A new solar technology could be the next big boost for renewable energy

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Across the globe, a clutch of companies from Oxford, England to Redwood City, Calif. are working to commercialize a new solar technology that could further boost the adoption of renewable energy generation.

Earlier this year, OxfordPV, a startup working in tandem with Oxford University received $3 million from the UK government to develop the technology which uses a new kind of material to make solar cells. Two days ago, in the US, a company called Swift Solar raised $7 million to bring the same technology to market, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Called a perovskite cell, the new photovoltaic tech uses hybrid organic-inorganic lead or tin halide-based material as the light-harvesting active layer. It’s the first new technology to offer the promise of better efficiency in the conversion of light to electric power at a lower cost than existing technologies to come along in years.

“Perovskite has let us truly rethink what we can do with the silicon-based solar panels we see on roofs today,” said Sam Stranks, the lead scientific advisor and one of the co-founders of Swift Solar, in a Ted Talk. “Another aspect that really excites me how cheaply these can be made. These thin crystalline films are made by mixing two inexpensive readily abundant salts to make an ink that can be deposited in many different ways… This means that perovskite solar panels could cost less than half of their silicon counterparts.”

First incorporated into solar cells by Japanese researchers in 2009, the perovskite solar cells suffered from low efficiencies and lacked stability to be broadly used in manufacturing. But over the past nine years researchers have steadily improved both the stability of the compounds used and the efficiency that these solar cells generate.

OxfordPV, in the UK, is now working on developing solar cells that could achieve conversion efficiencies of 37% — much higher than existing polycrystalline photovoltaic or thin-film solar cells.

New chemistries for solar cell manufacturing have been touted in the past, but cost has been an obstacle to commercial rollout, given how cheaply solar panels became thanks in part to a massive push to increase manufacturing capacity from the Chinese government.

Many of those manufacturers eventually folded, but the survivors managed to maintain their dominant position in the industry by reducing the need for buyers to look to newer technologies for cost or efficiency savings.

There’s a risk that this new technology also faces, but the promise of radical improvements in efficiencies at costs that are low enough to attract buyers have investors once again putting money behind alternative solar chemistries.

Oxford PV has already set a world-leading efficiency mark for perovskite-based cells at 27.3%. That’s already 4% higher than the leading monocrystalline silicon panels available today.

“Today, commercial-sized perovskite-on-silicon tandem solar cells are in production at our pilot line and we are optimizing equipment and processes in preparation for commercial deployment,” said Oxford PV’s CTO Chris Case in a statement.

 

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This hoverboarding priest is a Christmas gift to all

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Priests do a little too much walking and not nearly enough hoverboarding nowadays. Thankfully, we have some priests who are willing to stand up for what’s hip and correct the trend.

Twitter user Vynnlo‘s local priest recently hoverboarded into his Christmas Eve service, bringing peace and joy to everyone who watched the subsequent viral video.

This isn’t the first time this priest has introduced cool teen technology to his service.

Vynnlo later clarified that the parish didn’t actually give the priest the hoverboard. The priest appears to have borrowed the hoverboard for a sermon about how Jesus adds balance to people’s lives.

Not to disrespect the priest, but anyone who’s ever ridden a hoverboard before (besides this very talented priest) will tell you that hoverboards give you anything but balance. 

Balancing on a hoverboard for more than five seconds is, without a doubt, a Christmas miracle.

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Kid Tries To Catch Santa With Hidden Camera But Gets Dog Poop Instead, Plus 12 Other Viral Christmas Videos

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Christmastime is special because families are together, the spiked eggnog is flowing, and everyone is generally in a jolly and giving mood. This sets the stage for tremendous viral videos from hilarious to heartwarming to heartbreaking. We rounded up some of the best viral videos from Christmas 2018 for you to keep the festive feeling alive for a little longer.

One inquisitive young boy decided that he was going to catch Santa Claus in the act. So he stealthfully set up his iPad under the Christmas tree to catch the moment Santa came down the chimney with his bag of goodies. The kid got sh*t. Literally.

The video didn’t catch Santa delivering presents but it did solve the mystery of who took a dump under the tree. The iPad camera caught the exact moment that the family’s chihuahua took a liquidy, soft serve poo under the tree. The chihuahua’s owners may want to consider switching from wet to dry dog food.

How bad was this kid this year that Santa skipped coal and gave him dog crap? Here was the kid’s reaction to getting a yule log for Xmas.

Not all of the viral Christmas videos are sh*t. This heartwarming video of pitcher Brady Singer paying off his parents’ debt as a thank you for all of the times they sacrificed so he could play baseball is all of the feels. You can read more about the story HERE.

A teenager named Alex posted this unforgettable video of him giving his stepdad the best Christmas gift ever. On Twitter, Alec posted a video of his stepdad opening the gift and wrote: “my stepfather has raised me as his own since I was 3, this Christmas I surprised my family and asked him to adopt me. Merry Christmas.”

Another incredible Christmas adoption happened when a family adopted a boy who never truly experienced Christmas. Here comes the waterworks.

After his dog and wife within months of each other, this family did what they could to try to cheer up their grandpa — they bought him a beautiful puppy. They surprised granddad on Christmas with a brand new bundle of fur and grandpa was instantly in love.

This family celebrated Christmas with a white elephant gift exchange where everyone had to challenge each other to a mini-game to steal their gift. Maybe an idea for Christmas 2019?

A sister gives the gift of a new car to her sibling who had a rundown jalopy that was breaking down on the roads.

Kids surprise stepfather with Kiss tickets and an original tour T-shirt from his very first concert when he was younger.

“Fifteen years ago, my mom lost the diamond to her wedding ring. For most of her marriage, she didn’t wear a ring. Today my dad surprised her,” the post on Reddit says.

A Christmas card has the voicemail from four years ago of their mother and they are blown away.

A woman receives a bear dressed as a police officer and it has the voice of her son, who was a cop when he died, and she understandably gets very emotional.

A grandson pays back his grandpa for stepping up and becoming his father figure when his dad passed away.

“So my cousin recently lost her dog, Kobe, of 11 years… so my cousin’s boyfriend decided to surprise her with a new puppy for Christmas, pls watch, this video will definitely warm your heart up,” the caption on the tremendous viral video.

I’m not crying, it’s all of the coquitos talking right now.

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Want To Live Forever? Booze And Coffee Might Be Your Best Friends

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A lot of people across the world have a daily routine that goes something like this: they wake up early for their job, consume enough coffee to enable them to be effective at completing their daily tasks, and then decompress from the stress by having a drink or three at the end of the day.

Studies have shown that coffee can be beneficial to your health when consumed in moderation, and while scientists continue to spar over the long-term effects of alcohol, some investigations have revealed it may possibly be more impactful than exercise.

While the reports are absolutely anecdotal, multiple people who’ve lived for far too many years on the planet credit a steady consumption of beer as part of their quest for immortality.

Now, there’s a new study that shows there might be something to their strategy.

According to The Detroit Free Press, a recent study conducted at the University of California said a consistently consuming a moderate amount of alcohol and coffee could have a notable impact on your lifespan:

The research found that subjects who drank two glasses of beer or wine every day decreased their chances at a premature death by 18%, and those who drank two cups of coffee a day decreased their chances by 10%.

Of course, the key here is moderation. Coffee can absolutely wreck your shit if you have too much of it and I probably don’t have to tell you about the potential consequences of getting too drunk assuming you’ve ever consumed two Four Lokos in quick succession.

I guess I’m going to become a big coffee beer guy now.

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The 10 best ads of 2018

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There was no dearth of marketers pushing the envelope to create some brilliant ads in 2018. But not all brands — or rather ads — are created equal. 

Several of the ads that stood out this year involved brands like Nike and McDonald’s taking a stand on a political or social issues. Beyond TV commercials, this year’s most memorable ads also took the form of outdoor and experiential stunts.

As 2018 comes to a close, we look back at some of the most creative, thought-provoking, and amusing ads by marketers, ranked from good to best. Check out the year’s worst ads here.

Doritos Blaze vs. Mountain Dew Ice "Battle" (Grade: B)

Pepsi came back strong from its disastrous protest ads in 2017 with this ad for Mountain Dew and Doritos that made its debut in the Super Bowl. Peter Dinklage and Busta Rhymes teamed up against Morgan Freeman and Missy Elliot in this epic showdown between Doritos Blaze and Mountain Dew Ice.

 

OKCupid’s "DTF" (Grade: B)

OKCupid and Wieden+Kennedy New York reclaimed the term "DTF" — a derogatory shorthand used to slut-shame women — for this outdoor campaign, getting people across the country to unabashedly say that they were "DTF." Despite being rejected by Chicago Transit, the campaign won praise and helped grow the dating site’s user base by 25%.

McDonald’s "The Flip" (Grade: B)

McDonald’s flipped its Golden Arches from an M to a W at one of its locations to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8. The fast-food chain and its agency We Are Unlimited also rolled out special "W" packaging at 100 women-owned McDonald’s locations that day across the country, and changed the logo on its social channels. Some praised the move while others charged that McDonald’s was co-opting feminism without making real change, like paying its workers a living wage. 

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Man Documents His 6-Month Journey To Hike Colorado’s Longs Peak While Losing 130-Pounds Along The Way

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Are you ready to get inspired? New year, new you and all that? This clip will help you take those first steps in getting off the couch and shedding those pounds.

I’ve recently lost 20+ pounds in the past 2.5 months by making some diet changes and hitting cardio hard six days a week but that’s absolutely nothing compared to this dude from Colorado who lost an astounding 130-pounds in 6 months. It was all part of his attempt to hike Colorado’s Longs Peak, a 14,259-foot ‘fourteener’ in the Rocky Mountain National Park.

Keith Holt uploaded this YouTube video that starts a little slow but picks up really quickly and shows him literally burning off the weight. He goes from 407 pounds to 277 pounds in six months during his journey to hike up Longs Peak. Buckle in and prepare to get motivated because his attitude at weight loss is straight-up infectious.

This video has me feeling all sorts of things. For starters, I’m annoyed that I’m in Florida right now and it’s flat as all hell here. I couldn’t climb a mountain today if I wanted to without getting on a plane first. It would take me at least 8 hours to drive to the nearest semblance of a mountain, maybe longer.

I stumbled onto this clip above via Reddit after watching a Joe Rogan clip that’s gone viral. In that clip, he talks about the Cosmopolitan magazine cover that features Tess Holiday, an overweight model. If you haven’t seen Joe Rogan’s response to that yet you can watch it here on YouTube. The comments about Joe Rogan’s response are definitely worth a read as well.

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Feast your eyes, heart, and mind on some of the most stunning science and nature photography of 2018

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  • Science and nature provide some of the most compelling photography subjects, both on and off Earth.
  • The staff of Business Insider and Insider rounded up some of our favorite pictures from 2018.
  • The images we picked show elephants under threat, hurricanes from space, individual atoms, face transplants, spacecraft selfies, and more.

Reporters and editors at Business Insider and Insider see, analyze, and write about thousands of stunning science and nature photos every year.

Some pictures tell stories and reveal truths stronger than words could, occasionally inspiring enough minds or wrenching enough hearts to change the course of history. Other images hide amazing secrets that beg to be shown, explained, and demystified.

The best images force us to reconsider how we think the world works and looks (and are also visually arresting, of course). Such shots often show a feat or a discovery, but they can also underscore the scope and reality of ongoing or looming disasters.

As we speed toward the New Year, we rounded up some of our favorite photos of 2018. Take a look.

SEE ALSO: Humanity has racked up extraordinary feats of spaceflight since NASA’s first moon mission 50 years ago. Here are the greatest hits.

DON’T MISS: 2019 will be an extraordinary year in space. Here’s what NASA, SpaceX, and the night sky have in store for planet Earth.

Scientists discovered a new type of aurora earlier this year. They named it STEVE, an acronym for Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement.

STEVE does not share the green and blue hues of other auroras. Instead, it looks purple and is surrounded by a green structure resembling a fence.

This aurora appears much closer to the equator than the northern lights, or aurora borealis.

Amateur sky-watchers first observed the strange lights in Southern Canada three years ago. They later collaborated with NASA, and the group’s findings were published in March.

Each year, the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council puts on a science photography competition. This year’s winner was a stunning photo of a single positively charged atom of strontium.

The photo shows a glow of light emitted by an atom that’s trapped by magnetic fields and laser light. It was taken by David Nadlinger from the University of Oxford.

While you can’t see anything atomic-sized without incredibly advanced imaging techniques, digital cameras can capture the photons (or particles of light) that are absorbed and re-emitted by atoms. 

Photographers also documented devastating natural disasters throughout 2018. In the fall, astronauts in space managed to take pictures of the fearsome hurricanes that battered the US East Coast.

Alexander Gerst, a German astronaut who returned to Earth in December, saw this stunning view of Hurricane Florence from the space station’s windows in September.

"Watch out, America!" Gerst said in a tweet featuring the pictures he took.

The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season was above-average in terms of damage, causing more than $33 billion in losses, due in part to torrential rainfall. Florence was one of two major (Category 4 or above) storms that made landfall in the US; the other was Hurricane Michael.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Apollo astronaut Jim Lovell, who saw Earth rise over the moon 50 years ago, says ‘you go to heaven when you are born’

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  • NASA’s Apollo 8 mission was the first lunar voyage with a human-crewed spacecraft.
  • The moon mission launched on December 21, 1968, and captured the famous "Earthrise" photo exactly 50 years ago — on Christmas Eve of 1968.
  • Astronaut Jim Lovell was flew on Apollo 8 and Apollo 13. He was one of the first three people ever to see Earth rise over the horizon of the moon.
  • Seeing our blue-marble planet from deep space forever changed Lovell, who realized "you go to heaven when you’re born."

Apollo 8, the first crewed mission to the moon, launched 50 years ago. Now once again, planet Earth has a case of moon fever.

NASA recently announced that it’s working with private companies to buy space on their commercial lunar landers. It’s good timing, because a majority of Americans think returning to the moon should be a priority for the space agency.

Other nations are also planning moon missions. On January 3, China may become the first nation ever to gently land a spacecraft on the moon’s far side with its Chang’e-4 mission. The first corporate moon mission is imminent as well, with an Israeli nonprofit called SpaceIL hoping to launch a probe there in mid-February.

Farther down the line, SpaceX plans to send a Japanese billionaire (and a crew of artists) around the moon in 2023 with a gigantic new spacecraft called the Big Falcon Rocket. Even Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, who founded the aerospace company Blue Origin, has big lunar-exploration intentions.

Read more: 2019 will be an extraordinary year in space. Here’s what NASA, SpaceX, and the night sky have in store for planet Earth.

Prior to this buzz of lunar activity, we called up Jim Lovell, a 90-year-old retired NASA astronaut who visited the moon twice during the Apollo program. Though he never landed on the moon, Lovell flew on the Apollo 8 mission and again on Apollo 13, which required a storied effort to rescue the crew from disaster.

During a wide-ranging interview in March 2017, we asked Lovell if there was a moment on Apollo 8 that he wished he spoke more about. His response floored us.

But first, a little setup.

Earth was rife with problems when Apollo 8 launched

james jim lovell astronaut apollo 13 nasa

Apollo 8 lifted off aboard a gigantic Saturn V rocket on December 21, 1968.

Lovell jokingly called that point in history "a hilarious time" for America and the rest of the planet.

"There was the Vietnam War going on, it was not a popular war, especially with the younger people," Lovell told Business Insider. "There were riots, there were two assassinations of prominent people during that period, and so things were looking kind of bad in this country."

At the end of the year, he said, NASA was working toward its commitment, made in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, to send people to the moon before the end of the decade.

"And it happened. So in the last few weeks or days of 1968, we accomplished something that we set out to do that was favorable and approved by just about every body in this country," Lovell said.

He and his two crewmates, Frank Borman and Bill Anders, soon realized it was more than "just" a spaceflight, Lovell added.

"You have to remember we brought back a picture of the Earth as it is 240,000 miles away. And the fact is, it gives you a different perspective of the Earth when you see it as three-dimensional between the sun and the moon, and you begin to realize how small and how significant the body is," he said. "When I put my thumb up to the window I could completely hide it, and then I realized that behind my thumb that I’m hiding this Earth, and there are about 6 billion people that are all striving to live there."

‘You go to heaven when you’re born’

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Lovell said this moment planted a seed that would germinate into full blossom once he was back on Earth.

"You have to really kind of think about our own existence here in the universe," he said. "You realize that people often say, ‘I hope to go to heaven when I die.’ In reality, if you think about it, you go to heaven when you’re born."

Lovell was referring to the remarkable situation we find ourselves in: floating on a cozy rock that is drifting through the seemingly endless void of space.

"You arrive on a planet that has the proper mass, has the gravity to contain water and an atmosphere, which are the very essentials for life," he said. "And you arrive on this planet that’s orbiting a star just at the right distance — not too far to be too cold, or too close to be too hot — and just at the right distance to absorb that star’s energy and then, with that energy, cause life to evolve here in the first place."

Read more: 28 iconic photos of the Earth from space that will make you feel puny and insignificant

"In reality, you know, God has really given us a stage, just looking at where we were around the moon, a stage on which we perform. And how that play turns out is up to us, I guess," he said.

Trapped on a cosmic stage together, and at a time when the US is again painfully divided, we could all take Lovell’s words to heart.

This story has been updated. It was originally published on March 11, 2017.

SEE ALSO: Elon Musk beat a world record for rocket launches in 2018. Here’s every history-making SpaceX mission of the year.

DON’T MISS: Astronaut Anne McClain brought her 4-year-old son to a NASA photo shoot before flying to the space station, and the pictures will melt your heart

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Listen to the haunting sounds astronauts heard on the far side of the moon

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A Look Back at 2018 with Google Marketing Platform

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With the launch of new solutions and new resources, 2018 has been a busy—and exciting—year. As the calendar turns to 2019, now is a good time to reflect on a few noteworthy moments from 2018.

1

A new brand for ads and analytics

We announced Google Marketing Platform, which brought together DoubleClick Digital Marketing and the Google Analytics 360 Suite, to help you plan, buy, measure and optimize digital media and customer experiences in one place. Google Marketing Platform allows you deliver more relevant and effective marketing, while ensuring that you respect your customers’ privacy and give them control over their data.

2

Stronger collaboration with Display & Video 360

As part of the rebrand of our ads and analytics products, we also introduced Display & Video 360, a single, integrated product that helps creative, data and media teams work together to execute end-to-end ad campaigns. This blog series shows how leading brands are using Display & Video 360 to better collaborate during the campaign creation process and get better business outcomes as a result.

3

Deeper analysis in Analytics 360

We introduced three new powerful techniques that help you better understand how customers interact with your website via Advanced Analytics in Analytics 360. Using Exploration, Funnel Analysis, and Segment Overlap, you can dive deeper and surface hard-to-find insights that you can then easily put into action. Our feature brief takes a closer look at the ways Advanced Analysis helps you use data to get the answers you need to make critical business decisions—keeping your customers satisfied and your business thriving.

4

Cross Device capabilities in Google Analytics

We help you see when users visit your website from two different devices, instead of seeing metrics that show two separate sessions, with the launch of new Cross Device capabilities in Google Analytics. These features offer a more complete view of your marketing impact so you can run smarter campaigns that deliver more tailored experiences to your customers.

5

Data Studio for everyone

Data Studio moved out of beta and is now generally available. This launch showed our continued commitment to helping teams identify and share insights from their data, so they can take steps to improve business outcomes.

6

New Media Rating Council accreditations

To ensure the metrics our advertising solutions provide continue to be trusted and aligned with industry standards, we announced new Media Rating Council (MRC) accreditations in September. YouTube video ad impressions and viewability metrics for desktop, mobile web, and mobile in-app are now fully MRC accredited in Google Ads, Display & Video 360, and Campaign Manager.

We hope 2018 was a great year for you and your business and we thank you for your partnership. Stay tuned for what’s to come in 2019!

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The most famous picture of Earth ever taken turns 50 today — here’s the fascinating story behind it

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  • "Earthrise" is the first image of Earth captured by humans from space
  • The photo of Earth was taken aboard Apollo 8 on December 24, 1968, by lunar module pilot Bill Anders.
  • The image made people aware of Earth’s fragility, since it was seen against the blackness of space.

On December 24, 1968 — exactly 50 years ago — Apollo 8 astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and William Anders became the first humans to circle the moon.

The mission was historic. But equally memorable is the famous "Earthrise" photo that resulted, showing Earth rising above the lunar landscape.

Until that point, no human eyes had ever seen our blue marble from so far away.

In Life’s "100 Photographs That Changed the World," acclaimed wilderness photographer Galen Rowell described the unprecedented view of Earth as "the most influential environmental photograph ever taken."

The image of our planet, which seems so small and vulnerable in the blackness of space, made people more aware of its fragility.

Read more: Astronauts explain why nobody has visited the moon in more than 45 years

Earthrise is now one of the most reproduced space photos of all time, appearing on US postage stamps, posters, and the cover of Time magazine in 1969. Many have pointed out the irony of the photo, since Apollo 8 was sent to study and take pictures of the moon’s surface — not Earth.

"Of all the objectives NASA had set before launch, no one had thought of photographing the Earth from lunar orbit," Robert Zimmerman wrote in his book "Genesis: The Story of Apollo 8: the First Manned Flight to Another World."

The famous photo was taken during the mission’s fourth pass around the moon, at which point the spacecraft had changed its orbit, making it possible to see the Earth above the lunar horizon. 

Apollo 8

None of the astronauts were prepared for that moment, including lunar module pilot Anders, who had been put in charge of photography. 

In an interview for a BBC documentary, Anders described the sequences of events like this:

I don’t know who said it, maybe all of us said, ‘Oh my God. Look at that!’ and up came the Earth. We had had no discussion on the ground, no briefing, no instructions on what to do. I jokingly said, ‘well it’s not on the flight plan,’ and the other two guys were yelling at me to give them cameras. I had the only color camera with a long lens. So I floated a black and white over to Borman. I can’t remember what Lovell got. There were all yelling for cameras, and we started snapping away.

Initially, both Borman and Anders claimed responsibility for the now-famous picture. An investigation of transcripts later revealed that Borman, who was the first to recognize the importance of the moment, took a black-and-white photo before Anders snapped the iconic color photograph. 

Fred Spier, a senior lecturer at the University of Amsterdam, notes in his article "The Elusive Apollo 8 Earthrise Photo" that Borman and Lovell each played a crucial part in prompting Anders, who had the only color camera, to take the shot. 

"Experienced astronaut Frank Borman was the first to the importance of the picture, while equally experienced astronaut James Lovell was quick to follow," Spier writes. "Space rookie William Anders, however, was in charge of taking the photos. In doing so, Anders had to follow a rather tight and well-defined photo plan, in which there was little or no room for unplanned snapshots."

Spier continued: "Anders first offered some resistance and then quickly did what the other told him to do. Although it now seems beyond doubt that Anders actually snapped the famous picture, it also seems fair to say the picture came as a result of the combined efforts of all three astronauts."

SEE ALSO: 50 years have passed since NASA’s Apollo 8 mission circled the moon for the first time — here is every Apollo mission explained

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Listen to the haunting sounds astronauts heard on the far side of the moon

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