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July 20, 2009

Host: Ted Simons

Apollo 11 Moonwalk - 40th Anniversary

  |   Video
  • July 20th is the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Space and science experts from Arizona State University talk about that moment in history and the future of space exploration.

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John F. Kennedy: I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal before this decade is out of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.

Ted Simons: President Kennedy's words marked the start of something special -- the race to put a man on the moon. The United States won that race 40 years ago on July 20th, 1969, when Neal Armstrong set foot on the lunar surface. It was a proud moment in our nation's history. One that captured our imagination and changed our lives. Here to talk about the impact of the moon landings and the future of space exploration is the director of A.S.U.'s Origins Initiative, physicist Lawrence Krauss, and Kip Hodges, director of the university's school of earth and space exploration. Getting all tongue tied here on this anniversary. Thanks for joining us.
Guests: Thank you for having us.
Ted Simons: We just finished talking about Walter Cronkite and his legacy and most of us remember watching Walter Cronkite and/or this historic episode. Start with you. Where were you 40 years ago tonight?

Lawrence Krauss: I was a young high school student and had set up a command center in my parent's basement and I had the command module and I stayed home from school and it was just a -- and I wanted to be an astronaut.

Ted Simons: Kip, where were you?

Kip Hodges: At a baseball game. I had gone with my dad and mom and in the middle of the baseball game, they broke into the P.A. system and broadcast the actual landing process. And it was amazing. No announcement, it just came on the speakers, these old cone speakers and it was amazing. The game stopped and everybody in the stands just stopped and listened and there was a big cheer when the landing actually occurred. It was remarkable.

Ted Simons: It's hard -- the impact of television on this event, correct?

Lawrence Krauss: The fact it was broadcast and it was hard to see what was going on, but given the time, the fact you felt like you were there and it was the first major exploration of anywhere new that you had a live contact for. I was reading, surprised at the time the role television played in the whole expedition.

Ted Simons: Do you agree, the fact that we could watch it as it was happening?

Kip Hodges: Oh, absolutely. I remember having a tripod and a camera set up to trying to get the images. I think for everybody, it was a wonderful event. Really the first television event.

Lawrence Krauss: I was talking at NASA, actually, yesterday, they had a big celebration and I was speaking and I had gotten a copy of the footage and I showed it again and you still get chills.

Ted Simons: 1969, tough year, tough couple of years there. Would television's impact and just the fact that you could look up there and see someone's up there. Did it help unite a troubled nation?

Lawrence Krauss: I think for a short time it did. It was a difficult time. I grew up in Canada, I was watching in Canada, and there was no sense that one sense it was an American event particularly, it was something that I think for a moment united the world.

Ted Simons: What do you think?

Kip Hodges: newspaper documentation of that particular day. There were many other news things going on that day. But the interesting thing you felt when you read all of these was the number of greetings from France and different countries around the world. It was a very much a global humanity event rather than something that was just considered to be an American event.

Ted Simons: Arthur C. Clarke -- paraphrasing here -- amazed not so much that we went to the moon, but after 1972, never went back.

Kip Hodges: True. If you talk to the people who worked on the Apollo program, from the astronauts to the engineers and stenographers, you find a lot of people are shocked that we let them down. Like we had a huge inertia and when the rest of the program was canceled. It was supposed to go on after Apollo 17, the last event in 1972, but when it was canceled, it was air was pulled out of the process. Many are saddened, even today that we lost that opportunity to continue to explore.

Lawrence Krauss: You know, although I think in retrospect, it's not that surprising, the same time I showed that footage, showed 2001. We'd have hotels in space and the point was what we should have realized is how hard it is to send people in space and costly and dangerous and in retrospect, I think it's not that surprising -- that was a specific mission and to some extent, it was political, and it's costly and you have to be committed to spending money if you want to reproduce it.

Ted Simons: I have a quote here from you: Human space travel is all about adventure and almost nothing about science. Explain, please.

Lawrence Krauss: The point is if you want to send a human into space, maybe 99.9% of the cost is spent getting them there, keeping them alive while there and getting them back and that leaves not much money left for science. I'm not convinced there was any science done on the international space station. Really what you want to do, when you -- what you learn about sending people to space for the most part is how they can survive in space. That's the science you learn and you do that because maybe we want to send people out in the universe. I'd go. That's not a question, but there's little money left for the science.

Ted Simons: What do you think about that?

Kip Hodges: I think that it is about adventure and exploration, I also think that there's quite a lot of really good science you can do as an individual on a planet like the moon and the astronauts and people like Harrison Schmidt, who was the only one who went on Apollo 17, got a lot of work done while there. It's a costly thing. Right now, even today, 40 years later, we have a very difficult time doing things robotically, that we can ask a human scientist. For the foreseeable future, for the problems -- using a three-pound water-cooled brain, it's an effective way to get it done.

Kip Hodges: The big argument one could make -- and I have friends who work in robotics who make this point. What we do is human exploration of space using robotic tools. Essentially using tools that are long-range tools and as long as we use tools, we have to realize there's a loss of tactile capacity of looking at the scientific problem when using tools and doing remote sensing. I think the balance that you have to make is the balance between the cost of sending humans, the overhead associated with it, which is a costly endeavor to send humans, but on the other hand, we were successful at it 40 years ago and the science we brought back from that time was tremendous.

Lawrence Krauss: Yeah, I'm not sure it's tremendous enough for $200 billion. Talking earlier, you could probably send 200 robotic missions for that. And I think in 20 years, they'll be better and I think we're already there. People say we want to return to the moon and go to Mars. We're on Mars. I love watching the rovers and the pictures that come from them. When the satellite landed on TITAN -- we'll never send humans there -I felt the chills that I felt when astronauts were on the moon.

Ted Simons: Don't you need that sense of adventure and challenge? I bring it up because I've heard on more than one occasions the biggest reason we went to the moon wasn't science, it was to beat the Soviet Union.

Lawrence Krauss: And I think it was inspiring. It inspired me. I like science already, but I think there's no doubt that astronauts inspire kids and seeing humans in space do and many go on to do science and I think you're right that there are many reasons apart from what you actually learn in doing it, and, therefore, I actually think we should. I'm not against spending money on it. I think we should just be honest about it. I said, look, we should just explain we're sending humans there because it's a human imperative to explore the universe. But when there's a cost overrun, you're going to take money from the science programs and put it into human space exploration and that was my concern.

Ted Simons: Do we need a China to give us a kick in the rear end like that the Soviet Union did?

Kip Hodges: I think right now when we think about human space exploration, we have to think about what the impact is going to be with relation to those countries.Right now, China has its eyes set on exploration of space, and even Japan. I believe we can go into space as a community, work together, and there's some effort right now at NASA to go in that direction and I think that would spread the cost out and make it a global initiative.

Lawrence Krauss: If you look at major science programs, from the big accelerator in Geneva, they're so expensive that they're international programs.

Ted Simons: And if there's anything that should be, it should be space. The last question here: Was this landing on the moon the biggest event of the 20th Century? [Laughter]

Lawrence Krauss: You first. [Laughter]

Kip Hodges: Well, I mean, I think you have to look at it in the context of the question that you asked a while ago, which is what was the principle driver for it, and I think even at the time, a great many people thought that it was scientifically interesting but whether or not they would have said that was the greatest scientific thing that happened, even in the 1960s, I think you'd get disagreement about it. The most important thing, as Lawrence said before, the fact that people -- so many people, so many kids were just enthused about this and we're still feeling the repercussions of people who went into science and engineering in the '60s because of the Apollo program.

Lawrence Krauss: Probably the explosion of the first atomic bomb was probably more significant for our future.

Ted Simons: I was going to say. Gentlemen, thank you. Great discussion. Appreciate you being here on "Horizon."

Guests: Pleased to be here.

Walter Cronkite's Legacy

  |   Video
  • Christopher Callahan - Dean, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Arizona State University

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Ted Simons: Tonight on "Horizon" -- We lost a news legend last week. Learn about Walter Cronkite's legacy here in the valley. And it's the 40th anniversary of the moon landing. We'll reflect on how it changed our lives and we'll look ahead at the future of space exploration. That's next on "Horizon."

¬¬Announcer: "Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the Friends of Eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

CBS Announcer: This is the CBS evening news with Walter Cronkite. This is my last broadcast as the anchorman of the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite.

Walter Cronkite: This is my last broadcast as the anchorman of the CBS Evening News. For me its a moment I've long planned, but nevertheless comes with some sadness. For almost two decades we've been meeting like this in the evenings and I'll miss that.

Ted Simons: And Walter Cronkite will be missed by millions of Americans. Good evening and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Although Walter Cronkite is gone, his legacy lives at the school named for him -- the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. The school was named after Cronkite in 1984 as a favor to a friend, the late Tom Chauncey, owner of radio and television stations in the valley and a member of the CBS board of directors. A.S.U. flags at all the university's campuses were flown at half staff today in honor of Walter Cronkite. Here now to talk about the Cronkite legacy at A.S.U. is the dean of the journalism school, Chris Callahan. Chris, it's good to see you. Thanks for joining us. Not a surprise, but still a shock?

Chris Callahan: It's one of those things, Ted, that obviously, Walter had been in failing health the last few months. He was 92 years old. But you're never prepared to lose somebody who was as important to the country and then has a particular importance to the region and certainly to A.S.U., as Walter.

Ted Simons: Your personal relationship.

Chris Callahan: It was very special to me. I feel extremely blessed. In four years, we got to be very good friends and when I would go to New York, we would have dinner and he'd come out and spend a lot of time and talk about our passions -- the news and the Cronkite school.

Ted Simons: I know you got to the point where you had a chance to go through some of his memorabilia.

Chris Callahan: That's right. I had called him about a year ago when we were preparing to move into the new building and we have the gallery that has news memorabilia and I asked Walter, could we have some of your artifacts? He said, come to my office and take whatever you want.

Ted Simons: And we're seeing some of those artifacts right there. We all think we know Walter Cronkite, he was in our living rooms for a generation. But knowing him the way you do, what kind of guy was he?

Chris Callahan: He was a genuine, down-to-earth guy. I didn't expect -- he's Walter Cronkite, this iconic figure. And when I first met him and throughout our entire relationship, he was one of the most humble, regular people that I've ever had the pleasure to know.

Ted Simons: Was he just -- was it all -- did he feel like -- did you feel like you knew him instantly or was there a getting acquainted period?

Chris Callahan: It was very hard because of who he is. He was incredibly generous. The first time I heard from him, he had left a voicemail on my phone when I first took the job, the first day and my wife said there's a phone message from Walter Cronkite. Sure, one of my friends, you know. But, of course, it was from him, and he was generous in his comments and how excited he was about me coming to his school and the relationship grew from there. But I never quite got past -- you know, you have deep conversations with him about the news and about the future and every once in a while I would drift back to being a 10-year-old boy sitting in my parents' living room watching Walter Cronkite.

Ted Simons: It's hard to get past that. We have a little bit of a story as to why Walter Cronkite put his name to the mass communication department at A.S.U. at the time, but why do you think, A, he did it? I mean, he had a lot of friends and favors, I'm sure. Why here? And talk to us about that relationship and how it grew over the years.

Chris Callahan: Sure, and Walter would tell the story simply; they were the first to ask. And in typical reporting fashion, being first matters a lot. And that was actually part of it, but he had a very, very close relationship with the late Tom Chauncey who owned the CBS station and his son, who is still a great supporter of the school and it was through that relationship that Walter did us the honor of giving us the name for the school.

Ted Simons: And he came out for the groundbreaking. Never had the chance to see the building completed, though.

Chris Callahan: He never did, but during the last visit at the Jane Pauley luncheon, he was so excited about everything going on, he said, let's go see the building. Right now? Right now. It's your building, so let's go. And our architects happened to be there and we jumped in the car and went to downtown Phoenix and we did a visual tour and he was so excited about everything that was happening.

Ted Simons: And obviously, the excitement was there, and he was interested. What did he expect from A.S.U., from the journalism department, the school with his name on it? Did he give expectations?

Chris Callahan: Very much so. Although very broadly. At the beginning, his one rule was the word "journalism" had to be in the school. And your viewers might think, of course, it's going to be in the name of a journalism school. That's not the case in many places. Many are much more theoretical and Walter wanted a practical, broad-based education for his students.

Ted Simons: And with that in mind, how much interaction did he have with the school after the name got there and did he still keep in contact?

Chris Callahan: It's interesting, a lot of these days, the school is named after somebody and that's it. The relationship grew over time and -- and the school was put on the national map in '84 when it was named after Walter, but through his work with the faculty and students and leadership, it really grew into one of the premiere schools in the country.

Ted Simons: And he was involved in curriculum. To that end, obviously, a journalist steeped in old journalism traditions and never around for the twittering and all of that. Was he open to new ways of journalism?

Chris Callahan: Very much so. He loved technology. He was a futurist and always looking to the future. And I think that technology brought to the media, he was excited about. He was not happy about the things that have happened in the 24/7 news culture.

Ted Simons: Like what?

Chris Callahan: The loud talking heads on television. Celebrity-based journalism, he found that very distasteful. He wanted -- he was a great advocate of great journalism, of accuracy and objectivity and thoroughness. And that is, of course, what we try to do at the Cronkite School.

Ted Simons: With that in mind, what can students learn from a Walter Cronkite? There's so many things you can learn at the journalism school, Walter Cronkite becomes today's subject lesson. What do you learn?

Chris Callahan: We built our curriculum around Walter's values of accuracy and objectivity and fairness at the highest levels so he lives in that building in every classroom and student and professor every day.

Ted Simons: The program, I know you haven't been there for the 25 years, but can you tell us how it's changed over the years? From the time that Walter said, all right. I'll put my name on that school out there. And it wasn't even -- to where it is now -- a topnotch facility.

Chris Callahan: Certainly. In '84, that simple -- making that change by having Walter's name on it made a dramatic difference and took a solid regional program and gave it national prominence. Through a lot of people's work and Walter's, it grew to where today we have a lot of innovative digital programs that are focusing on the future of journalism, and that hands-on approach that Walter thought was so important.

Ted Simons: And I know that Walter Cronkite would be the first to say that the journalism business is hurting in a variety of ways. How are you and the school addressing that to students -- a little bit away from Walter Cronkite here. But the fact is journalism goes on and right now, it's a bumpy road.

Chris Callahan: Absolutely. We're doing a two-pronged approach. Holding the great values that Walter exemplified so well and then translating that into the future. New distribution models, how do you get out information in a digital age on multiple platforms, and keeping students flexible. In the old days, you were a broadcast journalist, a newspaper journalist. It was segmented. What we're trying to do is teaching how to communicate across all of these platforms.

Ted Simons: I think he would appreciate that very much because the stereotypical person who can't write, you can't do that anymore, can you?

Chris Callahan: And Walter would describe himself as an old newspaper guy. A wire service guy.

Ted Simons: Journalism, is it healthier now than it was when Walter Cronkite was the most trusted man in America and used to get ratings and shares that management only dreams of now? Is it healthier now with all of those options?

Chris Callahan: Certainly, the business is not healthier now. The business model is really under attack and that's what we need to focus on, changing the business model. What's worked well for decades does not now and that's something we need to change. I think it has the potential of being better than it ever was because there's all of these different voices and different ways to communicate. We need to harness that and figure out ways for news companies to survive economically.

Ted Simons: How is the Cronkite school remembering Walter Cronkite?

Chris Callahan: This week, we're playing around the clock tribute to him on the second floor of the Cronkite building and opening up our Clifford gallery, which has a lot of his memorabilia and all sorts of wonderful things and then just in the process of planning a memorial tribute, sometime in September.

Ted Simons: Thank you so much. It feels like we all lost a little bit of our lives with Walter Cronkite. Certainly memories and a friend, even though most of us never came close to the man. You did. He was a friend and we thank you for sharing your memories.

Chris Callahan: Thanks for having me, Ted.