Tag Archives: space travel

The Day Apollo 13 Crashed Into The Earth. Or Something.

I once knew a young woman who was in high school and shall remain nameless. One day I picked her up at school to drive her home, and asked how she was doing.

“Depressed, actually,” she said.

“Why, did something go wrong at school?”

“Kinda,” she replied. “The social studies teacher was out today.”

“That’s terrible, he must be a great teacher and stuff.”

“No, he’s average. But whenever they can’t find a substitute the always show the same movie, and we watched it again today.”

“That’s depressing, watching the same movie over and over.”

“No it’s not if it is a good move. The movie itself is depressing…”

“I’m sure there must be some greater message, though, if they show this movie in social studies class. Was it about some big war, or the Civil Rights movement or something?”

“No, it was about a space ship where everything goes wrong. Tom Hanks is in it.”

“Apollo 13?” I asked. “That’s a good movie! Really very accurate.”

“So that actually happened, that movie? Thanks, that makes it, like, one hundred times more depressing!”

“Sure, it happened” I said. “Don’t they tell you anything about the movie, don’t you discuss it or something?”

“No, this is just the only DVD they have handy that they don’t have to get from the Media Center. Like, somebody owned it and left it there or something . Teacher sick? Find a substitute. No substitute? Slap in Apollo 13.”

“Sorry, your school used to not suck,” I lamented.

“I know, right? But the movie is still so depressing.”

“Yeah but no it’s not,” I objected. “It’s not depressing at all, why do you say it’s depressing?”

“Because everybody dies in the end!”

“What?”

“Yeah, they crash into the Earth or something. At the end,” she said. Depressingly.

“No they don’t!” I cried. “They do not!”

“Sure, they do. Well, I never actually saw that part, I guess.”

“What?”

“The movie is about 10 minutes too long or so to show in class. Never saw the end. But just before class ends, every time they are about to crash into the Earth or something.”

“Hold on a second. No…”

“Are you saying,” she said, “that they survive?”

“Yes!” I cried. “Of course, that’s the whole point of the movie! Duct tape, and they survive!”

“Yeah, I saw the duct tape…”

“How many times have they shown this movie?”

“How many times?” she said. “You mean this year or since I started high school?”

“What?”

“Yeah, I’ve seen this movie about 12 times. I can recite every word.”

“For most of the movie,” I said.

“Yeah, right up until the moment they are about to crash into the Earth or something. But then they don’t I guess.”

By that time we were home. I turned on the TV, loaded up Apollo 13, fast forward to about 15 minutes ’till the end. We watched it.

“Cool,” she said. “Great movie. Totally undepressing.”

“Exactly,” I replied.

“Wait until I tell everyone in my high school. This changes everything.”

Space Chronicles: Neil deGrasse Tyson's New Book

i-7bd390062f3760739898800fe36380e2-9780393082104_custom.jpgNeil deGrasse Tyson has a new book out: Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier. It is (as one might guess) about space exploration, and assembles earlier speeches and writings with some new stuff. This is an interesting time to be talking about the space program, as NASA seems to be producing new results ever week, there are large and small space robots on their way to distant orbs, or soon to be launched, we are on the verge of understanding the potential of life on Mars on a basic level, we are finding more earth-ish Exoplanets and at the same time the sky is falling, or at least, trashed with litter from one of the most significant, direct and obvious side effects of the space program: We humans get to ruin not just the air and the sea and the land, but also, near space!

From a recent NPR interview:
Continue reading Space Chronicles: Neil deGrasse Tyson's New Book