“My great grandparents came across the southern United States in the 1870s to start a new life in the western territories. They were in a covered wagon drawn by horses, driving a few cattle to start a new herd. The railroads had not been completed, automobiles had not been invented; the electric light had not been invented. My father was born shortly after the Wright brothers made the first airplane flight — and I went to the moon…In less than a hundred years we went from covered wagons to going to the moon.”
I haven’t read the rest of this article yet, but go ahead and re-read the above paragraph. Forty years ago today, Edgar Mitchell walked on the Moon. His grandparents were honest-to-goodness pioneer pioneers, coming across the US when the US still had continental territories and things like horses and herds. Two generations later, Edgar walked on the effing Moon. How crazy is that? This is something that’s always intrigued me about the 19th and 20th centuries…how someone born before the airplane was invented could live to see lunar landings. Mitchell’s family history makes the point poetically.
In less than 100 years, we went from Conestoga wagons to walking on the Moon. What have we done in the last 40? Focused on the vastness of the microchip’s inner space, which is all well and good, but (and you know I’m serious) where are our jetpacks? Where are our Lunar and Martian settlements? What’s the hold up?
Mark (Where’s Your Jetpack?) Zuckerberg image by jdlasica via Flickr