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The View of Surgery From Space

H. Brownell Wheeler, MD
Arch Surg. 1992;127(5):511-515. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1992.01420050031002.
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Things are sometimes best seen from afar. In 1968, as they went to the moon and back, the Apollo astronauts had man's first opportunity to view the earth from far out in space. It was a compelling sight, a sight that no one had ever seen before, and yet a sight that was strangely familiar (Figure). The earth was immediately perceived as home—the site of all our complex human drama. But when seen from so far away, its elemental simplicity was a revelation. In losing sight of all the earth's details, its unity, beauty, isolation, and fragility instantly became obvious.

In life, we often fail to appreciate the big picture. We are preoccupied by details of the moment. Occasionally, it is good to look at ourselves from a distance. Today we will look at the profession of surgery from a long perspective, almost as though we had never seen it


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