Sunday, December 10, 2006

Water, Water Everywhere

Back in the day, and I mean way back, it was a sign of education and sophistication to talk about life on Mars.

This was, like, a hundred years ago.

Smart people of the early twentieth century just knew that the channels on Mars were really water-bearing canals. These were the times of defining events such as the War of the Worlds radio drama, which depicted a Martian invasion—and made several thousand listeners poop in their pants.

But then we all got wiser to the facts. The canals didn’t really have water in them after all. And our probes to the Red Planet proved that Mars hosted no little green microbes, much less little green men.

So we could sit back and collectively sneer at the morons of the past. They were stupid to believe in all that water-based fantasy, right?


Scientists reported last week that new Mars Global Surveyor pictures strongly suggest water does, in fact, flow on the surface of Mars.

Holy crap! First, the astronomers demote Pluto … now, they tell us Mars may be hospitable to life. How much planetary whiplash can we take in a year?

Photographs of the planet’s surface taken a few years apart reveal differences that scientists say were probably caused by the water flowing down crater walls. And recently—not within millennia or centuries, but within years.

We shouldn’t freak out about this, though. Even if water is getting to the surface via geysers or some other mechanism, it freezes quickly and fails to sit around waiting for life to form.

It does, however, provide another element necessary for the presence of life as we know it. In some shape or form, we might not be alone in the universe—or even in our own solar system.

Which is disturbing. You see, we don’t have many grand achievements to boast about right now if the Martians decide to come over for a celestial version of Show and Tell.

What will we hold up as our greatest accomplishment?

We humans are awesome builders. So maybe we can brag about our greatest architectural creations, like the Great Wall of China. Or perhaps the pyramids of ancient Egypt.

But wait a minute—aren’t those accomplishments of bygone eras? Something in this millennium might be better. If we show off this old stuff, the Martians will just laugh at us.

If they have a sense of humor, of course.

We’d best try again. Maybe the arts will do the trick.

We are great musicians; that might be a good thing to blow our own horn about. We could show off a recent magazine cover, let’s say Rolling Stone, to illustrate our triumphs in harmony and melody over the millennia.

Or maybe not.

Because Rolling Stone right now would suggest that the pinnacle of our musical development is … well, Snoop Dogg. And the Martians would look at us—if they actually have eyes, of course—and just shake their heads in disappointment.

If they have heads, of course.

No doubt we’re better off turning to something we know they would appreciate. Something that shows them our sophistication, our elegance, and our stunning confidence and self-assurance.

Something like the movie War of the Worlds. Nothing says “welcome” like a film depicting our guests as heartless invaders from outer space. Surely they’d love that!

If they have hearts, of course.


At December 11, 2006 12:08 AM, Blogger Metal Mark replied to my musings ...

Very good, David. I saw this acticle the other day and just shook my head. Back when I was a kid in the 70's and the early 80's I thought we would have colonies on other planets by now. That's what watching too much Star Trek did to me I guess. Maybe we are better off not colonizing other worlds because they just end up sticking Wal-marts and McDonalds there as well.

At December 11, 2006 12:55 AM, Blogger Phats replied to my musings ...

Hmm I think it's cool we found water on mars, now if we could send a certain leader there to stay for awhile we'd be in business!

At December 11, 2006 1:11 AM, Blogger X. Dell replied to my musings ...

The Martians might look at us and say, "Uh-oh, there goes the neighborhood."

But don't worry. We have the Illudium Q36 Explosive Space Modulator, and they don't. It was invented, as you know, by the scientists at Warner Brothers.

At December 11, 2006 8:43 AM, Blogger OnMyWatch replied to my musings ...

Perfect, David. Can I vote this one into the best for the year instead?? :)

You're so right. We spend all of this money and have nothing to show for it. Earthlings are like teenagers compared to the rest of the universe. I just hope Martians aren't looking for any hand-outs when they get here, too.

But on another note... Planetary Whiplash is a great name for a rock band.


At December 11, 2006 10:17 AM, Blogger Paige Burns replied to my musings ...

Oooh, Planetary Whiplash is a great name for a band. At this rate I won't be able to help my kids with their science and history classes!

At December 11, 2006 12:24 PM, Blogger The Phoenix replied to my musings ...

We're the race of beings that wanted to chop up ET, right? All he wanted were some Reece's Pieces and to go home.

At December 11, 2006 2:37 PM, Anonymous Bruce replied to my musings ...

Look, we all know that the Borg are going to assimilate the human race in the near future, so worrying about the presence of water on Mars seems moot at this juncture.

At December 11, 2006 3:49 PM, Blogger goldennib replied to my musings ...

I thought Martians built the pyrmids.

At December 11, 2006 4:58 PM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Mark: Your comment reminds me of the great line in Fight Club about objects in space being named for corporate sponsors like Starbucks.

Phats: I assume you're referring to Hugo Chavez. Or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Or perhaps Kofi Annan.

X. Dell: "Space Modulator" talk, huh? Let's try to keep this blgo clean for the kids, OK?

OMW: Thanks! I'll consider this one in the next voting round in the spring.

Paige: I, too, like OMW's suggestion for a band name ... it's even better than Little Green Microbes.

Phoenix: I see your point, but we're also the race of beings that was represented by Captain James Tiberius Kirk, who spread humanity's love--literally--with women all over the galaxy, regardless of color or number of breasts.

Bruce: Damn them Borg. And it's all due to the infiltration of the Borg's spy here on Earth: The Swedish Chef. And he's given us all kinds of clues over the years, what with running around shouting, "mmm, borg borg borg!"

GN: I doubt it. Woudn't they have come back and visited them at the turn of the millennium?

-- david

At December 11, 2006 6:56 PM, Blogger Godwhacker replied to my musings ...

I was thinking of something we could submit to the Martians to prove our enlightened accomplishments. Mozart? The Beatles? I know ~ Sir Mix-A-Lot's "Baby Got Back". It might not be our greatest achievement, but at least it would prove our honesty.

At December 11, 2006 10:06 PM, Blogger Perplexio replied to my musings ...

I once heard a stand-up comic who referred to humans/earthlings as the Jehovah's Witnesses of the galaxy... There's intelligent life out there and that's exactly why they're NOT responding! ;-)

At December 11, 2006 10:08 PM, Blogger Perplexio replied to my musings ...

I once heard a stand-up comic who referred to humans/earthlings as the Jehovah's Witnesses of the galaxy... There's intelligent life out there and that's exactly why they're NOT responding! ;-)

At December 12, 2006 2:35 AM, Blogger Ben Heller replied to my musings ...

That's funny, I was just listening to The Hoodoo Guru's "Mars Needs Guitars" album.
The British sent a probe to Mars, and it contained a pack of items to introduce our culture to the Aliens. We put a picture of a naked man and woman, a song by the band Blur, some weird graphs with star charts on them, a warm cup of tea, a picture of the Queen, all wrapped in a Union Jack.

The Martians returned the favour and sent us Tony Bliar.

At December 12, 2006 9:19 PM, Blogger Janet replied to my musings ...

Do you think years ago, if they had blogging, they'd be marveling about how the earth was actually round, not flat like they previously believed? I wonder that sometimes when my foundation is rocked to the core in uprooted previously learned theories such as these:)

At December 13, 2006 4:02 PM, Blogger Mimi replied to my musings ...

Those scientists change their minds on that stuff so much. I would not be surprised if the claim next that Mars is not a planet.

At December 14, 2006 1:49 AM, Blogger Phats replied to my musings ...

haha nope none of them! although I wouldn't mind them going too

At December 14, 2006 12:06 PM, Blogger cube replied to my musings ...

Planetary whiplash. I like that.

I think we will end up being the Martians one day.

At December 14, 2006 3:22 PM, Blogger Ray Van Horn, Jr. replied to my musings ...

I don't know if they'd be shaking their heads...the aliens might think we're well ripe for the picking.

At December 14, 2006 9:53 PM, Blogger Lee Ann replied to my musings ...

That is a cool thought that we might be the martians one day!

At December 15, 2006 12:06 AM, Blogger Phats replied to my musings ...

I wanna be the great gazoo! he seriously rocked

At December 16, 2006 10:49 PM, Blogger Gyrobo replied to my musings ...

I think I sued someone for giving me planetary whiplash once.

At December 18, 2006 10:14 PM, Blogger :P fuzzbox replied to my musings ...

I would think that the Britney Spears Sex Tape would make a better viewing for aliens. K-Fed kinda reminds a person of an alien. Maybe they would think that they could get lucky too.


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