Monday, November 18, 2013


"We Humans had Entered the Realm of Myth and Legend..." C. Sagan

                                                THE TRUE GIFT OF APOLLO  
Here's my thoughts on the Moon landings, and an allusion to why our species should venture to Mars.

For me the Apollo Missions to the Moon are the most remarkable achievement our species has ever accomplished. For all but the last few decades of our species 200 000 year history, we gazed up at the night sky, and would see the Moon.

Often the Moon was a God. It was after all in the heavens, forever out of our mere human reach. We could no more go to the Moon than grow wings and fly there. If one were to suggest, back then, that we sail a ship, land on the Moon and then walk about on the Lunar surface, before safely flying home - You would be looked on as foolish, crazy or even as heretical. One could no more send a man to the Moon than climb there on a ladder, it was an absurd idea, it was literally unbelievable. The proposition was not possible. The Moon belonged in the realm of legend, myth and Gods. It was forever out of reach, distantly drifting across the heavens above Earth.

On July 1969, We did achieve the impossible. We humans, by journeying to another world, finally entered the realm of the Gods, the realm of legend. In our complacency we take Apollo for granted, we forget that we went to the Moon a decade after entering space. Next time you see the Moon just remember "If we humans can go to the Moon, as so many have asked, what else are we capable of?"

The picture in below, taken by Apollo 8, is one of the most important pictures we have. It showed, for the first time our home planet as a small blue and white ball, it seemed surreal. The Earth viewed from the Moon is a delicate world, surrounded by an immense cosmic darkness. A picture like this, from a new vantage point, had never been seen by anyone in history. We gained a new perspective on Earth. You see no crude national borders, you cannot observe humanity's delusions of cosmic importance. You only see a fragile oasis. How can someone, after gaining this new perspective, ever see the Earth in the same myopic way again? To find our true cosmic place, in time and space, it was necessary to go to the Moon. In a profound and literal way we discovered the Earth by journeying to the Moon.

Apollo enlightened our species, at last we were no longer glued to the oceans and the land. We were now awake after 200 000 years of ignorant slumber. We have no need for the God Apollo anymore. It is we that would appear as Gods to the worshipers of Apollo, if they knew about our voyages to the Moon. History would be different if we all knew about our Pale Blue Dot as it is, not as we wish it to be. We all need to learn from the gift of Apollo: which came in the form of a new frame of reference.

This is the true gift of Apollo:

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Book Review: Space Chronicles, by Neil Degrasse Tyson.

Finished reading Space Chronicles by Degrasse Tyson. Amazing book. Makes me sad we have not left earth orbit since 1972! Makes going to mars seem like a distant dream unless we go to war again. The main reason we went to the moon was to beat the Soviet Union in the space race during the cold war. What an ignoble thing it is that war between super-powers is one of the greatest drivers of discovery. 8/10 

Not his best novel, but this is only because his other works are so greatEasily readable as Neil takes us on a wonderful journey; taking the ultimate frontier of space back down to earth. This is more a collection of essays on the space race and the future of space than a novel, this it is not all that noticeable as the general story unwinds with ease. The style seems to work and each section is both informative and interesting. The contrast between the brutal reality of space exploration and what really drives and motivates this industry is tragic.

Space is expensive and we went to the Moon, he explains, due to the Space Race - a battle to the death between the two cold war superpowers. America won, they got to the Moon and the cold war ended and funding dried up. Yet the Moon landings are historic and Tyson must be aware of how important it is to educate people on our true coordinates in the cosmos. Carl Sagan's Pale Blue Dot is what Space Chronicles could have lived up to. Tyson has Sagan's ability to be truly profound. The book is full of his powerfully cosmic perspectives and vivacious enthusiasm which makes one want to keep turning the pages. His love of the cosmos is evident, yet his disappointment about the state of Space Exploration was obvious to me - He wanted to call this book Failure to Launch (one can't blame him).

Space Chronicles is worth reading for anyone who has read his other works and enjoyed them. Or for anyone looking for a gripping Sagan-like voyage. He is not Sagan, nor does he do a cheap imitation. Tyson gives us his own, usually enthralling stories about the space frontier. Will it be breached again by humans? Perhaps.