Monday, September 23, 2013


In today's Washington Post writer Joel Achenbach pens a piece on the continuing search for extraterrestrials. On Thursday, the search dampened a bit when scientists announced that methane has not been detected in the Martian atmosphere; the NASA "Curiosity" rover has come up empty even though Earth-based telescopes and a European mars orbiter "saw" some of that essential gas in earlier observations. (Methane is often an off-gas of living organisms.)

Anyone who is interested in Mars will know of astronomer Percival Lowell and his grand proclamation back in the late 19th century that there were canals on Mars; a sure sign of intelligent life. Unfortunately, he imagined the surface markings, as did many others at the time. It's a good thing, however, that this optical illusion happened: It gave us H.G. Wells' classic novel "War of the Worlds"... ahhh... which, unfortunately, led to Steven Spielberg's horrible movie version (and unfortunately that was not an optical illusion, but painfully real).

This reminds me that on Saturday this space probe (me) watched the Space: 1999 episode "War Games". My, oh my, was it bad. That episode was fun when I was a kid. But now? Ouch. It contains the only example, that I remember, of Space having 'prosthetic makeup aliens'. Not only were they poor but they almost immediately reminded me of that great old Second City Television (SCTV) skit "Galaxy 66: The Adventures of Micron and Antar". Yes, that funny. And I was laughing on two levels: At "War Games", and remembering "Galaxy 66". (The unfortunate actors who had to don the alien get-ups were Anthony Valentine and Isla Blair. During the episode's shooting, the two characters were originally oriented so they faced one another as they spoke their dialogue in a very deliberate manner. Problems started when the two very credible British actors kept breaking up. Finally, very credible British director Charles Chrichton, of "Ealing" fame, and later of the movie A Fish Called Wanda, had had just about enough of these childish games and uttered something like: "Sod this!" He moved them so they were no longer facing each other.)

Whoa... a little off topic, I am. Back on track....

On Mars, no proof yet, but scientists’ search for extraterrestrial life continues

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