Posting in Science
Armstrong offered a window into a world where we were bigger than ourselves.
There are moments in history that make us feel bigger than ourselves. The moment Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon in 1969 was one of them.
Decades later, his "one small step" remains etched on the tongue of students from coast to coast. On Saturday, Armstrong passed away as a result of complications with a heart procedure. The self-described "nerdy engineer" was 82.
The reaction to the news of Armstrong's passing was swift and heartfelt. From Arianna Huffington to Snoop Dogg to Mandy Moore, Twitter was abuzz Saturday afternoon with wisdom from the face, and arguably the conscience, of American spaceflight.
Like Oscar Wilde before him and Ai Weiwei who came long after, Armstrong had a flair for the perfectly-phrased sentence.
"You'd ask him a question and he would just stare at you with those pale blue eyes of his," author Tom Wolfe wrote in his 2001 volume The Right Stuff, "And you'd start to ask the question again, figuring that he hadn't understood, and -- click -- out of his mouth would come forth a sequence of long, quiet, perfectly formed, precisely thought-out sentences, full of anisotropic functions and multiple-encounter trajectories or whatever else was called for."
For the average American, however, it wasn't the multiple-encounter trajectories that stuck; it was the poetry. Here is some of the poetry from the one man who had the chance to see who we are from thousands of miles away:
"It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small."
"Science has not yet mastered prophecy. We predict too much for the next year and yet far too little for the next 10."
"I hope you become confortable with the use of logic wihout being deceived into concluding that logic will inevitably lead you to the correct conclusion."
"Pilots take no special joy in walking. Pilots like flying."
"I think we're going to the moon because it's in the nature of the human being to face challenges. It's by the nature of his deep inner soul... we're required to do these things just as salmon swim upstream."
Photos: James Vaughan/Flickr, Fr. Dougal McGuire/Flickr
Aug 25, 2012
Mr. Armstrong was a very special man in many ways. He was uncharacteristically reticent about his "celebrity status", appearing to follow the idea of "service to God and Country". He was a gentle and genteel man who went where "no man has gone before" with a quiet nobility that is so rare, especially now. Have a great ride Neil. :D
Hi I am an ardent fan & reader of SmartPlanet (opening our eyes to the wonders of science & technology). I remember 1969 that proud & loving feeling of seeing our Earth through Apollo + from the Moon (still enjoy the earth views shown by current spacecrafts). No doubt US is the leader & most admired as best in Aviation industry. However at this point, I wish to offer my condolences to all the family members of Mr. Neil Armstrong. May God bless him and grant him mercy & eternal peace. He lived a life that mattered and he lives in our memories (he will be remembered fondly since a good man).
The scientific fact that humans are limited with their current space travel could be that they are looked upon as something not ready to be propagated within any distant areas as of yet? All one need do is 'Ask an Indian' ... Wasn't one Columbus enough to prove that? ... Humans also need to realize that their brain functions come with limits just like the calculus of everything else on this planet ... Looking at other animals, knowing their brains have limits should be proof of that also? ... Enjoy the ride ... TEd ...
He was one of the people who inspired use to dream up and build the tech of today. An yes he was a hero to me as I sat on the floor and watching him step on the moon back in 69. I had fallowed the Apollo missions from the start and had all the mission patches from each one. It was during a time when being a geek was not very cool as it is today and if I talked about tvs in cars,or phones in are pockets,or a computer you could carny. They would look at me like I was nuts or just read to much science fiction. Hell some of it is just now coming out some will take a few more years. The only justice I get is seeing and hearing from friends and family saying remember that thing you thought of back in.... I just seen it . An thatâs all I need to keep me on that path that he and the men of all the Apollo missions did for me. Inspire .
I take nothing away from Armstrong's legacy saying in that, WHY DON'T WE REVISIT THE MOON MORE OFTEN, IT'S ONLY SOME 276,000 +/- MILES AWAY? And I want to see a revisit of his footprints on the moon, and the flag, and......, I say, just don't show me old footage taken umpteen years ago, how do you get unbelievers to believe -- I cannot blame them you know, with studio work was it was, and still is? Why not a moon-station, why not? Obama just conned the American people out of over a trillion on fake-stimulus? My point, we "own" Puerto Rico, why not the moon? Let's fly!
"Pilots take no special joy in walking. Pilots like flying." I enjoy flying, but have only been in a small aircraft a few times. The only regular "flying" I do is on a motorcycle, but maybe it's time that I work on a pilot's license. "I think were going to the moon because its in the nature of the human being to face challenges. Its by the nature of his deep inner soul were required to do these things just as salmon swim upstream." I wish more people would see it this way. Then maybe NASA's budget would be larger, and the DOD's smaller.
Lots of links between the two. The contractors involved with NASA are a big subset of DoD-related industries. Probably wouldn't be a NASA without DoD. And not just in the sense of shared industries, but in the larger sense that everything we are and everything we do as a nation is protected by DoD. Then there's Neil Armstrong's military flight experience... By the way, definitely take flying lessons.