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Moon loses some of its shine

Given developments in technology and other issues confronting the world, no one should probably be surprised. Yet considering the state of technoogy when it occurred, it’s a shame that even in the last decade the moon landing has lost some its shine.

According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, fewer people today list space exploration and the moon landing as the greatest U.S. accomplishment of the last 50 years than a decade ago. During that time, it dropped from 18 percent to 12 percent.

But other figures are even more disconcerting and, again, likely not surprising. Baby Boomers rating space exploration as the nation’s greatest accomplishment increased from 17% in 1999 to 19% this year. I have little doubt that is because we grew up with the space program and were among the millions glued to a television set on July 20, 1969. Interestingly, though, for those born before 1946 — who also would have seen the landing and watched the space program from inception — the figures dropped from 21% to 13%.

A similar decline occurred with those born between 1965 and 1976 (Gen Xers), falling from 17% to 9%. Only 5% of Generation Y (those born from 1977 on) listed space exploration this year. Nearly three times as many (14%) said the election of Barack Obama was the greatest U.S. achievement of the past 50 years. And, overall, the number of people identifying achievements in science, medicine or technology as the greatest accomplishment dropped from 47% to 27%. I find that particularly surprising given the explosion in use of computers and the Internet.

Then, of course, we have the clueless. Those saying “nothing” or “don’t know” when asked for the greatest American accomplishment increased from 24% to 33%.


It’s (the moon) an interesting place to be. I recommend it.

Neil Armstrong, November 6, 2005

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