Mars Disappointment

I was really hoping that Curiosity would scoop up some bacteria and they would announce it and peace on earth would result. Oh well, we are still in suspense…

SAN FRANCISCO — The Curiosity Mars rover has discovered something interesting in a scoop of ruddy sand, but NASA scientists say they’re not quite sure what it means.

Sand that was shake-and-baked inside the car-size rover’s chemistry kit bubbled off traces of organic compounds, mission scientists said at a news briefing Monday at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

Such compounds, made of carbon and chlorine, are of the type that, in some cases, indicate microbes in the soil.

But such compounds also could be contamination from the rover itself — or they may have rained onto the surface inside meteorites, said Paul Mahaffy, a mission scientist from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt.

“It’s unclear if the carbon is Martian or terrestrial,” Mahaffy said.

As the great philosopher Lazlo Toth said after an earlier Mars mission in 1976, “of course you didn’t find life on Mars, you just killed it.”

Words to reflect on.

More and Better Predictions

Still searching for some credible psychic forecasts, but the field is pretty thin. Someone named Nikki from the Toronto Sun says that the year will be ‘up and down’, there might be earthquakes and celebrities will get married. And Michelle Obama will have twins. Maybe.

I give Nikki credit for being specific, but Michelle Obama is 46 years old. Hypothetically any famous woman that age might have twins, but I wouldn’t bet on it. And if I were Michelle Obama, I wouldn’t try. I’d let well enough alone.

Why psychics use their extraordinary gifts to tell us things like ‘Warren Beatty and Annette Benning will break up’ is beyond me. It seems like such a waste.

The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence has a fifty-year prediction that is way more fun than vague guesses that there ‘could’ be a political sex scandal. I’m going to take a leap and say there will. And dogs will continue to bark.

Ray Villard speculates on possible findings from SETI by the year 2060. Here’s a scenario after we find out that we are not alone…

Finding and processing SETI transmissions becomes a bona fide science data collection program rather than exercise in hypothesis. Astronomers scramble to apply for research grants, and dream about receiving the Noble Prize.

Some signals are dug out of radio archival data. This kind of “hello we are here” message turn out to be surprisingly common along the galactic plane. Technological civilizations at a particular state of evolution apparently converge on similar beacon strategies that are energy-frugal and efficient.

In the absence of an exclusively directed transmission toward Earth, SETI astronomers diminish expectations of finding altruistic aliens wanting to share their advanced knowledge. Maybe the extraterrestrials are satisfied with simply broadcasting interstellar “tweets.”

The whole article reads like one of the smart sci-fi paperbacks.

Astronomers (not to be confused with astrologers) predict that the sun, after a longer than average quiet period, will begin to surge with energy flares, reaching solar max in 2013. This might effect satellites and other electronics, if 2012 hasn’t sent us back to the stone age.

I predict that by 2060 there will be a revival of the Luddites. Adherants will reject all electronic toys in favor of books and pencils. They will walk everywhere, which will make them generally fit and attractive. This will give them great appeal to youth, who will not tune in, but will drop out– causing much social disruption. You heard it here first.