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The Day the Earth Stood Still

  1. Dec 12, 2008 #1
    At age 13, I was fortunate enough to have lived in one of the most remarkable time periods of our scientific history. On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong’s famous words were heard throughout the world, “Houston, Tranquility Base here, the Eagle has landed.” At 10:56 PM EDT, via live B&W transmission, I, as nearly the entire population of our planet, stood motionless and watched in sheer amazement as Neil Armstrong descended the ladder to set foot upon the surface of the Moon. It was an engineering feat that was nothing short of stupendous, though in reality, it represented something far more reaching than that. For the two and half hours that Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin Jr walked upon the surface of the moon, with Michael Collins orbiting overhead in solitude in the command module, the world had surrendered to peace and harmony, for man had finally succeeded in physically contacting the heavens above. The most timeless of all man’s dreams had finally been achieved.

    Local news crews around the globe scanned the streets of their cities and towns, pubs and stores, and people everywhere had stopped what they were doing and were fixed in front of a television, as they watched men from the planet Earth explore the surface of their moon for the first time in human history. All who watched that transmission on July 20, 1969 became witnessing participants of the greatest moment of human achievement ever successfully undertaken. It could only have been better perhaps, had they actually set foot on another planet, such as Mars or upon a nearly Earth-sized moon possessing some kind of atmosphere like some of the moons of Jupiter or Saturn. I likely won’t live long enough to see the latter come to pass, but if or when it does, it will again be a very exciting time in man’s technological evolution.

    Sadly, there hasn’t been anything comparable to this incredible event ever since. Yes, we developed a gliding re-entry vehicle, the Space Shuttle. Yes, we’ve built a valuable space station where research is conducted and has given many yields. Yes, we delight in soft landings on Mars and have had far greater success than anticipated with the two Mars rovers “Spirit” and “Opportunity”. Yes, we even parachuted the Huygens probe down to the surface of Titan (a very interesting moon of Saturn) and recorded its eerie Earth-like appearance. While these are nonetheless magnificent achievements and no belittlement of their worth is intended, they still fail to measure up to that which captured the population of planet Earth and stood its population still in virtual totality back on July 20, 1969. Anyone who lived during that time period can vouch for what I’ve stated. It was a very exciting time and it gave us the feeling that virtually anything we set our minds to accomplish was potentially possible.

    Well, it’s nearly 40 years later and things have changed, though not for the better. NASA has shrunk to just a fraction of its Apollo days and is forever lacking in funds to perform all the research they’d actually like to perform. Now our greatest focus is attempting to avoid potential economic failure! Progress on this planet is ever slowing and is always uncertain. How I wish for the Apollo-like days when we were the genuine super-power who could be believed in as strong, virtually indestructible economically as well as militarily, the true leader in technological advancement, and a promoter of peace…

    If you’d like additional info on the Apollo 11 landing, click the link below…


  2. jcsd
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