[ih] ARPANET and Apollo 11

John Day jeanjour at comcast.net
Thu Mar 12 12:51:36 PDT 2015

Do you guys realize how important something as simple as the “screw” is?  Without it, it is almost impossible to do fine measurements and build fine instruments.

Some times the simplest things are far more important than we realize.

> On Mar 12, 2015, at 14:26, Larry Sheldon <larrysheldon at cox.net> wrote:
> On 3/12/2015 10:19, Guy Almes wrote:
>> Noel,
>>    The coincidence of 1969 as Apollo 11 and the ARPAnet is indeed
>> interesting.
>>    Your question could be taken (at least) two different ways.
>>    First, which was the greater human/cultural accomplishment/achievement?
>>    Second, which had the greater historical impact/consequences?
>>    The second seems easier to me: the ARPAnet/Internet has had huge
>> (mostly positive) impact on so many aspects of modern life -- economy,
>> culture, technology.  No need to elaborate in this circle.
>>    The first is tougher.
>>    Just yesterday, in conversation with a friend, we noted that
>> President Kennedy had, in his 1961 speech at Rice University, challenged
>> the country to put a man on the moon (and safely return them) by the end
>> of the decade.  Eight and a fraction years later it was done, and in
>> spectacular fashion.  If our national leaders were to challenge us to
>> attempt to repeat this today, could we do it?  This mixes so many
>> notions of national solidarity/will and the cohesiveness of our (US)
>> society with the normal technical/economic issues, but it would be quite
>> a challenge.
>>    My hunch is that future folks will consider the ARPAnet and say
>> "cool" and "big impact", and they'll look back on Apollo and say "very
>> cool".
>> 	-- Guy
> I think there is an impossible-to-quantify aspect of this importance 
> comparison thing.  I don't know how to add to the quandary except by 
> reporting on a conversation that took place sometime during that era.
> I was sitting in a dentist's chair, among other things listening to the 
> dentist drone on about the enormous waste that was the space program, 
> when there so many worth recipients pan-handling around the train station.
> I finally stopped him (the enormity of an argument with a dentist did 
> not occur to me at the time) and asked him why he was using the small 
> hand-piece in his hand instead of the belt-driven monster hanging idly 
> nearby.
> He went on about how the modern hand-piece drove the tool faster that 
> allowed him to work quicker (and there-by reduce pain, he said, and 
> there-by run more patients through hour, I thought).
> I asked him if he knew how the modern hand-piece had been developed.  It 
> was apparent to me that he did not.
> I said that I was pretty sure that the bearings that allowed the little 
> turbine in the hand-piece to spin so fast had been developed for the 
> inertial guidance platform gyroscopes.
>> On 3/12/15 9:35 AM, Noel Chiappa wrote:
>>> So I was sitting here, not really up to working, and idly watching The History
>>> Channel, and there was a documentary about Apollo 11 on. They had a number of
>>> people (including Walter Cronkite) talking about what they thought it meant,
>>> retrospectively.
>>> Several said something about how it was the greatest accomplishment of the
>>> century, etc (it certainly was an amazing accomplishment - looking back on it,
>>> it's completely amazing that they managed to do it with 1960s technology -
>>> although winning WWII was an even greater effort, I'm quite sure), and one
>>> said that when people look back at the 20th Century, centuries from now,
>>> that's the thing they are likely to think was the most significant event of
>>> the century.
>>> It suddenly struck me that something else happened in 1969 - that was the year
>>> the ARPANET was turned on. Given that the ARPANET gave birth to the Internet,
>>> and the impact the computer networking has had on the world (admittedly, in
>>> tandem with the development of the personal computer), I wonder if in the long
>>> run, landing on the Moon will really be seen as more significant than that?
>>> Odd how two such major things, long-term-historically speaking, happened in
>>> the same year!
>>>      Noel
> -- 
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