Listen With Others

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Listener No 4564: There and Back by Stick Insect

Posted by Dave Hennings on 9 Aug 2019

Stick Insect’s last puzzle was two years ago and had a theme courtesy of a maxim from Plato’s Protagoras: “That man is the measure of all things”. I seem to remember that a bit of googling (or duckduckgoin) was required for it. This week, we had a theme that positively shouted itself out. From the title and the requirement to highlight twelve surnames, we were dealing with the fiftieth anniversary of the first moon landing in 1969.

I have to admit that only nine of them rang a bell with me, and I tried to fill the grid without getting help from the them. However, I couldn’t avoid ARMSTRONG and ALDRIN in rows 1 and 2 giving me such help.

The grid construction for this puzzle was excellent, as was the thematic nature of the clues — half one way, half the other. And then there was the icing on the cake: the order in which the astronauts set foot on the moon was the order in which they appeared from top to bottom in the grid, culminating with CERNAN and SCHMITT. What is (sort of) interesting is that, although Schmitt was the last man to step onto the Moon, Cernan was the last one to leave it.

For those who needed extra help with the theme, the extra letters in the clues to be removed before solving gave We came in peace for all mankind which appeared on plaques attached to the Lunar Modules which were left on the Moon. Finally “ONE GIANT LEAP” went beneath the grid.

It took this anniversary to make me realise how incredible it was to achieve the feat of “… landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth”. I can imagine that a few people must have commented “What did he just say?!” In the end, the Apollo program required about 400,000 people and nearly $300 billion in today’s money. Sadly, some of the test astronauts died before Apollo XI succeeded.

Thanks for the puzzle, SI.


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