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Boston Skeptics in the Pub: RACE TO THE MOON!

Posted on : Jul-22-2009 | By : Rebecca | In : Skeptics in the Pub



Race to the Moon

with Jonathan McDowell

Monday, July 27, 2009
7:00pm – 10:00pm

Tommy Doyle’s in Harvard Square (top floor)
96 Winthrop Street
Cambridge, MA

Facebook event page

Dr. Jonathan McDowell is an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, MA.

To mark the 40th anniversary of the moon-landing, he’ll be discussing the story behind the battle between the Soviet Union and the US. Here’s a synopsis:

It is now 40 years since humans first visited another world. “Houston, Tranquility Base here… the Eagle has landed”. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin had reached the Moon. (Yes, conspiracy theorists, they really did go to the Moon… get over it).

The story of the race to the Moon dominates the early history of the space age; the first Soviet and American lunar probes were launched less than a year after the first Earth satellite Sputnik, well before Yuriy Gagarin and Alan Shepard rocketed into space.

The American program was carried out in the public eye; the Soviet effort was mysterious at the time, but its details have now been declassified. To get to the Moon, both countries developed orbital spaceships and robot deep space probes; both tested out space rendezvous and space walking, and both launched the biggest rockets in history. Each program had a charismatic rocket scientist as its figurehead: ex-Nazi Werner von Braun and Gulag survivor Sergey Korolev. The launches were funded by politicians eager for Cold War propaganda victories, but designed by engineers who saw the longer term implications of the drive towards the stars.

The climactic month of July 1969 saw the launch-pad explosion of the USSR’s rocket, and the last-ditch attempt of a Soviet robotic probe to beat Armstrong and Aldrin home with the first moonrocks. But only three years later, the Apollo 17 mission saw the last lunar visitors for a generation, and human spaceflight turned back to low Earth orbit. Now, space exploration is gearing up again, despite budget problems. What will come next?

Boston Skeptics in the Pub is an informal lecture series where everyone is invited to hang out, socialize, drink, eat, and maybe even learn something. Each lecture is followed by a rousing Q&A session and then several hours of drinking and socializing that sometimes evolves into Harvard Square bar-hopping.

The lecture begins around 7pm, but show up anytime after 6:30 to get good seats!

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