Yes, it’s another 50 year anniversary post. Do you know which one?
March 13, 1969 — ring any bells?
Welcome to today’s real topic: How easily we forget.
Fifty years ago today, Apollo 9 returned to earth.
“Which one was Apollo 9,” you ask?
Not the one that went all the way to the moon. That was Apollo 11 on July 20, 1969.
Not the one from the movie. That was Apollo 13, also known as “the mission that failed,” the following year.
Apollo 9 was a successful launch, mission, and return. It was an important mission too (personally, I like to think they all were), meant to test the lunar module for the first time.
It also involved some space walking, which always made me nervous.
Yet we don’t remember it. I certainly don’t and back then I was still following them fanatically.
My love affair with space flight began in sixth grade with the Mercury missions, the men of “The Right Stuff.” I still have the social studies assignments I did on Alan Shepard’s, Scott Carpenter’s, and John Glenn’s early flights. Yes, they have survived the last three major clean outs.
Anyway, working on this post got me thinking about memory and why most memories fly away, sooner or later. And why some memories stay with us.
So here is a short treatise on Memory
101 10 01
We need a lot of things to retain and retrieve a memory, but for our purposes, we’ll focus on only two. You’re welcome.
By the ninth launch, the novelty of these launches was gone, even for me. I may have listened to the launch and recovery, in fact I probably did; I just don’t remember it.
Emotion helps. In evolutionary terms, it’s important to remember dangerous or stressful situations; so memories made under stress last longer. Epinephrine and cortisol, our “stress hormones,” are just doing their thing.
Stress comes with both positive events and negative. We remember the birth of each of our children, our wedding day(s), and probably a few of our better vacations. I’m sure you can think of a dozen other examples.
Those of us who resonate with these 50 year look-backs, still remember where we were when JFK was shot, or when the Challenger exploded (I was in love with Christa Mcauliffe, as was most of the world I imagine). Poor Apollo 9, just didn’t make the cut.
From their point of view, I imagine that’s a good thing.
How about you? Does the emotion and novelty theory work for you?
Please remember to fill out my 2019 Survey Monkey. Just click the link and off you’ll go.