Neil Armstrong's 'small step for man' might be a misquote, study says
- Armstrong was heard around the world calling the first moon walk a "small step for man"
- He contended he had said "a man"
- Numerous studies have been carried out
- A new study of speech patterns near his hometown found he may have said "for a"
(CNN) -- When astronaut Neil Armstrong uttered what became one of the best-known -- and most debated -- quotes in all of history, he actually might have said it exactly the way he meant to, not the way people heard it.
After Armstrong lowered his left foot from the landing craft to the surface of the moon, people watching around the world heard him call it "one small step for man."
Both he and NASA initially insisted that he said "one small step for a man," and now a new and novel study on the much-analyzed quote backs him up.
Researchers from Michigan State University and Ohio State University have "bolstered Neil Armstrong's side of the story," said Laura Dilley, an MSU assistant professor of communicative sciences and disorders.
Astronaut Neil Armstrong, commander of Apollo 11 Lunar Landing Mission, with his family on August 26, 1963.
Armstrong: First man on the moon
2012: Neil Armstrong remembered
2009: Hear from astronaut Neil Armstrong
After becoming the first person to step on the moon in 1969, Armstrong said what was heard as: "That's one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind."
You can hear the audio here.
Later, as NASA explains, Armstrong said he had intended to say "a man," and thought he had. But he agreed that "a" did not seem audible in the recording.
Numerous intense studies have been carried out over the years, using high-tech equipment, all in the effort to discover whether he had indeed uttered that one little sound.
In 2006, Peter Shann Ford said he had found the "a" in a study of the audio waveform, NASA explains. Then, "more rigorous analyses of the transmission were undertaken by people with professional experience with audio waveforms and, most importantly, audio spectrograms. None of these analyses support Ford's conclusion."
First man on the moon gave rare interview
Until now, perhaps.
The MSU and OSU researchers took what they call a novel approach: studying how people from Armstrong's native central Ohio pronounce "for" and "for a."
The team studied recordings of 40 people in Columbus, near Armstrong's native town of Wapakoneta. They found numerous examples of "for" and "for a" sounding similar.
Their results suggest that it is entirely possible that Armstrong said what he claimed, though evidence indicates that people are statistically more likely to hear 'for man' instead of 'for a man' on the recording," Michigan State University said in a news release.
"We feel we've partially vindicated him," Dilley said. "But we'll most likely never know for sure exactly what he said."
Recalling Armstrong's "life well-lived"
Part of complete coverage on
June 29, 2014 -- Updated 1551 GMT (2351 HKT)
If you think you saw a flying saucer over Hawaii, you might not be crazy -- except what you saw didn't come from outer space, though that may be its ultimate destination.
June 27, 2014 -- Updated 0147 GMT (0947 HKT)
The U.S. space shuttle program retired in 2011, leaving American astronauts to hitchhike into orbit. But after three long years, NASA's successor is almost ready to make an entrance.
June 13, 2014 -- Updated 1421 GMT (2221 HKT)
When I first poked my head inside Virgin Galactic's newest spaceship, I felt a little like I was getting a front-row seat to space history.
June 10, 2014 -- Updated 2303 GMT (0703 HKT)
The sun is putting on a fireworks show again.
June 24, 2014 -- Updated 2302 GMT (0702 HKT)
A year is a very long time on Mars -- 687 days. NASA's Curiosity rover can attest that it's enough time for some unexpected life changes.
May 8, 2014 -- Updated 2205 GMT (0605 HKT)
It's hard to describe billions of years of cosmic history. But scientists have used a code to create a model of how the universe as we know it today might have evolved.
May 2, 2014 -- Updated 1800 GMT (0200 HKT)
At least one corner of the solar system may be serving up an ice-and-water sandwich, with the possibility of life on the rocks.
April 9, 2014 -- Updated 1503 GMT (2303 HKT)
Planetary nebula Abell 33 has taken on romantic proportions.
April 8, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
You can't see it happening on Earth, but space itself is stretching. Ever since the Big Bang happened 13.8 billion years ago, the universe has been getting bigger.
March 26, 2014 -- Updated 2059 GMT (0459 HKT)
Scientists have added another celestial body to the short list of objects in our solar system that have rings around them.
March 27, 2014 -- Updated 1759 GMT (0159 HKT)
Astronomers have discovered a dwarf planet that's even farther away than Pluto.
February 28, 2014 -- Updated 1259 GMT (2059 HKT)
Our galactic neighborhood just got a lot bigger. NASA announced the discovery of 715 new planets.
March 18, 2014 -- Updated 1437 GMT (2237 HKT)
Scientists have made a breakthrough in understanding how our world as we know it came to be.
February 25, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
From a sheep ranch in Western Australia comes the oldest slice of Earth we know.
February 19, 2014 -- Updated 1902 GMT (0302 HKT)
Cassiopeia A was a star more than eight times the mass of our sun before it exploded in the cataclysmic, fiery death astronomers call a supernova.
February 10, 2014 -- Updated 2207 GMT (0607 HKT)
Researchers have found clues that water could be flowing in the present, at least during warm seasons.
February 15, 2014 -- Updated 1602 GMT (0002 HKT)
The "jelly doughnut" rock that seemed to appear out of nowhere on Mars last month did not fall out of an extraterrestrial pastry box.
February 7, 2014 -- Updated 0356 GMT (1156 HKT)
It's a dot in the sky.
February 13, 2014 -- Updated 0744 GMT (1544 HKT)
Reports of Jade Rabbit's demise may have been premature.
January 16, 2014 -- Updated 1358 GMT (2158 HKT)
It's rare for astronomers to spot a planet in a star cluster. That's partly why a cluster called Messier 67 is so special: We now know that it has three planets orbiting stars.
Today's five most popular stories