Now Voyager: Cold War-Era Topics, Near & Far
May’s release of Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports demonstrates the breadth of subjects covered in these translated materials from the Cold War era.
There’s an epic journey in China, botanical time-travel closer to Europe, an outward-looking investigation of interstellar communication, and an interior odyssey melding man and machine—or possibly jellyfish & machine.
Journey without Adventure and Fantasy
Soviet geographer Ye. Murzayev spent 1956-1960 traveling in China, covering 53,000 kilometers. In the preface of this book the author maintains, “Many authors who have visited oriental countries have sought the exotic,” so he has intentionally left out such things as his impressions of Chinese cuisine, theater, and what he views as the typical stuff of travelogues. But the experiences and observations he does leave in allow us to see the title more in the light of his comment in the afterword, “Great things develop from that which is commonplace.”
Perhaps you’re just now thinking about when you can start your tomatoes, or you’re concerned about the fire danger which comes from the buildup of brush in an arid landscape. Then you’re thinking as a geobotanist might. This report is a collection of material in which the geography of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe is considered from the perspective of what grows where, and why, and how to keep track of it. Find out how fire has affected the vegetation of the taiga over time, or travel botanically from the Carpathian Mountains in Ukraine to the pastures of Kazakhstan.
Transmission of Information by Extraterrestial [i.e., Extraterrestrial] Civilizations
ET did it with a telephone; Jodie Foster’s character in Contact mixed perseverance (and Matthew McConaughey) with large arrays of radio telescopes. This 11-page report takes the physics of interstellar communication seriously at a time when Carl Sagan wasn’t quite 30 years old, before the advent of Moore’s Law and the Hubble space telescope.
What is Bionics?
The word “cybernetics” often arises in the scientific literature of the Soviet Union. But in the process of unpacking the implicit concepts of automation and control, discussions often tend towards symbolic and industrial language. This report leavens the flow charts with accounts of predicting ocean storms using jellyfish.
For more information about Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports, 1957-1994, or to request a trial for your institution, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.