When Challenger disintegrated 73 seconds into its flight on the morning of 28 January 1986, it represented one of the most shocking events in the history of American spaceflight. A Presidential Commission was immediately convened to explore what had gone wrong, but with the vast complexity of the space shuttle and so many vested interests involved in the investigation, discovering the truth presented an almost impossible challenge. A truly independent member of the investigation was Richard Feynman. One of the most accomplished scientists of his generation, he worked on the Manhattan Project building the first atom bomb and won the Nobel Prize for his breakthroughs in quantum physics. Feynman deployed exceptional integrity, charm and relentless scientific logic to investigate the secrets of the Shuttle disaster and in doing so, helped make the US Space Programme safer. Written by
After Feynman visits the Marshall factory, he records notes on an electronic typewriter. One note reads (electronically) "Cost versus reliability" which we then see printed as "Cost VS reliability". The typewriter would not abbreviate "versus", but would print verbatim off the screen. See more »
The other commissioners are just being respectful.
And you're saying I'm not? You understand the implications of the oxygen being activated? I do. The astronauts had to do that themselves. Which means they were ALIVE for at least some of those two minutes and thirty six seconds before they slammed into the ocean. Mr Rogers I'm an atheist, I personally doubt they're touching the face of God so I prefer to show my respect by finding the CAUSE of their appalling deaths and not stand around looking...
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Recent revelations of the Lyndon Johnson taped conversations exposing the sabotage by Nixon of the Vietnam peace talks in 1968 had me reeling at the extent to which the pursuit of power and money causes politicians to cover up the facts, even if it costs lives.
Feynman was the critical independent factor which foiled such attempts when the Challenger exploded during take off in January 1986.
This factual account reveals Feynman was by chance adopted onto the investigative commission over the Challenger disaster at a time when he was critically ill. Unlike the rest of the commission members who had other agendas, Feynman approached the problem objectively and, through his popular demonstrations of physics for which he'd become famous, had the skill and passionate commitment to reveal the truth to the public. As he wrote in his report, 'For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled' Throughout this gripping drama you are taking the part of the underdog, frustrated at the increasing knowledge that the commission members, bar one or two, were driven by political agendas which meant the truth was trying to be covered up. Feynman represents the common man, and as such makes you part of the battle to foil the exasperating corruption.
William Hurt is magnificent playing Feynman, depicting non-conformist behaviour which is only tolerated because of his brilliance. I found his nuances of expression fascinating and wonderfully representative of how we, the public, would have reacted when faced with pompous authority attempting to control our behaviour. Brilliant stuff, and all the more telling because it is true.
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