I’ve created a simple, fun wallpaper for your iPhone or iPad to help commemorate the premiere of the new Cosmos series on Fox. If you love all things space, head on over to the updated Goodies page to download the wallpaper for your iDevice of choice. Don’t forget to also check out my profile on Dribbble for more fun iOS downloads.
What do you get when you combine subjects like science and crafting? If you’re tumblr user pardalote, then you turn your considerable embroidery talents towards the heavens and the results speak for themselves. The level of detail contained in this amazing chain stitched version of the planet Jupiter was recently featured in MAKE craft zine and it’s easy to see why. The creator used images from NASA as a reference to capture the subtle colors and swirls of the gas giant in way that reminds me of van Gogh’s Starry Night. Even though the work is not for sale it’s safe to say any space geek would be proud to display this in their home. Check it out. Wonderful!
Aldrin took this picture of Armstrong in the cabin after the Apollo 11 EVA
Sad news today that the first man ever to set foot on the surface of the moon, Neil Armstrong, has died at the age of 82. Armstrong recently underwent surgery to relieve blocked coronary arteries but died today as a result of complications. Ever since I was a boy and first learned of he and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin’s voyage to the moon, I’ve been fascinated with all things NASA. Both his name and the famous words he spoke as he stepped off the lunar module will forever be taught to children around the world. Indeed, the name of Neil Armstrong is surely one of the most recognized in human history along with other men of discovery such as Sir Francis Drake, Christopher Columbus and Charles Lindbergh.
The historic irony is that for the last 20 years of his life, he did his best to stay out of the lime light. He refused to sign autographs after 1994 and in 2005 became embroiled in a legal battle with his barber after Armstrong discovered the man sold a lock of his hair to a collector for $3,000 without Neil’s knowledge. Many have sought to use his name, and likeness for their own personal agendas but in the end Neil remained a man of dignity and quiet restraint. I can’t imagine what it what was like for him to become one of the most famous men in history overnight, but I’m sure the pressures to live up to other people’s expectations were intense.
It is also ironic in that Armstrong might not have been first to set foot on the moon if it were not for a series of random factors that resulted in he and Aldrin’s mission being selected to actually land. There’s a wonderful scene in Tom Hanks and Ron Howard’s epic mini series, From the Earth to the Moon, where Deke Slaton gathers all of the astronauts to let them know that one of them will be the man to actually be first. Although he did not know it at the time, Neil Armstrong was to be that man. The sense of history and significance that this realization represents is incredible and if you’ve never seen the mini series before, now would be the perfect time to check it out.
Today Armstrong passes from the realm of the living into those remembered, but even as he does so, it is certain his name and deeds will never be forgotten. I hope we one day set foot in the Sea of Tranquility again or perhaps upon the plains of Olympus Mons and remember all the small steps taken by men like Armstrong. Isaac Newton famously said “If I can see further than anyone else, it is only because I am standing on the shoulders of giants”. Armstrong was one such giant. Farewell Neil, we’ll miss you.
When the award winning mini-series From the Earth to the Moon premiered on HBO in 1998, producers Tom Hanks and Ron Howard were flying high off the recent success of Apollo 13. Not content with simply telling the story of Jim Lovell, John “Jack” Swigert and Fred W. Haise’s near tragic NASA mission, Hanks, Howard and Brian Grazer set about filling in the missing NASA narrative of the agency’s monumental effort to put a man on the moon. The result was a spectacular 12-part series that landed an Emmy Award and Golden Globe for Best TV Mini Series. The show is hailed for its honest account of the Apollo program, ground breaking special effects and soaring musical score by composers Michael Kamen and Mason Daring.
When I first saw From the Earth to the Moon I instantly fell in love with the soundtrack. The opening and closing themes by the late Michael Kamen are full of hope and epic discovery. Individual episodes are chocked full of wonderful 50 & 60’s tunes, especially ep. 4 – 1968 and my personal favorite ep. 5 – Spider about the design and production of the Lunar Module. Kamen was a talented composer and has penned some of the most well-known television and movie themes of recent years including Band of Brothers, Mr. Holland’s Opus and Brazil. Mason Daring’s contributions to From the Earth to the Moon are not as grand in scope as the main themes, but his work on Spider is just wonderful and always makes me mindful of the people who dedicated their lives to building the Apollo spacecraft.
Unfortunately, HBO never released an official soundtrack to the series when it aired, at least not one that contained orchestral themes. There was a half-baked attempt at a soundtrack later, but it consists of mainly pop numbers, many of which never even appeared in the series. I’ve re-watched my copy of From the Earth to the Moon at least a dozen times and each time I did, it made me sad I didn’t have the music from the series at hand. Recently I decided to do something about it by scouring the internet and iTunes to construct my own personal soundtrack. All of the music I’ve chosen is significant to the show in one way or another. I’ve linked to the tracks that are available for purchase on iTunes so you can go buy them yourself if you wish. The rest are downloadable for your personal use. Enjoy them, but I ask you to please not redistribute them on file sharing services.
The Missing Soundtrack:
1 – From the Earth to the Moon – Main Theme – Michael Kamen
2 – Beyond the Sea – Bobby Darin (iTunes)
3 – It’s Not My Cross to Bear – The Allman Brothers Band (iTunes)
4 – Whipping Post- The Allman Brothers Band (iTunes)
5 – The Christmas Song – Nat “King” Cole (iTunes)
6 – My Favorite Things – Tony Bennett (iTunes)
7 – Fireball XL-5
8 – Let’s Go – The Routers (iTunes)
9 – Spider / Eagle – Mason Daring
10 – Camera Moon – Mason Daring
11 – From the Earth to the Moon – End Credits – Michael Kamen
If you’ve not seen From the Earth to the Moon and love space exploration, history or anything NASA related, I urge you to check it out. Unfortunately the television series is not currently available either on iTunes or Netflix, but signature edition DVD’s are available on Amazon and are well worth the price. Trust me, you’ll enjoy every minute of this epic space adventure. Go, flight!
Human beings love conspiracy theories. We are all born and raised with certain biases that taint our world view, so when events unfold in ways we don’t agree with, we tend to make up reasons to bargain away the result. True believers of two such conspiracy groups have gained media attention in recent weeks – Obama “Birthers” and those who insist the Apollo moon landings were faked.
Those who subscribe to these conspiracy theories have several legs up on reality that make them both frustrating and infuriating to try and deal with. Their foremost advantage is that, in scientific method, it is difficult to prove a negative result. This is doubly so when the people in question refuse to acknowledge the rule of law, insist on approaching the argument from preconceived viewpoints or simply make facts up to suit their needs. All three which are routinely done by birthers and moon hoax believers.
In the case of Obama Birthers, as they are called, despite piles of physical and legal evidence that Barack Obama was born on August 4th, 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii (one of the 50 United States) these fringe elements insist that Obama is not a citizen. When one fact is presented, such as the authenticity of his birth certificate (certified by the Republican governor of Hawaii herself) the birthers shift gears and instead claim Obama is trying to block the document’s release. Or they claim that since Obama’s father wasn’t a citizen at the time of his birth, than means neither is Barack. Forget the fact that simply being born in the U.S. grants one “naturalized status”, or that 2 separate Hawaiian newspapers announced Obama’s birth on the same day in 1961. None of this evidence meets their warped criteria of truth.
Then you have disturbing people like Bart Sibrel, a total nutjob who insists that NASA faked the Apollo moon landings in order to beat the Russians in the eyes of the American public. As we approach the 40th anniversary of this landmark event in human history, mainstream media feels the need to shine the spotlight on people like Sibrel. It is true that millions of Americans living today have no memory of the actual event, but that makes it no less factual than Lindbergh flying solo over the Atlantic or the Wright brothers flying at Kitty Hawk.
Many people find the idea of Sibrel’s beliefs disgusting and disrespectful to the dedicated men and women of NASA. Not to mention the over 400,000 people who worked for the better part of a decade to land men on the moon and return them safely to the Earth. Professing the moon landing hoax also denigrates the memory of those lost in the attempt like Command Pilot Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, Senior Pilot Ed White and Pilot Roger B. Chaffee who died on the launch pad of Apollo 1 early in the program.
For birthers and moon hoax pushers, reality doesn’t come into play. No amount of evidence would ever be enough to assuage them from their pre-held beliefs. This is the root of their fallacy – that they purport to be interested only in the truth, yet when directly presented with overwhelming piles of it, retreat to the excuse of conspiracy. Some say we shouldn’t confront such fringe elements, that they don’t deserve the legitimacy our attention pays them. This may indeed be true, but simply ignoring the screaming man in the corner doesn’t make him go away. He’ll still be there screaming and he’ll get louder the longer you ignore him. No, the answer is to confront these kooks head on and if reason won’t work, as Astronaut Buzz Aldrin will tell you, try a good right hook.