Plus: See the Apollo 11 moon landing in augmented reality |

July 18, 2019

By Lily Rothman

The upcoming 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing has offered a chance to spend some time looking back at that very special moment in history—how it happened, what it meant and where it led. There’s lots to be said about it (more on that below!) but it’s likely that the first words the anniversary brings to mind will be one particular quote: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

But why did Neil Armstrong choose those exact words to be the first spoken on the moon? There are lots of theories about it, and TIME’s Olivia B. Waxman broke them down. Here, she explains the real story.

Here’s more of the history that made news this week:

The Science Behind TIME’s New Apollo 11 Moon Landing Augmented Reality Experience

It's now live in the TIME Immersive app for iPhone and Android

Author: How the Apollo Program Changed Our Understanding of What the Moon Even Is

Apollo samples showed that rocks from the Moon were, in important ways, very like rocks from the Earth. That discovery was key, writes Oliver Morton

They Were at Mission Control During Apollo 11. 50 Years Later, the Memory Still Moves Them to Tears

A half-century later, the men who made it happen still get choked up talking about that day in 1969. Here's what they remember

Apollo 11 Had 3 Men Aboard, But Only 2 Walked on the Moon. Here’s What it Was Like to Be the Third

The command module pilot — the crewmember who didn't walk on the moon — recalls his role 50 years ago as 'the ticket home for Neil and Buzz'

How Historians Are Reckoning With the Former Nazi Who Launched America’s Space Program

In the years since the original Space Race has ended, historians have begun to reassess Wernher von Braun’s legacy


 July 19, 1948

This Week in 1948: Howard Hughes

“Said Hughes: ‘My life is not exactly going to be dull for the next two years. I'm really cooking at RKO and things are going to pop. I'll make news for you. The only thing that could stop me would be my death—and even that would be a story.’ Hollywood had known something of the meteoric Howard Hughes story for two decades. He had always been an independent—a lone wolf, unpredictable and exasperatingly successful most of the time. Now he had stepped into control of a top studio." (July 19, 1948)

Read the full story

 July 18, 1977

Today in 1977: Baseball’s Best Hitter

“Consider the problem: a bat 2 3/4 in. in diameter at its widest, hitting a ball not quite 3 in. in diameter; two objects—one cylindrical, the other a sphere—meeting head-on. Consider the speed: a major league pitcher's fastball traveling well over 90 m.p.h., hissing the 60-ft. 6-in. distance from mound to plate in 2/5 of a second. Consider the odds: the game's greatest stars failing the task seven times in ten, and still they are .300 hitters, worthy of holding forth at banquets in the winter and holding out for a bigger piece of the pie in the spring. And hitting .400 for the season? That would take the cake, and no one has done it since Ted Williams finished at .406 to bring glory to the summer of '41. Now consider Rodney Cline Carew, the best damn hitter in baseball.’” (July 18, 1977)

Read the full story

July 17, 1944

This Week in 1944: Ernie Pyle

“What happened to Ernie Pyle was that the war suddenly made the kind of unimportant small people and small things he was accustomed to write about enormously important. Many a correspondent before him had written of the human side of war, but their stories were usually about the heroes and the exciting moments which briefly punctuate war's infinite boredom. Ernie Pyle did something different. More than anyone else, he has humanized the most complex and mechanized war in history.’" (July 17, 1944)

Read the full story


Peas and Thank You This BBC Travel story by Dene Mullen considers the question of whether Egypt’s falafel is the world’s best, but it also contains a fascinating history of chickpeas.

On the Run For Wirecutter, Dan Koeppel takes a long walk back through the history of the treadmill.

Credit Due In this fascinating look behind the scenes, Elizabeth Jensen, public editor at NPR, considers how it happened that a public-radio show did a segment about a book without talking about the historian who wrote it.

State of Mind Historian Drew Gilpin Faust writes for The Atlantic about the history of race and racism in Virginia—and her own personal history growing up there.

Cat Fight In a list sure to result in claws-out arguments, BBC History Magazine has ranked history’s top 10 cats.

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