December 16, 2013

The bright side of the Moon

Actually, the far side of the Moon is no darker than the near side. In astronomical terms, the word would have originally meant "unexplored." (And then there's that more well known Dark Side of the Moon back here on Earth.)

Another modern urban myth is that we have the Space Program to thank for Tang, Teflon, and Velcro. All three predate NASA. But we can credit Project Apollo for a fantastic illustration of what defines a true introvert.

It comes from Al Worden, the Apollo 15 command module pilot. XKCD calculated that as he orbited the far side of the Moon, he became one of handful of men who've been not only the furthest away from human civilization, but from any other human being.

Of the experience Worden recalled:

There's a thing about being alone and there's a thing about being lonely, and they're two different things. I was alone but I was not lonely. My background was as a fighter pilot in the air force, then as a test pilot--and that was mostly in fighter airplanes--so I was very used to being by myself. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I didn't have to talk to Dave and Jim any more. On the backside of the Moon, I didn't even have to talk to Houston and that was the best part of the flight.

Introverts don't necessarily mind talking to people, but they loath being compelled to talk to people on terms not of their own choosing.

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