Wednesday, December 1, 2010

For Fear of Little Men

This photo is in the public domain.

I’m looking forward to NASA’s “astrobiology” press conference tomorrow.

Not that I’m expecting them to announce the discovery of little green men. Or the discovery of life in any way, shape, or form. Given the skepticism and cautions that abound in the full spectrum that surrounds the search for extraterrestrial life, I don’t expect them to make such an announcement without having ET or some esoteric plant to show off as well.

What I do expect is that they’ll announce the discovery of arsenate and arsenite compounds on either Mars or either of Saturn’s moons Rhea or Titan. This is exciting not only because it gives Agatha Christiesque murder mystery writers a truly unique murder weapon, but because of recent discoveries on Earth of bacteria that use arsenite rather than water in the photosynthetic process.

In other words, they won’t announce the discovery of life, but the possibility that conditions conducive for some type of life as we understand it on Earth exists elsewhere in the solar system.

Or, perhaps, they’ll announce that at “9 am, Eastern Standard Time, the United Nations Building – whissssh – will vanish. Hahahahahah.” But that’s a bit too Dreyfussesque, isn’t it?

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