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mindrobots
09-13-2011, 03:05 AM
“We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

John Fitzgerald Kennedy


Still not a bad reason to do something worthwhile!

Loopy Byteloose
09-13-2011, 06:17 AM
Doing the hardest thing first is likely to take you a lot further than more comfortable options. It also knocks down a lot of problems before anxiety creeps in. But one also has to realize when to set aside something whilst thinking about the discovered choices and not just press ahead blindly. Rushing around and doing the hardest first for its own sake is rather masochistic.

In other words, try to ease into things and they get simpler; but don't shy away from the difficult or the unusual.

For instance, I am finally getting into understand who Laplance was and what Laplance Tranforms are. It has only taken me 63 years to get around to it, but some people just see 'advanced calculus' and run the other way.

Humanoido
09-13-2011, 04:25 PM
For instance, I am finally getting into understand who Laplance was and what Laplance Tranforms are. It has only taken me 63 years to get around to it, but some people just see 'advanced calculus' and run the other way.
You mean Laplace Transforms.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre-Simon_Laplace

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laplace_transform

GordonMcComb
09-13-2011, 05:17 PM
Doing the hardest thing first is likely to take you a lot further than more comfortable options.

This isn't the message in Kennedy's speech, nor does it square with actual history. Of course they started with the simpler things, but they had a difficult far-reaching goal in mind. That was the whole point of the speech.

The US first tested with unmanned rockets, then sent up (and successfully retrieved) a chimpanzee (his name was Ham), then two astronauts were lifted sub-orbitally in a modified shortrange Redstone rocket, followed by a series of obital launches in a modified Atlas ICBM rocket. Meanwhile, they were learning and developing the Saturn V, the Apollo command module, the moon lander, and so on. It was probably the most measured and carefully planned human endeavor in history.

Kennedy's comments at Rice University were not about "hey, this is hard, so let's do it first."

-- Gordon

Publison
09-13-2011, 05:40 PM
+1


This isn't the message in Kennedy's speech, nor does it square with actual history. Of course they started with the simpler things, but they had a difficult far-reaching goal in mind. That was the whole point of the speech.

The US first tested with unmanned rockets, then sent up (and successfully retrieved) a chimpanzee (his name was Ham), then two astronauts were lifted sub-orbitally in a modified shortrange Redstone rocket, followed by a series of obital launches in a modified Atlas ICBM rocket. Meanwhile, they were learning and developing the Saturn V, the Apollo command module, the moon lander, and so on. It was probably the most measured and carefully planned human endeavor in history.

Kennedy's comments at Rice University were not about "hey, this is hard, so let's do it first."

-- Gordon

mindrobots
09-13-2011, 06:35 PM
I always took it as a challenge, a confirmation as a nation to strive for excellence, to reach beyond our immediate grasp. To try and be better than we are and grow through our endeavors.

I am a child of the space age and look back on that time with fondness and a sense of loss. I watched the launches of the Gemini program, followed the Apollo program from the tragedy of Apollo 1 through the exciting accomplishments of Apollo 11 through to the final mission. I was thrilled by every launch of a shuttle and never took it for granted. It was excitement, adventure, something for a child/young adult to dream about, aspire to and learn from. I still marvel at the ISS when I happen to catch it going overhead.

The space program gave the nation a common goal of achievement and excellence to follow and participate in. (yes, there is much to be debated regarding the value, benefits, motives, etc.....but now isn't the time for that)

I miss that now. I miss my daughter not having something like that now to thrill, inspire and challenge her...........

ElectricAye
09-13-2011, 07:23 PM
...I miss my daughter not having something like that now to thrill, inspire and challenge her...........

Based on what they see on TV these days, it's all about surviving Shark Week and hunkering down for the end of the world.

GordonMcComb
09-13-2011, 07:31 PM
These things always have to be placed in historical context. Apart from being a stirring speech, and apart from it being a defining moment not only in American history but world history, current events at the time partly dictated what Kennedy had to say that day, and why he said it.

About 18 months before had been the Bay of Pigs, and Kennedy was at risk for being viewed by the Soviets -- and maybe even the American people -- as weak. (Remember that Kennedy won election only by the barest of margins.) And just a day before the speech, the Soviets publicly announced any invasion of Cuba would be considered an act of war against Russia. The Cold War was in full swing, and in the month after this speech there would be the Cuban missile crisis -- surely Kennedy was aware of the rumblings, even in early September.

By this time the Soviets had already beat the US to several first-flights into space, and the morale of the country was low. The country was just coming out of a recession, and people were still feeling the sting. The fact that after this recession the country grew faster and longer than during any other period in history (to that date) is telling. It's almost as if this speech were a battle cry that turned things around. It proclaimed "let's get to work, this is what Americans do." And it apparently worked.

The speech is viewed as the beginning of Americans in space, but in fact several successful flights had already been made, and the plan of going to the moon was already well known. With hindsight we can see the speech (the text of it, and Kennedy's impressive oratory skills) became one of the symbols of American expansion in the 60s.

-- Gordon

Publison
09-13-2011, 08:11 PM
@Gordon,

Again +1

That's why you are so successful in writing books. You responses are eloquent.

I watched all the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo launches that where available on our B/W TV. Stayed up late to watch to first Moon walk.

Kids nowadays aren't even interested in the shuttle launches, yet I would connect to NASA TV every chance I could to see one

Kennedy did inspire a whole new technology phase with our country, and I believe, we have never looked back.

Jim

erco
09-13-2011, 08:27 PM
I remember the first moon landing well. As summer break of 1969 approached, my 4th-grade teacher encouraged everyone to watch the tv coverage later that summer, since we had never been there before.

Even as a shy youth (?) I kept insisting that she was wrong, because I had a book at home with pictures of people walking on the moon, entitled "You Will Walk on the Moon" : http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0394923405/sr=1-1/qid=1315944980 Apparently I failed to grasp the difference between photos and illustrations. Ah, the innocence of youth.

Yet as an adult, I find it remarkable that the word gullible still isn't in the dictionary. Why is that?

jazzed
09-14-2011, 01:51 AM
The country was just coming out of a recession, and people were still feeling the sting. The fact that after this recession the country grew faster and longer than during any other period in history (to that date) is telling.
Close. And the general gist of this ends up being true. However, the gory details put the beginning of the fast growth period into the 80's where businesses ended up having more money to invest in all the geeky stuff that happened in the preceding decades.

I'm just offering the viewpoint of the period from an economics perspective. People need to know history too ....

The fact is that the next 20 or years so after Kennedy's speech saw 5 fairly deep recessions and lots of geo-political issues that hurt very badly. Stagflation was the main buzz-word attributed to the 70's and high taxes was the main problem. It was not until after the fed caused one more deep recession in the early 80's that the economy and markets started the massive growth cycle. The economic growth has all been attributed to the supply-side economic policy of the Regan administration (lower taxes on job creators, but massive military complex spending).

As far as rockets go, I remember some lady on TV saying this: "Our Astronauts are so brave ... our rockets always blow up!"

Watching Armstrong step out on the surface of the moon was a real blast.

ElectricAye
09-14-2011, 02:47 AM
....

Yet as an adult, I find it remarkable that the word gullible still isn't in the dictionary. Why is that?

Wow, you're right! That's so weird!



...The economic growth has all been attributed to the supply-side economic policy of the Regan administration...

Wow. I had forgotten about all that amazing economic growth back then. Glad you cleared out the cobwebs in my memory. And there I was thinking unemployment was about 9 or 10 per cent after he'd been in office a few years. I also thought the stock market had crashed in 1987. I also seem to remember working on a program some people called Star Wars, in which billions of dollars were flushed down the toilet. Funny how living through a part of history can mess up my memory like that.

jazzed
09-14-2011, 03:49 AM
Glad you cleared out the cobwebs in my memory. And there I was thinking unemployment was about 9 or 10 per cent after he'd been in office a few years. I also thought the stock market had crashed in 1987.
It was a buying opportunity ;)

The data can speak for itself: http://www.brouhaha.com/~sdenson/TGIF/

Loopy Byteloose
09-14-2011, 04:02 PM
I still feel that we need to inspire more people to try to do hard things for the sake of better rewards. While my point may have been a distraction in terms of JFK and history, having the courage to learn things that seem hard to us is NOT without rewards.

Going to the moon was a media event in every sense of the word and the USA came out on top. I was in Taxco, Mexico when Armstrong arrived on the moon and the whole village stopped and gathered around a lone TV placed at the bottom of a hillside to watch. It seemed that everyone in Mexico stopped to watch, and my impression was that the whole world had stopped to see this event as well. They all said they dearly loved the USA, but hated Nixon.

But, the simple facts were that the Soviets were way far ahead of us in rocketry for whatever purposes they chose. They had some rather brilliant people that managed to build rockets that launched from icy Siberia, not requiring to be near the equator. And they simplified the design and construction by putting together three duplicate rocket systems rather that having to symmetrically balance one cylinder.

In other words, if you set aside the speeches - we the US was in deep and had to catch up. And that takes the kind of minds that want to learn things that seem difficult.

GordonMcComb
09-14-2011, 06:36 PM
Both the Soviets and the US got their rocket scientists form the same crop of Germans, and it could be said the US got the better of the bunch, as it included Von Braun, who headed up the V-2 project. I'm not sure the Russian engineers were any more clever, but they might have been more willing to take bigger risks.

The Redstone rocket that formed the basis for the first Mercury flights were basically V-2s, and even the first autogyros were the same ones used on the V-2. So in other words, they were going with what they knew (more or less) worked.

The "missile gap" that Kennedy used as a running platform never actually existed, but it got the US fired up to spend money on the programs. (One estimate had the CIA claiming the Soviets had 2000 launch vehicles in '53 and '54, when in actuality it was less than a dozen.) Space exploration benefited from the runup; both Mercury and Gemini used launch vehicles that were really meant as nuclear missiles.

Timing was critical, and what most people don't recognize, or remember, is the depth of the developmental research that enabled the kind of exploration the US was able to peform. The first Soviet satellite, Sputnik 1, did indeed beat the Americans. Its signals lasted less than a month, and the satellite itself burned up three months later when it re-entered the atmosphere. Vanguard 1, launched about five months after Sputnik, is still up there. It continued to bleep-bleep back data for about six years, before its solar panels finally gave out.

What people tended to remember, because they were televised, were the spectacular early failures. The Vanguard TV3, the US's first attempt, blew up on the launch pad. (Though funnily enough the satellite was mostly intact, and was still transmitting as it sat on the ground amid the fiery wreckage!)

-- Gordon

Matt Gilliland
09-16-2011, 12:41 AM
erco-

I remember the first moon landing well.

I was 8 years old. I was sitting on my grandmothers couch with my great-grandmother right next to me - she was probably about 85 yrs old or so.

I still remember her words (mostly) that day:
"Matt, this is an amazing event. You will remember it your whole life - just like I remember reading the newspaper accounts about the Wright Brothers first flight."

It didn't really sink in for me until many years later, about how far we came in such a short period of a single persons lifetime.

-Matt

Loopy Byteloose
09-16-2011, 10:12 AM
Project Gutenberg has a wonderful book by the Wright Brothers that is free for the reading. Anyone into airplanes and flight -including models - might enjoy it.

I find it a bit difficult to say that the Soviets got their rocketry from the Germans, just like we did. After all, I see old films on TV of Stalin defending mother Russia from the Nazi invasion with vast banks of rocketry while the rest of the world was shuffling artillery and mortars.

Still, I am wondering as we wander farther afar from the start of the thread mentioning a quote that still had some valid meaning about doing the hard thing because we choose to.

We may never know who had the best, everyone claimed to. Yes, the moon landing was wonderful. And while NASA seems to be a wonderful provider of all that we have technologically today, we seem to have also provided ourselves with more number of and more horrific weapons while much of the tension of Cold War remain lingering in North Korea, Russia, and Mainland China. All three seem to have not given up their own ambitions for imposing a different kind of order on this world.

In sum, we still have to keep our eye on the ball and not bask too much in past glory.

Humanoido
09-16-2011, 10:18 AM
It's a most remarkable and fantastic 49 years. Just think what the next 49 years will hold. We have the ability to shape it in positive ways, find ways to work together with our neighbors, and make new progress that we cannot imagine today.

Buck Rogers
09-20-2011, 04:11 AM
I still feel that we need to inspire more people to try to do hard things for the sake of better rewards. While my point may have been a distraction in terms of JFK and history, having the courage to learn things that seem hard to us is NOT without rewards.

Going to the moon was a media event in every sense of the word and the USA came out on top. I was in Taxco, Mexico when Armstrong arrived on the moon and the whole village stopped and gathered around a lone TV placed at the bottom of a hillside to watch. It seemed that everyone in Mexico stopped to watch, and my impression was that the whole world had stopped to see this event as well. They all said they dearly loved the USA, but hated Nixon.

But, the simple facts were that the Soviets were way far ahead of us in rocketry for whatever purposes they chose. They had some rather brilliant people that managed to build rockets that launched from icy Siberia, not requiring to be near the equator. And they simplified the design and construction by putting together three duplicate rocket systems rather that having to symmetrically balance one cylinder.

In other words, if you set aside the speeches - we the US was in deep and had to catch up. And that takes the kind of minds that want to learn things that seem difficult.

Hello!
I quite agree. I, too, am a child of the space age, and am constantly telling the people I know why going to the stars is so very important. And that the technological spin-offs were the best thing to happen. Including our computers, and even those cellphones.

But the most important thing is yet to come, that first trip out of this solar system, by man. We still need to return to the Moon and to stay.