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Friday, January 15, 2010

The Big 101!

Gah!
My last post was my 100th! And I didn't even realize it! I think this makes me a poor excuse for a blogger, or maybe just someone without a proper appreciation for celebratory moments! Well, to make up for it, we will celebrate this post! The big 101! Like the Dalmations, or something...

But what content would be properly celebratory?

I could, of course, discuss revisions, or present a character study of some kind, or perhaps share some information about the book I'm trying not to write because I have so much other work to do (but I don't want to encourage it, really).

I could talk about the heart-rending situation on Haiti, or the ridiculous response of Pat Robertson that it's just what Haiti gets for making a pact with the devil (?!?!?!?!?!) but I think at this point it's a little bit late to the ball game, and I'm sure that the things I might say in response to Mr. Robertson (No, I will not refer to him by his title, such as it is) have already been said much more eloquently. Of course, feel free to open up in the comments, if you like...

Today, I want to talk about some old news. Something that has fueled the telling of stories for generations. Today, I want to talk about Mars. And not just Mars, but Martian water.

We have sent people to Mars in our imaginations for practically the entire length of its known existence. Edgar Rice Burroughs populated Mars with giant green martians with four arms, and red-skinned egg-laying humanlike martians, and great white apes way before I was born. As a people, we are obsessed with life on Mars. As such, we are absolutely determined to locate water, because water is to the best of our knowledge, a fundamental for life. Pluuuussss finding water on Mars in any quantity means we don't have to export it when we send non-fictional people to the planet, and that saves quite a bit of weight on lift-off.

But I think NASA and the scientific community is forgetting an important fact here. Life As We Know It does not mean Life Is Limited By What We Know. 

Finding water on Mars doesn't mean that there was life there, ever. Finding water anywhere doesn't mean that there was life or that there IS life on a planet. Because as much as we know, as much as we've learned, there is no real proof that there isn't some other path to life. We don't even know, really know, how life formed on Earth.

Oh, we have guesses, theories, all educated, but if there were any real proof, and real understanding of how life began, we'd have duplicated the experiment by now, and there would have been a huge outcry over it by the religious right. The Pope would probably have smashed the whole thing under his heel in rage, if people like Pat Robertson didn't get to it first. (I could apologize for comparing the Pope to Pat Robertson here, but I'm not really Benedict's biggest fan either, to be honest with you. I'm equal opportunity that way.)

I guess it makes some kind of sense. We can only look for what we know to look for, the signs we can be certain are associated with life, but lets just not let that limited scope of knowledge blind us to the things that might exist outside of what we know.

And maybe that should go for more than just the search for water and life on Mars.

14 comments:

  1. It's life, Jim, but not as we know it, not as we know it, not as we know it

    It's life, Jim, but not as we know it, Captain.

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  2. Yeah, everyone in the know knows Martians drink rocks, not water ;).

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  3. Oh dear- now I think I'll have Kevin's song stuck in my head all day.

    When I was little I wanted to be the first person to walk on Mars. Then I realized that astronauts have to know a lot of math. Blecch.

    Happy 101!

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  4. Kevin-- Nicely put. :P

    Bane-- Seriously, what's wrong with these people? Water is for lamers.

    Stephanie-- Math turned me off to quite a few things as well, I have to admit.

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  5. I don't know who Robertson is or what he said so I can't go off on it, but I did get the 101 dalmations reference. :D Happy 101!

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  6. Nisa: He's a Televangelist--the same guy who said that Hurricane Katrina was God's hand smiting New Orleans for it's immoral behavior, only this time he said that Haiti suffered the earthquake because of Voodoo and the Haitian people making a pact with the Devil to overthrow the French and regain their freedom back in the day. There's a link in the post, and I'm sure you could find a whole bunch more if you googled him.

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  7. Huh! He sounds pretty uninformed to me. One of the first reports I saw was about a bunch of Haitians gathering during the aftershocks and singing hymns together. So fiendish... I live in the Caribbean and have met so many Haitians. There wonderful, wonderful people. Thanks for the info.

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  8. Uninformed is a very kind way of putting it, I think.

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  9. My first thought was Room 101 from Big Brother.

    I'm going to go out on a limb and predict no life on Mars. Which in fact is the overwhelming evidence.

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  10. Gary-- Yeah, I'm not really holding my breath for life in our solar system. Too coincidental. I'm not really holding my breath that we'll find life anywhere else at all in my lifetime, but we definitely won't if we're only looking for what we know.

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  11. I hope the good reverend is enjoying his fat paycheck while he sits back and watches the decimation of over 100,000 lives. Or maybe he just knows he'll be buried in a velvet lined coffin, instead of a mass grave with thousands of other corpses.
    On a happier note, happy 101!!

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  12. Courtney: It definitely takes a lot of nerve, that's for sure.

    and thanks :)

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  13. So I was reading over this deal with the Reverend and, actually, he didn't say the earthquake was sent by God for their pact with the devil (and they did make a pact with the devil, according to their own history). He simply stated their history, and the media twisted his words. Funny how the media can do that, bastards that they can be. Apparently, Robertson has sent countless funds and food donations into Haiti for over 25 years.
    My dad actually spent months in Haiti several years ago and told me all about their history, their beliefs, etc. The conditions (before the earthquake) were horrible. I can't even imagine how bad they are now. My prayers are with them.

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  14. Thanks Courtney-- I looked a little further into it myself, and you're right he doesn't say the Earthquake was itself the just desserts, but he does say that Haiti has been cursed because of their forefather's pact with the devil. I guess my biggest problem is the presumption by any man or woman that we can really judge this kind of thing at all.

    It's good to know that in spite of said curse, he's trying to help out, as we all should be reaching out in humanitarian efforts. I guess, like with Dougal, he has some redeeming points. :)

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