History Book


NICK EICHER, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything in It: the WORLD Radio History Book.

Today, a national newspaper begins printing top-secret reports on the Vietnam war. Plus, a space probe becomes the first man-made object to leave the central solar system.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: But first, a series of photographs settle a long-standing debate—and motion pictures are born. Here’s Paul Butler.

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: On June 15th, 1878, eccentric photographer Eadweard Muybridge takes his well-known photographs of race horse Sallie Gardner. Six years earlier, American politician, railroad tycoon, and horse breeder Leland Stanford hired Muybridge to prove, using photographic evidence, that all four feet leave the ground as a horse runs—at the time, an unconventional idea.

Eadweard Muybridge’s early attempts were promising, but inconclusive, as the images were underexposed and blurry. Camera technology at the time could not freeze action, so he began developing new equipment and photographic processes.

In 1878 he was ready to try again. He set up 12 cameras in a line at Stanford’s Palo Alto Stock Farm. To increase the light and contrast, he paints the track white, and hangs sheets as a backdrop. Muybridge then suspends string trip wires to trigger the shutter of each camera as the horse passes. The series of images demonstrate—without a doubt—that during a gallop, the horse completely leaves the ground.

Philip Brookman is curator at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

BROOKMAN: Muybridge’s greatest innovation is that he understood that in order to really analyze motion, you needed to photograph a sequence of images, one after another, for fractions of a second apart and display them in a grid.

Audio from a 2010 episode of Imagine, a BBC television program. Muybridge was part scientist, part photographer, part artist. Over his lifetime he made nearly 100-thousand images—from studies of human motion to grand landscapes that inspired many photographers, including Ansel Adams.

Next, Sunday, June 13th, 1971.

GENERAL ALEXANDER HAIG: This is a devastating security breach of the greatest magnitude…

The New York Times begins publishing leaked reports on the Vietnam War—a series of documents known as the Pentagon Papers.

CONGRESSIONAL HEARING: The papers prove that for 20 years…

The studies document many covert operations conducted by the U.S. in the region long before Congress approved military action in 1964.

JOHNSON: My fellow Americans, as President and commander in chief…

It also reveals, among many other things, that U.S. officials believe the war is unwinnable.

ELLSBERG: I wonder if there are many people here who wouldn’t think that 10 years in prison is very cheap….

The informant is former military analyst Daniel Ellsberg. He secretly photocopies the report and approaches a handful of sympathetic senators. He hopes they will read it from the floor and thus enter it into the public record. After everyone says “no,” Ellsberg leaks it to The Times.

The government obtains a court injunction against the paper, forcing it to temporarily stop publication of the documents. But Ellsberg also leaked the report to more than 15 other papers, including The Washington Post, which decides to publish anyway.

A few weeks later, the Supreme Court upholds the newspapers’ right to publish the material.

ROSENTHAL: People in the press, people in government…

At a press conference, New York Times executive editor Abe Rosenthal says the decision is a First Amendment victory:

ROSENTHAL: I think that the move will be in the direction of more information, rather than less.

The leaker, Daniel Ellsberg initially faces felony espionage charges, but courts later dismiss the case.

ELLSBERG: It’s been a long time since I’ve had this much hope for the institutions of this country…

In the end, only portions of the Pentagon Papers were ever published, but in June 2011, the government declassified the complete report. It is available for download at the National Archives website.

And finally…

FILM: In early 1972, mankind launched Pioneer 10, the first mission to the outer planets…

35 years ago this week, in 1983, 11 years after its launch to study Jupiter and the outer planets, the Pioneer 10 space probe crosses the orbit of Neptune, the outermost planet of our solar system.

FILM: The Pioneers, first to fly forever among the lonely and endless stars of our galaxy…

NASA officially terminated Pioneer 10’s mission in 1997. Its last signal came in 2003. Today, traveling at about 27,000 miles an hour, it is more than 10 billion miles from earth.

That’s this week’s WORLD Radio History Book, I’m Paul Butler.


(Photo/Eadweard Muybridge) Sallie Gardner at a Gallop

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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