The year 2019 will mark several scientific anniversaries including recognizing the 500th anniversary of Leonardo di Vinci’s death and the sesquicentennial (150th) anniversary of the periodic table! However, one of the most important scientific anniversaries will occur this summer in July marking the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. While some choose to ignore that this moon landing actually happened, the rest of us can go on to appreciate and discuss the major impact this event had on humanity.
The year is 1969. The average new car cost $3,270.00 and Woodstock attracted more than 350,000 people. The songs “Come Together” by The Beatles and “Sugar, Sugar” by The Archies streamed through radio speakers and Audrey Hepburn had made her signature style. These were the years of many historic events, changes, styles, and famous people. However, one of the most famous people of this year and era would be Neil Armstrong. For on July 20, 1969, Neil became the first human to ever step foot on our lunar body.
While this was famously symbolic (AKA “…one giant leap for mankind.”), there were also huge scientific findings. Putting a man on the moon was the work of many bright minds and proved that teamwork can lead to extraordinary results. This also gave Americans a sense of unity by seeing their nation’s flag planted on the surface of the moon and thus showing the globe that America can compete in, and win, the Cold War. The moon landing brought us back moon rocks to study lunar geology. This opportunity also gave us the ability to study moonquakes that gave us more information on the interior build of the moon itself.
“Ok cool. We got some moon rocks. But what does that do for me as an average person?” Many technologies you use everyday are created as a part of the space program. Items such as TV satellites, medical imaging, in-the-ear thermometers, shock-absorbent materials in helmets, and fire resistance fabric are all products that have resulted from space research. This is not an exhaustive list by any chance and can continue on and on.
Other things that you may take for granted each day have been produced from space research such as global positioning devices to see how to navigate a city that is foreign to you and freeze-drying food that our military service and disaster relief dramatically depend on. We can also thank space research for providing us with the warnings of the blizzard we just experienced recently. However, if you chose to ignore those warnings then that’s on you (ha!).
An era compromise of bellbottom jeans and $0.35/gallon gas usually isn’t thought of as a year of great scientific discovery, but it should certainly be remembered as one of the greatest scientific discoveries performed. Along with Apollo 11 itself, we must also recognize and thank the many men and women who tirelessly worked to make this come true. Without these men and women of science, we would not have so much that we do today.
So this summer, when you are using your Google Maps to navigate Orlando, Fla., when you take the kids to Disney World or are riding your bikes along the beautiful Root River and practicing safety by wearing your helmet, be sure to give a nod to our scientific forefathers and mothers. These reflections also help us to remember that we must keep scientific research alive and well. These discoveries are not minor and success isn’t the only way to find major results. For every success there were hundreds, if not thousands, of failures. Each step is a step forward.