I guess that debate’s over!

Not everyone believes that 40 years ago Americans landed on the moon. There are those who hold the whole Apollo 11 expedition was staged in a TV studio somewhere. Why? To fool the Russians. Or to fool us. Or because someone in the Nixon White House said, “Hey, let’s not and say we did.” When it comes to vast and sinister conspiracies, there are always plenty of reasons and every one is good enough. But I just spotted a story from space.com on the AOL home page that announces this is one conspiracy theory that no longer holds water. It begins: “For stubborn folks who still believe the Apollo astronauts never landed on the moon, NASA has new images — definitive proof — that clearly show the Apollo 11 lander that carried the first astronauts to the lunar surface 40 years ago.” A photo is offered on which an arrow points to a white spot on some sort of gray mottled field. It could be the surface of the moon. A caption explains that we are looking at the lunar lander and its shadow, as photographed by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. But to be honest, we could just as easily be seeing a pimple on a blowup of the backside of a rhinoceros. What’s so sweet about this story is the idea that skeptics who weren’t fooled by the TV coverage back in 1969 of the Saturn V rocket taking off, the lunar lander settling in, and of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin capering on the moon’s surface will regard these new images as the “definitive proof” they demanded and change their minds.