Christian Long

David Hoffman: Sputnik Mania

In TED Talks on April 26, 2010 at 9:51 pm

Reflection by MILES W.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

David Hoffman: Sputnik Mania

When I got this talk, I thought it was going to be about how a man went crazy over a rocket ship, about how a Russian spaceship has inspired a man to focus his life on something that meant a lot to him and how his dream came to change his life.

But as I got deeper into the talk, I realized that it was about so much more than a Russian ship.

I knew Sputnik was a great technological advance for the world but living in these times, it did not seem to be that big of a deal. But when it was launched it was the greatest thing most people had ever seen. It didn’t just inspire David Hoffman to do this talk; it also inspired the United States to change the way it thought.

This created a great fear like no other.

We increased our amount of weapons, our intelligence in the fields of nuclear war and also our preparedness for nuclear attack. All of this over one missile into space. It was compared to Pearl Harbor with its great shock to the nation. Most everyone thought the world was going to end and they were ready for the worst.

But with these changes there were also many positives. The country became more aware of the capabilities of other nations. We protected ourselves and knew what to do if there was ever an occurrence where we were all going to die. In addition to these war precautions, the United States increased education through greater funding for space programs, math, engineering, and science courses. It led to the creation of NASA and helped make the United States the most successful space nation in the world.

And as I finished the video I began to question why this video was on the TED site.

“All it is is a video about how a little ship inspired and changed the world. Where’s the TED value in that”, I said to myself.

But then I listened to what I said. “Change.” “Inspire.”

These two words are what TED is truly about. How something can inspire something or someone to make a change that will impact the world. This little ship was the inspiration that helped the United States make a change for the better. While this was seen as the big Russian monsters creating a bomb to take out half of the globe, it helped the United States to become a better, more advanced, and more technologically sound place.

It INSPIRED the nation to CHANGE and help become the world power that it is today and that it why this talk is on TED.


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