Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Computer Analysis Sets NASA History Straight 278

Posted by kdawson
from the darn-it-i-said-it-right dept.
Ellis D. Tripp writes, "A computer analysis has upheld Neil Armstrong's version of the first words spoken on the lunar surface. The word 'a' was dropped due to a communications glitch, and Armstrong has been accused of flubbing his words since the historic 1969 landing. The corrected statement was 'That's one small step for *A* man, One giant leap for mankind.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Computer Analysis Sets NASA History Straight

Comments Filter:
  • Good news (Score:5, Funny)

    by Linker3000 (626634) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @08:05PM (#16261921) Journal
    Well, I am glad that's finally sorted - I've been losing sleep over the issue for years.

    • Greedo (Score:5, Funny)

      by SeaFox (739806) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @09:10PM (#16262313)
      Well, I am glad that's finally sorted

      Yup, the Moon spoke first! No, wait...
    • Re:Good news (Score:4, Insightful)

      by megaditto (982598) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @12:46AM (#16263321)
      Now if only they could find the original Apollo mission tapes [slashdot.org]

      "Computer analysis" my ass.
    • by Spackler (223562) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @10:27AM (#16265329) Journal
      In 1972, Armstrong cleared up his first words were actually:

      Holy Shit! I'm on the fscking moon!

  • *Ahem* (Score:3, Funny)

    by MyLongNickName (822545) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @08:05PM (#16261923) Journal
    When stories keep changing, it is a sign of a cover up. Yet more proof that the moon landings were a hoax.
    .
    . ..
    . ..
    . ...
    (now to take bets on whether this gets modded funny or troll)
  • Well (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sv-Manowar (772313) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @08:06PM (#16261935) Homepage Journal
    I doubt this will ever become realised in the mainsteam concious, it's been ingrained on the entire world and I don't think there is anyone (english speaking) who wouldn't be able to quote it. I don't think it's ever really been an issue of dropping the 'a', the line gains memorability for that. At the end of the day I think this research will end up as a nice section of trivia somewhere, but we will all remember the quote that came through on that day, and surely the communications glitch was a part of history too, so it should be remembered that way IMHO.
    • by TubeSteak (669689)
      I doubt this will ever become realised in the mainsteam concious
      Well, yea. But it really does change the entire meaning of the first words spoken on the moon.

      Either way, they should have just STFU about it, since "one small step for A man" doesn't flow nearly as well.

      The only reason to correct the record is to put more emphasis on Buzz. He might as well have said "one small step for me"
      • Well, flow is all good and nice, but I'd say that a reasonable meaning comes first. That and truth trump flow in my view. We're talking history here, not artistic license.
        Either way, they should have just STFU about it, since "one small step for A man" doesn't flow nearly as well.
    • Re:Well (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Alien Being (18488) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @08:41PM (#16262151)
      "and surely the communications glitch was a part of history too, so it should be remembered that way IMHO."

      I remember it as a quote that didn't make sense. In context, "man" == "mankind". It would have been silly to say "That's one small step for mankind, one giant leap for mankind".

      Ever since I learned that Armstrong contended that the "a" was lost, the quotation made sense and IMHO it's one of the most profound statements ever uttered... unless you drop the "a". Let's try to correct the error and remember what he REALLY said.

      The fact that the record was incorrect for 40 years should be a footnote.
      • Re:Well (Score:5, Interesting)

        by istartedi (132515) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @01:27AM (#16263455) Journal

        It doesn't make sense, so you have to give it your own sense. Here's how I've always done that:

        If the "a" had come through, then we would have got the original meaning. It was Armstrong representing mankind. Without the "a", it becomes all of us. This is not to imply that Armstrong was overestimating his own importance. AFAIK, he was as humble as anyone can be in that circumstance. Nevertheless, the "divine edit" of the "a" makes the two parts of the utterance into a nonsequitur that can be resolved by assuming that Armstrong meant that the "one small step for man" was taken by all of us, to the extent that we were all humans just like him; the small step was the mere physical act of getting there. The "giant leap" was all the implications of having gotten there.

        Besides. Why mess with success.

    • by b0r1s (170449)

      I don't think there is anyone (english speaking) who wouldn't be able to quote it


      I wish that were true, but I fear you give far too much credit to public education. Go on, ask a 12th grader. Then cry.
    • Ingrained Quotes. (Score:3, Informative)

      by camperdave (969942)
      You're right. "One small step for man" will be remembered, just like "Beam me up, Scotty", and "Play it again, Sam".

      However, I just listened [youtube.com] to it, and here's my take:
      Armstrong has the "One small step" speach properly memorized and ready to go. He knows he has to do it right, because it will be broadcast live to the entire planet. He describes the lunar surface, then steps off the landing pad, and says, "That's one small step for man... One..." Damn! I goofed. "giant leap for mankind".
      • by AJWM (19027) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @10:45PM (#16262753) Homepage
        Nope, it's a noisy channel, and good ol' midwest boy that Neil is, he slurs it a litte:

        "That's one small step f'r a man" etc. And then Walter Cronkite tells everybody he said "for man", and everyone believes it.

        If the channel is slightly noisy, you can "hear" whatever you think you're going to hear in it. Consider how often people misperceive song lyrics into something totally different. Once Cronkite told them that - and it hit the headlines that way - that's what people think they hear. Try hearing it as "step f'ra man".
    • Re: Well (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Black Parrot (19622) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @09:44PM (#16262473)
      > I doubt this will ever become realised in the mainsteam concious, it's been ingrained on the entire world and I don't think there is anyone (english speaking) who wouldn't be able to quote it. I don't think it's ever really been an issue of dropping the 'a', the line gains memorability for that. At the end of the day I think this research will end up as a nice section of trivia somewhere, but we will all remember the quote that came through on that day, and surely the communications glitch was a part of history too, so it should be remembered that way IMHO.

      What's sad is that it hasn't turned out to be a giant leap for mankind after all, but rather the high-water point of a short-term venture we haven't had the will to follow through on.
    • Re:Well (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Dausha (546002) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @09:54PM (#16262507) Homepage
      "I don't think there is anyone (english speaking) who wouldn't be able to quote it."

      What's funny is I always thought there was meant to be an 'a' in it. When you hear the audio, it sounds like something is missing before the man based on how 'man' was said (to me, it sounds like m-man, which lead me to believe it was a-man). So, whenever I said it, I put the 'a' in there.

      So, while you may not think there's anyone, I'm one who would quote with the 'a.'

      In other news, "Take the 'L' out of lover, and it's over."
  • by techno-vampire (666512) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @08:07PM (#16261941) Homepage
    This just in: computer analysis has revealed that Han Solo did, in fact, shoot first!
  • by MindStalker (22827) <mindstalker.gmail@com> on Saturday September 30, 2006 @08:08PM (#16261947) Journal
    But wasn't it all recorded on a NASA Sound Stage? I mean seriously how are we to believe that such prestine equipment setup for the moon landing would drop the 'a'. //HEHEHE Sorry..

    • by russ1337 (938915)
      >>> " But wasn't it all recorded on a NASA Sound Stage? I mean seriously how are we to believe that such prestine equipment setup for the moon landing would drop the 'a'. "

      The origional studio recording was perfect but when it was broadcast from the studio later that day, some sound guy in black jeans and a mullet decided to 'change the settings'.... If you listen really really carfully, you can here him say "ah, shit...".
    • +1 Interesting -1 OverRated?

      Seriously, its +1 Funny -1 Troll.. Learn how to moderate people.

      • by MustardMan (52102)
        Actually, with the way moderation has been going lately, -1 redundant seems to be the answer, no matter what the situation. Except, of course, -1 offtopic, which is only used for on-topic posts.
  • by Jane_Dozey (759010) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @08:11PM (#16261977)
    Are you sure that it's "*A* Computer Analyst..." and not just "Computer Analyst..."?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    He really meant to plant a goatse.cx flag. :-)
  • History Re-written (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Yahma (1004476) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @08:20PM (#16262027) Journal

    Niel Armstrong did have alot of critics who complained that he changed his story, or was trying to change what he had apparently said in order to make it sound better/different. This computer analysis should quiet his critics, but the unfortunate truth is most of the public will probably never hear about this analysis and life will go on...

    There was an interview several years back where Mr. Armstrong said that he said the word *A* during his famous radio transmission from the moon. Someone could try Voice Stress Analysis [sourceforge.net] on that interview to determine if he is lying or telling the truth, to verify the results of this analysis. =)


    Yahma
    BLASTProxy [blastproxy.com] - A public, anomymous Apache based proxy service.
  • by Etherwalk (681268) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @08:22PM (#16262039) Homepage
    The last foot in the first half sounds better without the `a.' I tried posting the scansion, but the lameness filter found that too dorky. =)
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Absolutely true. And there's also no reason why there needs to be an "a" in there anyway. It still makes complete sense the way it has come down through the ages: "One small step for Man; one giant leap for Mankind". "One small step for a man; one giant leap for Mankind" sounds awkward and trite. "Man" in this context stands in for the human animal; "Mankind" for human society.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jspoon (585173)
      This way makes a lot more sense though. Without the indefinite article, man and mankind are more or less synonymous.
    • I think it depends on your accent. Neil said it like I would, with "for a" basically pronounced as one syllable---more or less like "furra" or "f'ra".
  • by Tablizer (95088) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @08:24PM (#16262061) Homepage Journal
    Actually he said:

    "Ah shit! I pissed my pants!"

    because he was so nervous. Remember, he is an engineer, not a spokesman. But it was covered up.
         
    • Seriously...the guy was the first person to walk on the moon. I would be pretty nervous to.
      Who hasn't had something come out wrong, when they were making a presentation, or leading a group or something? People get nervous. Now, multiply that by a million, since the whole world is watching...you have to give some elbow room.
      Sure, if you look at it in a strict sense, it didn't make sense, but I would imagine most intelligent people would still get the jist of it.
  • by ShagratTheTitleless (828134) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @08:28PM (#16262077)
    The time is ripe for Slashdot editors to try and convince us that duplicate stories were the result of communications echoes.
  • by Tablizer (95088) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @08:30PM (#16262087) Homepage Journal
    First NASA loses Apollo TV master tapes [slashdot.org], and now it loses pronouns. At this rate it will lose a planet within a decade such that we'll have only 8.
             
    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by klaun (236494)
      First NASA loses Apollo TV master tapes, and now it loses pronouns. [snip]

      The word a in that phrase is an article, not a pronoun. In other context it might be a preposition or even a pronoun for British speakers of English.

  • Yes... (Score:3, Funny)

    by NoseBag (243097) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @08:35PM (#16262113)
    ...I read it somewhere a long time ago and been telling folks this for years - whenever the subject came up.

    Now that its been officially reported in /., I can triumphantly wave the printout in peoples' faces and scream, "See! This proves it! Its right here in.....uh...uh..."

    Hmm. Never mind.
  • by aktzin (882293) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @08:35PM (#16262117)
    This story reminded me of a "Straight Dope" article I read years ago regarding something Armstrong allegedly mumbled right after his famous first words on the moon:

    http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a951117.html [straightdope.com]

    While searching for this in the web site's archives I also found an entry from 1990 discussing the "small step for a man" argument:

    http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a3_362.html [straightdope.com]

    My parents tell me that I actually saw the moon landing, but since I was a baby at the time I really can't comment on what I heard him say.
    • by TubeSteak (669689)
      From the second Straight Dope Article:
      9-Nov-1990
      My feeling is, why persecute the guy? I say we do what Chicago reporters were once urged to do with the tortured syntax of the late Mayor Richard J. Daley: don't write what he said, write what he meant. "A man" it is.

      Am I the only one who disagrees with that statement?
      Just on principle?

      It's like doing a TV interview and then having them correct the published transcript to reflect what the interviewee meant to say.
  • Tranquility base (Score:5, Insightful)

    by trewornan (608722) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @08:38PM (#16262123)
    Weren't the first words spoken on the lunar surface:

    "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed."

    I always prefer it anyway - it doesn't sound like some crap written by a PR wanker.
    • As I recall the way its been told many times; it was tasked of Armstrong to come up with something to say. And if I remember correctly he had nothing by the time they landed that he liked.

      I've seen a few specials that have shown NASA had no idea what he'd say and that he pretty much winged it.
    • by gilroy (155262)
      Those were spoken when the lander touched down. Six-plus hours later, the astronauts did an EVA, during which Armstrong said his famous "a", or not.

      Or, to put too fine a point on it, your phrase was the first spoken from the lunar surface; Armstrong's "One small step..." was the first phrase spoken on the lunar surface.
    • by Ellis D. Tripp (755736) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @09:15PM (#16262333) Homepage
      "From the Earth to the Moon", command module pilot Mike Collins suggested that if Neil "...had any guts, you would say "What the hell is that?!", then scream and cut your mike." :)

    • by Lumpy (12016)
      No.

      those were the first words tranhsmitted to the orbiter.

      the first words were... "holy CRAP it worked!"
    • I hear the first words said by the first man after first SETTING FOOT on the moon were:

      "It's some kind of soft stuff. I can kick it around with my boot."

      (Though I really need to get hold of a transcription or tape of the landing to check.)

      The "That's one small step for {whatever...}" line was the first words said once he was STANDING on the moon. B-)
  • by sbaker (47485) * on Saturday September 30, 2006 @08:43PM (#16262155) Homepage
    On Apollo 12:

        "Whoopie! Man, that may have been a small one for Neil, but that's a long one for me." -- Pete Conrad

    On Apollo 14:

        "It's been a long way, but we're here." - Alan Shepard

    Hmmmm - not *quite* so memorable.
  • by whyde (123448) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @08:46PM (#16262175)
    All I can say is thank goodness the first person on the moon wasn't put there by a commercial entity. I'm sure the first words would have been something like, "That's one small step for a man, but a Taco Bell Gordito(tm) is much bigger!"

    Either that, or some other government making a political sound bite that promotes a specific ideology or theology instead of something referencing the accomplishments of mankind in general, would have been equally disturbing.

    I'm really proud that the folks at NASA took time to plan what would be said, realizing that it would be a historic moment.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Jugalator (259273)
      All I can say is thank goodness the first person on the moon wasn't put there by a commercial entity. I'm sure the first words would have been something like, "That's one small step for a man, but a Taco Bell Gordito(tm) is much bigger!"

      Hehe, or "Funding this space program... Billions of your tax dollars... Me walking on the moon... Priceless!" ;-)

      I wonder how many that would have upset, heh.
    • by windowpain (211052) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @09:57PM (#16262521) Journal
      The comedian Robert Klein actually did a bit about this. How Armstrong could have made a fortune by selling out before he left Earth and then saying, "COCA-COLA!" as he put his foot out on the moon.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Lord_Dweomer (648696)
      All I can say is thank goodness the first person on the moon wasn't put there by a commercial entity.

      Or worse...

      "This one small step is made possible by the new Nike Space Jordans. For this lunar cycle only, save 10% off at any major footwear retailer! Over."

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Toxicgonzo (904975)
      At least he stuck to the quote. We all know if he had it his way he'd have been like

      "**** YEAH! I'm on the moon BITCHES!"
  • used to be that Armstrong was experiencing stage fright while the moon landing was being faked, and flubbed the line as a result. I kid you not. Now that some evidence of the letter 'a' has been found in this recording, it seems to cast some doubt on the Diamonds are Forever version of history. Maybe...just...maybe...Armstrong set foot on the moon after all? Nah, too convenient. ;)

    • by SeaFox (739806)
      I thought Armstrong had himself later addmitted he messed up the line. The Snopes [snopes.com] article on it says so, but then he did it right after listening to a tape of the transmission.
  • If it happened today, an illegal alien would have stowed aboard, pushed Neil aside, and said it in Spanish:

    Ése es un paso pequeño para un hombre, un salto gigante para la humanidad.
  • reverse talk (Score:4, Interesting)

    by the_Bionic_lemming (446569) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @08:58PM (#16262237)
    A quick sidetrip - Listen to the reverse audio of his words -

    Man will spacewalk [lifecounsel.info]
  • I prefer the version without the A. It was far more thoughtful of a remark.

    But either works, and its good hes vindicated before his death.
  • When I first heard the recording, I thought I heard him say "a man". I've always understood it to be merely a shoddy record. I didn't know there was a controversy.

    Then again, when I first heard about it, I thought the gay marriage bill in Canada was going to be a triviality that was barely even newsworthy.

    People make such a big deal out of nothing.

  • Just an analyst? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bherman (531936) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @09:07PM (#16262293) Homepage
    I read this story and wondered a bit about the guy who was involved. Saying he's "a computer analyst" is like saying Bush is just a little slow.

    His work is pretty cool http://www.shann-ford.com/001%20programming.htm [shann-ford.com]

    Oh and he's also a jounalist.

  • by CrazyJim1 (809850) on Saturday September 30, 2006 @09:25PM (#16262359) Journal
    One giant step for 'the' man, one giant leap for mankind.
  • Personally, I've grown to like "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind", as if Armstrong is saying something deliberate and profound for future generations to assimilate, as if man is homo sapiens, while mankind are all the species of Earth, being collectively represented in Tranquility Base.

    However, I'll be sure to ask Armstrong about it if I bump into him next January, since he comes to Baja to hunt siberian brant, which migrates here every winter. Maybe I can just leave a message to t
  • So the quote that was usually translated in French to "C'est un petit pas pour l'Homme, mais un bond de géant pour l'humanité" now becomes "C'est un petit pas pour un homme, mais un bond de géant pour l'humanité."
    • by belg4mit (152620)
      So what's your point, other than the fact that it's mistranslated literally as "a giant's leap"?
  • I might have said: "Holy Crap! I'm on the goddamned MOON!"
  • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @12:50AM (#16263337) Journal
    Can someone else tell me where exactly the 'a' went? Glitches in analog equipment don't just drop 'a's without an obvious gap.

The person who's taking you to lunch has no intention of paying.

Working...