Monday, 26 May 2014

Last Man on the Moon

I came across this while browsing the web. The history books are full of records about who did what for the first time, but there are not many activities where a person can claim to be the last to have done something.  One of them is certainly the astronaut Gene Cernan who is known for being “The Last Man on the Moon” as he was the last man to walk on the moon during the Apollo 17 mission, and there is no indication that his record will be broken in the forseeable future and maybe never, given the uselessness of that piece of rock that floats around 380,000 km above us.   He may also be credited with being the ultimate graffiti artist, because he traced his daughter’s initials in the dust on the surface of the moon before he left. He has documented his story in the book “The Last Man on the Moon“, which is now turned into a film by the same name.
"As I take man’s last step from the surface, back home for some time to come – but we believe not too long into the future – I’d like to just say what I believe history will record. That America’s challenge of today has forged man’s destiny of tomorrow. And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus–Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind. Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17."

Sunday, 25 May 2014


I was having a browse through some of my favourite web sites last week, and I noticed on the Arthurs Pass site that there is a note saying that the Deception Swingbridge has been removed.
That brought back a few memories.  I have only been through the Deception twice - the first time going upstream with the tramping club, and the second time going downstream with Leonie about 15 years ago.
On both occasions the river was rather peaceful and we did not need to use the bridge, but I remember it being a rather flimsy looking structure, so I am not surprised that its existance could not be justified as the years of deterioration take their toll.
It is a pity that things change, but when it comes to the wilderness you assume that all will remain as your memory recalls but it is not always so.  On the positive side (if I can believe the photos on the website) I see that the very remote and rather primitive hut at the confluence of the East and West Otehake rivers is apparently still maintained and it looks just like we saw it when it was a welcome home to us for a night on the ambitious 4 day trip that we did a few years ago.
Time can erode our fitness and mobility, but it cannot take away the memories.


Yesterday I posted a story which amounted to some personal boasting about my superb competence in solving complex navigation problems using spherical trigonometry.
Today I was brought down to earth when I encountered a trivial mathematical problem that I can not explain. Here it is:-

A farmer who was a horse breeder, died leaving 3 sons to inherit his estate.

In his will he had stated:-
“I want to leave all my horses to my 3 sons, and because they have contributed to the farm to different extents, I want them distributed as follows:-
My eldest son should get 1/2 (half) of total horses;
My middle son should be given 1/3rd (one-third) of the total horses;
My youngest son should be given 1/9th (one-ninth) of the total horses.”

After his death, the boys discovered that there were 17 horses on the farm, and they could see that it was  impossible to divide 17 into half, or 17 by 3, or 17 by 9.
So they decided to go to a farmer friend who they considered quite smart, to see if he could help them solve this problem.

The farmer friend read the will patiently, and after giving due thought, he went home and brought one of his own horses over and added it to the 17. That increased the total to 18 horses.
Now, he divided the horses according to their fathers Will.
Half of 18  = 9. So he gave the eldest son 9 horses.
1/3rd of 18 = 6. So he gave the middle son 6 horses.
1/9th of 18 = 2. So he gave the youngest son 2 horses.

This added up to a total of 17 horses,  so the farmer friend took his own horse back to his farm, and everyone was happy - problem Solved!

Friday, 23 May 2014


I have had some recent fun in developing a spreadsheet based program to generate flight plans for light aircraft.  It is now looking about right but there is still an amount of testing to be done to verify its accuracy.
It has raised numerous problems, the main one was the need to calculate bearings and distances from global grid co-ordinates using spherical geometry and trigonometry.  Then of course there is the problem of converting speeds from Knots to km per hour, and Nautical miles to kilometers, and degrees to radians.
All this has kept me busy in my spare time.