Sunday, April 11, 2010

Apollo 13

Right now NBC is airing a show on the Apollo 13 mission, and I never tire of this story. The explosion was catastrophic, stranding the three astronauts in space, but the greater story is the problem solving involved in saving them. It is touched on in this program but best illustrated in the Tom Hanks movie.

I cannot forget my astonishment during that movie when the engineers pull out slide rules to do math! Men were sent into space and no calculators were used? Astronauts were to land on the moon, and we were watching the news on black and white televisions! A square filter needs to fit into a round filter and duct tape is a crucial tool......that challenge resolved without the use of a computer.

Of course, I am old enough to remember life before calculators and computers but it is looking at this remarkable event in hindsight that is even more awe inspiring to me. Society is so entrapped by devices, and we seem to "need" our electronics to solve the simplest problems. (Now, maybe slide rules were more high tech than I realized...I avoided them like the plague) To watch historical drama be resolved with such simple tools reminds me that ingenuity, problem solving, and inspiration are the makers of heroes. It is interesting to contemplate whethe all of our electronics make us lazy. I'd like to think that today a handful of people could solve a life and death situation with simple tools, but I'm not sure.

(The background music for the NBC Apollo 12 show was Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon." Loved it!)

5 comments:

Cheryle said...

I'm not sure how well we'd do without our electronic helpers either, Holly. I do know that I saved my ex-husband's late father's slide rules for my sons! (I think they're cool - even if I don't know how they work!)

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