Today is the first anniversary of the day I started working at Microsoft – in the C# compiler quality assurance team. After 21 straight years in Universities, either as a student or in the lab, the past year has been quite a change.
It’s a great team, and a nice company - “Where do you want to go today?”
A year is but a tick of the cosmic wheel. About 35 years ago, when I was barely 4, on July 20, 1969 the lunar module Eagle landed on the surface of the moon, at Tranquility Base. Aldrin and Armstrong were there less than 24 hours, but they left their mark, literally and figuratively; their footprints in the lunar soil are expected to last millions of years.
Back on earth, and 3.75 million years earlier, two other individuals - one smaller than the other - took maybe 30 seconds to leave their own trail in the moist volcanic ash near the village of Laetoli in the eastern Serengeti Plain. Not quite 10 years after television brought the images of Apollo 11 home, Mary Leakey excavated a 75 foot long trail that included these footprints . (See Scientific American September 1998 for a good article). Although not yet fully bipedal, the shape of the early hominid foot is already uncannily similar to the modern human (on right above). After spending over 5 decades of their professional careers at Olduvai Gorge and Laetoli in East Africa’s Rift Valley, Mary and Louis Leakey too left their mark on our understanding of where we came from.
So what’s the connection between Laetoli, Tranquility, and Redmond? Or between Leaky, Armstrong, and myself? Or between a hand pick, a spacecraft, and a piece of software? To me it’s in the images.
Imagine now that it is late evening, and you - that juvenile hominid above - are returning from a seasonal watering hole to the safety of the trees at the edge of the savannah. As you walk hand-in-hand with your parent, the full moon rises ahead of you, and both of you pause to gaze at it in awe.
Dare you imagine where you want to go today? What footprints will you leave in the sands of time?