"Tears don't flow the same in space."
October 11, 2001 4:48 PM   Subscribe

"Tears don't flow the same in space." Frank Culbertson provides the most unusual eye-witness account of the attack I've heard of. He's the only American on the International Space Station right now, and saw the aftermath of both attacks from orbit.
posted by Steven Den Beste (6 comments total)
I read somewhere a few years back, the accounts from a cosmonaut as he gazed upon the thin and seemingly wispy atmosphere of Earth. I paraphrase, but the spirit of this statement will always stick with me:

"As fragile it looks from so far, one can't help but feel sorry for it."
posted by crasspastor at 4:59 PM on October 11, 2001

Unimaginable as Sept 11 is, seeing it from space obviously does not lessen the anguish, if anything, Mr. Culbertson's words make it more poignant. Thanks for the post.
posted by sierray at 8:21 PM on October 11, 2001

Reminds me of the cosmonaut who was living in the space station Mir during the collapse of the USSR. He launched from a superpower nation, and returned to a broken country.

How absolutely bizarre for Culbertson though, to be able to see it from space with his own eyes.

That puts the act on a new scale (for me) - terrorism that is visible from space. On level with the Great Wall of China in that respect.
posted by kokogiak at 9:42 PM on October 11, 2001

I was around during the Apollo landings, and the way I first heard the "Great Wall from space" story involved a telescope. The question at the time was whether an observer at some distance, such as on the Moon, could detect that the Earth was inhabited. The question was quite relevant for the exploration of the Solar System, as the researchers particularly wondered if any constructions on Mars could be detected by Earth probes. (Scientists didn't really expect that Mars ever had intelligent life, but it was an interesting thought experiment)

I suspect that the question actually originated before the 1960s, because the answer had to have been created before the U.S. Interstate Highway System splattered the continent with objects which are much wider and longer than the Great Wall.

Modern technology is drastically different from that used twenty years ago. Now we can look online at photographs of our neighborhood and see our house, or see an Apollo landing site as photographed by a recent lunar probe.
posted by SEWilco at 9:18 AM on October 12, 2001

Okay, so the Great Wall meme is flawed, but not inherently untrue. At worst, it's still a good shorthand for "really really big manmade structure - among the biggest ever".

The reference may be faulty, but the scale it suggests still staggers me.
posted by kokogiak at 11:56 AM on October 12, 2001

BTW, if anyone stumbles back into this thread - here is an excellent expansion of Culbertson's experience, and a still photo from the video he shot.
posted by kokogiak at 10:24 AM on October 16, 2001 [1 favorite]

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