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The actual role of the Houston Space Center


Advanced technology at NASA
Norman Greenwood Scientist
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For example, to show you the level of technology and we’re talking now about the early to mid-... the mid- to early ‘70s, I suppose, for Apollo 15. There... I wanted to get some thin section photographs of the specimens we were looking at. I was taken to the photographic archive room. It was sealed and the man who was showing me around had a touchpad out of sight up in the air which he keyed in the appropriate number. The door came open, we went in and there were enormous files of each of the missions, and I said what I wanted. They sorted that out, took out photos and gave them to me. And so I said, ‘Well, shall we copy these because I’d like to take them away with me?’ and they said, ‘No, that’s all taken care of’. And I said, ‘But you’ve taken them out of the file!’ and he said, ‘Yes, but when we opened that file a signal comes up saying the integrity of the file has been violated’ – was the phrase that they used – ‘and so a message immediately goes back to the photographic : this photo has been removed, print another one. Another one is automatically printed, come and put back in the place, so don’t worry about it’, he said, ‘we’ve got copies of them being made when they’re taken out’.

Norman Greenwood (1925-2012) was born in Australia and graduated from Melbourne University before going to Cambridge. His wide-ranging research in inorganic and structural chemistry made major advances in the chemistry of boron hydrides and other main-group element compounds. He also pioneered the application of Mössbauer spectroscopy to problems in chemistry. He was a prolific writer and inspirational lecturer on chemical and educational themes, and held numerous visiting professorships throughout the world.

Listeners: Brian Johnson

Professor Brian FG Johnson FRS, FRSE, FRS Chem, FAcad Eu, FAS. Professor of Inorganic Chemistry University of Edinburgh 1991-1995, Professor of Inorganic Chemistry University of Cambridge 1995-2005, Master Fitzwilliam College Cambridge 1999-2005. Research interests include studies of transition metal carbonyls, organometallic chemistry, nano- particles and homogeneous catalysis. Professor Johnson is the author of over 1000 research articles and papers.

Tags: 1970s, Apollo 15, Apollo, NASA: Houston

Duration: 1 minute, 38 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2011

Date story went live: 25 November 2011