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Neil Armstrong has died at 82 Today (heraldsun.com.au)
980 points by Grovara123 on Aug 25, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 92 comments

Neil Armstrong would have been 17 years old when Orville Wright died in 1948. In the lifespan of those two men, humanity went from horse-and-buggy to standing on the moon. One wonders what the 17 year olds of today might accomplish...

The steam locomotive, rather than the horse and buggy, was probably the apex of transport technology when Orville was born.

... or maybe the big ocean liners.

Woah, as a 17 year old, that blows my mind. I cannot wait to see what humanity accomplishes in my lifetime. Personally, I'm hoping to see the first man's footsteps on mars.

I'm 21 myself and by what I see around me in my friends and people close my age is that we've become too accustomed to seeing instead of doing. We should start thinking along the terms of "I cannot wait to DO that!" if we ever want the chance to follow in the footsteps of a man like Neil and succeed in taking human achievement further than our predecessors. But hey... you're 17 and you read HN. That's a good start!

>>I'm 21 myself and by what I see around me in my friends and people close my age is that we've become too accustomed to seeing instead of doing

Speak for yourself.


Does it look like I'm speaking for the whole population? I've clearly stated "me" and "my friends and [some] people close my age". Sincere congratulations if you've managed to become the next Alan Turing but next time leave the snarky comments for yourself buddy. Thanks!

I think OP is referring to traveling in space himself rather than just watching a select few do it.

I'd prefer a cleaner healthier planet than foodsteps on Mars. We need to learn to take care of this planet before we start messing around with other planets.

When I hear the "shouldn't we solve poverty and climate change here first?" argument about space exploration, I feel it's useful to remember that almost all improvement in the human condition throughout history is directly attributable to advances in human technology grounded in investment in exploration and basic research. Spending on science, technology development and exploration are the real "trickle down economics". I don't think it has to be an either-or proposition. ;)

You articulate this better than I ever could. Well said.

You'd get neither when you could have both. A bit far fetched : "He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither."

Astronomers -- the very people pushing for the exploration of space -- are the ones who recognized climate change; largely through the study of Venus and the greenhouse effect on that planet.

I shall look forward to seeing you do that.

I couldn't agree more, we stand constantly at the start of new things, in another 70 years, we will be so far past where we are now that to the people of those times it will seem as though we were as backwards as the people of 1948 seemed to us.

Sadly, I think a consumer of cat pictures with the way our education (people not focusing on math and science) is going

People born with the drive to do amazing things will do them regardless of the education they (do not) receive.

But they need the support system of a country with educated people.

OP is saying the school system is shit. You're saying a gifted person can do well regardless of the school system they're in. I'm saying the gifted need well educated people to help them realize their vision.

Everyone losses, even the self educated, with a poor school system.

If that were true, then why do poor people have a disproportional high chance of having their children grow up poor?

Because the vast majority do not have that drive, and simply fall into the same pattern as their parents.

My original point was that upbringing is important to accomplishments.

In response to your point, I think that the problem is much more one of opportunity than drive. For example, I went to a private high school that costs slightly more that the poverty line for a family of 4 (as did my 2 siblings). My mom was able to leave her job, and stay home with me, where she taught me the fun parts of math (knowledge which made school math classes bearable). Later, when I was in high school, my mom started volunteering, where she met the wife of a fairly well known computer science professor at a local university. She arranged with him for me to get a summer internship there, after which point I had a brief phone interview, where I answered almost nothing about my abilities. A few days later, I got an e-mail saying that the robotics lab (where I would have prefered working) couldn't take me, so I had to settle to work in his lab, at 10$/hour - after I offered several times to work for free. While at his lab, I did a reasonable amount of work, but nothing that impressive. One of the things I did was help one of the graduate students with their research project, which involved a web crawler to collect data, and a machine learning algorithm to analyze it. I did some incremental improvents to the crawler, but nothing that impressive. I also wrote the machine learning "algorithm" which was a 250 line program that took data from an sql database, and fed it into a machine learning library, then printed out the results. For all of my being driven, I ended up being a co-author on a published research paper before I even applied to colleges.

Of course, I am just one person, so we cannot generalize from my example to say that it is the parents that do the work. What we can say is that the children of poor parents are disproportional likely to end up poor. This means that you can, with a high degree of accuracy, predict a childs future success before they are born. If this is the case, they we cannot blame the child for his failures, because we knew that he incredibly likely to fail before he even had a chance to influence his own life. This leads us to the conclusion that there is something going on outside of the control of the poor that is making it difficult for them to improve their lot in life. Looking at it this way, we might notice that the rich tend to spend large sums of money sending children to schools that the poor cannot afford. The rich tend to be more available to their young children, either by leaving their job, or only having 1 job. The rich know other succesfull people, who are an automatic network to get their children jobs and such.

In fact, looking back on my own life, and the lives of many of my rich classmates, It seems like we also tend to fall into the same patterns as our parents; those patterns just happen to be successful. This is almost the definition of a rigid class system, and it is something we should be working on moving away from. In an ideal world, even if you knew everything about the parents of two different children, you should have no way of guessing (with better accuracy than a coin toss) which of the children will be more successful.

Unless you are going to be taking children away from their parents and raising them in creches, the success of children will always be determined by their parents. And that's a good thing.

There is nothing wrong with a class system if it still allows for mobility of exceptional individuals, and ours does.

"I am, and ever will be, a white-socks, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer - born under the second law of thermodynamics, steeped in the steam tables, in love with free-body diagrams, transformed by Laplace, and propelled by compressible flow."

-Neil Armstrong


"I think we're going to the moon because it's in the nature of the human being to face challenges. It's by the nature of his deep inner soul... we're required to do these things just as salmon swim upstream."

--- Neil Armstrong.

An inspiring man. RIP.

"Science has not yet mastered prophecy. We predict too much for the next year and yet far too little for the next 10."

My favorite Neil Armstrong quote. Has some relevance to how we think as entrepreneurs.

Huh, I've heard that attributed to Bill Gates, but Neil Armstrong said it in 1969. I wonder if he got it from someone else?

A good man, and a good engineer.

That, more than one small step, made him a hero worthy of being remembered for the phrase "for all mankind." He made me want to be a better man myself, and to build things of more lasting importance.

It turns out humanity's real soul (at least most of it) is always looking for gimmicks to waste their time - be it compulsive little "games", the gadget of the week, etc, etc.

I wish we had more Armstrongs. Truly inspiring man indeed...

People have always had their ways to escape; prayer, sewing, radio, books, TV. That doesn't mean we're in any less capable position to do amazing things.

Do I think we take our information-rich world for granted? Yes. Does that make us lazy or in any way bad? No.

I'm not implying people from the past where any more productive or interested in challenge than today's (they were not). The main difference, though, is that a larger number of people leave in stable/confortable enough lives today than in the past - thus the number of people doing nothing but indulging themselves is proportionally larger...

You say that as if it's a bad thing.

To me, "the number of people doing nothing but indulging themselves is proportionally larger" sounds like a good thing, a clear indicator that we've come a long way - we're so well off now that you don't actually have to do anything useful in order to survive. That's awesome, to the extent that it's true.

Our goal should be a day when nobody has to work, and everything that we want done happens anyways. We're still pretty far from that, but I think motion in that direction is a positive indicator, not a negative one.

That's a very dreadful prospect of a future... And yes, I think it's a pretty bad thing.

On a related note, the book "Childhood's End" covers this topic quite well from my point of view. In the end, no one had to move a finger for anything. And it was damn boring and counter-evolutionary...

love this quote... "Just as salmon swim upstream"... we gotta go to Mars

Not challenging enough

Neil was my biggest childhood hero. I did one or two school reports about him, dressed as an astronaut for Halloween for three straight years, and went to Space Camp twice. That my birthday (July 20) fell on the anniversary of his historic moon landing didn't hurt my identification with him one bit.

That interest in space, fostered by the examples of Neil and other early space explorers, translated to a lifelong passion for pushing science and technology forward. I'm sure many people here can say the same.

Neil's accomplishment, which he of course shares with the countless others who (literally) lifted him up and made his mission such a success, is one of the most inspirational achievements in the history of this planet. May it continue to inspire many more!

For a more in-depth consideration of Armstrong's life, there's an excellent profile written in 1999 here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/longterm/space...

"Pilots take no special joy in walking," Armstrong once told a group of well-wishers at an air show who wanted to hear what it had been like to walk on the moon. "Pilots like flying."

A thousand years from now, most people won't know much about the politicians, generals, celebrities or billionaires this century or last. But they might well know who first walked on the moon.

What's sad is that we didn't yet returned to the moon, and he won't live to see it.

There have been 13 moon walks since the Apollo 11 mission in which he was the first to walk on the moon, spanning 5 missions from 1969-1972, FYI. He was the first, but definitely not the last.

I would've thought it was obvious that he was referring to the past-Apollo era. Did you really not think that? I'd've thought it obvious that Armstrong was aware of all the Apollo missions, so the comment could hardly have been taken as you imply.

And there weren't 13 moon walks after Apollo11, there were 26 in total. There were13 periods of EVA, each with two astronauts.

This snarky comment is quite superfluous, I say.

Not sure what was snarky about it, other than the fact that he pointed out that you were incorrect.. He didn't say it rudely at all?

Misunderstanding both ways, obviously. I'm old enough to have seen Apollo flights live on TV, so his interpretation of my post makes absolutely no sense at all to me (except as a contemptuous insult). "Return to the moon" can only mean "a new post-Apollo mission".

They are different conversations. The first is about humanity returning to the moon, having stopped going, and the other is about people in the first batch.

I'm sorry if this came off in a snarky way. I simply wanted to talk about our moon history.

He waited until we got to Mars...

The earliest attempts at Mars exploration were made by the soviets and NASA in the 60s (largely unsuccessful IIRC). In 1976 NASA successfully landed on the Mars (Viking I) and, even more amazingly, sent back color photos.

Curiosity is a great mission, but I'm still more impressed with the Viking missions.

The Soviet Mars-2 and Mars-3 missions were quite successful (orbiting and landing). Here is a gallery of mars images 1971-1974[1]

The soviets were also the first to land on Luna in 1966 [2] and on Venus in 1975[3]




Wait and see.

Humans got to mars? I should pay more attention.

Yes, humans got to Mars. Just not in person.

you know what i mean.

the lack of basic knowledge about human achievement in space is depressing

Excellent 4-part interview series with him, quite recent too:


Thank you. That was an excellent interview.

It is rather sad, that one of the latest and more detailed interviews filled with personal insights, thoughts and comments came from an Australian CPA organization. I know why the connection is there, the disappointment is in the news organizations here locally. NBC even screwed the name as Neil Young when they announced the death.

How his death is handled, as a society, shows how we treasure what he stands for and what the priorities are.

He made a good comment in the last part how probably the best thing NASA did was inspire young people to do the best they can do, to dream of becoming engineers and scientists. What is there today to inspire that? Writing video games? Is flying larger probes with bigger cameras to Mars?

One can argue we need a good global threat so we have a competitor. Maybe that's true. If we don't have one, we surely invented some. Goat herders in Pakistan or cocoa growers in Colombia. Maybe our children will be inspired by building stealthier drones to more efficiently eradicate goat herders in a country half way across the world.

This really is an amazing interview. Def. would recommend sitting down and enjoy all four parts; fascinating, honest and inspirational.

The article currently is just a stub. I imagine this is related to the heart bypass surgery he underwent a couple of weeks ago:


It looks like it's true :( More informative article here: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/neil-armstrong-man-moon-dea...

With no plans to go to the moon again, we will soon be out of living moon-walkers.

xkcd ran the numbers: http://xkcd.com/893/

Ah, yes, the mouseover text on that is brilliant, and apt:

"The universe is probably littered with the one-planet graves of cultures which made the sensible economic decision that there's no good reason to go into space--each discovered, studied, and remembered by the ones who made the irrational decision."

Personally, I'm optimistic that there'll be boots on the moon sometime around 2020 (although I suspect they won't have NASA logos on them). Looks like there will be 2-6 moonwalkers left to see that, with a 90% confidence interval...

I too am optimistic. All day I've seen people claiming America's moon landings for all humankind, and then blithely ignoring planned Indian, Japanese and Chinese lunar programmes. It would be a shame to think that people were only excited at the thought of white people going back to the moon.

I'm going to need to see some evidence before I believe societies make economic decisions sensibly.

It ended up being fairly accurate (and in one of the lower percentiles)

Black bar?

Most certainly. Armstrong embraced danger and the risk of failure.

Neil Armstrong (August 5, 1930 – August 25, 2012) RIP.

I hope we will return to the Moon or better go to Mars before the last Apollo astronaut has died.

Here's a collection of information I just came across about Neil Armstrong: http://learni.st/users/farbood/boards/3625-neil-armstrong?tb...

He did get to see the next phase of space flight, with the SpaceX launch, the first successful private spaceflights. The future is bright with the expanded private interest in it.

And publicly expressed his disapproval of it. The future may be bright, but I suspect Mr. Armstrong missed the future he would've wanted.

Elon said in a video interview that he's hoping he can convince Neil in the future because he was a large hero of his. It's slightly sad that it looks like he won't get his chance.

Edit: it was his CBS 60 minutes interview that can be seen here: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7410538n&tag=cont... see 12:20 mark. (you have to go through 2 commercials, unfortunately)

Edit2: more direct link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbIcqTEuxvw near end (only 1 commercial!, but only less complete excerpt)

He was pretty critical of SpaceX, though, and of NASA's new strategy of outsourcing space launches.

Interestingly enough the NY Times article is nearly identical, word for word, to the linked article.

No worries...the Original link was just a stub.


The article currently is just a stub. I imagine this is related to the heart bypass surgery he underwent a couple of weeks ago:



corford 1 hour ago | link

It looks like it's true :( More informative article here: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/neil-armstrong-man-moon-dea....


I remember watching a documentary which quite rarely featured Neil Armstrong (and Buzz and Collins) discussing the actual trip to the moon. They related a story where they instructed the computer to begin reverse thrusters to slow their approach to the moon. The computer came back with a code which Collins duly looked up in the manual

  3E - Are you sure?
Twas ever thus.

It stuck in my mind, as humanising people who otherwise outstrip us who in all ways look up to them.

He will be sadly missed.

As far as I know, the Apollo guidance computer's DSKY (user interface panel) [1] could only display numbers, not letters. In situations where the computer required confirmation from the crew it would flash 99 in the program display element and wait for the PRO (proceed) key to be pressed.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_Guidance_Computer#DSKY_i...

Can't find a reference to the story you are mentioning, could you share a link that explains it in more details?

Sorry no - just a TV doc - it was perhaps called the real right stuff. It had interviews with I think every living Apollo astronaut, and was made for the 2009 anniversary.

It might have been http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/When_We_Left_Earth:_The_NASA_Mi...

(I certainly remember Charlie Duke talking a lot !)

Perhaps "In the Shadow of the Moon"?


"I've seen things you people would not believe..." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTzA_xesrL8

It is not his death we should focus on - for Neil Armstrong, and his collegues, we should not let his life be in vain.

Back to the moon for good - or a lot of good people wasted their time.

I think it's possible to say with some confidence that his life wasn't in vain. He, along with his colleagues here and on the moon that day, haven't inspired just one generation - but every generation that came after.

What an achievement. May he rest in peace.

Respect for the old man! R.I.P Sir.

For the moon was no longer a distant shining object but a place where we could gleefully leap

RIP Neil Armstrong

That's one small step for a man... one giant step for mankind. - RIP Mr. Armstrong

in coelo quies est

nice i like post

Did anyone read "Armstrong" and first thought of Lance Armstrong? When his life achievements were stripped away, I thought he would be on suicide watch.

Lance Armstrong has not been stripped of his medals/achievements. The USADA is not the UCI.


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