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Archive for July 16th, 2019

These are the days of miracle and wonder
This is the long distance call
The way the camera follows us in slo-mo
The way we look to us all

Paul Simon

At 2:32 pm BST on 16 July 1969, exactly  50 Years ago, Apollo 11 launched.  Three days later Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first of just twelve people to walk on the moon. 

Earlier this month I watched Apollo 11, there is one word to describe it Wonder!  With no talking heads, no voiceover, and no explanation, just stunning visuals and a fantastic score, it is about the emotion and the wonder of an extraordinary event, the first men on the moon.  As well as the stunning images of the mission, there were a lot of images of people watching the from around the launch. apollo 11 movie

This made me think of two movies:  The Martian (2015), and The Dish (2000).  The Dish is about a satellite dish in the middle of nowhere in the Australian Outback integral to the satellite interface needed to receive and relay images from the moon, and how important those images were to the world.  The Martian (2015), is about a the efforts to save an astronaut stranded on Mars as the world watches.  Walking out of seeing it at the cinema, the friend I was with said the only problem he didn’t believe that all the people portrayed watching the around the world would be that interested in space exploration.  The Martian

This begs the question, have we lost the capacity for wonder?  With the MCU zooming around the galaxy, and Disney making photorealistic remakes of their animations, it is now possible to recreate anything.  To add to this, the world as we know it is out our fingertips, not just on home computers the way it was a generation ago, but on the phones we carry in our pockets, the phones that are rarely a few meters from their owners.

But it goes deeper than that, the world is in a pretty shity place at the moment.  The catalyst that accelerated the Space Race was President John F. Kennedy’s “Moon Speech” at Rice Stadium on September 12, 1962:President John F Kennedy Moon Speech at Rice Stadium

“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”

Today we seem to be taking the easy option.  We are destroying the natural world for our convenience.   Two great nations with proud history of immigration are becoming more insular and closing themselves off from the rest of the world.  Flying in the face of the words written on the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” President Donald Trump has become obsessed with building a fence to keep out immigrants.  At the same time, Brittan is tearing itself apart over Brexit a misguided plan to leave the European Union.

But there is hope, shows like David Attenborough’s Blue Planet reminds us of the wonder of the natural world has opened many people’s eyes to the damage we are doing, such as the  legacy of single use plastic.  Ultimately,  Kennedy’s speech wasn’t about getting to the moon, and it wasn’t about winning the space race, it was about hope, and as long as we have wonder, we have hope!

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