• Apollo 11 – An act of faith: Dreams

    In 1687, Isaac Newton worked out that an object thrown from the top of a mountain with sufficient velocity would not fall to the ground but continue around the Earth – it would enter orbit. Nearly 300 years later, during his famous “We choose to go to the Moon” speech in 1962, President John F. Kennedy illustrated how far mankind had come. He invited those listening to visualise “the 50,000 years of man’s recorded history in a time span of but a half-century. Stated in these terms, we know very little about the first 40 years, except at the end of them advanced man had learned to use the skins of animals to cover them. Then about 10 years ago, under this standard, man emerged from his caves to construct other kinds of shelter. Only five years ago man learned to write and use a cart with wheels. Christianity began less than two years ago. The printing press came this year, and then less than two months ago, during this whole 50-year span of human history, the steam engine provided a new source of power. Newton explored the meaning of gravity. Last month electric lights and telephones and automobiles and airplanes became available. Only last week did we develop penicillin and television and nuclear power, and now if America's new spacecraft succeeds in reaching Venus, we will have literally reached the stars before midnight tonight.” Less than a decade later still, maths graduate Poppy Northcutt was a systems engineer for TRW, one of the many aerospace contractors for NASA,

    and the first female to work in mission control. Northcutt, aged 25 and the first woman on the team, was responsible for calculating Apollo 8’s return trajectories; she took the computer programs home at night to understand them better than her male colleagues. When Apollo 8 disappeared behind the far side of the Moon on its first orbit and was delayed in reappearing, she stood by to work on any emergency course that might be needed. Six months after that, the most photographed event in human history was about to occur. A million people were soon to arrive at the launch complex, the immediate area around it and all along Florida’s coast. The night before, what did they, Poppy and the three men of Apollo 11 dream about?


Chris Rogers writer on architecture and visual culture

Click blog images to expand; pre-Sept 2011 posts here


Chris is one of more than a dozen specialists whose essays fill this fresh examination of the charms of Paris, which is edited by John Flower. Looking at the French capital's history, culture and districts, each item can be read in just half a minute and is beautifully illustrated with its own collage-style spread.

The Ivy Press, 2018

Hardback, 160 pages | ISBN 9781782405443


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