Sunday, January 6, 2013

Creating Controversy

Humans will argue about virtually anything.  A case in point is a new BBC documentary that says Neil Armstrong had decided upon his immortal "One small step,,," quotation before Apollo 11 launched.  Armstrong, who passed away last year, had always said it was not a spontaneous quote, that largely because of media interest he understood his first words after stepping onto the lunar surface would be noteworthy, so he thought about what he might say before the mission, but he didn't finally decide until on the way to the Moon.  The documentary, on the other hand, quotes Armstrong's brother as saying the astronaut told him what the line would be before leaving Earth.

The different versions have caused a bit of a stir in the space community.  If Armstrong had claimed the line was a burst of eloquence that came to him as he stood on the surface while the BBC uncovered evidence to the contrary, that would've been one thing-- maybe no more than a quirk set against the accomplishment of Apollo 11, but one thing.  Armstrong never claimed that, however.  The BBC may simply have exposed the uncertain nature of human memory.

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