People ran and shouted in the streets. Some were so disturbed they got sick and vomited. Two weeks later, 400,000 spectators—more than half the population of Paris at the time—watched the ascension of the first hydrogen balloon. The restless audience would have rioted in the event of failure, but success, too, caused mayhem. People scrambled up walls, trees, and poles to get a better look at the candy-striped globe soaring in the distance. On such occasions, the rules of decorum, like the laws of nature, seemed no longer to apply.
Keep reading, as Pearl describes how technologists came to realize balloons are useless—and how they’ve nevertheless continued to capture the imagination.
What Do You Know … About Education?
1. Income-share agreements, in which students commit to paying for their education with a percentage of their future income, were first proposed by the economist ____________.
The U.S. conducted its first successful nuclear-weapons test on this day in 1945, as part of the Manhattan Project. In our February 1949 issue, J. Robert Oppenheimer, the project’s director, reflected on how nuclear technology might be used for peace as well:
In the days of the founding of this republic, in all of the eighteenth century which was formative for the growth and the explicit formulation of our political ideals, politics and science were of a piece. The hope that this might in some sense again be so was stirred to new life by the development of atomic energy. In this it has throughout been decisive that openness—openness in the first instance with regard to technical problems and to the actual undertakings under way in various parts of the world—was the one single essential precondition for a measure of security in the atomic age. Here we met in uniquely comprehensible form the alternative of common understanding or the practices of secrecy and of force.
Linda Flanagan recently wrote about the downsides of top-tier youth-soccer programs, which can be an all-consuming commitment for parents as well as kids. Colleen can relate:
I’ve been fighting this battle! What are we training them for? The prioritizing of the team over all else (and the accompanying acceptance of the insult that if you attempt to maintain balance you are selfish) just teaches them to be corporate drones.
Our soccer team has become a family to us. The players have learned humility, compassion, and teamwork.