Thursday, 16 July 2009

if you believe we put a man on the moon

forty years ago today, the apollo 11 launched, carrying the first people who would ever look back towards earth from the surface of the moon.

researching relative computer power for a work project today, i came across these astonishing facts:
- the computers that guided man across space and landed them safely on the moon were less powerful than a pocket calculator.
- the apollo guidance computer was "more basic than the electronics in modern toasters that have computer controlled stop/start/defrost buttons".
- the codefor the AGC program can be downloaded as a PDF file.

this explanation of how difficult it is to navigate back to earth, by astronaut david scott, really blew me away:

"If you have a basket ball and a baseball 14 feet apart, where the baseball represents the moon and the basketball represents the Earth, and you take a piece of paper sideways, the thinness of the paper would be the corridor you have to hit when you come back."

it's easy to forget how incredible a feat this was. i'm going to celebrate the landing itself by watching this and bowing towards that great bright orb:

ps: james may has the best job in the world. ever.

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