Do you remember when you were a kid and you were told that the only man-made object visible from space was The Great Wall Of China?
Well I’m sorry to disappoint, but it’s a complete myth, fabricated long before man had even entered the space race.
The myth was initiated around Victorian times when with their newly developed telescopes people believed that Mars had canals and there was a perception that long thin objects might be visible from space.
As it happens I had my 3 kids and some family over for dinner last night. One of my nephews has just returned from visiting China on a schools exchange programme, lucky boy.
As part of this exchange he lived with a family in Beijing and toured China taking in The Great Wall as part of the tour.
The family were lovely although the parents didn’t speak a word of English, they were very kind and generous to him.
Their son “Cloud” .. don’t you love how they choose their western names .. is a tall, good-looking young Chinese man. I met him on a couple of occasions when he was over in Scotland earlier this year. He was well-spoken with perfect English and a beautiful smile, educated, hard-working, confident and respectful. Much more respectful than many UK kids.
My nephew enjoyed his visit, but the most memorable thing about his tour was that the complete country seems to be engulfed in a smog that permeates the cities and the rural areas alike.
The particulate count within Beijing is apparently 14 times over that set by The World Health Organisation. Everyone walks around wearing masks to prevent breathing the smog and developing respiratory illnesses which are on the increase although statistics are not available.
Even in the edge of the country at The Great Wall, the smog is so dense that even if the visible from space myth had been true, then that would no longer be the case.
Conversely, when Cloud visited Scotland he loved the clean air. Which is only to be expected in the circumstances.
Once upon a time, I worked for a large power-engineering company, designing coal-fired and gas-fired power stations, China was the company’s largest customer, placing large contracts to power its growing industry.
The thing with China is that there are no copy-write or anti-pollution laws. When they bought the power stations they also wanted the designs. Then they’d take the designs and key components apart and manufacture them to their own standards and if it pumped out an excessive amount of pollution then what did it matter as long as growth isn’t affected.
Looking at the obvious pollution in the pics below, the tarnished beauty of the country and the health issues affecting their people, then I’d say that it matters now.
An extract from wiki below.
The claim the Great Wall is visible has been debunked many times, but is still ingrained in popular culture. The wall is a maximum 9.1 m (30 ft) wide, and is about the same color as the soil surrounding it. Based on the optics of resolving power (distance versus the width of the iris: a few millimeters for the human eye, meters for large telescopes) only an object of reasonable contrast to its surroundings which is 70 mi (110 km) or more in diameter (1 arc-minute) would be visible to the unaided eye from the Moon, whose average distance from Earth is 384,393 km (238,851 mi). The apparent width of the Great Wall from the Moon is the same as that of a human hair viewed from 3.2 kilometres (2 mi) away. To see the wall from the Moon would require spatial resolution 17,000 times better than normal (20/20) vision. Unsurprisingly, no lunar astronaut has ever claimed to have seen the Great Wall from the Moon.