When it comes to the achievements of human civilization, we have done incredible things. Some, like building the Pyramids of Giza, are awe-inspiring, others, such as the eradication of smallpox, have changed the lives of millions.
But nothing can quite match the effect Neil Armstrong’s first footsteps on the surface of the Moon had in the way it brought the planet together under a shared achievement, even if it was the competition of the Space Race that drove it forward.
Of course, there is no denying the technical achievement of launching a rocket nearly 400,000 km towards the Moon, landing on the surface and returning the crew safely back to Earth, especially when you consider the computers used famously had less processing power than a modern smartphone.
But the Moon landing wasn’t just a great achievement for technology, it also pushed the boundaries of the human mind to its limits.
- How long would it take an astronaut to walk around the Moon?
- Are there really still human footprints on the Moon?
In his new book, Shoot For The Moon (£20, Quercus), psychologist Richard Wiseman interviews the people who were there at Mission Control, planning the Apollo missions, communicating with the astronauts in space, and making split second decisions that would mean the difference between mission success or failure. Between life, and death.
In this podcast he speaks to online editor Alexander McNamara about effect the Apollo program had on the national psyche and the great mental strains that both the crew at Mission Control and the astronauts in space needed to go through to assure success. He also reveals how you can harness the lessons they learned to change your mindset and achieve your own Moon shots.
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Listen to more Science Focus Podcast episodes:
- The most mysterious objects in the Universe – Colin Stuart
- There is no Plan B for planet Earth – Lord Martin Rees
- What NASA’s InSight will tell us about Mars – Bruce Banerdt
- What asteroids can tell us about our Solar System – Natalie Starkey
- Is there anybody out there? – Mike Garrett
- Belka and Strelka: Russia’s canine cosmonauts – Vix Southgate