Sunday, January 08, 2006

FAS, Space, and Getting It Right in 1958

The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) has as its mission "to promote humanitarian uses of science and technology." It collects and distributes (mainly through its web site) a wealth of information on technical and defense issues, as well as independent and knowledgeable evaluations and policy recommendations. It has also set up the Learning Federation to promote and help create "radically improved approaches to teaching and learning enabled by information technology."

I found an interesting FAS paper on the use of games and simulations to improve teaching and learning, something that is familiar to all video game players and that has been applied with great success by the Defense Department. Closer to home, it's one of the reasons I'm excited about Orbiter as a tool for helping to make certain aspects of science more interactive and intriguing to kids.

FAS also collects and makes available a variety of otherwise hard to find documents related to weapon systems, terrorism, weapons in space, and other topics. The archives of their Space Policy Project contain a lot of useful information including a World Space Guide. In the USA section, Andy recently pointed out a document that I had been searching for, the 1958 pamphlet Introduction to Outer Space. Published by the White House just two months after the launch of Explorer I, this 15 page document gives an amazingly accurate preview of the development of space. It's surprising just how much President Eisenhower's Science Advisory Committee got right at that early date. Interesting reading!

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