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  Left-handed astronauts

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Author Topic:   Left-handed astronauts
TrueNorth
Member

Posts: 161
From: Bathurst, NB, Canada
Registered: Jun 2003

posted 02-22-2005 01:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for TrueNorth   Click Here to Email TrueNorth     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
At a 2004 autograph show, Wally Schirra, in his joking way, took to calling me "lefty" after seeing me sign a check. He explained to me that the percentage of left-handed astronauts was much higher than in the public-at-large, and this was because lefties are so brilliant. Of course Wally is a lefty himself and who was I to disagree with him? Each time he saw me through the weekend he laughed and said "There goes lefty." I thought that was kind of cool.

But was Wally's statement true? (Not the part about lefties being brilliant -- we already know that -- but about the high percentage of lefties amongst astronauts?) Anybody know? Where are those astronaut trading cards when you need them?

Also, would left-handedness have affected any of their use of the controls or other operations they had to perform up there?

John K. Rochester
Member

Posts: 1291
From: Rochester, NY, USA
Registered: Mar 2002

posted 02-22-2005 03:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for John K. Rochester   Click Here to Email John K. Rochester     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't know about them having problems but I, as a lefty, had a heck of a time using the simulation of Gemini docking with the Agena target vehicle at the Neil Armstrong Museum in Wapakoneta. Tough working both the controller and the translation device at the same time...

scout706
Member

Posts: 166
From: Phoenix, AZ USA
Registered: May 2002

posted 02-22-2005 04:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for scout706   Click Here to Email scout706     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It is true, more lefties are astronauts, just as in aviation, there are more left handed pilots. There was an interesting study done several years ago, I'll see if I can find it. Pilots/Astronauts as a group are more likely to be:
  • left handed
  • first born
  • acrophobic (afraid of heights)
As far as having trouble with the controls, a military pilot is trained to use the control stick with the right hand and throttle in the left.

Scott
Member

Posts: 3305
From: Houston, TX
Registered: May 2001

posted 02-22-2005 05:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott   Click Here to Email Scott     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Edgar Mitchell (a lefty) told me that about 40% of the early astronauts (I assume he meant Mercury-Apollo era) were left-handed.

Novaspace
Member

Posts: 434
From: Tucson, AZ USA
Registered: Sep 2004

posted 02-23-2005 03:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Novaspace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As a lefty myself, I have long beern fascinated by the incidence of left-handed astronauts:
  • Dick Gordon
  • Charlie Duke
  • Jim Lovell
  • Wally Schirra
  • Ed Mitchell
  • Mike Collins
For sure. Don't know about deceased astronauts or shuttle astronauts, but it is said 25% of them are (10% of the general population).

Dick once told me when asked if it was a detriment: "On the contrary, it's an advantage. I could control the stick and take notes at the same time."

40% of artists are Lefties as are the majority of Macintosh users and developers.

(A Google search says that Armstrong and Aldrin are leftys but Aldrin is definitely not.)

taneal1
Member

Posts: 218
From: Orlando, FL
Registered: Feb 2004

posted 02-27-2005 07:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for taneal1   Click Here to Email taneal1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Early left-handed astronauts by selection group:
  • 1959- Schirra
  • 1962- Lovell
  • 1963- Collins, Gordon, Eisele
  • 1965- None
  • 1966- Mitchell, Duke
7/44 = about 1 out of 6. I'm left-handed too, so I had to check...

Lou Chinal
Member

Posts: 1274
From: Staten Island, NY
Registered: Jun 2007

posted 06-08-2007 12:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
John Glenn is also left handed.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 37712
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-08-2007 12:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm not sure what gave you that idea, but as this photo (and my own experience) suggests, Glenn is right-handed.

MCroft04
Member

Posts: 1507
From: Smithfield, Me, USA
Registered: Mar 2005

posted 06-09-2007 06:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If I'm reading this post correctly the early astronaut corps had a higher than national average of lefties. I would have guessed the opposite. In my work (oil and gas exploration/development) most of the engineers are righties and many of us geologists are lefties. I'd think that most of the early astronauts had engineering backgrounds and would have been predominately right handed. I find that I often have difficulty grasping complex engineering concepts, but can usually see the big picture more easily. Without prior knowledge I would have guessed that Scott Carpenter, Alan Bean, Rusty Schweickart, and Ed Mitchell would have been left handed (Ed is). Many of the lefties (e.g. Duke, Gordon) I would have guessed to be right handed. So much for logic.

Lou Chinal
Member

Posts: 1274
From: Staten Island, NY
Registered: Jun 2007

posted 06-11-2007 02:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
I'm not sure what gave you that idea, but as this photo (and my own experience) suggests, Glenn is right-handed.
On the morning of Feb. 20, 1962, Glenn climbed into Friendship 7 with a pilot's kneeboard on his left leg. He wore his back-up clock on his right wrist. There is a picture of him sitting in the transfer van the morning of the flight.

East-Frisian
Member

Posts: 545
From: Germany
Registered: Apr 2005

posted 06-11-2007 02:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for East-Frisian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Astronaut Megan McArthur seems to be a lefty too.

clifford
Member

Posts: 233
From: Maplewood, nj, 07040
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 11-01-2009 11:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for clifford   Click Here to Email clifford     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am wondering how many Apollo astronauts were left handed. I read somewhere that one out of four were. That would be far in excess of the national average. So far I have:
  • Armstrong
  • Aldrin
  • Schirra
  • Lovell
  • Gordon
  • Duke
  • Mitchell
Are these correct? Any more to add?

Editor's note: Threads merged.

Lou Chinal
Member

Posts: 1274
From: Staten Island, NY
Registered: Jun 2007

posted 11-01-2009 01:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If Collins is a lefty (see earlier post) this would make all three guys on Apollo 11 left handed. Is this true?

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 37712
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 11-01-2009 02:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong are right-handed. Mike Collins is left-handed.


Credit: collectSPACE (Aldrin, Collins)/The White House (Armstrong)

webhamster
Member

Posts: 106
From: Ottawa, Canada
Registered: Jul 2008

posted 11-01-2009 08:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for webhamster     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Mike Mullane notes in "Riding Rockets" that over time he learned that a disproportionate number of astronauts were "firstborn, left-handed Protestants" in contrast to his "second-born, right-handed Catholic" origins. He doesn't say the majority were left-handed, only a disproportionate number as opposed to the population at large.

dfox
Member

Posts: 203
From: Scarsdale, NY, United States
Registered: Mar 2010

posted 09-23-2010 10:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dfox   Click Here to Email dfox     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A friend of mine had heard that a majority of the astronauts who went to the moon were left handed. He asked me to verify if these were correct.

Does anyone know the stats on the handedness of the Apollo crews?

Editor's note: Threads merged.

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