Tim Rutten: Why, You Can See the Great Wall of China and the California Aqueduct from the MOON!!!!!!
Tim Rutten, cut by the Los Angeles Times, is now spewing his nonsense at the Daily Breeze, the South Bay paper that many read as alternative to the nonsense put out by the Dog Trainer. Fact-checking was never Rutten’s strong suit, and it looks like he slipped one by the editors:
Think California’s recent rain storms solved the state’s water crisis?
Well, they didn’t, and to understand why, you have to go beyond the uncertainties of our state’s climate and into our unique — often confounding — economic and political history.
When American astronauts stood on the moon and looked back toward Earth, there were only two works of man that they could glimpse with the naked eye: One was the Great Wall of China and the other was the California Aqueduct.
It’s certainly news to NASA that you can see the Great Wall of China from the moon:
It has become a space-based myth. The Great Wall of China, frequently billed as the only man-made object visible from space, generally isn’t, at least to the unaided eye in low Earth orbit. It certainly isn’t visible from the Moon.
If you can’t see the Great Wall from low Earth orbit (around 100-1240 miles) it’s going to be a little tricky to see it from about 239,000 miles.
The theory that the wall could be seen from the Moon dates back to at least 1938. It was repeated and grew until astronauts landed on the lunar surface.
“The only thing you can see from the Moon is a beautiful sphere, mostly white, some blue and patches of yellow, and every once in a while some green vegetation,” said Alan Bean, Apollo 12 astronaut. “No man-made object is visible at this scale.”
But what does NASA know, compared to the great knowledge of Timothy Rutten?
Bean ain’t the only astronaut to say this. Here is Neil Armstrong:
AMBROSE: I wanted to ask, I have heard or read somewhere that there are only two man-made objects on Earth that can be seen from the Moon, and that one of these is the Chinese [Great] Wall and the other is the Fort Peck Dam [Montana]. [I wonder if some Montana governor said that! — Patterico]
ARMSTRONG: I would challenge both. We could see continents, could see Greenland. It stands out, just like it does on the globe in your library, all white. Antarctica we couldn’t see because there were clouds over Antarctica. Africa was quite visible, and we could see sun glint off a lake. It might have been Lake Chad. I’m not certain which lake it was, but we could catch that reflection, sun reflection…. But I do not believe that, at least with my eyes, there would be any man-made object that I could see. I have not yet found somebody who has told me they’ve seen the Wall of China from Earth orbit. I’m not going to say there aren’t people, but I personally haven’t talked tothem. I’ve asked various people, particularly Shuttle guys, that have been many orbits around China in the daytime, and the ones I’ve talked to didn’t see it.
I’m beating this into the ground, but it’s fun. Here is Dr. Karl at ABC Science:
It’s claimed that you can see the Great Wall of China from the Moon.
That’s one big claim, but let’s take this apart brick by brick.
. . . .
Many other authors, publicists for travel agencies and even the drunk guy down at the pub kept on repeating this story. But is it true?
Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the Moon, said about the Great Wall of China, “It is not visible from lunar distance”. Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, his co-pilot said, “you have a hard time even seeing continents.”
So we can’t see the Great Wall from the Moon, which is about 400,000 km away. But could you see it from the Space Shuttle? It flies in Low Earth Orbit, 300-530 kilometres up.
The astronaut William Pogue, who flew in space on Skylab 4, was able to see the Great Wall, but only with binoculars, and with lots of practice.
(Tim Rutten, for purposes of this blog post, is “the drunk guy down at the pub.”)
As for the notion that the California Aqueduct is visible from space, well . . . as best as I can tell, the sources for that preposterous notion include Andy Warhol, renowned for his deep knowledge of astronomy and physics, and Pat Brown (who was so proud of his pet project that he predicted it would join the Great Wall of China as one of only two manmade objects that could be seen from the Moon!) (Except, didn’t we just show that, um . . .?).
C’mon, Rutten. Even the drunk guy down at the pub could recognize that for the puffery it is.
Thanks to JVW, who has demanded a correction. Here’s hoping the Daily Breeze is more conscientious about facts than the L.A. Times was. I’d like to think so, but . . . they’re publishing Tim Rutten, aren’t they?