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Letters to the Editor, Jan. 2010


Published Jan 1, 2010 8:00 AM

Reader reactions to the October '09 issue

I read with intense interest your recent article, "Bruins in Space" (page 20). It made me wonder, will the next story be about the many UCLA scientists who helped create the machines flown into space? I shall never forget Dr. Howard Seifert, UCLA engineering professor, who invited his young teaching assistant to dinner one evening in 1955 and asked, "What do you think is the next great frontier for mankind?" "Examining the ocean," I answered. "Good answer," Dr. Seifert said. "Even more challenging, humans will be going into outer space." Knowing that Dr. Seifert was a rocket scientist, having designed the rocket engines at Jet Propulsion Labs in Pasadena, I accepted this as a possibility. After graduation, I went to work for Dr. Seifert at the Thompson Ramo Wooldridge Corp. in Inglewood, Calif. He was very instrumental in designing the first rocket systems that eventually took the spacefarers into space. In fact, there were dozens of UCLA graduates helping to develop rocket systems.

Robert S. Gaylord '56, M.S. '61
Lake Tapps, WA

A large, yet unfortunately less visible, group of Bruins contribute daily to the exploration and understanding of our universe. Hundreds of UCLA graduates pursue their dreams at the various NASA centers around the country, developing the most sophisticated robot machines man has ever conceived of and built. These Bruins help create the instrumentation and vehicles that have studied the Earth, our moon, Mars, the outer planets and beyond. While the contributions of our astronaut team are significant, robotic spacecraft vastly outperforms manned missions in science achieved per dollar spent. It's time someone acknowledged the work and contributions of the unsung heroes of our space program.

Michael Sievers '73, M.S. '75, Ph.D. '80
Los Angeles, CA

Editor's Note: Most of NASA's space exploration missions include Bruins. UCLA Magazine covered their efforts in "Galaxy Quests" in the January 2007 issue.

Re: The October 2009 "Playing for Posterity" (page 10): What memories! I was a freshman and one of the 100,000 fans at the UCLA-USC 1939 football game. It was a struggle for both teams and neither was able to score. With only a few minutes to play, UCLA was on USC's two-yard line. Besides Washington and Robinson, the other running back was Leo Cantor. Each of them powered into the line but could not score, and the game ended in a 0-0 tie ... After the UCLA years, I became a close friend of Leo Cantor's. He owned his own company, "Silver Dollar Meats," and I handled his insurance. We met many times and always had time to talk about "that game." I am 87 and will never forget 100,000 screaming fans on that sunny day in 1939.

Bernard Bermack '48
Valley Village, CA

I'll bet I'm not the first alum to call your attention to a mistake in the caption to the picture on page 11. Jackie Robinson is the one in the middle, but you switched the other two. That's Woody Strode on the left and Kenny Washington (still the greatest I ever saw) on the right.

Sid Howard '41
La Habra, CA

Editor's Note: You'd win that bet, Sid. Many thanks to the eagle-eyed Bruins who caught the inadvertent name switch.

Thank you for your piece on Alvaro Huerta ("Cultivating Justice" page 8). I came into contact with this remarkable young man when I put out a call for submissions for an anthology I was editing of L.A. fiction by Latino/a writers. He submitted a story concerning one young man's battle with sharing a nickname with a gang member. The story was filled with humor and compassion … UCLA has much to be proud of when it comes to alums such as Alvaro.

Daniel A. Olivas J.D. '84
West Hills, CA

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