February 2012

Date:1 February 2012 Tags:, , , , , ,

A secret human colony on Mars? We knew it

A few weeks ago, I complained to a friend about the bizarre priorities of our popular media, lamenting the fact that a weird UFO conference late last year (you know, alien abductions, secret human bases on Mars, ET visitations, etc) had attracted more press attention than the 63rd International Astronautical Congress in Cape Town, an event of real significance. Were their perceptions of space exploration and astrobiology horribly skewed, or was it no more than a harmless attempt to “lighten up” their content?

Perhaps it was me who needed to lighten up, he suggested. After all, people had always believed in things they couldn’t see or touch. Was there any harm in revelations about the hidden codes of our DNA, secret treaties between governments and aliens, Bigfoot, yeti, and (I’m not making this up) Orbitally Rearranged Monoatomic Elements?

In a word, yes. Science – encompassing quantum physics, cosmology, genetics and the myriad other disciplines that help to explain how Life and the Universe work – is already weird and exciting, and it certainly doesn’t need the distraction of loony theories. If you’d like to explore a few specifics, spend an illuminating hour with Google and look up “quantum entanglement”, “double slit experiment”, “dark energy”, “first life on Earth”, “Schrödinger’s cat”, and – if you’re feeling strong – “string theory”. As for tantalising hints of the long-sought Higgs boson, well, that’s about as far out as it gets.

Here’s an interesting diversion: we’re told that if a piece of neutron star the size of a 10c coin were to land on Earth, it would weigh about 100 million tons. Fortunately, according to ancient texts unearthed at the junction of ley lines near Avebury, this is unlikely to happen before 6 pm on 14 October 2034*, by which time we should have solved the mystery of what really happened in Area 51.

On to this month’s issue, and a slightly alarming cover story about digital espionage. It’s bad enough when foreign hackers invade our economic and military territories to steal valuable information, but when they launch assaults on our personal privacy, it becomes offensive and downright scary. Read “The secret war” (page 20) and be afraid.

– Alan Duggan (aland@ramsaymedia.co.za)