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1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 4:13 am UTC
by rhomboidal
Image

Title Text: Ok, so Spirit and Opportunity are pretty awesome. And Kepler. And New Horizons, Cassini, Spirit and Opportunity, Curiosity, TiME, and Project M. But c'mon, if the Earth were a basketball, in 40 years no human's been more than half an inch from the surface.

Someone should ask Blake Griffin if he's up for switching careers from basketball to aerospace. NASA could use a 360 slam dunk.

Re: 1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 4:22 am UTC
by whateveries
and the hoop would be where?

Re: 1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 4:22 am UTC
by glasnt
whateveries wrote:and the hoop would be where?


The event horizon.

Re: 1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 4:24 am UTC
by engsci
"But c'mon, if the Earth were a basketball, in 40 years no human's been more than half an inch from the surface."

That immediately struck me as an odd statement, as the ratio of the average lunar distance to the radius of the Earth is much greater than the ratio of half an inch to the radius of a basketball. By my calculations, if the Earth were a basketball, the moon would be approximately 8 yards from the surface. Am I misunderstanding something?

Re: 1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 4:34 am UTC
by whotyjones
Let r=radius of basketball in meters, R=radius of earth in meters, M_E=orbital radius of moon in meters and m_B=orbital radius of the moon in relation to the basketball.

So, r/R=m_B/M_E or m_B=(M_E*r)/R

r=0.119m (standard basketball radius calculated from the circumference 75cm)
R=6378.1E3m (equatorial radius)
M_E=362,570E3m (at perigee)

So:

m_B=(362,570E3m*0.119m)/6378.1E3m~6.79m~22ft.

22ft>>0.5"

QED

Much farther than half an inch.

Re: 1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 4:36 am UTC
by michaelmalak
There has already been another fake: 9-11.

Re: 1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 4:49 am UTC
by whotyjones
I rescind my earlier comment. I misunderstood the point Mr. Munroe was making. We haven't been more than half an inch from the surface SINCE we've been to the moon ;)

Re: 1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 4:57 am UTC
by Kallio
When I consider that if the Earth were a basketball, the average human would be approximately 10 nanometres tall, that half an inch starts to look pretty impressive.

Re: 1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 5:09 am UTC
by SchighSchagh
Randall forgot Hubble in the tooltip! Shame!

EDIT: If the earth was the size of a basketball, most people would also be less than ~350 atoms tall, so half an inch is actually really fucking far.

Re: 1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 5:16 am UTC
by B-Caff
A second what? Sorry if I'm kinda dense right now, DXM hangover is a bitch.

Re: 1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 5:21 am UTC
by PACrivellaro
B-Caff wrote:A second what? Sorry if I'm kinda dense right now, DXM hangover is a bitch.


A second 'great accomplishment'. If NASA were willing to fake great accomplishments, don't you think they'd have a second great accomplishment by now?

Drink water. Beware the CCC's.

Re: 1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 5:25 am UTC
by jalohones
Title Text: Ok, so Spirit and Opportunity are pretty awesome. And Kepler. And New Horizons, Cassini, Spirit and Opportunity, Curiosity, TiME, and Project M. But c'mon, if the Earth were a basketball, in 40 years no human's been more than half an inch from the surface.


Yeh, but the world isn't a frickin' basketball. It's the size of a planet. And people have been hundreds of thousands of kilometres from the surface. Damned analogies, makin' our species' achievements look small.

Re: 1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 5:27 am UTC
by IonStorm
Strange list in the mouseover. Spirit and Opportunity are listed twice, TiME is still in competition with CHopper and InSight. Stardust, OSIRIS-REx, Pathfinder, LRO, MRO, MESSENGER, Voyager, etc. are all great robotic missions. Given the t-shirt I had expected COBE, though not planetary like the other listed missions. Regardless, NASA does fantastic robotic missions to study the Earth, Sun, solar system, and universe. Lately, much less interesting are the missions with people onboard.

Re: 1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 5:29 am UTC
by Plasma Mongoose
You do know that they faked the 'Fake Moon Landing'(TM) to cover up the successful Mars landings.

Re: 1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 5:33 am UTC
by kevinjardine
Why is lifting flesh an accomplishment but lifting metal not? Given that NASA has a limited budget, an expensive human mission (to Mars?) is bound to take resources away from missions that actually contribute to human knowledge. I think that NASA has had its priorities correct, except for the International Space Station, which has been a huge waste of money and time.

Kevin

Re: 1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 5:36 am UTC
by VestyPantsuit
jalohones wrote:Yeh, but the world isn't a frickin' basketball. It's the size of a planet. And people have been hundreds of thousands of kilometres from the surface. Damned analogies, makin' our species' achievements look small.


Sure people "have been hundreds of thousands of kilometres" up, but I don't think we've gone past 650 km in the past 40 years. We peaked fairly early.

Re: 1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 5:38 am UTC
by Max™
jalohones wrote:
Title Text: Ok, so Spirit and Opportunity are pretty awesome. And Kepler. And New Horizons, Cassini, Spirit and Opportunity, Curiosity, TiME, and Project M. But c'mon, if the Earth were a basketball, in 40 years no human's been more than half an inch from the surface.


Yeh, but the world isn't a frickin' basketball. It's the size of a planet. And people have been hundreds of thousands of kilometres from the surface. Damned analogies, makin' our species' achievements look small.

We're still talking about lightseconds here. Mars is half a lighthour away, and the universe itself makes lightyears look dinky.

So no, it's not analogies, it's just the overwhelmingly vast scale of the universe making our achievements look small.

Re: 1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 6:05 am UTC
by FourTael
Oh, Neil DeGrasse Tyson... how I love you sometimes and hate you with the power of a thousand burning suns other times.

As to the comic...

Y'know, I tried to argue, but I find that I'm unable.

We got to the moon so soon after simply achieving heavier-than-air flight. And now... nothing. It's actually rather sad. Of course, he's made similar points about NASA before.

Re: 1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 6:14 am UTC
by jalohones
Max™ wrote:So no, it's not analogies, it's just the overwhelmingly vast scale of the universe making our achievements look small.


Yeh, well, the universe is a jerk. And you can tell it I said so.

Re: 1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 6:25 am UTC
by keithl
If we can put men on the moon, why can't we put brains in the landing denier's heads?

The original von Braun plan was two dozen astronauts to Mars, huge numbers of launches, and (though he wasn't very good at cost accounting) multi-trillion dollar expenses. As it was, the moon landing probably came in 2 to 3x more ($160B adjusted for inflation) than the estimates that started the program. If Kennedy hadn't made the promise (to recover US prestige), and died before he could retract it, we would never have gotten there.

Meanwhile, the actual Mars landings we've made, with machines, will accomplish more than two dozen astronauts for a brief stay. We can iterate the process at a much lower cost, and take much higher risks. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ki_Af_o9Q9s for a spiffy video simulating the landing of Curiosity, scheduled for 1031pm PDT August 5 . The landing looks way too complex - I expect something to fail - but we will learn a heck of a lot, improving the next mission. These machines can't do everything a human might, but they can put in a lot more years of exploration per dollar, and the human explorers get to go home at the end of each day. The prestige is the same - we are still showing off U.S. technological prowess.

Humans will return to the moon, and on to the planets, but they will be preceded by millions of tons of machines, discovering resources and creating a habitable niche from them. When the first humans arrived in North America, they did not need to bring food, water, and air. We sometimes do extreme things because "they are there" - but in a practical sense, the Moon and Mars aren't really there yet.

Re: 1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 6:31 am UTC
by Ryan1729
Using a generous estimate for the diameter of a basketball, and not being sure if the distances are from center to center or surface to surface I got this: http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=%28%2812+inches+%2F+earth%27s+diameter%29+*+%28distance+from+earth+to+moon+%2B+earth+radius+%2B+moon+radius%29
around 30 feet or slightly more than 9 meters for a distance from a basketball sized earth to a moon a similarly adjusted distance away. A far cry from a half an inch

Am I missing something?

Re: 1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 6:41 am UTC
by kaidenshi
Okay, something doesn't fit here, unless RM is making a joke based on acceptance of the faked Moon landing conspiracy theory. Which he most likely is given that he would know a basketball-sized earth would have a baseball-sized moon about 30 feet away, not half an inch.

(Why yes, I have been called "Captain Obvious" many times in the past, how did you guess?)

Re: 1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 7:11 am UTC
by Zalcorus
He is referring to the fact that we have not been to the moon in nearly 40 years (40 years this December).

I think the farthest a human has been since then is to repair the Hubble, which orbits at about 559 km. The radius of the earth is about 6379 km. The regulation basketball is about 4.7 inches in radius.

559/6379*4.7=0.411 inches.

Re: 1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 7:11 am UTC
by nahtanoj999
Dear Randall Munroe,
Image
Sincerley,
nahtanoj999

Re: 1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 7:11 am UTC
by jalohones
kaidenshi wrote:Okay, something doesn't fit here, unless RM is making a joke based on acceptance of the faked Moon landing conspiracy theory. Which he most likely is given that he would know a basketball-sized earth would have a baseball-sized moon about 30 feet away, not half an inch.


But we haven't been there in 40 years.

Re: 1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 7:12 am UTC
by ijuin
I think that the point was that after having last visited that baseball sized Moon 10 meters away, we haven't returned since 1972 despite all of our new technology since then--all of our Shuttle/Soyuz/Shenzhou missions have only gone a mere 2 cm from the surface at most on this scale.

Re: 1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 7:13 am UTC
by carolineee
kaidenshi wrote:Okay, something doesn't fit here, unless RM is making a joke based on acceptance of the faked Moon landing conspiracy theory. Which he most likely is given that he would know a basketball-sized earth would have a baseball-sized moon about 30 feet away, not half an inch.

(Why yes, I have been called "Captain Obvious" many times in the past, how did you guess?)

But the ISS would be half an inch away and the moonlanding was more than 40 years ago, so no mistakes there.
I'd love to see space travel get to the next level, but I guess we'd need a new economy system first.

Re: 1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 7:32 am UTC
by matrix3509
kevinjardine wrote:Why is lifting flesh an accomplishment but lifting metal not? Given that NASA has a limited budget, an expensive human mission (to Mars?) is bound to take resources away from missions that actually contribute to human knowledge. I think that NASA has had its priorities correct, except for the International Space Station, which has been a huge waste of money and time.

Kevin


If you can't understand the desire to go somewhere yourself rather than stare at pictures all day, then I pity you.

Re: 1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 7:36 am UTC
by RAGBRAIvet
Now everybody who reads "XKCD" knows that the moon landing was real, so I know I'm preaching to the choir here.  But if you'd like another proof that we landed on the moon when we said we did and it wasn't a fake, acted out in the Nevada desert, consider this:

• Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins (Apollo 11, July 1969) were in radio contact with Earth throughout the mission, the landing, and subsequent return flight.
• Five other missions between November 1969 and December 1972 (Apollo 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17) also went to, landed on, and returned from the moon — complete with radio transmissions.
• It is reasonable to assume that these transmissions could be received by pretty much anyone with a radio set to the proper frequency — not only NASA, but also the Russian space program.
• Radio direction finding (RDF) is not new technology.
• It would be quite easy to detect if a signal is coming from the American Southwest as opposed to Earth's satellite a quarter-million miles overhead.
• If the Russians had been able to determine that the signals were NOT coming from the moon, they would have been screaming "FAKE!" from the top of the Kremlin.
• They were *NOT* screaming from the top of the Kremlin.
The landings were not faked.

Re: 1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 7:54 am UTC
by Orlando
I was taught journalism by a sharp and scrutinizing professor who'd been one of the first women to receive a PhD from her institution... she steadfastly insisted the moon landing had been faked. You can throw all the sound arguments you want at some people's skepticism, but they'll find a way to maintain it. My guess is hers was powered by cynicism towards the American political system more than anything else.

Re: 1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 8:36 am UTC
by retrominge
I like the punchline.

Re: 1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 9:26 am UTC
by kevinjardine
If you can't understand the desire to go somewhere yourself rather than stare at pictures all day, then I pity you.


Do you really think that the ambitious exploration of the solar system (and with Hubble, Chandra, Spitzer etc. the Galaxy and the universe) that NASA has undertaken for the last few decades is about "pictures"?

If so, I think you have a very limited view of science. With these robotic craft we have all actually gone very far indeed.

;)

Kevin

Re: 1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 9:51 am UTC
by blowfishhootie
Orlando wrote:I was taught journalism by a sharp and scrutinizing professor who'd been one of the first women to receive a PhD from her institution... she steadfastly insisted the moon landing had been faked. You can throw all the sound arguments you want at some people's skepticism, but they'll find a way to maintain it. My guess is hers was powered by cynicism towards the American political system more than anything else.


You've contradicted yourself. If your professor clung to the belief that Americans faked the moon landing with exactly zero credible evidence to back the belief up then no, she wasn't "sharp and scrutinizing." She was, in fact, the exact opposite.

Demanding evidence in order to accept something only when it is convenient to what you want to believe doesn't make you scientific, it makes you a hack. You may respond that we all trust some things without real direct evidence at times, and that is certainly true, but me trusting that my car will start when I need to go to work tomorrow even though I have no idea what physical processes are involved in making that happen isn't something that is vehemently rejected by evidence available to me and that has sparked massive debate in order to denounce any utter stupidity involved on my part. If your professor really believes Americans did not land on the moon in 1969, she is either totally and willfully ignorant or has repeatedly been confronted with evidence to the contrary and continues to be an idiot about it in spite of that evidence.

EDIT: I want to add something to this. I am not saying that every person who believes any conspiracy theory out there is automatically ignorant and/or an idiot. Some conspiracy theories have bits of evidence that could, theoretically, support them. I'll leave it to others to decide what examples they want to use to apply that idea. But if there is one single piece of evidence to support the idea that Armstrong and Aldren were NOT on the moon in July 1969, I've never heard it. I've heard people claim they were in low orbit, but without any evidence to support it. I've heard they were in a TV studio, with no proof of course. Not wanting to believe something doesn't make it untrue, but your professor apparently thinks otherwise.

Re: 1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 11:21 am UTC
by NiteClerk
jalohones wrote: ...
Yeh, but the world isn't a frickin' basketball. It's the size of a planet. And people have been hundreds of thousands of kilometres from the surface. Damned analogies, makin' our species' achievements look small.


Okay, for those of you who feel the need for feel-good analogies. If the Earth was the size of a red giant, then we have been ....(umm. Too early in the a.m. to do the research.)... really, really far from the surface.

Re: 1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 11:27 am UTC
by bassguy
So I've been lurking here for months and finally had to register - did anyone else have sinking feeling as they read this one - "it's been forty years since we've been on the moon?!" - please god tell me I'm not that old...

Many things seem like they were just yesterday - yesterday is having to account for a larger and larger time frame... I swear it was just a couple years since all that moon stuff...

J

Re: 1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 11:39 am UTC
by Splarka
IonStorm wrote:Strange list in the mouseover. Spirit and Opportunity are listed twice...


He probably likes them.

Hedley Lamarr: Qualifications?
Applicant: Rape, murder, arson, and rape.
Hedley Lamarr: You said rape twice.
Applicant: I like rape.

Re: 1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 11:42 am UTC
by Red Hal
I would have been much more impressed if this comic had been released on 20th December of this year. As it is, it's not quite 40 years since humankind last visited the moon.

Re: 1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 11:48 am UTC
by luthwyhn
If Earth were the size of a basketball, Voyager 1 would still be over 1000km away.

Re: 1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 11:49 am UTC
by alieninvader
Registered for this... I can finally honestly say. Get out of my head randall. Been watching Neil Degrasse Tyson vids for the past week.

Re: 1074: "Moon Landing"

Posted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 11:59 am UTC
by radtea
RAGBRAIvet wrote:Now everybody who reads "XKCD" knows that the moon landing was real, so I know I'm preaching to the choir here.  But if you'd like another proof that we landed on the moon when we said we did and it wasn't a fake, acted out in the Nevada desert, consider this:


Here's another fun one: Moon landing hoax believers often make the claim that the shadows in photographs on the Lunar surface must be faked because they are not completely black, and "because the Moon has no atmosphere the only source of light is direct sunlight, so the shadows can't be grey."

So I ask them, "What? I don't understand!? I can see the GROUND in those photos!"

They look at me stupidly, and I explain, "If I can see the ground, the hills in the background, the rocks nearby, it means there is light being reflected from those surfaces."

They generally continue to look at me stupidly, but some do change the topic very quickly at this point. Some do try to claim that the indirect light from the lunar surface is insufficient, or insufficiently diffuse, to grey the shadows, but as soon as they find themselves required to make precise, quantitative arguments rather than "demanding explanations" for their own ignorance and stupidity they generally run away.