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Forum » Retro People & Events » The I.G.Y. Guy (Me)

For all of you who have known me since my first post on RetroJunk back in 2008, you know I've had a lifelong fascination with the International Geophysical Year 1957-1958. I'll say it till my final day - "the I.G.Y. never ended". In fact, the IGY remains an integral fixture of everything humankind has achieved since the final days of World War II.

The Eisenhower generation bear witness to the horror of science used in war. One of the motivation of Dwight Eisenhower to run for President was a desire to rally the world's scientific organizations to, as he said it, "learn everything we need to know about the Earth  . . . before we destroy it".

No joke! In the aftermath of WWII our collective lack of knowledge about the planet we call home was astounding. How does the Earth's weather machine actually work? How did the oceans form? How often do the North and South magnetic poles change places, and why? Do the continents move and if so . . . How?

The answers required a worldwide collaborative effort among 60 countries, 10,000 scientists and multiple scientific fields to study the Earth. All the amazing contributions were made  possible by one of the most successful international scientific efforts in history! The IGY gave birth to some of our best known government scientific agencies. Big shout out to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Everyone who has looked at a map of the world notices that South America and Africa seem to go together. But I first heard of "Plate-Techtonics" in 1970 - just a few miles south from the "father of continental drift", Prof. Tuzo Wilson, at the University of Toronto. And I watched the entire 13 part series, "The Planet of Man", in 1978, introduced by Prof. Tuzo Wilson.

I.G.Y. was the catalyst for rocket development and the application of satelites for telecommunications. Early electronics were designed and built to create instruments to study the atmosphere and near space environment. Seismic equipment to study earthquakes. Satelites can track weather patterns and the movement of ice sheets. Radio and astronomical observatories extended scientific research from the Eatrh to observe the Sun and the Planets.

I.G.Y. touched every aspect of our modern world - even music.

Donald Fagen, of Steely Dan, sang to Everyone about the endless gifts brought to us by I.G.Y.



The video referenced in Donald Fagen's "I.G.Y.", is called, "1999 AD":

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