25 May, 2012

25 May 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
25 May, 1945      0820
Leipzig, Germany

Good morning, sweetheart!

Actually – we haven’t had a decent morning – or day – in 5 or 6 days. The weather here, in fact, seems to be just about as unstable as that in New England. Yesterday I had to dig out my sweater from my duffel bag – all my heavy jackets being at the cleansers. We get excellent laundry, cleansing and tailoring service, by the way, dear – and it’s a far cry from our experiences of the past year. Even in England – we didn’t do so well, but as I see it now, England had very little else at heart except to win the war, and with all their faults, you’ve got to hand it to the English. They really took a beating – and I don’t mean by bombing etc. You’d have to live in England a few months to be able to see it – and the contrast with what we see here in Germany makes it all the more apparent. These bastardly Germans are even now wearing the smartest clothes I’ve seen since leaving the U.S. – men, women, children – and not only here – but everywhere we’ve been. And the women wear silk stockings, too – very few being bare-legged. Furthermore – it’s easy to see that they’ve eaten well, too.

The English were shabby in every sense of the word. They couldn’t get new clothes. Everywhere you went – the stuff you saw was obviously old and worn – and it was impossible to get enough to eat of even so simple a thing as bread.

Well, well – excuse me for the diversion, sweetheart. I’ll tell you all about such things when we’re together again and I don’t have to waste space writing about it. But heck, dear, you don’t want me to tell you I love you – on every line, do you? Well – I love you, darling – and on every line, every page, every where – and all the time. That’s quite inclusive I think – and if you have any question whatsoever – you can find the answer right there, dear.

I laughed in reading your letter of 10 May when you wrote you were trying not to be excited about the prospects of my coming home soon. As a matter of fact – you say you are calm and taking things as they come. Well – darling – I don’t believe you – because if you’re as keyed up as I am about it – you just can’t remain calm – and I’m usually pretty steady. And I’ll try not to surprise you, sweetheart – although I don’t know how a fellow can help it. He finally gets on a boat and stops writing – but he probably arrives home before the break in the letters comes and all he can do is call up and say he’s back. However – when I’m pretty darn sure I’m leaving Europe for home and you – I’ll tell you. Then if we stay in port for enough time – perhaps my letter will reach you before I do. I’m writing as if it would happen any day – although there are no prospects in view right now that I know of.

And do you aim to leave R.C. when you hear I’m coming back? Good! You also said “and stuff” – whatever that means, but I’m coming back for a decent Leave – a chance for reassignment – and damn it, girl, you’d better watch out – for I aim to catch you off balance – and Marry You !!

Have to close now, sweetheart. Hope everything is O.K. at home. Love to the folks and
All my deepest love is yours –


about Imagining the Future of Television

In May 1945, Clarke, a physicist and science fiction author who was also the secretary of the British Interplanetary Society at that time, circulated six copies of his paper “The Space-Station: Its Radio Applications” to his society colleagues. What follows, written by Dylan Tweney, comes from Wired online magazine's feature called "This Day in Tech", which tells of events which shaped the "wired" world. It's title is "May 25, 1945: Sci-Fi Author Predicts Future by Inventing It".
On 25 May 1945: Arthur C. Clarke began privately circulating copies of a paper that proposed using space satellites for global communications.

Figure II from Arthur C. Clarke’s May 25, 1945, paper “shows
diagrammatically some of the specialized services that
could be provided by the use of differing radiator systems.
Program from A being relayed to point B and area C.
Program from D being relayed to whole hemisphere.”
(Tiny letters A,B,C, and D are hard to see on Earth's surface!)

It was a bold suggestion for 1945, as the war was just winding down and most people were undoubtedly more concerned about the necessities of life than they were with beaming radio waves down from space. But Clarke, a physicist and budding science-fiction author, had his head firmly in the future. The paper, “The Space-Station: Its Radio Applications,” suggests that space stations could be used for broadcasting television signals.

[Click HERE to read Clarke's article, beginning on page 12 of the .pdf file that opens.]
The Space-station was originally conceived as a refueling depot for ships leaving the Earth. As such it may fill an important though transient role in the conquest of space, during the period when chemical fuels are employed…. However, there is at least one purpose for which the station is ideally suited and indeed has no practical alternative. This is the provision of world-wide ultra-high-frequency radio services, including television.
(Television itself was barely a commercial reality at this point, so that’s some forward thinking.)

Clarke followed up on this private paper with an article published in October 1945 in Wireless World titled, “Extra-Terrestrial Relays: Can Rocket Stations Give World-wide Radio Coverage?” The paper discusses how rocket technology, such as that used in German V-2s during the war, could be turned to peaceful ends by launching artificial satellites into orbit. All you needed, Clarke argued, was a rocket capable of pushing a payload past an orbital-insertion velocity of 8 km/second [5 miles/second].

However, the smallest orbits — such as those that would be used by the Russian Sputnik satellites in the following decade — would circle the earth in about 90 minutes. Because of basic orbital mechanics, the farther out you could get a satellite, the slower its orbit around the Earth would be. At one point, about 42,000 km [about 26,100 miles] from the center of the Earth, the satellite’s orbit would be exactly 24 hours, the same as the Earth’s rotation. Clarke wrote, in Wireless World:
A body in such an orbit, if its plane coincided with that of the earth’s equator, would revolve with the earth and would thus be stationary above the same spot on the planet. It would remain fixed in the sky of a whole hemisphere and unlike all other heavenly bodies would neither rise nor set.
Clarke wasn’t the first to propose such an orbit, known as geostationary, but his essay did popularize the idea. And while it may have seemed far-fetched in 1945, it was less than 12 years before Sputnik and only 17 years before the first TV broadcast satellite, Telstar. Then, in 1965, Intelsat began launching the first satellite system based on geostationary satellites, and there are more than 300 such satellites in Clarke orbits today. The future of communications evolved much as Clarke had foreseen it.

Although Clarke eventually became more famous as a science-fiction author, penning such classics as 2001 and Childhood’s End, he regarded his satellite proposal as more significant. I interviewed Clarke for a profile in Mobile PC magazine’s March 2004 issue. The headline referred to him as “The Father of the Star Child.” He replied with this note, handwritten on a reprint of his original Wireless World story:
Appreciate the write-up in March … but I think being ‘father’ of the COMSAT more important than the Star Child!

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