Sunday, March 25, 2012

Two Moral Ambiguities Blindnesses

Just in time for Wernher von Braun's centenary, meet Stewart Nozette, the brilliant scientist who worked out how to check for ice on the Moon's South Pole and came up with a [redacted] number of super-clever ideas for [redacted] projects for [redacted] agencies -- oh, and who tried to sell out the secret stuff he knew for big, big bucks and got caught by the Feds. He described it as "a career move." He's headed off for 13 years in the hoosegow.

He's almost the amoral flip side of von Braun, who was going to get to the Moon -- and beyond -- and didn't (at least early on) much care what he had to do or who he had to use up to get there. (He was a very personable man -- I met him, when I was very young and he wasn't -- but his legacy is mixed.)

It's painful to realize the smaller-minded of the two men managed to do the lesser damage; but I don't think it was from caring more about the possibility.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

You met Von Braun? Cool.

Mike James

JC said...

Bobbi - first: Fanboi swoon. Second,
I love your linklist, and use it as a jumping-off point for more bloggy goodness. Third, the "disturbed" was meant in a good way, and with no intentions of causing offense. I am terribly flattered that you found my little blog.

SGB said...

I think it's very cool you met Von Braun. A brilliant man to say the least.

Roberta X said...

JC: Awwww. ;)

Mike, SGB: I did. And I didn't own any of the Colliers-article-based von Braun/Bonestell books, nor did I have the wit to grab the ones from the library to get him to autograph them.

I do, however, have his autograph somewhere. Framed.

A brilliant man, indeed; but driven.

mikelaforge said...

Oh dear.. I'm glad the OSS PAPERCLIP'ed him before the Russkies swept him up. But I have mixed emotions about his National Socialist membership and use of forced labor during WW-II. I guess XKCD
(http://xkcd.com/984/)has a toon about rocket scientists that probably best expresses my feelings. Thanks for writing what you write; it makes me think of different outcomes. Hope I have not annoyed you and I apologize if I have.

Roberta X said...

Mike, why would I be irked at you?

Von Braun (and the team who went with him) illustrate that many people (perhaps most) are only as good as their circumstances require. It is instructive that the same men who were complicit (to varying degrees) with the Nazis led exemplary lives in the 'States (even, AFAIK, the one man was eventually kicked out for his wartime activities). The times make the man, even as the man makes the times -- and gets us to the Moon ahead of schedule.

Ritchie said...

I get the impression that Von Braun ran into a guy who made him an offer he couldn't refuse to pick up his machine shop tab.

Ruzhyo said...

'Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down? That's not my department', says Wernher von Braun." - Tom Lehrer

mikelaforge said...

"Iron Sky". Pesky Nazis.