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Birjees S Hussain: One final leap for Neil…
August 31, 2012
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Neil Armstrong died last week from heart surgery complications. Some famous people’s passing away brings back a lot of memories about where you were at the time you heard about their passing or what you were doing at the time they were doing something significant that made them famous.

I am sure every one of us can recall where we were or what we were doing when we heard about the deaths of John F. Kennedy, Princess Diana and Elvis Presley, all of whose passing were a bit of a shock.

Since the passing of Neil Armstrong, I thought this week I could tell you about some interesting information surrounding the first man to walk on the moon. Obviously he was famous for uttering those legendary words, “one small step for man…” Despite his fame, he wasn’t much of a publicity seeker (compared to all those mediocre personalities who never seem to get off our screens). In his lifetime, that is, post lunar landing, he rarely gave interviews; since his return to earth in 1969, he’d been interviewed something like two to three times.

In one interview he explained that he got his pilot’s licence before his driver’s licence and got the flying bug at the age of 2. In another interview he revealed a very interesting fact about being on the moon’s surface. When looking at the moon’s landscape, did you ever notice how it looks like you could fall off the edge in the distance?  Armstrong explained that because the curvature of the moon is more pronounced than the curvature of the earth, the horizon on the moon looks closer to you than it does on earth. Hence, the falling over the edge feeling.  

But with celebrity come the rumour mills. For years a rumour circulated on the internet that Armstrong had converted to Islam shortly after returning to earth. Why this rumour is circulating on the net is hard to explain. There do not appear to be any reports of anything he might have said relating to God or any other religion upon his return. Also, if you read his biography or any other material ever published about him, nowhere is there a mention that this conversion ever took place.

Another strange story that abounds is that a barber that Armstrong frequented apparently sold a lock of his hair to a collector. It seems that Armstrong was very annoyed about this because the collector refused to give the hair back and claimed he was adding it to his collection of other famous people’s locks (Abraham Lincoln and Napoleon). Again, how true this rumour is, is hard to tell.

Another bizarre rumour linked to Armstrong is that during interviews with various publications not linked to Nasa, Armstrong “claimed” that aliens had built a space station on the far side of the moon, that’s the side we never see from earth. According to Armstrong, these aliens warned earth not to build a space station there. According to Armstrong, these aliens had massive spaceships that were far superior to any that earth could build. Again, these are rumours and it would be insulting to the memory of the first man to ever set foot on the moon, if they were taken seriously.

That being said, similar rumours travelled the net about Yuri Gagarin, the first man to float in space. According to probably the same rumour mills, Gagarin too converted to Islam but in this case, there are explanations as to how it happened.  Rumour has it that whilst floating around out there, he heard a voice in space and was disturbed as to what it might have been. When he came back to earth, he was travelling through a Middle Eastern country and heard the call to prayer. Realising that it was the same sound he had heard in space he converted to Islam. Whether or not this is true is open for debate since no credible publications have ever confirmed this rumour. But here’s another rumour about aliens. Rumour again has it that whilst he was floating around space a small UFO whizzed past him. An even more whacky rumour is that, 40 years after his death from a car accident, many conspiracy theorists still believe he was really abducted by aliens!

And in closing, here’s a final interesting fact about Neil Armstrong about which I did not know. Remember that famous line when he first set foot on the moon, “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”? In a rare interview, Armstrong contends that he was misquoted. What he actually said was, “One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” I have to admit that what he claimed he actually said makes more sense (since it was “a man” who first to set foot on the moon) but what he is said to have uttered has a better ring to it. Of course, his claim could always be confirmed from the footage?
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The author specialises in subjects from health to social issues

 

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