MySci Round-Up October 14: Live from Space

blog post photo
On this day in 1968, the first live TV broadcast from space was beamed to Earth by Apollo 7 astronauts, but not without some, ah, creative differences. NASA had announced to the press several days before that the world would have the opportunity to watch the astronauts live from orbit. But when Mission Control initially told commander Wally Schirra to turn on the TV camera on Saturday, Oct. 12, he refused. Schirra, who was suffering from a bad head cold, was not in a good mood, and this NASA transcript of the radio transmissions reveals his testy exchange with the ground. (For example, Schirra groused that “We do not have the equipment out. We have not had an opportunity to follow setting. We have not eaten at this point. …I have a cold. I refuse to foul up our time lines this way.”)

Two days later, Schirra relented. According to this Associated Press account, on Monday, TV viewers were greeted by the commander’s  hand-lettered sign reading, “Hello from the lovely Apollo room, high atop everything.” Moments later, he showed a second placard, with the message, “Keep those cards and letters coming, folks.”

The seven-minute program itself was pretty anticlimactic. Pictures from inside the cramped cabin showed Schirra on his commander’s couch, and Air Force Maj. Donn F. Eisele standing in the center of the capsule. Walter Cunningham, the third crewman, was seen only briefly on the left side of the screen. The crew spent most of the time grinning into the camera and laughing at comments from Mission Control, such as a controller jokingly chiding Eisele for being unshaven. Probably the most interesting moment for viewers was when one of the astronauts pointed the camera out a window, showing the Gulf coast and the state of Florida as Apollo 7 passed over them from an altitude of about 900 miles.

And now, here for the science and technology news of the day.

Google, Facebook battle for future of the web. And you thought “Monday Night Raw” was nasty.

Humpback whale’s 6,000 mile journey captured in web photos. They’re on Flickr, amazingly.

Astronomers see most massive galazy cluster ever. It’s seven billion light years away, and holds 800 trillion suns.

Did cancer exist in the ancient world? Egyptian mummies show no sign of it.

Coal-centric West Virginia ignores ample geothermal energy. Unfortunately, Mountain State politicians are slow to embrace change.

Does popularity of zombies vs. that of vampires affect the stock market? Some suggest zombies are historically linked with prosperity, but actual market data suggests otherwise.