Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Maybe Armstrong got it right!

Wired reports: [edited]

An Australian computer programmer says he found the missing "a" from Armstrong's famous first words from the moon in 1969, when the world heard the phrase, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

Some historians and critics have dogged Armstrong for not saying the more dramatic and grammatically correct, "One small step for a man..." in the version he transmitted to NASA's Mission Control. Without the missing "a," Armstrong essentially said, "One small step for mankind, one giant leap for mankind."

The famous astronaut has maintained that he intended to say it properly and believes he did. Thanks to some high-tech sound-editing software, computer programmer Peter Shann Ford might have proved Armstrong right.

Ford said he downloaded the audio recording of Armstrong's words from a NASA website and analyzed the statement with software that allows disabled people to communicate through computers using their nerve impulses.

In a graphical representation of the famous phrase, Ford said he found evidence that the missing "a" was spoken and transmitted to NASA.

"I have reviewed the data and Peter Ford's analysis of it, and I find the technology interesting and useful," Armstrong said in a statement. "I also find his conclusion persuasive. Persuasive is the appropriate word."


ConradGempf said...

Interestingly, this is becoming less and less relevant.

In the 60s, the word "man" without an article meant precisely the same thing as "mankind." Increasingly, though, the impact of the two words is different. Some will even hear "man" and unconsciously think of it as a reference to a particular and a male.

"Mankind," on the other hand, will long retain its meaning of "all humanity," even while sounding archaic in its exclusivity.

Unlike the 60s, now "mankind" sounds grander and more widely inclusive than "man." Thus the WiReD article resorted to paraphrasing to make clear to current readers what the problem was.

brett jordan said...

Yeah... well... I'm sure we ALL knew that already Conrad... like, duh!