Apollo inspired mankind greatly. What came next? Not much, it seems. Fifty pretty dry years for mankind. Witness POTUS on Twitter.
Last month, we celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the moon landing. I don’t know about you, but I must have watched fifty hours of Apollo documentaries this summer. Very enjoyable from scientific, technical and social perspectives.
Apollo inspired mankind. What is inspiration? It’s difficult to define. We inspire emotional reactions in others. We inspire people to pursue new ideas and accomplishments. Inspiration creates enthusiasm and confidence. Cause and effect. Inspiration can motivate generation of new abilities, feelings and motivations. If you want a primer on inspiration, take a few minutes to watch John F. Kennedy deliver his moon speech in September, 1962.
Yes, I know the Apollo program was very much part of the Cold War between America and the Soviet Union. But I also know that despite the roots in human conflict, Apollo inspired mankind in many positive ways. Imagine you were one of the 400,000 people who worked tirelessly to make it happen. Imagine being one of the billions who watched “one small step” on live television.
I was 18 at the time. Apollo inspired me to work with others to accomplish shared goals. Apollo inspired me with a lifelong interest in science, technology and eventually, working with large organizations focused on important missions. And, Apollo has continuously reminded me that in spite of human weaknesses, we can work together in pursuit of common good.
But I found myself asking what is the most inspiring event in my life since Apollo 11, fifty years ago? Good question.
Apollo Inspired Mankind, Then We Kind Of Slipped
Honestly, I am hard pressed to name the next big human-scale inspiration. I might argue that the Hubble Space Telescope comes close, as it opened our eyes outward to the universe. The Human Genome Project similarly provided an amazing inward journey of exploration. And, although less prominent, work in quantum physics leads us to new understandings, even of time itself.
But the closest I can come to replicating Apollo’s inspiration of mankind is the discovery of the personal computer and network connectivity. Personal computing opens up so many possibilities for everyone. Network connectivity brings the world to our fingertips. These have both inspired me greatly.
So perhaps the days of moon shots are past. We are left with figuring out how to find inspiration through positive applications of technology to extend our reach.