Friday, January 23, 2009

Hope and Change: I. G. Y.

Donald Fagen: I. G. Y.


For his first solo album The Nightfly, Donald Fagen created a fantasy version of the 1950s. Here, a late night DJ can turn all of Baton Rouge on to all sorts of music, a bomb shelter becomes an ideal site for a teenager’s party, and romance is in the air. And, in the song I. G. Y., science makes all manner of miraculous things possible. I. G. Y. stands for International Geophysical Year.

The actual International Geophysical Year was a dream come true for the international scientific community at the time. It lasted from July of 1957 to December of 1958; astute readers will note that this was actually a year-and-a-half. The period was chosen to coincide with a peak in sunspot activity. The IGY was an international effort to study various geophysical phenomena, and byproducts of this period included the launch of the first scientific satellites and the construction of the first research station in Antarctica. IGY featured the cooperation of scientists from 67 countries. At the height of the Cold War, these countries included both the United States and the Solviet Union. If you would like to know more, there is an excellent article on the subject here.

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