If that name means little or nothing to you...
... just hand in your geek card now and start reading TMZ instead.
Michael Collins, the one Apollo 11 astronaut too few remember, has died of cancer at the age of 90. Collins was the man who stayed in the Command Module Columbia alone in lunar orbit while his crewmates Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made history by setting foot on the Moon. But he never begrudged the pair for their time on …
Except he himself said he didn't feel lonely, that was an invention of the Press. What he felt was "awareness, anticipation, satisfaction, confidence, almost exultation".
He also didn't feel left out of the landing. The way he saw it, the mission was designed for a three man crew, with none of the three having a more or less important job than the other two.
Words to live by.
Indeed, and he got to look out of the window to see the whole of the moon, front and back, oh so so near to him. It must have been absolutely spell-binding. And then it had to stop because the other two came back... ;-)
I remember vividly the excitement over those few years. Patrick Moore and the great James Burke explaining it all to me, a kid who hadn't yet turned 10. Like everyone I was captivated.
Rest in peace!
The generally accepted name of our matrilineal most recent common ancestor is the Mitochondrial Eve. You can blame Roger Lewin, writing in the October 1987 issue of Science, for using the biblical name. Daft move, at best. His editor(s) should be taken out behind the barn and flogged for letting that one through.
We are old enough to remember the moon landing, as children, and we went to Washington to celebrate the 50th anniversary at the Air & Space Museum. During that visit we were fortunate enough to hear Collins speak, in person, at two events (and also Buzz at one of them). His talks were wonderful - he came over as both a great man and a nice man, and I will not forget hearing his insights into what they achieved, and the international impact of the moon landing and the whole space program.
Despite his views on heroes, I consider having had the chance to see and listen to both him and Buzz in the flesh as really meeting my heroes.
>Just Three Billion people, wow ... we've come a long way.
Yes, however, even that number living at then-current first-world standards and consumption levels was assessed to be unsustainable...
>Tomorrow we get back to work on fixing this planet.
Trouble is, no one wants to address the (population) elephant in the room...
Probably because there is no population elephant in the room.
The UN did quite a nice summary (pdf) of many population sustainability studies back in 2012, 65 of them to be exact.
By far the most common estimates for a sustainable population on Earth, put the number at <=8 billion (20 studies) , with the second most common estimate being at <=16 billion (14 studies).
Only 7 studies reckoned <=4 billion, with 6 at <=2 billion.
At the same time, 6 studies reckoned <=32 billion, and 7 studies said <=64 billion.
The remaining handful ranged from <= 128 billion to <=1,000 billion!
Obviously lots of guess work in these studies, hence why the UN wanted to do a summary of many of them, to get some sort of rough consensus.
We are current at almost 7.9 billion, and still growing, but the growth rate is slowing. Some countries such as Japan now have declining populations, and many developed nations are expected to follow this trend over the next few decades.
Current estimates are that some time around, or shortly after the year 2100, we'll hit max population, at around 10 to 11 billion, at which point we start to see declining numbers.
This still puts us reasonably close to the <=8 billion mark, and comfortably within the second most popular estimate of <=16 billion.
Obviously this needs to go hand in hand with effective resource management, improved recycling, expanding use of renewables, reduce or remove dependencies on non renewables, better access to education and birth control, especially in developing nations etc etc.
>Probably because there is no population elephant in the room.
I see you stopped reading...
There are two parts to this issue: firstly, just how many people can the world feed, secondly, at what standard of living - the consensus is not all will be enjoying the levels of consumption we in the UK and US have enjoyed for many decades... Hence there is an elephant in the room, which you and others here have demonstrated they don't want to see.
more efficient use of farm/ranch land is probably the biggest limiting factor. The USA is actually still pretty "empty" and has capacity for much, much more. Then you need to get water to those farmlands, but we have invented desalination plants, which makes the cost higher but not unaffordable.
Then as long as there's enough food, fuel and electricity [I hear a fusion reactor is being built in France, one that is a huge step to viable fusion power] we can build both up AND down, live on the water, make artificial islands, and so on. Living space won't be a problem, even WITHOUT living in a "cubby hole".
This suggests that "sustain a population" needs to be defined to include human adaptation.
Still I'd rather spread around the galaxy. I want a NEW FRONTIER!!!
So 33 out of 65 studies put the maximum sustainable population at 8 billion or less. It sounds like there's a 50 percent chance we are already at the maximum "sustainable" population or well beyond it, with no end of growth in sight. If the worst climate change predictions are correct, then well beyond it is the likeliest.
There is no population elephant. As an example, China's population may now be shrinking (there seems to be some doubt about this: there's recently been a census but the results have been delayed with there being rumours that this is because the population is now declining. It looks like it probably isn't yet in fact but it will soon be (source The Economist, you may need a subscription to see it though: I am not sure). What is happening in China either has already happened elsewhere or will in due course. People don't actually like having lots of children, it turns out.
"People don't actually like having lots of children, it turns out."
Some People don't actually like having lots of children, it turns out.
In the developed economies it is still common to hear people being criticised for deciding not to have any children. The view that they are "selfish" ignores the extra resources they can contribute to help everyone else's children. Historically the education of children in villages was often provided by single people in "Dame" or "Penny" schools.
In the developing economies large families are often insurance policies against high rates of mortality - and lack of state enabled social welfare. Education of women and improved health care soon reduce the number of babies being born.
In all countries - several large religious organisations still tell their congregations that it is their divine duty to have many children. They also do their best to ban effective methods of family planning by coercion or influencing civil laws.
The best way to control population is to fund education, and in particular girls education to the same level as boys. Society gets the benefit of a more educated workforce, rising living standards mean fewer infant deaths, less push to have large families. Ambition is the best contraceptive.
actually education helps people to become SELF SUFFICIENT _and_ improves their quality of life in a modern industrial society.
Not sure why ambition itself would be considered to be "a contraceptive" (it suggests, by converse, that laziness would be an aphrodisiac). But maybe I can think of OTHER things that might cause that mis-perception. I'll leave THAT topic alone, in here.
I don't believe Earth is being overpopulated. But the human desire to expand CAN go into outer space, and I want that VERY much. Collins was an early pioneer in that regard.
He had the chance to be the PILOT on a spacecraft delivering passengers to the moon, and then to bring them home again.
"Ambition = contraceptive" because education and ambition give people the incentive to do something besides reproduce. This is why regressive societies such as American religious conservatives fight female education: they don't want their women getting uppity and refusing to pop out a dozen kids.
"[...] religion would be a footnote in history within a couple generations."
Religion is part of someone's identity. Usually it forms their social background since birth. Rejecting it later can often risk their sense of identity; their family and social circles; their livelihood; even their freedom and life.
It is a form of tribal social control for a species that is naturally hierarchical, conformist, and cooperative. An unquestionable faith is a very effective mechanism for ensuring an unchallengeable elite's right to rule.
Add to the mix the human inclination to want a "simple" answer to any problem - and you understand why rational thought seems often to be rejected in favour of "intuition".
Education can always be tuned to supporting the views of a faith's dogma. It is several hundred years since The Enlightenment - yet a candidate for UK significant local elections can still have public profile of believing the Earth is only 6,000 years old.
"[...] they would soon go extinct."
The new leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in Northern Ireland seems likely to be Edwin Poots. Presumably that will also confer the top job as the First Minister in the Stormont parliament. He is a religious young Earth creationist who believes the Earth is only 6,000 years old.
Bought it to read during lockdown. Didn't really feel like reading during lockdown. I think for me reading is all about the pleasure of taking some time to be on my own and quietly thinking about stuff - and shall we say that life had suddenly granted me far more of an opportunity for solo contemplation than I really wanted... However, as we return towards normality (whatever that is), perhaps it might be an opportunity to pick up his book again and raise a nice glass of whisky to his memory.
Soon be time for that movie marathon of 'The Right Stuff', 'First Man' and 'Apollo 13'...
Indeed a life well lived. His contributions for my mind made him the standout. The Air Space Museum is a wonderful legacy, along with his quiet calm confidence. If you haven't read Carrying the Fire.. do it this weekend.
He may not have liked the tag of "Hero" but he would not disagree he was an inspiration to many to pursue their dreams.
I will be launching a rocket this weekend, and will make sure folks know its Carrying the Fire..
The number of humans to visit another world is getting smaller and that makes me sad. I hope the pioneering work Michael and others did will continue soon. RIP.
"While waiting, and prior to the mission, he also worked on contingency plans if something should go wrong, including how to pilot Columbia down to the Moon for a pickup if the Eagle lander's launch from the surface wasn't successful"
I'm curious as to how that would have worked - I assume it was the option of a one-way trip?..
A reduced burn on ascent, I would be interested to know how the profile would work. The spacecraft ascends on a curve turning its direction from vertical to horizontal to match the CSM. If the engine burned too short, or without enough power then the transition to orbit may not have completed and the spacecraft would fall back to the surface.
..or be in a very elliptical orbit, with no atmosphere to cause drag no matter how close to the surface the perigee is. Just so long as the perigee doesn't coincide with any mountains! I'm sure there were contingency plans to dock so long as apogee was high enough and the command module had time to dock and still get to a return orbit.
I thought that he said that he prepared for dropping as low as possible if the takeoff was only partially successful. For example the engine cut out early, less power was generated than expected or directional control didn't work properly.
Although I am sure he would have gone even lower than the planned cut off if he thought there was any chance, I am fairly certain there was no rescue option if the engine didn't fire at all. And, as he said, he would not deliberately crash - he was a professional and NASA required him to bring the command module home even if he had to be alone.
There was no possibility of rescue if the LEM could not leave the surface: he would have returned alone. Indeed there's a famous speech prepared by Nixon for that eventuality. Collins has spoken about the implications of having to do that, saying it would have made him a 'marked man for life'. I'm sure he would have done so however.
If the LEM ended up in an orbit which was too low due to some partial failure of the ascent stage then there were contingencies for the CSM to meet it in a lower orbit. There are some fairly nasty limits to that, not least that once the LEM has staged they can't last very long in orbit as they've just left a lot of their power (and air supply?) on the surface. There also has to be enough fuel left in the CSM to get home otherwise there's just no purpose in it at all: if you can't meet the LEM and get home better to get one person home.
"The number of humans to visit another world is getting smaller and that makes me sad. I hope the pioneering work Michael and others did will continue soon. RIP."
Absolutely this. It's sad how many of the early astronauts (of whatever nationality) have died since the moon landings and now will never be able to see a manned (personned??) landing again. Lets at least hope those still living get to see it again.
I'm old enough to have never forgotten his name. It's always been Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins in my head.
Here's an old song by Jethro Tull.
He took a picture of the LEM, as it left the Command Module and headed for the Moon. As well as Armstrong and Aldrin in the LEM, it includes the Earth, and the Lunar surface - it could have been framed by Kubrick. So that was a picture of all humankind, except himself - I think I would feel alone in that instance.
when the crew were discussing what Neil's first words should be
Collins is alleged to have said
"if you had any balls, you'd shout, WTF IS THAT THING, then scream and shut off your mic" :o)
don't know if it's true, don't care, made me laugh WAY out loud
and another decent man, leaves this mortal coil
RIP Mr Colloins
I've seen him take part in many documentaries and he spoke of his time in the space program with eloquence and pride but what really came across was happiness, an almost childlike joy in what he and his collegues did. I think we've lost a real gem of humanity.
That seems to be a rare thing in life but common with Apollo. Hardworking, professional, dedicated, supremely talented and happy.
RIP Michael Collins.