Fried Light: The bell tolls, don?t ask

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By Roger Snodgrass

A young man was working his way through college in the Office of Manned Space Flight at the relatively new National Aeronautics and Space Administration in Washington, D.C.It was a great time to be there in the early 60s, during the days of the New Frontier. Although the college student was only on the outskirts of Camelot, he was working at the place that was determined to put humans on the moon, and there was an electric feeling in the air. One Saturday, while working in the mailroom, he ran into the famous rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, but that was not the most memorable encounter.Occasionally, the college student was asked to fill in for one of the chauffeurs on staff who drove important officials around town or picked up dignitaries at the airport.One night, he was asked to fetch Arthur C. Clarke, the famous science fiction writer and technological prophet, who was arriving from Europe for a meeting with the space agency brass.On their way back to NASA headquarters on Constitution Avenue, they had a conversation. The details have faded from memory, of course, so many decades later, and yet an overall impression remains.

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