It is true: at one point in scientific history, we had reason to believe the Earth is flat. We also once prescribed meth to cure headaches, assumed that atoms are identical in mass, and diagnosed female libido as a medical disorder. Sometimes, science gets it wrong, which why it’s important to “question everything,” as in the words of Neil deGrasse Tyson. But other times, we take it too far.
For two and a half hours on July 20th, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin explored the lunar surface by foot while Michael Collins piloted the Apollo 11 orbiter around the Moon. That is the history we continue to celebrate today, nearly 50 years since the accomplishment. Many of us either remember watching the Moon landing ourselves, or have heard the memories from our parents and grandparents.
So what do you say when someone insists that the Moon landings never really happened?
1. 0% chance of wind.
One of the most popular “proofs” to support the conspiracy theories is the flag on the Moon. From photos and video, it appears to be flapping in the wind. But if there’s no air on the Moon, how can that be possible?
The truth is that the flag isn’t flapping. There is a horizontal rod projecting from the post at the top of the pole to hold the flag unfurled. The flag was disturbed as it was planted into the ground, and it kept this bent shape because of the lack of strong gravity on the Moon.
In video footage of the flag being planted into the Moon’s surface, it also appears to wave back and forth. This is because when the astronauts were planting it, they rotated it back and forth to better dig into the lunar soil, which of course made the flag ripple as it swung like a pendulum - without a breeze. There is a huge amount of footage in which the flag stayed in exactly the same position.
2. Space is dark.