To the moon and beyond podcast

To the moon and beyond 2: how humanity reacted to the moon landing and why it led to conspiracy theories

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In the second episode of The Conversation’s To the moon and beyond podcast series, we take a look at the impact going to the moon had on humanity – and why it generated so many conspiracy theories.

While an estimated half a billion people tuned in to watch the moon landings on television in late July 1969, what about those who didn’t have access to one? We hear from Keith Gottschalk, a political scientist at the University of the Western Cape, who explains what it was like to learn about the moon landings in apartheid South Africa – one of the few countries in the world where people couldn’t watch the moon landings.

The apartheid regime banned TV so we would have seen the newspaper posters tied up to all the lampposts on the road and the SABC radio (South African Broadcasting Corporation) – in those days the apartheid regime banned all radios except the SABC – would have broadcast extracts.

Gottschalk also explains how the news that the US had beaten the Soviet Union to the lunar surface was met in a country where Cold War rivalry was central to politics and foreign affairs.

We also hear from Alice Gorman, senior lecturer in archaeology and space studies, at Flinders University in Australia. She studies the heritage of what’s been left by humans on the moon’s surface and what it means for people back on Earth. She laments what was lost when astronauts stopped going to the moon in 1972.

We lost a tradition. We lost the continuity of technologies and cultures that enable people to survive on other planets. So now we’re kind of reinventing those again.

Gorman tells us why she thinks the Apollo 11 sites could become heritage sites for future generations of visitors to the moon. To find out more about her work as a space archaeologist, researching the various debris that humans have left in space, you can also read a write-up of Gorman’s interview with Conversation science editor Sarah Keenihan here.

MORE ON THE MOON AND BEYOND
Join us as we delve into the last 50 years of space exploration and the 50 years to come. From Neil Armstrong’s historic first step onto the lunar surface to present-day plans to use the moon as a launchpad to Mars, hear from academic experts who’ve dedicated their lives to studying the wonders of space.

One of the enduring legacies of the moon landings has been the conspiracy theories it generated, which claim that the Apollo missions were all a hoax orchestrated by the US government. Peter Knight, a professor of American studies and an expert in conspiracy theories at the University of Manchester in the UK, explains the cultural moment in which these sprang up in the mid 1970s.

The immediate context that we need to think about is the Vietnam War and a sense of disillusionment with the official version of events and, in effect, the lies that Americans felt their government had been telling them.

Knight also tells us how, in many parts of the world, a large number of people still believe that the moon landings were a hoax – ranging from between 5-10% of Americans and 12% of Britons, to 20% of Italians and 57% of Russians.

But what can be done about it? We hear from Viren Swami, a professor of social psychology at Anglia Ruskin University in the UK and Centre for Psychological Medicine at Pedana University in Malaysia, who has carried out psychological experiments testing belief in moon landing conspiracy theories. He explains some of his findings:

When you already believe in a conspiracy or a conspiratorial world view – when you see patterns in data that make you believe that there are conspiracies in the world – you’re more likely to adopt different conspiracy theories. Even if they are sometimes contradictory, or even if they don’t make sense.

Swami also explains how promoting analytical thinking can help reduce belief in conspiracy theories.

To the moon and beyond is a global collaboration between different editions of The Conversation around the world, hosted by Miriam Frankel and Martin Archer. You can listen via The Conversation, or subscribe wherever you get your podcasts by hitting the “Listen and Subscribe” button at the top of this page.

Credits:

To the moon and beyond is produced by Gemma Ware and Annabel Bligh. Reporting by Nontobeko Mtshali, Sarah Keenihan and Johnathan Gang. Sound editing by Siva Thangarajah. Thank you to City, University of London’s Department of Journalism for letting us use their studios.

Picture source: Jack Weir via Wikimedia Commons.

Music via Free Music Archive:

Even when we fall and Western Shores by Philipp Weigl

Tapoco and Bedroll by Blue Dot Sessions

Hallon by Christian Bjoerklund

As time passes marimba, Zapslat

Archive footage:

Apollo 11, 13 and 17 audio from NASA

Miriam Frankel works for The Conversation.

Martin Archer receives funding from the Science and Technology Facilities Council.

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    To the moon and beyond 1: What we learned from landing on the moon and why we stopped going

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    blank Welcome to the first episode of To the moon and beyond, a brand new global podcast series from The Conversation marking 50 years since the first moon landing in July 1969. Humanity has the moon landings to thank for a lot. But what did we actually learn from exploring the lunar surface? Why did we stop going there after just a few short years? And when – and who – will be going back next? In this first episode, Bonnie J. Dunbar, a retired NASA astronaut who is now a professor of aerospace engineering at Texas A&M University, explains what it’s like being in space. I think the closest that anyone can actually get to experience it on the ground here on Earth is if you’re in an IMAX theatre in the front row or close to the front row with surround sound. But that doesn’t capture everything, that only captures part of the visual. It doesn’t capture being weightless. It doesn’t capture actually orbiting the Earth once every 90 minutes. Dunbar also explains how a mission to the moon would be done differently today, with communications being far more efficient, for example. But despite the technological progress we’ve made over the past few decades, humans haven’t actually been back to the the moon since 1972, with Apollo 17. John Logsdon, director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University and a former member of the NASA Advisory Council, explains why NASA stopped sending astronauts to the moon and why no other country has since. By defining Apollo as a race to the moon, once you win the race there is no strong urge or compelling reason to continue to race. You’ve already won. And there was that sense not only within NASA and within the White House but in the general public. MORE ON THE MOON AND BEYOND Join us as we delve into the last 50 years of space exploration and the 50 years to come. From Neil Armstrong’s historic first step onto the lunar surface to present-day plans to use the moon as a launchpad to Mars, hear from academic experts who’ve dedicated their lives to studying the wonders of space. Logsdon explains that after a few years of watching the Apollo missions, TV audiences weren’t tuning into the moon landings in large numbers, and the danger of the missions meant NASA chose to quit while it was ahead. The Apollo missions were never really about science, according to Logsdon. But the trips to the lunar surface nevertheless did a lot to help scientists understand the moon’s geology. Daniel Brown, associate professor of astronomy and science communication at Nottingham Trent University, explains how going to the moon helped answer questions about where the moon’s craters came from. He also talks us through how some of the technological advances sparked by the race to the moon in the 1960s helped humanity back on Earth – and busts some myths about inventions that came out of the space programme. To the moon and beyond is a global collaboration between different editions of The Conversation around the world, hosted by Miriam Frankel and Martin Archer. You can listen via The Conversation, or subscribe wherever you get your podcasts from by hitting the “Listen and Subscribe” button at the top of this page. Click here to subscribe to the To the moon and beyond podcast series Credits: To the moon and beyond is produced by Gemma Ware and Annabel Bligh. Reporting by Jonathan Gang. Sound editing by Siva Thangarajah. Thank you to City, University of London’s Department of Journalism for letting us use their studios. Picture source: Buzz Aldrin on the moon, NASA Music via Free Music Archive: Even when we fall and Western Shores by Philipp Weigl Li Fonte, by Blue Dot Sessions The Idea of Space, Lee Rosevere Archive footage: Apollo 11, 13 and 17 audio from NASA President Kennedy’s Speech at Rice University, NASA via YouTube Miriam Frankel works for The Conversation. Martin Archer receives funding from the Science and Technology Facilities Council.
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    To the moon and beyond podcast series – Trailer

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    It’s been 50 years since Neil Armstrong made his giant leap for mankind by becoming the first person to set foot on the lunar surface. While the historic event was followed by six further crewed missions – five of which landed – nobody has been back to the moon since the astronauts of Apollo 17 bid their goodbyes in 1972. A growing number of countries and private companies have since started exploring the moon with robotic spacecraft and landers, with China recently becoming the first country to land a rover on the far side of the moon. These players are now in a new space race to put people back on the moon in the next few years. But who will be first and where will it all take us? These are some of the questions we’ll explore in To the moon and beyond – a five part global podcast series created by the different editions of The Conversation around the world. We’ll investigate the past 50 years of space exploration and the 50 years ahead of us by talking to academic experts across the world, ranging from space scientists and psychologists to historians, lawyers and futurists. Starting in 1969, we’ll speak to an astronaut-turned-academic about what it must have been like for Armstrong to take that first small step. And we’ll find out from historians why we suddenly stopped sending people to the moon in 1972. We’ll also discover what impact the moon landings have had on humanity and why they have generated so many conspiracy theories. We’ll then travel all the way to 2069, looking at plans to use the moon as a staging post for future space exploration. This could take humans as far as Mars and the habitable icy moons surrounding the gas giant planets. The first episode will launch on July 3. You can listen via The Conversation, or subscribe wherever you get your podcasts from by hitting the “Listen and Subscribe” button at the top of this page. MORE ON THE MOON AND BEYOND Join us as we delve into the last 50 years of space exploration and the 50 years to come. From Neil Armstrong’s historic first step onto the lunar surface to present-day plans to use the moon as a launchpad to Mars, hear from academic experts who’ve dedicated their lives to studying the wonders of space. Credits: To the moon and beyond is produced by Gemma Ware and Annabel Bligh. Sound editing by Siva Thangarajah. Thank you to City, University of London’s Department of Journalism for letting us use their studios. Picture source: Buzz Aldrin on the moon, NASA Music: Even when we fall by Philipp Weigl, via Free Music Archive News archive: China lands a rover on the far side of the moon, CBS News Apollo 11 and 17 audio from NASA Miriam Frankel works for The Conversation.Martin Archer receives funding from the Science and Technology Facilities Council.

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