Skip to content

Prof. Boerner's Explorations

Thoughts and Essays that explore the world of Technology, Computers, Photography, History and Family.


Archive for July, 2010
by Gerald Boerner


JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031 Ancient man attributed many different powers to the moon. It was variously thought of as creating a romantic mood or as driving one crazy. It was surrounded by superstition.

And then Galileo made his telescope and observed it in some detail. That started to take the mystery out of that heavenly body while raising more questions. If you have ever looked at the moon and its craters through a telescope you know what We’re talking about.

But it wasn’t until 1964 that we saw it up close. That is when the Ranger 7 space probe took detailed pictures of the surface before crashing into the surface. It would be another half decade before the Apollo 11 crew would actually walk upon its surface, but the photos were a critical step that had to be taken before Neil Armstrong could make that memorable first step by man on the moon.

Think about it…  GLB

[ 2490 Words ]


“America has tossed its cap over the wall of space.”
— John F. Kennedy

“Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again.”
— Joseph Campbell

“Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space.”
— Ansel Adams

“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”
— Maya Angelou

continue reading…

by Gerald Boerner


JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031 Today we look at one of those examples of something that is very destructive and used for “evil” being turned into something so beneficial to mankind. We are talking about one of Hitler’s “Vengeance” weapons — the V-2 Rocket. It was developed in Germany, built with labor from a concentration camp, and used to rain destruction upon London and Antwerp during the last days of World War II.

That was the “evil” part of the equation. The “good” part was that many of the V-2 rocket’s parts and most of the scientists and engineers, including the head engineer — Wernher von Braun, were captured by the American Army and brought back to this country. This team and the rocket became the basis of our launch vehicle for the exploration of space.

In fact, the basic technology led to the development of the Saturn V launch vehicle that put the Apollo 11 crew on the moon in 1969! So, this weapon system became the basis of our space program and the German engineers became the core of the “brain trust” that saw us making huge leaps during the 1960s and beyond.  GLB

[ 3670 Words ]


“Build a rocket ship and leave the earth!”
— Jon Heder

“If I had a rocket launcher, some son of a bitch would die.”
— Bruce Cockburn

“If there is a small rocket on top of a big one, and if the big one is jettisoned and the small one is ignited, then their speeds are added.”
— Hermann Oberth

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”
— Dwight D. Eisenhower

continue reading…

by Gerald Boerner


JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031 This is a companion post to the main posting today about NASA. NASA was the governmental agency that put all space programs under one non-military agency. During its first dozen years it guided our nations space program through both unmanned space probes in addition to the more headline-catching manned space programs.

In this posting, we examine the long and noteworthy series of space probes that have extended our knowledge of both our own solar system as well as the universe in general. In addition to the specific knowledge we gathered from these programs, we also have seen contributions to our general society that are almost too numerous to count.

We hope that you enjoy these postings. As Mr. Spoke would say, “Live Long and Prosper”.  GLB

[ 2861 Words ]


“NASA wanted to assure its ability to examine the spacecraft in orbit for signs of damage.”
— Marc Garneau

“We’d never have got a chance to go outside and look at the earth if it hadn’t been for space exploration and NASA.”
— James Lovelock

“At the end of our NASA careers, no one had a place for us in the military.”
— Wally Schirra

“NASA was going to pick a public school teacher to go into space, observe and make a journal about the space flight, and I am a teacher who always dreamed of going up into space.”
— Christa McAuliffe

continue reading…

by Gerald Boerner


JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031 One of the pivotal events in my life was the launching of Sputnik I by the Soviet Union in 1957. I was in junior high and it triggered a quest to become a scientist in me. I became more focused on academic achievement and the study of science. Part of that was due to my very motivating science teacher, Mr. Foxworthy. That event had more wide-spread impact, in that, President Eisenhower consolidated federal missile programs and research into DARPA and NASA.

NASA took over space programs from a variety of military “kingdoms” that were often in conflict with each other. NASA was able to focus the efforts and build from the unmanned programs into the manned programs. President Kennedy’s call for landing a man on the moon and returning him again to earth by the end of the 1960s decade.

Join us in taking a look at the variety of manned space programs that have been accomplished under the guidance of NASA. We look at unmanned programs in a companion posting today.

Think about it. Where were you when Sputnik went up (if you were alive at that time, of course)? What effect did it have on your life? Share your experiences with us via the comments below.  GLB

[ 2917 Words ]


“NASA wanted to assure its ability to examine the spacecraft in orbit for signs of damage.”
— Marc Garneau

“We’d never have got a chance to go outside and look at the earth if it hadn’t been for space exploration and NASA.”
— James Lovelock

“At the end of our NASA careers, no one had a place for us in the military.”
— Wally Schirra

continue reading…

by Gerald Boerner


JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031 Armies through history have been given “script” that was to be exchanged later for “real” money when the war was over. This was done for many who served during the first World War. Not much thought was given to this “hidden” debt during the prosperous 20s, but when the banks failed in ‘29 and the Great Depression hit, these “script” certificates were seen as a way for World War I veterans to survive the economic downturn.

But the government, under President Herbert Hoover, was also short on money and could not honor these demands. The veterans assembled in Washington, D.C., to protest the lack of payment. This “Bonus Army” set up their own tent city; when they would not disburse, the government moved against them.

Douglas MacArthur and George Patton were called upon to break up this encampment. There was a confrontation and those brave soldiers from the past were treated with the ultimate indignity. Let us not forget this betrayal and honor our brave fighting men and women..  GLB

[ 2800 Words ]


“Over all our happy country – over all our Nation spread, Is a band of noble heroes – is our Army of the Dead.”
— Will Carleton

“Really I feel less keen about the Army every day. I think the Church would suit me better.”
— Winston Churchill

“Secret operations are essential in war; upon them the army relies to make its every move.”
— Sun Tzu

“Philosophers are people who do violence, but have no army at their disposal, and so subjugate the world by locking it into a system.”
— Robert Musil

continue reading…

by Gerald Boerner


JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031 When cartoon animation is discussed, attention is generally directed towards Walt Disney’s stable of characters. The first animated cartoon character was created by Disney in 1928 and dominated the genre for years. But there were other sets of characters that eventually appeared and brightened our Saturday afternoon movie session at the local cinema.

In 1938, Bugs Bunny appeared on the scene and was eventually accompanied by some of our other favorites like Woody Woodpecker, Yosemite Sam, Elmer Fudd. The adventures of these characters tried to keep the spirits of those kids living during the war years (World War II and Korea).

As television matured, Bugs Bunny took his rightful place on the Saturday morning children’s hours along with some of our other favorites. Eventually they became “so-so” and were replaced by more hip and thematic programs, but we shall ever remember those wonderful afternoons in the movie theater waiting for the main feature while watching a cartoon and serial from the past.  GLB

[ 2750 Words ]


“98% of the people who get the magazine say they read the cartoons first – and the other 2% are lying.”
— David Remnick

“After I had done a handful of cartoons I was satisfied with, I started submitting them to the magazines.”
— Joseph Barbera

“And, uh, I’ve got about six thousand cartoons up there, also books and papers.”
— Rube Goldberg

“As soon as I found out how compartmentalized the industry was, I realized, Well, no wonder the cartoons are so bad.”
— John Kricfalusi

continue reading…

by Gerald Boerner


JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031 Following his election to a second term as president in 1948, Harry S. Truman entered a period of major change. Not only was he in office during the Korean Conflict, but he took the brave, bold step to remove color barriers in our military services. And this was at a time long before overt moves for civil rights causes in this country.

After the major examples of discrimination in the way people of color were deployed during the second World War, President Truman issued a proclamation that removed color barriers within the services. That did not result in true equality in the deployments, of course, but it set this nation on the course to bring about changes in the society outside of the military.

Yes, World War II did see the exploits of the Tuskegee Airmen. Yes, there were regiments within the military that performed with honor even though they were not white. But people of color, even with this proclamation, were not given equal opportunities. We still struggle with these issues in both the military and in society in general.

Let us move ahead to this true equality of all peoples. Our nation will be stronger for it.  GLB

[ 2362 Words ]


“What is our greatest enemy? Segregation.”
— Major Owens

“When you live under the power of terror and segregation, you can’t ever start a work of art.”
— Jeanne Moreau

“The legal battle against segregation is won, but the community battle goes on.”
— Dorothy Day

“We didn’t have any segregation at the Cotton Club. No. The Cotton Club was wide open, it was free.”
— Cab Calloway

continue reading…

by Gerald Boerner


JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031 Who would have known? The United States includes Commonwealths! And we thought that was the domain of the British. Well, it’s true. Not only are some of the colonial-era states based upon commonwealth structure, but the United States oversees certain territories which are commonwealths.

Puerto Rico is a primary example. This Caribbean Island was initially a Spanish Colony, then became an U.S. colony following the Spanish-American War, then became a Commonwealth under the supervision of the United States. Currently, there is a movement by some Puerto Rican groups to become the fifty-first state.

Let us celebrate our diversity and welcome the varied contributions each of our component groups add to our overall society and viewpoints.  GLB

[ 3003 Words ]


“Creating new jobs for Pennsylvanians continues to be my highest priority throughout the Commonwealth.”
— Edward G. Rendell

“It is easy enough to define what the Commonwealth is not. Indeed this is quite a popular pastime.”
— Queen Elizabeth II

“It is necessary to take an active part in politics to observe how often the welfare of the party organization is put before the issues, even before the welfare of the commonwealth.”
— Charles Edison

continue reading…

by Gerald Boerner


JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031 It remained for a descendent of the Missionaries that “civilized” the Hawaiian Islands to discover the city that the invading conquistadores of another era had not been able to find — the Incas’ Lost City. Hiram Bingham was an academic who later became a U.S. Senator. But he was a dreamer and amateur archeologist as well.

In the early decades of the 20th century, Bingham became fascinated with the legends of the Lost City of the Incas. He led an expedition to the Peruvian Andes where he found the lost city of Machu Picchu in 1911.

Bingham’s dreams became reality and he should give us all inspiration to pursue our own dreams. Take some time today to reflect upon your own dreams; follow them with youthful vigor to renew your “mojo”.  GLB

[ 3199 Words ]


“If no man could become rich in Peru, no man could become poor.”
— William Prescott

“The name of Peru was not known to the natives.”
— William Prescott

“The investor knows quite well that we don’t have anymore the widespread terrorism here in Peru.”
— Alberto Fujimori

“Going to Peru is, well, if you ever have an opportunity in your life to go there, you should do it because it is absolutely mind boggling.”
— Dean Stockwell

continue reading…

by Gerald Boerner


JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031 Ulysses S. Grant is known for his battlefield exploits that brought the Civil War to a conclusion, his presidency, and his oversight of the reconstruction of the reunited United States. What is not often remembered is his bankruptcy (due to his partner’s theft of funds), his battle with throat cancer, and the writing of his Memoirs.

While his life is far too well documented to cover in this post, we have tried to focus in on the high points. More specifically, after his throat cancer was diagnosed, he too on the task of writing his Memoirs to provide for his family after his death. The publication was aided by Mark Twain.

On this day, we lost this man who provided critical leadership during our country’s dark days. May we think about his positive contributions and his legacy.  GLB

[ 3856 Words ]


“I will leave no memoirs.”
— Comte de Lautreamont

“A lot of presidential memoirs, they say, are dull and self-serving. I hope mine is interesting and self-serving.”
— William J. Cllinton

“Anyone who believes you can’t change history has never tried to write his memoirs.”
— David Ben-Gurion

“I had read too many memoirs that were written after the writer or the director was past his or her prime.”
— Joe Eszterhas

continue reading…