Filmmaker David Hoffmans 2007 documentary film Sputnik Mania captures a turning point in American scientific and political history. It was 1957; the Soviet Union had just successfully launched the first satellite into space while Americans across the country were peering fearfully into the skies, watching for signs of an atomic attack by the Russians. Behind closed doors, U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower was secretly delighted. Why? For one, he knew the American scientific community would not stand to be outdone and they would double their efforts to gain control of space, an endeavor which he hoped to use for his political gain. For another, the race to control the skies would prompt a new emphasis on education, which Eisenhower also desired. Hoffman, who based his film on the book Sputnik: The Shock of the Centuryby Paul Dickson, incorporates newsreels and archival footage in his dramatic retelling of the Sputnik story. 7 p.m. Rice Gallery, Rice University, 6100 Main. For information, call 713-348-5770 or visit www.ricegallery.org. Free.
Fri., Aug. 6, 2010