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Space, STEM, and US Society. Dr John M. Jurist Adjunct Professor of Space Studies Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences University of North Dakota Adjunct Professor of Biophysics and Aviation Rocky Mountain College. The Early Context.

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space stem and us society

Space, STEM, and US Society

Dr John M. Jurist

Adjunct Professor of Space Studies

Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences

University of North Dakota

Adjunct Professor of Biophysics and Aviation

Rocky Mountain College

the early context
The Early Context
  • The space race during the cold war with the Soviet Union was abetted by the news media:
    • Driven by resulting public hysteria
    • Driven by the media
  • Major driver of the early stages of the space with feedback between media and public
  • Significant component of the space race led to human space flight
the big picture 1
The Big Picture - 1
  • Creation of National Science Foundation by Eisenhower administration
  • Emphasis on study of science and math
  • Associated production of scientists, mathematicians, and engineers became national priority
the big picture 2
The Big Picture - 2
  • Infusion of scientists, mathematicians, and engineers into US society created virtual explosion of technical knowledge
  • Much of this knowledge and technology resulted directly or indirectly from space program
  • Link knowledge explosion to our current standard of living
the big picture 3
The Big Picture - 3
  • Much of the knowledge came from people inspired by space program to choose technical careers
  • Studied in Detail
    • Dr Haym Benaroya
    • Rutgers University
present acronym stem
Present Acronym – STEM
  • Science
  • Technology
  • Engineering
  • Mathematics
illustration gps 1
Illustration – GPS – 1
  • Modern GPS technology benefits all of us
  • Evolved from military space
  • Few people know that GPS timing signals stamp electronic bank transactions and synchronize computer networks
illustration gps 2
Illustration – GPS – 2
  • GPS used for variety of other applications:
    • Navigation – land, air, sea
    • Monitoring land shifts – geology and geophysics
    • Wildlife biology and conservation, ecology
    • Military – major benefits for warfighters
integration into society
Integration into Society
  • Space technology integrated into essentially all aspects of economy and society at large
  • Synergism between military and civilian space technology and infrastructure
  • Military space much larger than NASA
  • Most of our public is unaware of this history
the bigger picture 1
The Bigger Picture – 1
  • Computers – spread like mushrooms in lawns
  • First microcomputer: Altair (1970s)
    • Developed by military subcontractors in Albuquerque as hobby kit (MITS)
    • Attracted Bill Gates (BASIC interpreter)
  • Early phases of technology driven by need for miniaturization of electronics during cold war
the bigger picture 3
The Bigger Picture – 3
  • Satellite-based communications
  • Real-time world-wide communications (eg car satellite radios, On-Star, etc)
  • Essential for Earth-sensing studies
    • Fire and pollution monitoring
    • Modern agriculture
    • Weather prediction better than Grandpa Joe’s joint pain
  • Telemedicine –pioneered by space program
modern medical technology 1
Modern Medical Technology – 1
  • Physiological monitoring developed and produced as adjuncts for early human high performance aviation and space flight by aerospace electronics firms led to modern medical facilities:
    • Emergency rooms
    • Intensive care units – eg Max Weil’s shock ward
    • Operating rooms
    • Cardiac telemetry
  • Adopted rapidly into clinical practice
modern medical technology 2
Modern Medical Technology – 2
  • Holter monitors
    • Norman Holter (1914-1983)
    • Born and died in Helena, MT
    • UCLA trained physicist turned biophysicist
    • Worked as administrator at UCSD
    • Prototype weighed 85 lbs in 1949
    • Reduced to practicality by Del Mar Avionics (near SD) after Deke Slayton’s AF
modern medical technology 4
Modern Medical Technology – 4
  • Physiological monitors developed by Spacelabs Healthcare (Issaquah, WA)
  • Now in Snoqualmie, WA
modern medical technology 5
Modern Medical Technology – 5
  • NASA contracted Spacelabs to solve tough clinical challenge of wireless monitoring of Gemini astronauts’ vital signs
  • Evolved into other physiological monitoring and anesthesia systems
  • Acquired Del Mar Holter and others
modern medical technology 6
Modern Medical Technology – 6
  • DEXA machines for diagnosing osteoporosis and monitoring treatment
    • Prototypes developed at University of Wisconsin Medical School and SSEC – 1960s
    • NASA and AEC funding for precise bone mass measurement – bone loss in microgravity
    • J R Cameron, J M Jurist, J A Sorenson, R B Mazess: New methods of skeletal status evaluation in space flight, Aerospace Medicine, 40:1119 (Oct. 69)
    • LUNAR Radiation Madison, WI now GELunar
  • Declining US student interest in STEM
  • US imports significant fraction of our STEM expertise
  • Consuming our intellectual seed corn?
  • Will that affect future standard of living?
  • Will US ability to participate/compete in the world economy dwindle?
  • Standard of living
  • Informed citizens
  • Dangers of ignorance
informed citizens
Informed Citizens
  • Asked to form/hold opinions on scientific and technical issues with far-reaching implications
  • Danger of being demagogued
  • Danger of corrupted science when politicians get involved
an example billings and so 2
An Example – Billings and SO2
  • 1970’s – Billings had significant problem
  • 24 hr exposure standards set by EPA
  • Minimal standards set by EPA with state option to set more restrictive and shorter term standards
  • Why shorter standards?
    • Large fluctuations over short term
    • Lethal 10 min exposure during short-term spike may have 24 hr average under standard
an example billings and so 21
An Example – Billings and SO2
  • Montana Board of Health & Environmental Sciences set standard of about 2/3 EPA
  • Legislature directs DHES to roll back in Yellowstone County only
  • Attempts to explain process to legislators triggers accusations of being “anti-job”
a disturbing trend
A Disturbing Trend
  • Shading conclusions to keep grant money (and indirect costs for institutions) flowing
  • Corrupts the scientific process
  • Coarsens debate
  • Budding scientists need more ethical training
a warning 1
A Warning - 1

President Eisenhower farewell speech 17 Jan 61

“Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. ...

a warning 2
A Warning - 2

“... For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers. The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present -- and is gravely to be regarded.

“Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”

how to further stem
How to Further STEM
  • Every 4 year old is a scientist
  • Most 10-12 year olds lose interest
  • Make STEM “cool”
  • Get scientists into schools -- problems of unions, untrained teachers, etc.
  • Science fairs -- humans are competitive
  • Rockets -- Estes rockets illustrate broad spectrum of scientific principles
the future
The Future
  • What kind of society and world do we want for our children?
  • US role in world -- economic, political, etc.
  • How do we define “improvement”?
  • Actual information as basis for decision-making -- lack of STEM competency
  • Fork in the societal road