14 September 2011

Bits of the World Trade Center live on

I am a bit late with my obligatory September 11th post, but then again I was around a year late in starting this blog, so I figure I can still get this post out there.
Rather than focusing on the obvious stuff: on the regret, and the sadness, and the reflections of how this day ‘changed everything’; or the resulting wars, and other terrorist attacks; the now seldom mentioned War on Terror, or the ultimate demise of the mastermind of that horrible act a decade ago. Rather than follow suit with a similar post, I am instead focusing on some of the more interesting results of that dark day in 2001.

True to the enterprising spirit that made the United States the capitalist juggernaut of the 20th century (I'm not extending this into the current century because I’m not that optimistic), the wreckage of the Twin Towers has been utilised in two interesting ventures.
The first is perhaps the most American of the two; the building of a warship, the aptly named USS New York. Soon to be followed by two sister ships named after the other crash sites from the terrorist attacks (the USS Arlington and the USS Somerset), the New York was created partially with steel from the collapsed towers.
I guess it is fitting that a relic of the greatest attack on the United States homeland become a part of the navy designed to protect it, but I cant help find it amusing that of all things in Americas arsenal, a warship is probably the last thing that would be useful in combating the threat of terrorists; especially those who hide out inland, be it in caves, or swanky Abbottabad compounds.
The scrap steel utilised from the towers was melted down and now forms part of the ship’s bow, and though it only comprises less that 0.1% of the ships total mass, it was more of a symbolic gesture to go along with the ships name.
There is something true to that war hungry oriented view of the United States which goes along well with this usage of World Trade Centre scrap metal. Even if you don’t look at the militaristic nature of the U.S as a bad thing (it was a thing of pride for many people in watching the forces of ‘freedom’ rise up in opposition to the growing communist war machine many years ago), it is still somewhat fitting that what was once a symbol of American power is now transformed into another, more literal, form of power projection.
However we don’t only associate Americans power and influence with the tip of their metaphorical sword, but also with their technological and scientific reach. That’s why I was again both surprised, but also quite accepting to find out this week that there are parts of the World Trade Centre rubble now on Mars, exploring the red planet.
It seems that one of the contractors working for NASA on their latest Mars Exploration programme was able to incorporate some of the rubble from the towers in their design.
Honeybee Robotics was tasked with the creation of the drilling mechanisms for the Spirit and Opportunity rovers due for launching to the forth rock from the sun in the year 2004. Their offices are located in lower Manhattan, and as such the events of those days really hit home for them, and they decided to honour the spirits of those lost by including some parts from the collapsed towers in the rovers.
They used recovered aluminium to create the cable shield for the rock abrasions tools each of the rovers use to analyse the martial soils. You can see a picture of one of them, stereotypically adorned with the emblem of the flag of the United States, in the image below.

Via Gizmodo and NASA

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