A for Andromda - the Era

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The Andromeda Anthology classic DVDs

A For Andromeda DVD 2006

Cold-war tensions feature in A for Andromeda. The computer is able to gain more and more influence by pandering to the military and economic fears and hopes of the British -- producing a missile interceptor, and creating new drugs.

  • 1952: Work began on the 250-feet diameter radio telescope at Jodrell Bank near Manchester, England; it was finished c1959.
    Bernard Lovell (1913-) was the driving force behind the building of the Jodrell Bank Mk 1 radio telescope. Lovell and Clegg earlier built a 218' transit telescope, ‘the wire bowl’, which Robert Hanbury Brown and Cyril Hazard used to show that M31 was a radio source. (From Eric's Treasure Trove of Scientific Biography.) In 2009, Lovell claimed that the Russians had tried to kill him on a visit to the Soviet Union in 1963 -- Daily Telegraph, 22 May 2009.
  • 1952, November: The first hydrogen bomb was exploded by the USA.
    From the Virginia Pilot review of R.Rhodes's Dark Sun, 1995.
  • 1953: Watson and Crick discovered the structure of DNA - the double helix. (Many people believe that Rosalind Franklin was cheated of due credit.)
  • 1953, September: USSR exploded its first hydrogen bomb.
  • 1956, July 26: The Suez Crisis, President Nasser of Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal. British, French - Israeli attacked (29/10/1956). There were fears that a major world conflict could be triggered but a cease-fire was signed on 6/11/1956.
  • 1956, October 23: The Hungarian uprising began with a student protest march. Fighting followed and thousands were killed. Popular Imre Nagy resumed the Prime Ministership. Soviet troops withdrew. 1 Nov - Hungary withdrew from the Warsaw Pact [Eastern Bloc] and asked the UN to recognise Hungary as neutral. 3 Nov - Russian troops returned to suppress the uprising. 4 Nov - 1000 (est.) Russian tanks entered Budapest. (From The Age, 23/11/1996).
  • 1957, October 4: Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite, was launched by the USSR. It therefore became obvious that Russian missiles could reach any part of the world.
  • 1957, November 3: Sputnik 2 carried a dog, 'Laika', into orbit; there was no plan for a controlled re-entry. Laika died after a few hours when the cabin temperature rose too high.
  • 1958, January 31: The USA launched its first satellite, 'Explorer 1', into orbit.
  • 1959, September: 'Searching for interstellar communications', G.Cocconi & P.Morrison, Nature, vol.184, pp.844-846, 1959.
  • 1960 (11 Sept. - 23 Oct.?): ITV (UK) broadcast the childrens' Sci-Fi TV series Pathfinders In Space in which an alien spaceship is found on the Moon (also Pathfinders to Mars (1960-61), and ... to Venus (1961)). (ABC TV n/w prodn.)
  • 1961, April 12: Yuri Gagarin (USSR) became the first man to fly in space and orbit the Earth - the space race started to heat up.
  • 1961, April 17: The American organised "Bay of Pigs Invasion" of Cuba quickly failed but greatly raised Cold-War tensions (and see 1962).
  • 1961, May 5: The first American in space, Alan Shepard, made a sub-orbital flight in a 'Mercury' capsule named 'Freedom 7'.
  • 1961, May 25: President John F. Kennedy of the USA "challenged the nation to claim a leadership role in space and land a man on the Moon before the end of the decade." -- [JFK Library].
  • 1961, August 13: East Germany started to build the 'Berlin Wall', cutting off West Berlin from the surrounding East Germany.

  • 1961, October 3: A for Andromeda broadcast by the BBC.
  • 1962, June 28: The Andromeda Breathrough broadcast by the BBC.

After the Event:

  • 1962, June, and later, on Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD): "In a widely-noticed speech at Ann Arbor, Michigan, in June 1962, [Robert] McNamara [sec. of defense 1961-68] repeated much of what he had told a NATO ministers' meeting ... [the] principal military objectives, in the event of a nuclear war ... should be the destruction of the enemy's military forces, not of his civilian population." But, "McNamara soon deemphasized the no-cities approach [and] turned to 'assured destruction' ... the capability 'to deter deliberate nuclear attack upon the United States and its allies by maintaining a highly reliable ability to inflict an unacceptable degree of damage upon any single aggressor, or combination of aggressors, even after absorbing a surprise first strike." -- [.gov][2012].
  • 1962, October: The Cuban missile crisis raised fears of a nuclear world war.
    '"When I got afraid was Black Saturday, 27 October. We got word to get ready to go to the underground [bunker]." -- Dino Brugioni, CIA official briefing Pres. JFK. ...
    Late on 26 October, [Nikita Khrushchev] wrote an emotional letter to [JFK], imploring him "not now to pull on the ends of the rope in which you have tied the knot of war".'
    -- Jo Fidgen, BBC World Service, 24/10/2012.
  • 1963: The Arecibo radio telescope (Puerto Rico) was inaugurated. The telescope consists of a 1000 foot (305m) diameter fixed dish strung across an underlying karst sinkhole. A platform is supended over the main dish and can be moved to make the telescope track. The description in the ‘A for Andromeda’ book of the (fictional) radio telescope at Bouldershaw Fell fits this general type of design. (Hoyle was, of course, a professional astronomer.)
  • 1963, November 22: President John F. Kennedy of the USA was assassinated in Dallas, Texas by Lee Harvey Oswald. In the confusion immediately after the event there was speculation that it might have been a Russian (or Cuban) plot. (Oswald was shot and killed by Jack Ruby on 24/11/1963.)
    Coincidentally, the first broadcast of BBC TV's science-fiction classic, Dr Who, was 'An Unearthly Child' on 23/11/1963.
  • 1964: The black comedy 'Dr Strangelove or how I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb', Dir. Stanley Kubrick, with Peter Sellers and George C. Scott, spoofed those MAD Cold-War years.
  • 1964: The film Fail-Safe, Dir. Sidney Lumet, played it straighter than Dr Strangelove.
  • 1965: 'The War Game', Dir. Peter Watkins, a documentary/drama about a nuclear attack on Britain, was made for the BBC. It won the 1966 Oscar for Best Documentary (Feature) but was "judged by the BBC to be so horrifying" (millions die) that it was not shown on British television until 1985.
  • 1967 August: Jocelyn Bell of the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory, Cambridge, England, discovered a pulsating radio source with a regular period (- from the Arecibo Observatory research page, 1996). For a short time there was some speculation that what turned out to be the first pulsar to be discovered might have been a signal from intelligent life elsewhere in space.
  • 1968: Intel was formed for real by Robert Noyce, Gordon Moore, "Silicon Valley" California, initially incorporated as N M Electronics but quickly renamed to Intel - Integrated Electronics. (The name had been taken by a motel chain and Moore and Noyce purchased the rights -- from Intel's 25th anniversay of the microprocessor 1996.)
  • 1969, July 20: The Apollo 11 lunar module, 'Eagle', landed on the moon and Neil Armstrong took a "Small Step" onto the surface. Edwin Eugene "Buzz" Aldrin jr also walked on the moon. Michael Collins remained in the command module, 'Columbia', in lunar orbit.
  • 1977, August 15: "Of the many 'maybes' that SETI has turned up in its four-decade history, none is better known than the one that was discovered in August, 1977, in Columbus, Ohio. ..." The signal lasted the 72 seconds that the fixed antenna scanned the position but a second antenna, tracking 3-minutes behind, detected nothing. Neither did later repeated searches with more sensitive radio telescopes. See archive@[seti][5/11/2015].
  • 1989, November 9: The Berlin Wall came down marking the start of the end of the cold war, perhaps.
  • 1995: The film Species, Dir. Roger Donaldson, with Natasha Henstridge and Michelle Williams as the adult/young ‘Sil’: The Search for Extra-Terretrial Intelligence (SETI) picks up a radio signal, being a description for some DNA. When inserted into human DNA ... Sil, a creature who can change from a beautiful woman into a highly improbable killing machine develops. She must be destroyed before she can breed. (Also Species II (1998).) Poor, not nearly as subtle as A for Andromeda.
  • 1996 October: There were newspaper reports that the US had finally removed its last nuclear weapons from "aircraft carrier" Great Britain.
  • 1997: The film Contact, Dir. Robert Zemeckis, from a Carl Sagan novel: As part of SETI, radio astronomer Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster) detects a signal from an alien intelligence. It contains the plans for a machine to travel to, or to communicate with, the latter.
  • 1999: SETI@home launched: "[...] a scientific experiment that uses Internet-connected computers in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). You can participate by running a free program that downloads and analyzes radio telescope data." (By 2003 it was said to be running at approximately a collective 66 tera-flops. No contact, yet.)
  • 2004, September 10: Using adaptive optics, the 8.2-m VLT Yepun telescope at the ESO Paranal Observatory (Chile) took an image of what might be a 5×Jupiter-mass planet[@eso][9/'04] in orbit at 55AU around the brown dwarf 2M1207 (about 230 light-years from Earth).
  • 2006, February 9, a remake, BBC Press Release:
    Kelly Reilly, Tom Hardy, Jane Asher and David Haig to star in science fiction classic A for Andromeda for BBC FOUR.
    [www]['06]: "... Kelly Reilly as Christine/Andromeda; ... A massive 13 million viewers watched the original ... Filming completed on 21 February 2006. ..."
    After: @[BBC] inc. clips, and [imdb]['06], 90 minutes, UK release date 27 March 2006.
    The remake updated and abridged the story somewhat but did a pretty good job for 90 minutes on an obviously tight budget, possibly smaller than that of one episode of 21C Dr Who.
  • 2011: 'A fourth planet orbiting υ Andromedae', S. Curiel et al., Astronomy and Astrophysics, 525, A78, Jan. 2011, doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201015693. (Probably gas giants.)
    (Upsilon Andromedae is a binary star located ~44 light-years from Earth in the constellation (not galaxy) Andromeda -- wikip['11].)
  • 2011, August: 'A habitable planet around HD 85512 ?', L. Kaltenegger et al., Arxiv 1108.3561,
    "... HD85512b, a 3.6M_Earth planet orbiting a K5V star. ..." (Note the "?")
  • 2012, October: X. Dumusque et al. discovered an ~Earth-mass planet orbiting α Centauri, which is "just" 4.4 light years from Earth, [www]. (The planet is too close to the star to support life.)
  • 2015, July 20: 'Breakthrough Listen', a $100 million search for intelligent life beyond earth was launched at The Royal Society -- PR [www] about BL [www][20/7/2015]; also wikip [www]. (In addition, 'Breakthrough Message' is a competition to "generate messages representing humanity and planet Earth, which might one day be sent to other civilizations.")
  • 2015 July 23: NASA scientists announced the discovery of planet Kepler-452b, 1.6×earth size, possibly rocky, in its star's "habitable zone", Astronomical J., 150(2), [www]. (Also see Nature [www] 30/7.)
  • 4,000,000,000±: The Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies start to collide, merging over the following two billion years -- -- NASA [www][31/5/2012], & Hubble STScI-2012-20 [www][31/5/2012]. (Earth is ~4.5 billion years old, and life on Earth is thought to have started 3 to 4 billion years ago.)
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