One of the things I enjoy the most about twitter is the accounts that are “livetweeting” some historical event as if they were taking place right now. I am a huge fan of the @RealTimeWWII account that has been live tweeting the war as it happened on this day and time back in the 40s (it’s now up to 1942).

The benefit of following a historical event this way, even one that I know well and studied for quite a bit, is that it’s no longer just an atomic “event”. The granularity, the detail and the real duration of it become much more obvious. It’s one thing to talk about the blitz and it’s another to follow the events that composed it day by day and being able to focus on individuals and how they were affected.

Something really exciting that I caught on to in the last few days is an account that is livetweeting the Apollo 11 mission. I’ve always been interested in this famous missions, but watching this event unfold through twitter has given me a new appreciation of both the complexity of the mission and a better understanding of what it must have been to live through that.

Here’s an example of what I mean. It’s one thing to talk about how long it takes to get to the moon and back, and targeting and landing and all that and it’s something completely different to really try and think about what it was like for the people, the three humans, that were part of all this.
They took off on July 16th and came back on Earth on July 24th. That’s 9 days! I’ve always known that this mission took a while, but it never really occurred to me what that meant. These astronauts had to sleep, they had to eat and they had to do what people usually do after sleeping and eating! Armstrong and Aldrin didn’t just walk on the moon, the dined and slept on the moon!

I have problems sleeping after a bad week and these guys had to sleep after getting to, landing and walking on the MOON, while still on the moon, without the certainty that they will be able to leave and go back home. They also had to sleep while hurling through space at over 6000 km/h as it took them several days to get back home. And we’re not talking power naps either, they slept more than I do on average night in my bed at home!

I think stepping back a bit too look at events this way adds a very human touch to the entire thing which you never get just by reading about it.

And moreover, I think it also helps to put our own lives in perspective. Yes, it is easy to get overstressed nowadays, maybe easier than “it used to be”, but if astronauts on the moon were able to make time for a meal and for a good night’s sleep, we all probably should too.