In space, no one can hear you scream. And this new video of footage from the International Space Station, set to a cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence,” underscores that fact.
Beginning with footage of a sunrise, the video moves through wide, sweeping shots of cloud formations, footage of an aurora borealis from space, zeroing in on bird’s-eye views of cities like New York.
The video was created by Russian astronaut Sergei Ryazanski, Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli, and American astronaut Randy Bresnik. It joins the long tradition of cultural products that tap into the sense of sublime loneliness that space evokes. On the more recent end of that tradition, retired Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield released a cover of David Bowie’s emblematic ballad about an astronaut afloat beyond the stratosphere, “Space Oddity.” The video itself was filmed while Hadfield was in orbit, floating aboard the International Space Station in a T-shirt as he strummed an acoustic guitar.
For all the feelings of awe and loneliness that videos like this provoke, there is one tiny scientific point that deserves some clarification. Readers may come away from a video like “The Sound of Silence” thinking that sound truly cannot travel in space.
Gizmodo shows the situation is a little more complicated than that. Sound does travel in waves that perpetuate themselves by vibrating the molecules of the gases they pass through. In that way, we’re able to hear one another (and just about everything else) on planet Earth. In outer space, while it’s true that no one could hear you scream in space, sound does technically travel through pockets of gas that exist between stars, and in the “rareified whisps of Earth’s outer atmosphere.”