Math, science made history happen

Published 6:12 pm Friday, July 19, 2019

Ever since the earliest humans looked up in the sky, they wondered about the moon. Questions such as how far away was it, why did it continually wax and wane, and what — or even who — was there. Eventually, as people evolved, math and science provided the answers to the first two questions. FYI: 238,900 miles; orbiting the earth. As for the third question, no one was going to be truly content until somebody here actually got there and could report back.

Again, the work of mathematicians and scientists — men and women — largely helped to make that happen.

After four days in space, the lunar module of Apollo 11 landed in the Sea of Tranquility on the moon’s surface on Sunday, July 20, 1969. Later that evening, astronaut Neil Armstrong crawled out of the lunar module, put a foot down onto the powdery surface and uttered those words that have echoed for 50 years: “That’s one small step for (a) man. One giant leap for mankind.”

A giant leap indeed.

America had won the “space race” over the USSR. More importantly, the excitement and interest in space exploration propelled not only a few more visits — why ever did we stop? — but also the creation of technology that eventually enabled us to make long-distance satellites, telescopes that see light years away and orbiting space stations to test humanity’s ability to endure above our atmosphere.

As of Friday, our online opinion poll showed that three voters said people should return to the moon within five years. Four of you said we should go ahead to Mars, and 15 voters said we should focus on earth first before going back to the moon.

All commendable opinions, and it will be the work of the aforementioned disciplines that will enable humanity to return to the moon, to go beyond or even stay right here and fix our home.