A God Awful Small Affair

So, the news buzzing around the interwebs tonight has been the rumour that the Mars Science Lab analysts are gearing up to make, well, the kind of announcement that we all hope for every time a piece of kit like Curiosity touches down there. Given that the purpose of the MSL is to search for signs of life, it’s not a huge stretch of the imagination to guess that could be what they’ve found. Assuming that’s the case, whether the “signs” are of ancient life long past or something current, something now, they’re going to be on the microbial scale. So there’ll be magnified pictures of cells and talking heads on News24 for a day and a half… and that’ll be it, won’t it?

Once upon a time the prospect of discovering life–LIFE!!!–on Mars–MARS!!!!–would have been world stopping news. Now? We’re comfortable with the mundane reality of the place and, more than that, we’re also comfortable with the idea of alien life. We’ve passed through all the wild imaginings we could come up with in science fiction and out the other side.

It’ll come as no surprise that there was/is life on Mars. And it will be no great shock either if we discover similar elsewhere in the solar system, on Europa, say.What it will be is confirmation of that which we pretty much already knew: that life isn’t unique to Earth. Which by extension suggests that life potentially exists all over the universe. Add to that all the goldilocks exoplanets we’re discovering…?

Now that’d be the kind of news that would stop the presses.

6 thoughts on “A God Awful Small Affair

  1. What gets the scientists excited isn’t always what gets the mundanes excited. Look at the sedentary layers in this recent photograph: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=432051713511476&set=a.133197436730240.23875.110938085622842&type=1&theater They’re so pronounced that they’re casting shadows, and they haven’t crumbled to dust yet. I suspect the latest news will have something to do with a precipitate that suggests that the area was under water very, very recently. In geological terms, that is.

    I hope I’m wrong and they’ve found micro-fossils or signs of organic materials. But I’ll be happy either way.

    1. Yep, it all excites me, Jim. Just the knowledge that there are a whole bunch of clever little machines rolling around (or mostly sitting dormant) on Mars still boggles me. The pictures we get from Mars now are just frickin amazing.

      And I honestly believe there’s a strong chance that Curiosity will uncover something…organicy, but like you say even if it’s just strong evidence of seas, that would be amazing too.

      I just think that the idea of space exploration has gradually become commonplace. They’d literally have to find a ruined city up there to make any impression on most folks.

  2. Yup. It has to compete with “I’m a Celeb…”.

    We’re doomed as a civilisation. 2012 is the year I gave up on us. “The Arctic ice cap has gone! Quick — start drilling up there!”

    I’m now going to get a beer and play bootleg versions of “Sister Ray” very loud. Maybe I can drown out the idiots.

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