Joseph Lee's Perspectives
My view of the world
June 23, 2008 - Life on Mars, Earthlike Planets in the Universe, and a Dream

The headlines are filled with news from around the world.   Wars in Iran and Afghanistan, nuclear power in Iran, nuclear disarmament (maybe) in North Korea, ferry flipping over in the Philippines, Bill Gates retiring, another busy political day in the US, high gas prices, a tanking economy, health care crisis, etc. etc.


 


These are the “issues” that we all say are the most important to us today.  They will be the ones that decide the next presidential election in the US.


 


My daughter just came back from a camping trip to Mammoth.  She was away from all the noise of the world, preparing for her upcoming trip to Peru.  She told us of the blue skies during night and day, and how the night sky was blanketed with stars.


 


When I was in elementary school, I wanted to become an astronomer.  I read every astronomy book I could get my hands on.  The Search for Planet X was one of my favorites.  It was about Clyde Tombaugh’s search for the last planet in the solar system, Pluto.   Of course, Pluto was downgraded recently to something other than a planet.  I guess “plutoid” is the latest name until they figure something else out again.  In the world of astronomy, as in the world of business and politics, titles are everything.


 


I loved studying the planets and stars because they let me dream about the future, about places that I could never be, except in a … dream.   I often fantasized about being the Richard Dreyfuss character in Close Encounters or Elliott in ET.   Discovering the secrets of the universe—how it all began, what it’s like billions of miles and light years from the earth—now that’s big news.


 


Last week, NASA reported that they found frozen ice on the polar region.  A few days later, NY Times had an article about “bounty of mid-sized planets.   Ice on Mars means that perhaps there once was water, and if there was water, there could have been life.   If we keep finding microbes that can survive in glacial ice and volcanic vents miles under the ocean surface (MSNBC), who’s to say that there might not be life on Mars?


 


And with so many earthlike planets in the Universe, what are the odds that there isn’t another world with life equally or more sophisticated than ours?   A recent poll found that 92% of Americans believe in God or a divine being.  If so many people can believe in something with so little evidence, one has to wonder what it would take to make us believers in Space Aliens.


 


And the day that we find that we are not alone, that will be the single biggest news item for mankind, surpassing any story on Iraq, terrorism, or oil prices.  


 


My dream is that I would live to see that day.

2008-06-24 03:56:27 GMT
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