Sunday, 26 June 2005


Associative links, synapses snapping, neural networks working overtime - you know the stuff.

Here's how I got to where I'm going with this one. I've been sitting here reading some terribly interesting stuff about blended learning and how different providers view it and use it when "The Eagle has Landed" came on TV. Now my immediate thoughts were that this is a fair romp to fill a few minutes, Jenny Agutter is in it, it's wonderfully naive and also that this was one of the first things said in July, 1969 when Neil and Buzz stopped off for a walk in the Sea of Tranquility (actually the fifth to eigth words spoken from the surface of the moon).

Of course this also ties in with technology, and from my point of view it's especially significant because of the computer errors thrown during the landing and thoughts of the difference that 30 some years has made to computing. In fact I often talk to new computing students about error 1202.
The cover a book released to celebrate the Apollo missions

Anyway. From there it's a short hop to actually hearing the actors in that magnificent drama, the voices of people engaged in something that had never been done before, men on the brink of immortality. Listen to the voices at and you can also check out the conversation between Houston and Apollo 13 when Lovell said "Houston, We've had a problem" - changed for the film to "We have a problem".

And I am still in awe of the people who made that all happen and also the ease with which we have access to such historical records now. For many of us putting a man on the moon is still proof that mankind should be able to achieve anything given enough effort and political will. Der Adler ist gefallen oder?

5 careful considerations:

bluefluff said...

error 1202
Fascinating again, NG2! I'd never heard of this before, so late night googling was called for...
"Footprints on the moon" site has a good account:
I think maybe the deep significance of the moon landings is felt more by those of us who are old enough to have lived through them, & sat up, awestruck, watching on TV?
But I have to ask - "oder was?" What alternatives are there? I'm reminded of a play I studied at A level, Durrenmatt's Die Physiker ("The Physicists") with a line that has always stayed with me: "Alles denkbar wird einmal gedacht" ("Everything thinkable will eventually be thought").
If the Eagle hadn't landed in '69, some other bird would have landed, some other year. I agree, if mankind can do it, it will eventually be done. Unfortunately this is morally neutral. We have the ability to screw up, too.

bluefluff said...

as I seem to have done with the hyperlink - sorry. It will work on copy & paste, though......

Nogbad said...

Weeeell! Bales was given the the highest award available in the US but in reality he busked it - when the computer on Apollo 11 threw the error codes he really didn't know what they meant. He was in his early twenties, everyone in the room was looking at him, the eyes of the world were on him, two men were literally hanging on his every word so he said "It's a Go". The error was a "Stack overflow" (actually called something different but the same message, the computer couldn't deal with the amount of data being thrown at it by the landing - Fitt's List stuff, computers crash while humans degrade gracefully. Armstrong had already overridden the landing instructions because the target landing site was strewn with boulders so he "flew" the LEM to the moon rather than relying on the kit. When he put down there were 17 seconds worth of fuel in the landing engines - a short space of time or a lifetime depending on where you were at the time!

I think every programmer should have "1202" tattooed on the back of their hand to remind them that however much they think they know the kit will always chuck a six.

The "oder" is the Bavarian equivelent of Sydney Rising Intonation. In Bayrishe they often add the "oder" as a rhetorical device, think of the English "isn't it?", added when it makes no sense.

bluefluff said...

The "oder" is the Bavarian equivelent of Sydney Rising Intonation.

Ah, I see - my German knowledge pre-dates Neighbours!
So it's "The Eagle has landed?????" with raised eyebrows & a "wow!" factor :-)

Nogbad said...

If the Eagle hadn't landed in '69, some other bird would have landed, some other year

Only maybe - JFK kick-started the Space Race and committed the US to walking on the moon within a decade, NASA stuck to that despite the distractions happening in the US let alone the wider world. The other super-power at the time messed up a number of times but it really was a race and had 11 not made it there would still have been a scramble between the USSR and the US to get there. The Soviet Union was losing cosmonauts on the launchpad and the US was becoming more and more entrenched in Vietnam. The politics of the world played a big part as they would later in the launch of the "Challenger" in January, 1982.

When 8 went round the moon they proved it could be done, when 10 flew the LEM it was a great step but putting someone there was special and had 11 failed, with loss of life, it's easy to believe that everyone would have stood back and decided not to play for a while.