history of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) with the main title, Model Research. It was an ironic title, cleverly emphasizing the aeronautical investigations that the NACA undertook … Continue reading

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