July 20, 2019 marks the 50 year anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission landing the first men on the Moon.

The very first time a member of the human race stepped onto another planet besides the one on which it was born.

The only sentient life form on Earth that has developed the technological ability to leave its planetary home, travel through space, visit another planetary body, and return safely.

Apollo 11 Moon landingThe only other heavenly body besides the Earth that has had members of the human race standing upon it.  Perhaps—who knows?—perhaps the only heavenly body that has been visited by a sentient life form from another heavenly body.

Just take a moment to dwell on that.  And dwell on the fact that July 20 should be an international holiday celebrating that.

There are two websites you can visit to relive the experience of the Apollo 11 mission.  One is We Choose The Moon, created 10 years ago to simulate the mission… originally in realtime, and now as excerpts of the iconic moments (requires Flash on your computer to play).  The other is The First Men on the Moon, a newer site (and a Webby Award winner) to enjoy the entire mission.

Or, I guess you can warm up your VCR to rewatch your cherished copy of Capricorn One.

Yes, it frankly amazes me that, according to polls, between 6% and 20% of Americans, 25% of Britons, and 28% of Russians surveyed believe that the Apollo Moon landings were faked (Wikipedia).  Perhaps it shouldn’t surprise me, given how much public trust in government had been eroded over the years, especially during the 1960s and 70s, giving rise to the incredible industry of conspiracy theories and distrust in science and scientists (ironically, a distrust sown primarily by the same government officials that the public claims to distrust).

So pervasive have these conspiracy theories been that frequent efforts have been made to prove to the public that the Moon landings actually happened.  Numerous television programs have been dedicated to the subject, including an episode of the popular series Mythbusters and a new series by the Science Channel, Truth Behind the Moon Landing.  I wonder, sometimes, if these Apollo hoaxers also believe there are tiny beings operating the inside their cellphones, or a secret organization with detailed dossiers of every American…

Personally, I have a hard time understanding why we entertain such notions with legitimate efforts to dispute them; anyone that far out of touch won’t be convinced by a television show, of all things.  Let luddites be luddites… let them fret over the skin color of mermaids, while the rest of us get on with reality.

Apollo 11 Aldrin science experimentWe put humans on the Moon 50 years ago.  In fact, we did it six times between 1969 and 1972.  Twelve men walked on the Moon during the Apollo program.  No human achievement is greater than this.

Don’t believe it happened?

I don’t much care, luddite.