Sky diving getting a little stale? Bungee jumping going bland? Thrill seekers will soon be able to take an affordably (?) priced ride in a Vomit Comet from a new company, Zero Gravity of Santa Monica. I shudder to think of what that company's logo will look like, though.
How Sputnik Got its Name
From Johnson's Russia List comes memories of Sputnik.
From: "Albert L. Weeks"
Subject: Sputnik 1
Date: Sun, 6 Oct 2002
My own recollection of Sputnik 1, 45 years ago, has an odd twist (in re JRL 6474)..
I was working on Newsweek's Science Desk that memorable October afternoon day in 1957 as the old AP machine tock-tock-tocked with the amazing news of the Soviet launching of an artificial satellite. As an editorial assistant, I tore off those vibrant pages and immediately passed them on to Managing Editor Manning.
He immediately called an emergency editorial-staff meeting. Since I was the only one in the N.Y. office who knew Russian (Newsweek correspondent Leon Volkov was in Moscow and unavailable so late at night, Moscow Time), Manning asked me, "Weeks, what are we going to call this thing, anyway? What does 'ISZ' mean?"
I explained to him that these initials, repeated in the AP wire, meant "Iskusstvennii Sputnik Zemlyi"--or "Artificial Earth Satellite. "
"So, what can we call it for short?" he asked me urgently.
I answered that, well, we could go with the initials. Or, maybe just "sputnik," small "s."
Pronouncing it "sputtnick" instead of "spootnik," Manning then asked me, "What does that mean?"
I answered "fellow-traveler, in the non-political sense, or in the context of the launch, 'satellite.' "
"So, we'll go with 'sputnik,' " Manning decreed.
So, Newsweek came out that Monday with "sputnik" as a common noun, the only publication, so far as I know, to do so on that early date.
Years later Webster's International Dictionary, under "sputnik," credited Newsweek with first usage of this term as a common noun.
Picking the Perfect Present for Putin
Russia is in a tizzy; everyone is trying to decide what to give president Vladimir Putin for his upcoming birthday. Other leaders are considering naming streets, squares, and even mountains after him. And so far he's got to write thank-you notes for three Arabian horses, given to him to by King Abdullah of Jordan. One organization even gave him a crown: a replica of the Shapka Monomakha, the ancient ceremonial crown used at the coronation of the tsars. It's not known yet whether the president will accept it.