Monday, December 16, 2019

A little over 50 years ago, this

And it was a major this. One of the most major this's that have ever happened.

I was just a kid. My parents let me stay up to watch those first steps on the moon. I don't think I grasped how big of a deal it was back then. Since then I've learned more about the space program, and followed it in a general way. Remember, when Kennedy declared their goal was to land a man on the moon and return safely to earth before the end of the decade, American's hadn't even put a man in orbit. Eisenhower thought he was crazy.

In fact, they didn't even know everything they didn't know about what would be required. There was no rocket that could get to the moon, let alone return. They didn't have a machine to actually land on the moon. They didn't even know how to calculate the required course trajectories, and no existing computer could do the calculations fast enough.

Whatever they built, they knew it had to function perfectly. First time, every time, with lives at stake and the world watching. The number of things that could go wrong with catastrophic results were countless. The procedures to design, build, test, and actually use everything required are almost more remarkable than what they actually built. Often they had to design and build the tools that would be required to build the actual machines. Sometimes it was extremely skilled hand work.

Doing that, in many ways helped create our digital world. NASA bet big on digital integrated circuit computers, and it worked. By our standards the Apollo Guidance computer is barely a calculator, yet it was one of the smallest and most sophisticated computers in existences. The only ones better were the mainframe guidance computers on the ground. Our cell phones have millions of times more memory, and nearly as many times processing power. That was then, this is now. We needed then, to get to now.

This movie is a homage to the incredible effort put in by many thousands of people to get it done right. It's also a blast from the past, showing ordinary people gathering to watch the liftoff. Best of all, the colour and detail are amazing! I remember the images on TV being fuzzy black and white. These are in colour, clear, sharp, and amazing.

I had this on hold for nearly a year, and it was worth it.

Then there was these two.

I wasn't really in the mood. Meh.

Deadwood of the Day
Now we're into July. This is from a trip out the Sheep River valley.

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