I’m old enough to remember the first moon landing. What a time that was. Every kid wanted to be an astronaut. We drank Tang and ate Space Sticks and anything that was freeze dried. We built plastic models of the lunar module. It was the start of a bold new world of human exploration of space.
And then it all stopped.
Now there are just a handful of humans who’ve set foot on a chunk of rock other than earth. On Monday we lost one of those few, Gene Cernan. Here’s NASA’s profile of him. Rest In Peace.
There are now six people who’ve walked on two worlds:
A sad day.
Vera Rubin died last month, and her obituary in the NY Times is a fascinating read, not just because of the great work she did in identifying the mysteries of dark matter in the universe, but because of the obstacles she had to overcome in order to even be given a chance to do that work.
I can’t pretend to know what it feels like to be a woman fighting to be considered equal to men in so many aspects of our culture, but Dr Rubin’s story at least shows how much progress has been made inside of one lifetime. For instance, in 1948 Rubin was turned away from the astrophysics program at Princeton since they didn’t allow women in that program. Another story recounted in the piece is how she had to meet with astrophysicist George Gamow in the lobby of the building where he worked because women weren’t allowed in the offices.
Anyway, well worth a read for a number of reasons, IMO:
Vera Rubin, 88, Dies; Opened Doors in Astronomy, and for Women