The Most Important Humans of the Century

From: Walter Nissen (
Date: Thu Jun 01 2000 - 08:12:50 PDT

  • Next message: Mark A. Hanning-Lee: "Obs 5/31 PDT"

    A little journey by the temporary OIG site,
    yielded this:
    Catalog Query International Designator Response
    Query return total: 3
    Search Criteria: 1969-059
    International Designator: Ascending Order
    IntID/Name   CatNo Source period   Incl Apogee Perigee      RCS
    1969-059A    04039 US        0.0    0.0      0       0   0.0000
    APOLLO 11 CM (COLUMBIA)   Launched (1969/07/16) Decayed [1969/07/24]
    1969-059B    04040 US     Heliocentric orbit
    SATURN 5 R/B              Launched (1969/07/16)
    1969-059C    04041 US     Selenocentric orbit
    APOLLO 11 LM (APS)        Launched (1969/07/16)
    Does anyone know when last any visual sighting of these was made?  May
    possibly be made in the future?
    With the 20th-Century now complete at the 2-sigma confidence level, it
    is timely to consider selecting the most important human of the Century,
    at least from our current perspective.  The most significant event or
    accomplishment of the 20th Century, certainly, and arguably of our
    species throughout history, is the successful journey of men from our
    cradle planet, Earth, to another planet, our Moon, a journey known to
    the Ages as Apollo XI.  Two men made essential, irreplaceable
    contributions to that journey.  Wernher von Braun figured out how to
    build rocket engines large enough, powerful enough and controllable
    enough to leave the gravitational influence of Earth and travel far
    enough to reach the Moon.  Stark Draper figured out how to point the
    vehicle in the right direction, and maintain pointing during the flight,
    so that it would "hit" the Moon ever so neatly and cleanly in 1969 CE.
    So, the most important humans of the 20th-Century are Wernher von Braun
    and Stark Draper.
    Kurt G"odel's Proof of
                Every consistent axiomatic formulation of
             number theory contains undecidable propositions
    has echoed so very powerfully thru so many important, farflung areas of
    endeavor during the Century, powerfully influencing thinking and
    accomplishment.  (SeeSat-L would not be the place for an extended
    discussion of whether such colossal failures as Iridium may flow from
    from these headwaters).  You often see the characterization of
    20th-Century thought as "realization of limits" being credited to Werner
    Heisenberg's uncertainty principle in quantum theory, but Heisenberg's
    contribution in the elaborate world of physics pales beside the
    intellectual force of Goedel's tour de force executed on the tiny
    "pinhead" of number theory.  Hofstadter's "GEB" and Sagan's "Cosmos"
    also have had wide influence.  CTSS and its successor, Multics, which
    were accomplishments of a fairly large group, could possibly survive as
    more important in the view of future generations.  The Intel 386,
    Pentium III, Athlon, etc., are in every essential detail silicon
    implementations of Multics, right down to the most significant
    nomenclature, like segment table look-aside buffer.  Multics gave rise
    to Primos, then Unix, then copies of Primos known as VAX/VMS and the
    Eagle, and later, when chip fabrication was advanced (by another army of
    geniuses), the 386.  What we think of today as operating systems,
    Windows, Linux, even to a substantial degree the Web, are what
    visionaries of the mid-1960's thought of as Multics.  Gagarin, Kennedy,
    Shepard, Glenn, Armstrong, Aldrin, Collins, Churchill have reputations
    well-outfitted for the coming millennia.
    Walter Nissen         
    -81.8637, 41.3735, 256m elevation
    You may find many ironies in this task.
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    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jun 01 2000 - 07:50:31 PDT