Rocks remember, and so do we

“Geologists have a saying: rocks remember.” -Neil Armstrong

Looming up above us, hundreds of thousands of miles away, is the largest moon in the inner solar system: our Moon.

Moon and Apollo 11 landing site

Image credit: © 2004 by Ulli and Christian 'Pete' Lotzmann.

One of the greatest achievements in the history of our planet culminated on July 20th, 1969, when the first creatures from our world set foot on the Moon, becoming — as far as we know — the first creatures to ever willingly leave their own world and land on another.

Armstrong descending to take the first steps on the Moon

Image credit: NASA, of Neil Armstrong's descent towards the lunar surface.

The honor of the first step went to Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong, who took a small step for himself, but heralded a metaphorical giant leap forward for mankind. Earlier today, Neil Armstrong died at the age of 82, and though he is but one man, he leaves behind not just one but two worlds full of memories. He was known as a man of few words, but the ones he said were often memorable.

There was the Earth…

All three Apollo 11 Astronauts with Barack Obama

Image credit: NASA / Getty Images North America.

“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.” -Neil Armstrong

And the Moon…

Buzz on the Moon with "The Eagle"

Image credit: NASA / Apollo 11, photo by Neil Armstrong.

“This is one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” -Neil Armstrong

And everywhere in between.

Neil returning from the Moon

Image credit: NASA / Apollo 11 / Buzz Aldrin, of Neil after his historic moonwalk.

“The important achievement of Apollo was demonstrating that humanity is not forever chained to this planet and our visions go rather further than that and our opportunities are unlimited.” -Neil Armstrong

Almost all the photos of astronauts on the Moon from the Apollo 11 mission were of Buzz Aldrin, as Neil Armstrong had the responsibility of most of the mission photography tasks with a single Hasselblad camera. But there is one photo I’ve found — that is my absolute favorite — of Neil Armstrong on the Moon.

Buzz Aldrin on the Lunar Surface

Image credit: NASA / Neil Armstrong.

Sure, that’s Buzz Aldrin in the spacesuit, but look hard. Look closer at Buzz’s helmet; it’s amazing what a partially reflective surface can do when the Sun’s at the right angle.

Image credit: NASA / Neil Armstrong.

That’s Neil, back by “The Eagle,” the Apollo 11 Lunar Module, reflected in Buzz Aldrin’s helmet.

The only lunar Self-Portrait I know of.

Image credit: NASA / Neil Armstrong. The only lunar Self-Portrait I know of.

For his final task on the Moon, he left a small package filled with items memorializing previously deceased pioneers in space exploration, including Soviet cosmonauts Yuri Gagarin and Vladimir Komarov, and Apollo 1 astronauts Gus GrissomEd White and Roger Chaffee. Now it’s Neil’s turn, and our turn to memorialize him. His family released the following statement:

“For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”

You can bet I’ll be doing exactly that for quite some time, whenever the clouds part at night and I can see the Moon. Rocks remember, and so will we. Rest in Peace, Neil Armstrong.

Comments

  1. #1 Mark V2
    August 25, 2012

    “Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty”…I think you do this, Ethan. So thanks to you and Neil both.

  2. #2 pirtle
    August 25, 2012

    This is a really beautiful post, Ethan. Thank you for sharing it with us. Neil will be very missed, but surely never forgotten.

  3. #3 Mike
    Maui, Hawaii
    August 25, 2012

    I remember what I was doing the moment he stepped onto the moon. Knowing how dangerous space travel has proven to be, it is a miracle that these guys made it. I honor Neil Armstrong for his courage and accomplishments.

  4. #4 Michel
    astromenorca.org
    August 26, 2012

    Neil and all his collegues, before and after, the landing, are the people who facsinated me as a kid and gave me a wonder and exitement for the universe, space and earth.
    For that I thank Neil and all who made it possible, from the cantina man who made sure they ate well all the way up.
    Yes, it was a indeed a small step for man (I think it was a bit bigger), but indead a giant leap for mankind.
    Again, thank you Neil!!
    Bon voyage.

  5. #5 Michel
    astromenorca.org
    August 26, 2012

    Oh and btw.
    I so remember what I was doing when he landed!
    I was in front of the TV!!!
    With a “don´t sit so close in front of the tv it will ruin your eyes” behind me.
    Moms…

  6. #6 10 Minutes of Terror
    August 26, 2012

    This is one shot, starting about 10 minutes before touch down. Seen trough the right window of Lunar Module (LM). Landing on the Sea of Tranquility : 20 July 1969 20:17,40 UTC.

    Video starts at 40 000 ft above the Moon surface. “You are go to Continued Power Descent”.

    youtube.com/watch?v=2BvbD-1qZtc

  7. #7 Wow
    August 26, 2012

    The depressing bit for me was that I’m remembering him for his “There’s no such thing as Global Warming” schtick as landing on the Moon.

  8. #8 chelle
    August 26, 2012

    For me “The Eagle has landed.” is his the most catchy quote. I often think of it when haven taken a flight to somewhere and all wheels are ‘back’ on the ground.

    btw it’s a bit weird that you also mention the small package with items from the deceased Apollo 1 astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee. They are my inspiration why I find the *sparks* that are being generated by ever increasing high energy colliders, to be a hazardous thing. And why I question some parts of science that doesn’t like to take the time to slow down and reflect for a moment, because of peer pressure and the race for knowledge that we’re on. Here’s a clip about that tragic accident and the situation from a documentary made by Ron Howard:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8chx10UbI8

    With thousands of years still in front of us why the nervous rush?

  9. #9 Wow
    August 26, 2012

    How do you know they haven’t contemplated it?

    By the fact that, despite your discomfort on the subject, they go ahead?

    Not really evidence led, is it.

  10. #10 10 Minutes of Terror
    August 26, 2012

    @wow
    You are a .facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=435906653115430&set=a.116008071771958.7699.111607872211978&type=1&theater

  11. #11 Wow
    August 26, 2012

    Thank you.

  12. #12 chelle
    August 26, 2012

    > “How do you know they haven’t contemplated it?”

    A. They don’t keep in mind that the HiggsField/DarkMatter/DarkEnergy (Aether) could transfer energy, from the collision-center on to the surrounding matter, disrupting the inner-dynamics and energy-exchange within those atoms.

    B. They don’t look at the high frequency & density collision difference that is a 10^9 higher in the lab than in nature, they only compare it to single cosmic-rays collisions.

    C. I do give it some thought but it is waved away as being loony, why would someone with a name in science than risk his career with bringing up this idea, and slowing down a whole research industry. It first needs to happen to no sound ridiculous, there’s a twist to it. My only reference is that a chain-reaction is possible on all levels above the sub-atomic world. Anyway, we do see many (types) of Supernovae in the Universe. Who says that one type isn’t induced by civilizations like ours, that strive and evolve up to the point that we are; building ever stronger colliders to research the components and mechanisms of matter, only to find themselves igniting, and ending up within, one giant blast. Doing science is not without any risk and we are now at temperatures that are the hottest in the Universe, 100 000 times more tense than the heart of the Sun, and with an enormous frequency rate, and we keep on increasing luminosity. So who know’s one day these generated *Sparks* might be strong enough to set-off a combustion process.

  13. #13 Wow
    August 26, 2012

    “HiggsField/DarkMatter/DarkEnergy (Aether)”

    Those aren’t the aether.

    “They don’t look at the high frequency & density collision”

    Yes they did. How the heck do you think they arrived at the design of the project in the first place?

    “I do give it some thought”

    No you don’t. You give it some fear.

    “but it is waved away as being loony”

    Ever considered it may be actually loony?

  14. #14 Wow
    August 26, 2012

    Alan, you seem to think that somehow your response was some valid response to the sentence you quoted.

    It wasn’t.

  15. #15 Alan L.
    August 26, 2012

    @ Wow
    The depressing bit for me was that I’m remembering him for his “There’s no such thing as Global Warming” schtick as landing on the Moon.

    You are such a shi++y troll.

    Please buzz off.

  16. #16 Chelle
    August 26, 2012

    “You give it some fear.”

    It’s a matter of being alert. You care about Global Warming with a few degrees here and there, melting the polar ice. While I like to keep an eye on these *sparks* that have the most intense luminosity in our Universe. In a way we are both prudent about our Blue Planet.

  17. #17 Wow
    August 26, 2012

    Nope, you’re completely ignorant.

    You give it some fear.

    “You care about Global Warming with a few degrees here and there, melting the polar ice”

    “a few degrees here and there” is the difference between a glacial and interglacial. Three degrees overall is the difference between the two.

    And no, it’s not “melting the polar ice”. Rather like worrying about malnutrition “causing a little bit of peckishness in europe”.

  18. #18 Wow
    August 26, 2012

    ” While I like to keep an eye on these *sparks* that have the most intense luminosity in our Universe.”

    Nope, incorrect.

    You even once admitteed yourself that this is merely the luminosity that hasn’t been ***UNIVERSAL*** since the early moments of the Big Bang.

  19. #19 Chelle
    August 26, 2012

    In both case it is the intervention of mankind that destroys or could destroy the delicate balance of nature. Take care.

  20. #20 Wow
    August 26, 2012

    Except in the case of global warming, the evidence is solid. In the case of the LHC, nonexistent.

    In fact the only evidence we have shows it is NOT going to disturb, let alone destroy, the delicate balance of nature. A nature that has supernovas and hypernovas and particles streaming onto the earth at energies a thousand times larger than the energies of the LHC is not going to be destroyed by the LHC.

    Take medication.

  21. #21 Wow
    August 26, 2012

    Wow
    August 24, 4:08 am

    And why do you insist on asking “is it possible” questions that are little more than “is it possible that I will be crushed to death by falling hippopotomi by tuesday 3pm?”?

    The answer would be “no” except for patently worthless values of “yes”.

  22. #22 Chelle
    August 26, 2012

    “A nature that has supernovas and hypernovas and particles streaming onto the earth at energies a thousand times larger than the energies of the LHC …”

    That’s true, but the frequency & density at the LHC is 1 billion times higher than in nature. That’s why they only mention Micro Black Holes or Stranglets in the report, because they should come out of single events, and not at something like a shower of sparks that could cause a combustion process, like how it is also used to ignite the engine of the rockets that NASA uses. The difference in the concentration level is immense (10^9), just like how a magnifying glass bundles light / energy into one area, or the ignition of a car.

  23. #23 Wow
    August 26, 2012

    “but the frequency & density at the LHC is 1 billion times higher than in nature”

    A meaningless statement.

    There are places today with a thousand times greater flux than the LHC (energy density).

    But the average place doesn’t. And you’ll use that to proclaim your “billion times” correct.

    You have latched on, yet again, to a meaningless point and thereby rendered “you’re wrong” as the only conclusion.

  24. #24 chelle
    August 26, 2012

    “There are places today with a thousand times greater flux than the LHC (energy density).”

    A greater concentration, where?

    In nature there are about a thousand cosmic-ray collisions of a few GeV’s (1 GeV= 10^9 electron Volt) per second per m^2. In LHC it are about one 1 billion per second per cm^2. That’s 1.000.000 times more for a surface which is 10.000 smaller, a density difference of 10 billion.

    By the end of this year we humans are going to generate collisions on this planet, that are even 1000 times more intense, with energies of 8 TeV (1 TeV= 10^12 eV). These collisions are in nature even less frequent per m^2 while the frequency at the LHC of 1 billion per cm^2 is maintained.

    btw look at this table to make a comparison in temperature:
    http://tinyurl.com/temperature-list

  25. #25 Michael Haubrich
    Central Coast
    August 26, 2012

    I shall wink as soon as the clouds clear in Minneapolis. Hope it is tonight.

  26. #26 Sinisa Lazarek
    August 26, 2012

    Just heard it yesterday on the news :( RIP Neil.

  27. #27 OKThen
    Unintended consequences
    August 26, 2012

    Chelle
    Good discussion. Concept driven. Kept it at that level and I for one will appreciate it; regardless of whether I share your opinion.

    As much as I can I try to keep out of the shouting matches.

    Thanks for that Ron Howard documentary clip.

    Somehow dangers and risks and etc.. seem necessary for mankind’s progress. And when we see clear risks, we should mitigate them whenever possible.

    As far as the LDC, I personally think that we are progressing at a very cautious snails pace. We should have built three of them not one.

    Compared to the world’s current nuclear power plants the LHC is extremely safe. And compared to climate change, the LHC will have zero environmental impact on planet earth.

    But again, I do appreciate your reasoned arguments. thanks.
    And yes unintended consequences are by definition very difficult to predict.

  28. #28 Wow
    August 26, 2012

    ““There are places today with a thousand times greater flux than the LHC (energy density).”

    A greater concentration, where?”

    Here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supernova

    “In LHC it are about one 1 billion per second per cm^2″

    Yup, so? The GCRs are produced not from the empty space but from some localised event like a supernova and accelerated. Since the volume of space compared to the volume of space occupied by the sources of GCRs, the concentration of such events at those places are ASTRONOMICALLY higher.

    Oddly enough, the universe still exists.

    Also you’re COMPLETELY forgetting that these are random events. Therefore the chance of a sixteen-sigma event of concentration in the LHC is practically nil over its lifetime, whereas the chance of it happening over the lifetime of the earth by GCRs is a billion times higher.

    Yet, somehow, this planet still survived.

    And guess what? Despite running, the world HAS NOT ENDED.

  29. #29 Wow
    August 26, 2012

    Actuall, found out the target size is 20 microns across.

    The flux therefore is 4/100,000th of a cm^2.

    And GCRs go beyond 10^21eV, not merely 10^9′s. But I guess when you have as little valid reason for scaremongering, you’ve gotta go with a big lie, haven’t you?

  30. #30 Wow
    August 26, 2012

    And remember too, the location that is getting this “bombardment” either

    a) doesn’t exist, if it’s the target location annhialation/collision

    or

    b) moving EXTREMELY quickly though space, never the same spot twice, if you’re talking about the spacetime rather than the material (which was annhialated as per discussion above).

  31. #31 Chelle
    August 26, 2012

    OKThen,

    Thanks for the compliment, and yes perhaps the LHC is still pretty safe, but when you make up a safety report I think it should be included, because combustion is a very normal process, and we know now for sure that the vacuum in which these collisions happen contains a substance. And its a bit like *Lightning* that doesn’t come without Thunder.

    __

    Wow,

    In point C at my post at 5:56 am I actually suggested that an ignition that leads to a combustion process might instigate one kind of Supernova, there are many different types, and nearly every 50 years there is one in our Milky Way.

    Yes, there are ‘Ultra-high-energy cosmic rays’ , but these are very rare events only a few per year over the whole sky. And we don’t know what those events actually are, because some of them appear to possess energies that are theoretically too high.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultra-high-energy_cosmic_ray

    Regarding the ‘target size of 20 microns across’, yes, but for an experiment like the Double-slit the space in-between the slits is much larger than those 20 microns, and still the opening of the second slit has its effect.

    btw you can light a cigarette or whatever while, “moving EXTREMELY quickly though space”, so?

  32. #32 Wow
    August 26, 2012

    “I actually suggested that an ignition that leads to a combustion process might instigate one kind of Supernova”

    And that suggestion is rather like suggesting that throwing bullets at an elephant could cause it to learn to play piano.

    “Yes, there are ‘Ultra-high-energy cosmic rays’ ”

    You had to be told that before you knew that. Odd. Innit.

    “btw you can light a cigarette or whatever while, “moving EXTREMELY quickly though space””

    No you can’t. You need oxygen to cause ignition.

    There’s no ignition in space.

    Or do you mean that the atmosphere of the earth is moving with it?

    Well, that means you’re saying that option (a) is operating.

    Except the mass that is there is obliterated from the target area on the very first collision.

    Therefore there is ONLY ONE EVENT. The other events are on OTHER masses.

    And GCRs do the exact same thing. But at energies a million times bigger.

    And no death of the universe.

  33. #33 Sinisa Lazarek
    August 26, 2012

    guys, why can’t we keep the posts related to topic?? The passing of Neil Armstrong has nothing to do with LHC.

    Chelle, we know how you feel about LHC (regardless if it’s justified or not), and you&wow have been over this over and over on the posts before. Why repeat it again here??

  34. #34 chelle
    August 26, 2012

    Sinisa,

    You are right. Although, I thought that my first comment (and clip) at 1:59 am was ‘on topic’ in relation to how those 3 other astronauts passed away.

  35. #35 Sinisa Lazarek
    August 26, 2012

    I have nothing against the clip and 1st post. It’s a nice addition, but what followed after was same old same old… let’s stick to topic :)

  36. #36 Chelle
    August 26, 2012

    … same old same old…

    Yes, the problem is also ‘Wow’ with his compulsive behavior, who starts filling up the comment section here with 2 or even 3 posts at a time, instead of just taking his time, and wait before pressing “Submit Comment”.

  37. #37 Wow
    August 26, 2012

    Who’d’a guessed. It was my fault for her post at 1:59.

    Not only am I a Professor Xavier, I can also TRAVEL IN TIME!!!

  38. #38 skeith
    August 26, 2012

    Chelle:

    Leave it to you to turn an otherwise-beautiful memorial post into yet another dissertation on your irrational and uncomprehending terror of things you don’t care to understand, based on your TV-trope stereotypes of scientists and science.

    Build that Aether engine, man. Then you’ll have proven all of us wrong. You want to be the Galileo of our time – it will be super-easy to gather accolades for your genius once you build your Aether engine and demonstrate it. Put your money where your mouth is, so to speak.

  39. #39 chelle
    August 26, 2012

    skeith,

    My first post was very on topic, because those 3 Astronauts where first choice to land on the moon, and nobody would have talked about Neil Armstrong if it wasn’t for a *spark*, and the race that was on, and peer pressure and the fear to ask questions, look at that clip. Just like you also proved point C of my comment at August 26, 5:56 am:

    “C. I do give it some thought but it is waved away as being loony, why would someone with a name in science than risk his career with bringing up this idea …”

    And an ‘Aether engine’ is something that you funny enough made up, but still the Vacuum is filled up with matter: HiggsField, DarkMatter and DarkEnergy; that I groupname ‘Aether’, and that most likely transfers energy from those collisions on to the matter that surrounds it. So it isn’t a ‘TV-trope’ question to ask what IS going on during those collisions with a frequency & density that is 10^9 times above normal, those are facts.

  40. #40 Wow
    August 27, 2012

    “My first post was very on topic, ”

    “I find the *sparks* that are being generated by ever increasing high energy colliders, to be a hazardous thing.”

    Yes.

  41. #41 Angel Gabriel
    Here and now
    August 27, 2012

    Do not mourn the passing of the dead
    Nor expect them to be reborn in paradise
    Simply remember who they are
    Ever appreciated; ever near at heart
    Neither galaxy nor heartbeat is too far to feel
    Their story is never too old
    Rich in excitement and struggle
    Breath deep, feel their wonder and honor