One of the six posters produced for the National
Academy of Sciences in 1958 to mark the last
International Polar Year, also known as the
International Geophysical Year.
Courtesy The National Academies.
This column is provided as a public service by the Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks, in cooperation with the UAF research community. Ned Rozell is a science writer at the institute.
In 1958, Paul Newman married Joanne Woodward, the U.S. launched its first satellite, Ted Williams signed with the Red Sox for $135,000, Alaska became the 49th state, and Frank Zappa graduated from a California high school.
Fifty years ago also marked the last time scientists got together all over the world for what they called an International Polar Year. As part of that effort, a renaissance man named Hugh Odishaw, who studied English literature, math, and electrical engineering, helped put together a booklet that accompanied six National Academy of Sciences posters designed to excite people about science.
He did this task with enthusiasm for the International Polar Year, an event he thought was “the single most significant peaceful activity of mankind since the Renaissance and the Copernican Revolution.”
I saw the booklet at a science conference and started browsing it. As someone on the lookout for science stuff that’s simplified but not too dumbed-down, I appreciated Odishaw and his partners’ effort 50 years ago.