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Author Topic: Software changes Armstrong's moon quote
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An Australian computer programmer says he found the missing "a" from Armstrong's famous first words from the moon in 1969, when the world heard the phrase, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060930/ap_on_re_us/moon_quote_3

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Doug4.7
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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He da man! or "a" man!

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And now for something completely different...

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surfcitydogdad
Jingle Bell Hock


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If I were in Armstrong's place, I'd have felt bad, too, about slightly flubbing my one big line. He MEANT to say "one small step for a man." We should give him a break.

But, if we correct this error, we should also correct the words of JFK, who declared himself to be a pastry, when he said "Ich bin ein Berliner," instead of what he meant to say, "Ich bin Berliner."

I'm really not sure if we should amend these misstatements or not. We can edit our writing or reshoot a scene, but when we make historical speeches it's not as easy to revise! Besides, it would be a Herculean task to correct the verbal mistakes of our tongue- and brain-tied President Bush.

I hope people will listen to what I mean, not to what I say!

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Only when we remake ourselves can we remake the world.
- Outer Limits (2001)

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Rob D / Blackwolf, the yule dodo
Deck the Malls


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quote:
But, if we correct this error, we should also correct the words of JFK, who declared himself to be a pastry, when he said "Ich bin ein Berliner," instead of what he meant to say, "Ich bin Berliner."
Actually the "Ich bin ein Berliner" is the correct way to say one belongs to Berlin. "Ich bin Berliner", would rather state he lives in Berlin. And the joke with Berliner = Jelly donut. It loses some power when one consideres that this pastry is called "Pfannenkuchen" in Berlin and "Krapfen" in Munich. If ye try to eat a "Berliner" in Berlin, they'd put ye into jail for cannibalism.

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blucanary
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It's not really revision if what he said simply wasn't transmitted audibly. *shrugs* I can't imagine how much I'd flub up a line like that if I was the first one to ever step foot on the moon.

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antiquary
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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I've heard it said that the word 'a' is pronounced rather under the breath in Ohio, Armstrong's home state, and that Ohians hear Armstrong's line as 'One small step for a man'. I'd be interested in hearing Rob D's opinion on that. Or is there anyone else here from Ohio?
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surfcitydogdad
Jingle Bell Hock


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Thanks for the elucidation, Rob D. I don't want to spread urban legends myself, but I'd always heard that Kennedy said he wished he were a pastry, so if that's not the case, great!

Good point, blucanary and antiquary. If Armstrong got it right, and it was the audio reception that cut out his "a," I'm fine with that. Having grown up in the 60s and watched and listened to Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo misions, I can tell you the transmissions weren't generally very good. By the 70s, they were hitting golf balls on the moon, but things used to be pretty shaky.

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Only when we remake ourselves can we remake the world.
- Outer Limits (2001)

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evilrabbit
Jingle Bell Hock


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quote:
Originally posted by antiquary:
I've heard it said that the word 'a' is pronounced rather under the breath in Ohio, Armstrong's home state, and that Ohians hear Armstrong's line as 'One small step for a man'. I'd be interested in hearing Rob D's opinion on that. Or is there anyone else here from Ohio?

Well, I grew up in Ohio, and maybe it's regional thing, but I don't remember a lot of "a" dropping in Akron. Although people did have a tendency to pronounce short i's like short e's (melk instead of milk, etc.) Bugged the heck out of me.

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Casey, making hot chocolate
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I've lived in Ohio my entire life, been to every corner of the state, and I've never heard a dropped a as they claim. A as "uh", sure, but never totally gone.

He muffed his line. Simple.

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"To be or not to be! That is the question! Now, will you answer, dare, double dare, or take the Physical Challenge?" --Mark Summers as Hamlet
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chillas
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Ditto what Casey said, on all points.

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Come on, come on - and the world's a little brighter


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GenYus
Away in a Manager's Special


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I don't think it was a due to transmission errors. There is not sufficient pause between "for" and "man" for an "a" to be in there unless his speaking rate change just for that article. Also, there is crackle over "giant", but it would very coincidental that his transmission cut out for just a short word like "a" but transmitted just fine for all of "for" and "man".

blucanary, the fact that he was the first man to step on the moon would have (IMO) made it all the more likely that he would flub his line. If I were the first human to step on Mars, the last thing on my mind would be making sure I got the words right.

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IIRC, it wasn't the shoe bomber's loud prayers that sparked the takedown by the other passengers; it was that he was trying to light his shoe on fire. Very, very different. Canuckistan

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jimmy101
The First USA Noel


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quote:
Originally posted by GenYus:
...there is crackle over "giant", but it would very coincidental that his transmission cut out for just a short word like "a" but transmitted just fine for all of "for" and "man".

It is kind of tough to do a statistical analysis of a single event. It is entirely possible that the "a" was dropped in the transmission. The quality of the transmission is really pretty bad.

Personally, I liked that he flubbed the line. It has much more character and power than if he had simply repeated a line he had written months before and practiced many times. He flubbed it because of the gravity of what he was doing at the moment. The importance and the danger.

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musicgeek
Deck the Malls


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No, no, no! Armstrong PURPOSEFULLY flubbed the line to tip off people that something wasn't right -- he was coerced into the whole faked moon landing, and was sending us a clue to look harder at the evidence! It's like Elvis' middle name being spelled wrong on his gravestone, man!!!

I got it...
[fish]

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[God said] "I'll just sit back in the shade while everyone gets laid; that's what I call intelligent design." - Chris Smither, "Origin of the Species"

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DaGuyWitBluGlasses
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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One = Stressed
Small = Stressed
Step = Stressed
For = often stressed
A= usually unstressed
Man = Stressed.


Unstressed syllables do not take a significant amount of time to pronounce. Especially when taking so much time to stress the rest of the sentence, the unstressed syllable wants to be rushed to compensate.

let this be a lesson why good sentences often use Iambic pentameter (icl. Trochee). It just sounds clearer [Wink]

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Elwood
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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I'm still skeptical. The ability to slow a recording down, either on tape or digitally has been with us for a long time, and Protools and other Digital Audio Workstations provide pretty accurate graphical analysis of sound. Why would it have taken this long to find it, with software that specialized? Thirty-five milliseconds might be enough time to fire off an "a," but I still think it would have been found earlier.

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"If I didn't see it and didn't know it was a real news report, I wouldn't believe it. I mean, how nutty can you get?"-Pat Robertson Oct 26, 2006.

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jimmy101
The First USA Noel


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Doesn't look like the guy has very good evidence for the missing "a". He says the "a" lasted 35 milliseconds. That isn't "missing" that's non-existent.
quote:
Ford had detected the errant "a" in data about 35 milliseconds long, pronounced so quickly by the Apollo 11 mission commander that it was in a "sub-aural region," Hansen said. (cite)
Translation; "sub-aural region" = "it can't be heard"
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Elwood
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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I think I'm gonna throw the Armstrong sample into ReCycle and have a look-see and listen at various speeds. It will be cool to have the sample for a song of something. So far as I'm concerned, if its not in ReCycle, the "a" doesn't exist. Software that goes beyond what I think is the best sample-editor in existance is just grasping at straws.

Edit: I'll add a boatload of compression just to be sure. If it's there at all, the compression should bring it out. (I can't be the first person to do this, though, so I remain highly skeptical.)

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"If I didn't see it and didn't know it was a real news report, I wouldn't believe it. I mean, how nutty can you get?"-Pat Robertson Oct 26, 2006.

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Elwood
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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I found a site that had Armstrong at 1/4 speed, unfortunately I closed it and can't seem to find it again. I'm not sure I'm going to put too much effort into this one. There's a sound there. It might be a heart beat, a breath, or static, but I'm quite certain it is not a human speaking an English article. It's just not there.

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"If I didn't see it and didn't know it was a real news report, I wouldn't believe it. I mean, how nutty can you get?"-Pat Robertson Oct 26, 2006.

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Llewtrah
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quote:
Originally posted by Elwood:
I found a site that had Armstrong at 1/4 speed, unfortunately I closed it and can't seem to find it again. I'm not sure I'm going to put too much effort into this one. There's a sound there. It might be a heart beat, a breath, or static, but I'm quite certain it is not a human speaking an English article. It's just not there.

Well it won't be there, at least to the unaided ear, if atmospheric interference prevented it reaching the Earth. When thunderstorms interfere with portable radios the music "isn't there" according to my ears but it is still being transmitted by the station and could possbly be partly heard if the portable radio had complex filtering algorithms.

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Salamander
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Well, I guess I believe the evidence for the missing "a" rests in the second half of the statement Armstrong made and not in some electronic analysis of the recording.

That is, I believe he flubbed it. His voice starts in a rather authoritive tone... then there is the pause... and (to my ear) a rather disappointed-sounding ending. If he hadn't flubbed it, I'd have expected the tone of his voice to be consistent the entire way and there would not have been that pause.

ETA: Not that I really care. Armstrong's accomplishment is in no way diminished by the fact that he flubbed his little speech.

Quite frankly, if it'd been me out there... all people would've heard was some manic giggling followed by the sound of me hyperventilating.

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Waby
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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I agree. I dont really care. If you try saying the line out loud both ways, it sounds way better leaving out the 'a' than saying it.
Didnt he just make those words up spontaneously anyway? Dont tell me they gave him a script to learn up there....

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Silas Sparkhammer
I Saw V-Chips Come Sailing In


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I'm with surfcitydogdag and GenYus and Salamander: Neil Armstrong had just survived a hairy landing, was at the most significant moment of his career, and, in addition to all else, was not a trained public speaker.

He flubbed the line. Listen to the LONG pause after it, where (I suggest) you can hear him kicking himself all the way to Neptune and back.

And...as others have said...who cares? The bloke is human. Far better he screwed up a prepared speech than that he screwed up the controls when landing the LEM!

Think how much worse it could have been: he could have taken a bribe to have said, "Drink Pepsi!" He'd have been court-martialed...and a millionaire.

Silas

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DaGuyWitBluGlasses
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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quote:
Originally posted by Salamander:

That is, I believe he flubbed it

There's more than one way to flub it though.

He didn't necessarilly forget the word.

I know i often miss saying entire syllables, even though i am hearing them in my head as i think about what i'm saying.

But a missed phoneme can affect the pronounciation of another phoneme. If you try it yourself you can pronounce the R in many different mmouth shapes, maybe the 35 milisecond "a" sound is evidence of a certain mouth shape when the r was pronunced.

Or i wouldn't be suprised if sophisticated equipment can here what shape your mouth is in as you pronounce the M sound, as you start breathing. If you try it yourself and have good ears you can tell there is a slight difference in the sound as you begin the M pronounciation (i.e. the humming sound doesn't come immediately)

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Pogue Ma-humbug
Happy Christmas (Malls are Open)


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quote:
Originally posted by Waby:
Didnt he just make those words up spontaneously anyway? Dont tell me they gave him a script to learn up there....

As I understand it, Nixon speechwriter -- and later NYT columnist -- William Safire wrote the words.

Anyway, I'd like to think that The Onion's transcript is more accurate.

Pogue

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