23 September 2010

Dissertation Update #1: Ionosphere and Rockets

The current chapter that I'm working on covers the period from 1956 to 1967. It's the tenure of the second chairman of the Defence Research Board, a man by the name of Hartley Zimmerman (full name Adam Hartley Zimmerman, father of Noranda CEO and Member of the Order of Canada Adam Hartley Zimmerman).

So far in this chapter I've covered the election of John Diefenbaker and the Progressive Conservative Party in 1957 and 1958, as well as the budgetary changes, especially as they related to the Department of National Defence. I've talked about the shifting of priorities in the wake of the launch of Sputnik I and the ensuing cancellation of the Avro Arrow project as well as the Velvet Glove air-to-air missile that the Canadian Armaments Research and Development Establishment (CARDE - pronounced Cardie) of the Defence Research Board was designing and building.

For some reason I can't bring myself to finish typing about the ramifications of this shift in priorities. I've gotten as far as saying that the cancellation of the Velvet Glove in favour of the American Sparrow missile led to a change in priorities, but then I have followed through with a description of the existing ionospheric research, especially as it was built up for the International Geophysical Year, and then the creation of the Black Brant research rocket program and the Alouette research satellite. I certainly haven't gotten around to pointing out how the success of the Alouette negated the need for further ionospheric research, by opening up the possibility of satellite communications.

There is excellent existing research on rocketry in Canada thanks to Andrew Godefroy and similarly high calibre research on the ionosphere thanks to Edward Jones Imhotep. So right now it is just a matter of synthesizing their work and fitting it into my narrative about the changing political, scientific and military atmosphere of the late 1950's and early 1960's.

Once I get through this, then I get to have the real fun and write about the Glassco Commission (aka the Royal Commission on Government Organization). This was and, according to civil servants I've spoken with, still is one of the most far-reaching pieces of policy the Canadian Government has ever endorsed as it relates to the way the civil service operates (especially its science and science policy). The rest of the chapter is dealing with the implementation and ramifications of Glassco as well as some interesting scientific developments.

1 comment:

  1. Love the update! Keep it up. Can this become a weekly column?