Search for a Habitable Mars


2015-01-13 – The geese have apparently decided that Chicago is no longer habitable. They haven’t shown up in my park for several weeks. Don’t know if it’s because of the snow on the ground or because Lefty was so good at chasing them away. I’m guessing it’s the snow. Don’t know if Chicago is habitable to humans either—but don’t tell that to a Chicagoan.

Remember when the discovery of life on another planet was supposed to be the greatest thing to happen in the history of the world? I never really bought that. After all, more than 100 years ago we discovered “canals” on Mars without much of a ripple. Not because it turned out there were no canals, but because we’re really used to not being the only one. After all, there are lions and tigers and bears. And, oh my, there are geese.

But many people have said that the discovery of life outside of Earth would be earthshattering news. So why is it that the discovery of possible evidence of life by a Mars Rover is getting page 2 coverage? Can it be that possible evidence is just meh, while confirmed evidence will change everything?

Part of it, I think, is that we’re no longer wowed by anything that goes on in space. When I was a kid, Florida was known for the Kennedy Space Center. Now Florida is known for stand-your-ground shootings.

Sorry, Florida. We’re into fear these days. Not courage.

The other part has to do with the fact that mystery evaporates when you get down to dusting for fingerprints.

The search for extraterrestrial life has two elements. One has to do with the are-we-special-or-ordinary question. The other has to do with whether there might be other places in the universe that might be habitable when and if we get there.

These days, folks know that we’re not so special, so it’s not earthshattering to learn that we might not be the only ones. Not page 1 news.

And, as for finding another habitable spot in the universe, if we don’t find that spot on Mars, we could always try somewhere else. Like Florida. That’s where the geese are going.

Chicagoans will go to Mars. We don’t care if a place is habitable.

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