History Book – Chimpanzee research, and a perfect 10

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Monday, July 13th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

BRIAN BASHAM, HOST: And I’m Brian Basham. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: the WORLD History Book. 

Five years ago, a space probe completes its survey of the Solar System as it glides past Pluto. 

Plus, a Romanian gymnast becomes the first person in Olympic history to score a perfect 10.

EICHER: But first, a ground-breaking scientist begins her life’s work studying chimpanzees. Here’s Paul Butler.

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: We start today on July 14th, 1960.


Twenty-six-year-old Jane Goodall arrives at the Gombe Stream Reserve along the eastern bank of Lake Tanganyika in present-day Tanzania. She’s there to study chimpanzee social behavior in the wild. 

Her love for animals began in her youth, during World War II in England. Audio here from a 2017 interview with Christopher Booker.

GOODALL: I think the importance of my mother’s role—when everybody else laughed at me for wanting to go to Africa…instead of laughing at me, she just said: “If you work hard and take advantage of opportunity, and don’t give up, you’ll get there.”

Her mother joined her for the first four months of her study. 

Over time, the chimps welcomed Jane Goodall’s presence and she was able to observe social behaviors previous naturalists hadn’t. She catalogued many human-like behaviors such as kisses, hugs, and tickling—as well as how they made and used rudimentary tools.

SOUND: The unprecedented film studies of Hugo van Lawick, and Jane Goodall’s patient, methodical approach, combine to revolutionize our fundamental ideas of apes and man.

Jane Goodall became a reluctant media sensation. She’s appeared in more than 40 documentaries. Again, from her interview with Christopher Booker for PBS NewsHour.

GOODALL: You know, I was shy basically. And then this media started coming at me in all directions. Of course in the beginning it was kind of pathetic really. You know, beauty and the beast, Geographic Cover-girl, and all that kind of stuff. 

In the late 1970s she began the Jane Goodall Institute and has worked extensively on conservation and animal preservation ever since. 

Next, July 18th, 1976, during the Montreal Summer Olympics:

AUDIO: She is one of the technically strongest, best gymnast I’ve ever seen… 

All eyes are on 14-year-old gymnast Nadia Comăneci of Romania.

AUDIO: Right to a handstand…

After her 23-second uneven bars routine, she sticks a perfect landing. 

AUDIO: Faultless. Absolutely faultless…now what are the judges going to say about that? [CHEERS] A ten has gone on the board. That’s perfection…

Nadia Comăneci becomes the first person in Olympic history to score a perfect 10—though the scoreboard says “1-point zero zero” as it hadn’t been programmed to display a perfect score. 


During the rest of the summer games, Nadia Comăneci earns six more perfect 10s. She becomes the first Romanian gymnast to win the Olympic all-around title. 

AUDIO: Have you ever seen someone more confident on a four inch beam?

And finally, five years ago this week, NASA’s New Horizons probe performs a flyby of Pluto.

BROWN: Yesterday, the U.S. space program took another historic leap for humankind. Today, the New Horizons team is bringing what was previously a blurred point of light into focus…


NASA launched New Horizons on January 19th, 2006. A year later it used the gravitational pull of Jupiter to sling it to the far reaches of our solar system. 

As it was finally approaching Pluto eight years later, it snapped photos, took atmospheric scans, and countless other scientific readings. The probe sped by the planet at its closest approach on July 14th, 2015. The next morning, New Horizon scientists briefed the press.

PRESS CONFERENCE: Well New Horizons is already a million miles from Pluto now. That’s how fast we’re moving…

Images from the New Horizons probe dramatically changed how the world saw Pluto. It had been downgraded to a dwarf planet in 2006. So for many, the amazing photographs of the brown planet was at least partial redemption for the lonely sentry more than three and a half billion miles from the Sun.

NASA SCIENTISTS: When that first picture came back and it showed that gigantic heart…I can’t explain the feelings that you got. I think my favorite picture from the encounter is the one that shows the…sphere with a heart. 

New Horizon project scientists from a NASA documentary on the mission. 

Pluto was not to be the final destination for New Horizons. On New Year’s Day, 2019, the probe sent back images of a snow-man shaped object orbiting our sun named 2014-MU-69, 4.3 billion miles out there.

Unless the probe malfunctions, it will continue collecting data, and sending it back to earth, until the late 2030s.

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

(AF Archive/Alamy Stock Photo)

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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