4.1 The Beginnings of a Scientific Peak: Post WWII Sun-Earth Connection Research in Boulder, Colorado

Tuesday, 12 January 2016: 3:30 PM
Room 231/232 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Joseph P. Bassi, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Lompoc, CA

From being considered a “scientific Siberia” in the 1940s, Boulder developed into “AstroBoulder” by the early 60s. How does a small town in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, home to only a middling state university, become a world center for atmospheric and space sciences in less than two decades? The answer to this question lies in the complex confluence of individual scientific ambitions relating to sun-earth connection research, the pre and early Cold War context of science in the US, and political machinations at various levels of government. This presentations lays out the early phases of this process, and particularly focuses on the efforts of solar astronomer Walter Orr Roberts, Colorado Senator “Big Ed” Johnson, the Boulder chamber of Commerce, and others in bringing sun-earth science, including meteorology, to Boulder in the late 1940s and early 1950s. This investigation thereby sheds some light on the process by which scientific/academic centers (or “peaks”) are created.
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