On Mars

June 22, 2009

I had the great fortune to have this past Saturday off, to stay home with my little family, read, nap, eat, and watch lots of movies. Through some cosmic combination of three separate movies, I got a clear message: we have no proof that life elsewhere in the universe exists. The shows I saw were two episodes of Carl Sagan’s COSMOS, and one episode of the NOVA series, done on PBS.

The Nova episode was called MAGNETIC STORM and tells us that the earth’s magnetic shield is weakening, and apparently getting ready for a complete polar reversal — which hasn’t happend for 780,000 years. The magnetic shield protects us from deadly radiation, and is created by the whirling molten lava at the core of the planet. As that core cools, the shield will weaken, and our atmosphere and protection will be blown away, as Mars is today.

The first COSMOS episode dealt with the issue of whether earth men could relocate on Mars. It all sounded encouraging, but I don’t think Mr Sagan took into account the magnetic shield factor, and that Mars’ shield is likely weak or gone.

The second COSMOS episode dealt with the fact that there is no hard evidence that there is life anywhere else in the universe. To this date, such talk, according to Sagan, “…is like superstition and religion.” (I tend to think he may have really meant “faith” rather than religion, per se.) By “life” I assume he is not delving into spirit beings, angels or God.

When I heard these words come out of his mouth, I realized that I have faith that there is life elsewhere in the universe. It seems implausible that there isn’t; but Carl painstakingly pointed out that there is no hard evidence: no alien books, no alien writings, no alien bodies, no alien spaceships.

Realizing exactly how rare life is in our part of the universe, I am developing a new love of the variety and magic of life on our planet and how precious it is.

If I think about the future of my music, but also the complete works of Mozart, Beethoven, Beatles, Coltrane and all of the music in the world, I am more and more convinced that it is, and only will be for us, right here, right now. How can we presume that any other evolved life creatures somewhere else in the universe could “hear” the music designed to be transmitted in our atmosphere? And how could be assured that these creatures even will have ears or apparatuses that could perceive earth music? And as far as we know, we are the only intelligent creatures in the universe. Frightening thought, eh?

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