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The Seahorse and the Moon

When I was 7 years old, some people landed on the moon. At the time, I was fascinated by spaceflight. However, we had gone to a place on the countryside for summer holidays and there was no TV there. I missed the TV-transmission. There is a picture showing me in front of a radio (one of these old valve-based big radios that gave a humming noise when you switched them on. The little green “eye” on its front started shining and with some cracking and swooshing the voice of a reporter or some music appeared. That old type of radio. There was a kind of magic in these old boxes that modern electronics has lost.

File:Valve receiver Tefifa.jpg

I was told that I was sitting there listening to a program about Apollo 11’s lunar module landing on the moon. I am sure the radio station still has the tape with that program in its archive. Probably there was a reporter describing what was going on and also some live transmissions of the radio talk between the control center and the astronauts. Some static noise and some occasional beeps. I have never found out what these beeps are for, I guess they are the invention of some show business consultants who advised to put them in to make the whole thing more interesting. However that might be, all over the world little boys playing astronaut where beeping in their radio communications. At least, we did. So that lander, the “Eagle” descended down to the moon.

File:Apollo 11 Lunar Module Eagle in landing configuration in lunar orbit from the Command and Service Module Columbia.jpg

The funny thing about it is: I cannot remember. I was told I listened to it but I have absolutely no memory of that. I was absolutely fascinated by spaceflight but when it happened, it did not stick in my memory.

There is a little part of your brain that brain scientists call the hippocampus. Now, that means seahorse. When anatomists first saw this brain structure, they had no idea what it was, so they gave it a name based on its shape. It resembles a sea horse and so they named it “hippocampus”. On this picture, you see the hippocampus from a human brain (left) and a sea horse (right).

File:Hippocampus and seahorse cropped.JPG

Got the idea? So you have such a thing in your brain, even two, a left one and a right one. We know now that it has something to do with the formation of lasting memories.

Now in that July 1969 I was sitting in front of that radio listening to a report about how the first people set foot on the moon, and my damned seahorse decided that was not worth keeping in the long term.

Today I think: what a wise decision. My seahorse proved more intelligent than I was at the time. My seahorse decided that the program I was listening to was boring. And I am sure it was. Imagine that poor reporter who had to explain something that took hours and hours (beep, beep, shshsh…). My seahorse understood what I, a seven year old victim of propaganda, could not understand at the time: manned spaceflight is boring.

In those days, I did not know that. Of course, I was going to become an astronaut. We were playing spaceship. One of my friends had chairs with a removable seating at home.

File:Dining chair 1939.jpg

We put those chairs against a table the wrong way around, with the back rest against the table. Under the table we were inside our space ship. We could remove that seat upholstery to open the space ships escape hatch. Then, tethered to the space ship with a piece of pack-twine, we were floating through space (beep). You have to tense the muscles in your arms and legs to become “weightless” (beep).

A call from mission control (my friend’s mother) brought us back to earth where we could eat some biscuits.

Today I think the Apollo Program was just a cold war propaganda show, with nearly no scientific yield and good for nothing. But some people remain 8 to 12 year old boys. They continue to float through outer space without contact to earth and its realities and never grow up. It looks like you need good old earth’s gravity to do so.

Now they are telling us we must send somebody to mars. Some poor mislead people will be put into a flying prison for several hundred days to visit a desert. All the science they can do there can be done by unmanned missions as well, for a lower price. Let us not listen to the propagandists, let us listen to the whisper and wisdom of the seahorses instead.

2 thoughts on “The Seahorse and the Moon

  1. Great story. Loved the way you made relationships to something I, a second grader, also thought boring to watch on the television… and so went out to play night tag knowing we wouldn’t have to come inside until late.

  2. I think my my hippocampus are very lazy since I have a terrible memory, I’ve forgotten more things than I know! And I can just picture two lottle ploys playing ‘space men’, that was my version of this game except I was an alien 🙂

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