Saturday, September 30, 2006

Neil Gets An "A" In Grammar After All

Here's a bit of space history-related audio revisionism. Peter Ford, an Australia-based computer programmer, recently performed software audio analysis on the famous first words said by Neil Armstrong while stepping onto the Moon in July 1969. The radio transmission sounded very much like "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," while Armstrong claims he said "one small step for a man..." which obviously makes a lot more sense. The audio waveform analysis apparently showed some sign of the missing "a" that Armstrong either said or meant to say - lost in transmission or buried in the noise, I guess.

I've always been happy to give Armstrong the benefit of the doubt and to go with what he meant to say, but I listened to it a few times just now, and it's not just a sound level problem. The words "for" and "man" just run right together like one word - the missing "a" would have to have been said very, very fast to fit in there. The Houston Chronicle has a graphic that zooms in on the audio waveforms, and I guess there's something in there, visually at least. And if you can't believe in Neil Armstrong, who can you believe in? OK, I believe you Neil! It was one small step for a man (but of course a big one for Pete Conrad on Apollo 12). Thank you Mr. Ford.

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