What if Apollo 11 had been a failure?

President Richard Nixon had a speech prepared in case things went wrong for the first men on the moon, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, according to Gizmodo. It went:

“Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace. These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.”

It wasn’t needed.

They were the first to walk on the moon. Fortunately, they weren’t the last.

Man on the moon: July 20, 1969

And here’s a Nova episode on the lunar mission:

I’ve probably said this before, but this was the greatest human achievement in history. So it’s frustrating to think that what I consider the most outstanding event of my lifetime happened 45 years ago.

C’mon, people. We’re now in the 21st century. We can do better. We already did.

The bible says the Earth is flat …

… And in 1893, a South Dakota man put a map together to prove it (click to enlarge):

Orlando-Ferguson-flat-earth-map_editAccording to a 2011 Live Science article:

In 1893, Orlando Ferguson, a real estate developer based in South Dakota, drew a map of the Earth that combined biblical and scientific knowledge in a unique way. The map accompanied a 92-page lecture that Ferguson — referring to himself as a “professor” — delivered in town after town, traveling far and wide to share his theory of geography, highlighted by his belief that the Earth was flat.

Ferguson’s map represents the Earth as a giant, rectangular slab with a dimpled upper surface. Don Homuth of Salem, Ore., just donated one of two intact copies of the map to the Library of Congress. …

… “Ferguson was trying to make an updated version of the flat Earth theory to fit the biblical description of the Earth with known facts,” Bingham said. Typical of flat Earths, Ferguson’s Earth is a rectangular slab, the four corners of which are each guarded by an angel. “What makes his flat Earth different from other theories is his theory holds that the Earth is imprinted with an ‘inverse toroid.'” If you were to take a donut and press it into wet cement and then remove the donut, Bingham explained, the rounded impression it left in the cement would be what is known in mathematics as an inverse toroid.

“It’s pretty clever because it explains the Columbus phenomenon, where you see ships coming in over the horizon and gradually the mast gets taller and taller until you can see the ship,” Bingham said. “By 1893, most people knew about horizons so he had to come up with some way to explain that.”

There are plenty of people today who rely on the Bible as the basis of scientific fact. That’s why we have a 70,000-square-foot Creation Museum in Kentucky and people pushing intelligent design in schools. It was wrong then. It’s still wrong today.

The theory of inflation and Marilyn Monroe

Ripples-from-the-big-bang

OK, here’s one of those complicated science stories that make sense to maybe three dozen people on the planet. The chart above represents a confirmation of a hyphothesis on the Big Bang theory. As the chart says, physicists have been studying this for the past decade, and the result is one of those things that end up winning the Nobel Prize for Physics, but I can’t understand it any more than I can explain the theory of relativity. However, if you ever saw the movie “Insignificance,” you saw Marilyn Monroe (played by Theresa Russell) give a pretty good explanation of it to Albert Einstein (played by Michael Emil):

Anyway, the theory of relativity and the Big Bang theory are two of the most important findings in physics. In the scientific community, the discovery of the waves shown in the chart above is huge. According to the Washington Post:

Yet the theory of inflation has an even more profound implication. It suggests that the universe we can observe, everything we have seen or known on Earth and in the sky and ever will, is just an accident, and that the forces that caused inflation — whatever they may be — might have created other universes elsewhere, forever hidden from us by the laws of physics. What “elsewhere” means in this context, though, is uncertain.

But the theoretical physicists who posited the theory of inflation, an explanation that the universe went from nothing to … the universe in “a billionth of a billionth of billionth of a millionth of a second,” was overwhelmed to find his theory was proved.

Again, the physicist and his wife hear what was only random numbers to me, but they realize “discovery.”

So, why do I believe this, even though I don’t understand it, but I can’t believe the creationist concept that the world was created 9,000 years ago and man roamed the land with the dinosaur, which is a hell of a lot easier to understand?

I’ll quote an architect here. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe said:

“God is in the details.”

He was talking about restraint in design. The physicists who gave us relativity and Big Bang and inflation are what “intelligent design” should stand for … a meticulous examination of science and physics delving into billions of years of possibility. A theory is presented and they test it and test, in this case over decades, it until it’s either proved or disproved. That’s the epitome of restraint in design.

And the result of scientific discovery is that we live in a world where our everyday luxuries are things that would have been designated as “magic” a century ago. Think of smartphones and iPads. Things that weren’t even conceivable 40 years ago. These are the products of physics and chemistry and science.

But the “intelligent design” of creationism boils down to: “I can’t figure this out, so let’s just say God did it. After all God is all knowing and all seeing, and I’m not God, so why should I worry my beautiful mind about it.” And what do we get out of that? At its high point, witch burning. At its low point, an embrace of ignorance that has set us back centuries in development and brought us closer to extinction.

I posted a few days ago on the mistake Bill Nye “The Science Guy” made in going to the Creation Museum in Kentucky to hold a debate on evolution. Today I read something that boiled down in fewer words what I meant to say in that post:

The choir hears someone saying “Hey, can you believe that in 2014, some crazy person still believes the earth is flat?” But someone else hears, “Some people still believe the earth is flat. Others call them ‘crazy.’ ” Every time the Round Earthers resoundingly win a debate, you perpetuate the notion that it’s a debate, not a set of facts that are simply not up for discussion. This is probably making a mountain out of a little good-natured Twitter fun. Still, it’s worth considering every time you “win” an argument over a fact that you SHOULD NOT EVEN BE ARGUING ABOUT IN THE FIRST PLACE.

So the way to win arguments is to make discoveries like the theory of inflation. And don’t “debate” the matter with people who are unwilling to examine their own theories because their belief system encourages them to to ask questions.