Who Took the Photo of the First Man on the Moon?

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iStock

Who took the photo of the first man on the Moon?

C. Stuart Hardwick:

If you mean this:

This is a frame from the slow-scan, low resolution TV camera mounted in the Modularized Equipment Stowage Assembly (MESA). The MESA folded down out of a small equipment bay clockwise from the ladder (as you look down on the LEM) when Neil Armstrong pulled a release prior to descending to the surface.

The image above shows the MESA deployed, so that the camera is roughly upside down, its pistol grip protruding at the top center of the frame, its lens facing away. Here is a closeup of the camera from the other side:

By today’s standards, this was a pretty crappy camera, but it was a technological wonder at the time, some dozen times smaller than the commercial TV cameras of the time. Because it transmitted in a non-standard format, and because footage of the moon landing had to be broadcast over dozens of different formats around the world, all the images you’ve ever seen from this camera were actually filmed second hand, off high-intensity TV monitors provided by NASA for that purpose. The whole rig was hopelessly crude and expensive, but that was the only way to do it at the time.

If you mean this (and any of several similar images):

This is Buzz Aldrin (the second man to leave the LEM), photographed by Neil Armstrong (the first) using a 70mm Hasselblad medium format film camera, to this day one of the finest cameras ever made, loaded with a specially made magazine of fine-grained Kodachrome film on an ultra-thin mylar base that permitted each magazine to hold twice as many feet of film as on standard commercial stock.

These cameras were modified such that they could be mounted on the astronaut’s chest:

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

What is a Polar Vortex?

Edward Stojakovic, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Edward Stojakovic, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

If you’ve turned on the news or stepped outside lately, you're familiar with the record-breaking cold that is blanketing a lot of North America. According to The Washington Post, a mass of bone-chilling air over Canada—a polar vortex—split into three parts at the beginning of 2019, and one is making its way to the eastern U.S. Polar vortexes can push frigid air straight from the arctic tundra into more temperate regions. But just what is this weather phenomenon?

How does a polar vortex form?

Polar vortexes are basically arctic hurricanes or cyclones. NASA defines them as “a whirling and persistent large area of low pressure, found typically over both North and South poles.” A winter phenomenon, vortexes develop as the sun sets over the pole and temperatures cool, and occur in the middle and upper troposphere and the stratosphere (roughly, between six and 31 miles above the Earth’s surface).

Where will a polar vortex hit?

In the Northern Hemisphere, the vortexes move in a counterclockwise direction. Typically, they dip down over Canada, but according to NBC News, polar vortexes can move into the contiguous U.S. due to warm weather over Greenland or Alaska—which forces denser cold air south—or other weather patterns.

Polar vortexes aren't rare—in fact, arctic winds do sometimes dip down into the eastern U.S.—but sometimes the sheer size of the area affected is much greater than normal.

How cold is a polar vortex?

So cold that frozen sharks have been known to wash up on Cape Cod beaches. So cold that animal keepers at the Calgary Zoo in Alberta, Canada once decided to bring its group of king penguins indoors for warmth (the species lives on islands north of Antarctica and the birds aren't used to extreme cold.) Even parts of Alabama and other regions in the Deep South have seen single-digit temperatures and wind chills below zero.

But thankfully, this type of arctic freeze doesn't stick around forever: Temperatures will gradually warm up.

In What Field Was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. a Doctor?

Express Newspapers/Getty Images
Express Newspapers/Getty Images

Martin Luther King, Jr. earned a doctorate in systematic theology from Boston University in 1955. He’d previously earned a Bachelor of Arts from Morehouse College and a Bachelor of Divinity from Crozer Theological Seminary. His dissertation, “A Comparison of the Conception of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman,” examined the two religious philosophers’ views of God in comparison to each other, and to King’s own concept of a "knowable and personal" God.

Some three decades after he earned his doctorate, in 1989, archivists working with The Martin Luther King Papers Project discovered that King’s dissertation suffered from what they called a “problematic use of sources.” King, they learned, had taken a large amount of material verbatim from other scholars and sources and used it in his work without full or proper attribution, and sometimes no attribution at all.

In 1991, a Boston University investigatory committee concluded that King had indeed plagiarized parts of his dissertation, but found that it was “impractical to reach, on the available evidence, any conclusions about Dr. King's reasons for failing to attribute some, but not all, of his sources.” That is, it could have been anything from malicious intent to simple forgetfulness—no one can determine for sure today. They did not recommend a posthumous revocation of his degree, but instead suggested that a letter be attached to the dissertation in the university library noting the passages lacked quotations and citations.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

This article was originally published in 2013.

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