I’ve no idea what’s going on with Brexit. And I have no idea what’s going on with Trump either.
So instead I’ll think about Life On Mars.
NASA’S chief scientist Jim Green is positive it is simply a matter of time before the space agency and its European partners find indisputable evidence of alien life on Mars…
But when the monumental discovery is finally made, Dr Jim Green warned the world might not be ready for it.
The NASA scientist told the Sunday Telegraph: “It will be revolutionary. It’s like when Copernicus stated ‘no we go around the Sun’.
“Completely revolutionary. It will start a whole new line of thinking.”
He added: “I’ve been worried about that because I think we’re close to finding it and making some announcements.”
It seems to me to be a bit odd for a NASA scientist to say that they’re soon going to find indisputable evidence of life on Mars. And not just life on Mars, but alien life on Mars. It’s a bit like me saying it’s only going to be a matter of time before I dig up a pot of gold in the garden outside, and not just a pot of gold, but of silver as well. Well, have they found it or not?
How do they tell whether something is an alien form of life?
And how do they tell whether something is alive or not?
These days humans and animals and plants are regarded as being “alive”, and nothing else. Everything else is sort of inert or dead.
It doesn’t really help to say that living things contain DNA. When they dug up the skeleton of King Richard III a couple of years back, it contained DNA that they could trace to living descendants of his. But he was still dead.
Living things grow and decay and die. That’s what humans and animals and plants all do. Life is temporary. And also, unlike inert rocks, living things move around. They do things like swim and run and fly.
But don’t clouds in the sky do all of that as well? Clouds build and grow, and then fade and vanish. And clouds move around. In fact they move around much faster than animals, and travel for longer distances. And clouds do all sorts of things. They drop rain and snow and hail. They bring thunder and lightning. Sometimes they generate whirlwinds and tornadoes. So why don’t we regard clouds as living things? So what if they don’t have any DNA?
And why don’t we regard rivers as living things? We give them names. And they are continually on the move. And they also grow bigger and smaller, and sometimes completely vanish. Rivers meander as they snake along valleys. If we regard snakes as alive, why not the snaking rivers?
And what about forest fires? They ravenously consume entire forests, before themselves dying out. If we have Save The Whales, why not Save The Forest Fires?
And aren’t trains and cars and ships living things too? They’re continually on the move. When they’ve got minds of their own (as they soon will), cars will be able to drive to gas stations and fill themselves up, and will have become autonomous lifeforms. No DNA in them either.
Perhaps the ancients looked at the world this way, and saw it as filled with all manner of living things, some of them hurling thunderbolts. And it’s just us diminished moderns that regard only a very few things as being “alive”, solely because they’ve got DNA in them.
And of course these days there’s Gaia, the planet on which we live. Isn’t that alive as well? Its surface is moving around as well, very slowly, as continental plates inch slowly across the surface of the Earth, and volcanoes erupt, and earthquakes tremble.
In the Green view of the world, it is indeed alive, but us humans are killing it. But that’s just human conceit. We are powerless over the Earth. We’re just another species that’s along for the ride. Maybe we’ll end up blowing ourselves up, in some crazy new war, but when it’s over the Earth will still be here, and it’ll still be spinning, with tides rising and falling, and with clouds and rivers meandering over its surface, and probably plants and animals as well. It’ll be as if nothing ever happened.
So I’m sure they’ll find life on Mars, and life everywhere else as well. Why not life on Jupiter and Saturn as well? I’ll be astonished if they don’t find life everywhere.
Cue Life On Mars: