Apollo Anniversary Shows True Wonder of the Internet

Bringing the world to each of us on our computers

For just a moment, forget Google Chrome OS, the new Windows 7 and all the online hoopla about the shocking death of Michael Jackson. Those happenings aren't the reasons I love the Internet. Instead, to me, the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing this weekend is Exhibit A in the evidence files that show the real beauty of the Web and its amazing technology that brings the world to each of us on our computers.

Forty years ago this weekend, NASA's wondrous Apollo 11 spacecraft was hurtling its way from the Earth to the moon on a trip to deliver two Americans -- the first humans to walk on another celestial body -- to the moon's surface. And today, through the true magic of the Internet, we are able to again see, hear and experience a second-by-second reenactment of that spectacular event and relive it right on our computer screens. We can experience everything from old NASA video images to the original mission audio recordings to crisp new animations of key events that couldn't be seen through live footage. It's the icing on the cake for me, a man who grew up watching each Gemini and Apollo spaceflight, thrilled by their excitement, wonder and technological leaps back in the 1960s and 1970s.

It's one of the few times I can truly say that what I'm watching online is absolutely incredible. It's the difference between fluff and real emotion. This is a weekend where watching the unfolding recreations and simulcast coverage is not to be missed. Even as I'm writing this right now on my modern desktop PC, which has far more computing power in its single AMD Athlon chip than was available to mission controllers for Apollo 11 back in 1969 on their complex mission computers, I'm listening in the background to the audio tracks of the mission being replayed in real time. Absolutely amazing.

For me, it's like reliving the Apollo 11 mission all over again. In July 1969, as astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin and Michael Collins zoomed to the moon in their sleek capsule across 240,000 miles of space, I was 10 years old. I remember staying awake late on the night of July 20, 1969, with my grandpop, Louie, in his Philadelphia home watching the fuzzy images that are still emblazoned on my retinas -- there was Armstrong taking the first steps on the moon, followed a short time later by Aldrin. It was pretty heady stuff for a sixth-grade school boy watching the technological wonder of those days -- television -- with his dear grandpop late on a hot summer night.

If you weren't alive for the original version of the thrill ride known as Apollo 11, then man, buckle your seat belt. You're in for a real treat. Here are some highlights you can experience this weekend:

So go and revel this weekend in what you can see all over again, through the wonder of the Internet. We didn't have these capabilities back then, but we sure have them now and I am thankful for that. To me, this is what the Internet should be all about.

OK, Houston, it's time for me to head back to my control panel so I can again experience the historic Apollo 11 flight. Over and out until next time.

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Todd R. Weiss

PC World (US online)
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