Monday, October 20, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Images from Mars, Letter from a Parallel Universe

Postcards from Mars look good. Critics of the mission write from a parallel universe.

Images from Mars, Letter from a Parallel Universe

The first images from the Mars Science Laboratory have arrived. Here’s what NASA says about the successful landing:


PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's most advanced Mars rover Curiosity has landed on the Red Planet. The one-ton rover, hanging by ropes from a rocket backpack, touched down onto Mars Sunday to end a 36-week flight and begin a two-year investigation.

The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft that carried Curiosity succeeded in every step of the most complex landing ever attempted on Mars, including the final severing of the bridle cords and flyaway maneuver of the rocket backpack.

"Today, the wheels of Curiosity have begun to blaze the trail for human footprints on Mars. Curiosity, the most sophisticated rover ever built, is now on the surface of the Red Planet, where it will seek to answer age-old questions about whether life ever existed on Mars -- or if the planet can sustain life in the future," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "This is an amazing achievement, made possible by a team of scientists and engineers from around the world and led by the extraordinary men and women of NASA and our Jet Propulsion Laboratory. President Obama has laid out a bold vision for sending humans to Mars in the mid-2030's, and today's landing marks a significant step toward achieving this goal."

I also got a letter, which the writer also posted as a comment below yesterday’s story about the mission. I suspect comes from a parallel universe:


How comforting to know that $2.5 billion of our tax dollars are being wasted (sorry, “invested”) to find evidence of life of Mars. The critical clues will be traces of water. And we all know what that means. Just get yourself some carbon (and a few other things) and JUST ADD WATER, and voila, LIFE!
Silicon is the seventh most abundant element in the universe. The planet Mars apparently has a heavy dose of it. Should  NASA then say that Mars has the ingredients for computer chips and laptops, with the intended implication that computer chips and laptops may have self-assembled on Mars in the past, or might in the future?
 “There's almost unanimous agreement that Mars once had conditions suitable for life as we understand it, he said. If life never arose, he said, scientists will want to know why not.”
NASA wants to know why life did NOT arise on Mars? As if to say NASA knows why life DID arise on earth? Incredible!
Then, the finale. This unintentional but damning indictment of the evolutionists and origin-of-lifers and all of junk science: “Anderson said he won't be disappointed if Curiosity fails to bring us any evidence of past life. "You have to be careful that you don't confuse what you want to see with what you are seeing."

Hello. I’d like you to know your letter reached our universe with success. I’ve been particularly conscious of parallel universes in the last week since I started reading “Why the World Exists” by Jim Holt. This book blends physics and philosophy to explore the question of existence. There’s much discussion of parallel universes in which the constants of nature and perhaps the very laws are different from ours.


Do you have philosophy in your universe? Is your universe apparently expanding? Ours is accelerating. Isn’t that the weirdest thing? And we’ve just confirmed that our space is pervaded by a Higgs field which gives elementary particles mass. What kinds of particles do you have in your corner of the mutliverse?

I’m intrigued that in your universe evolution is “junk science”. That’s mind-bending for us here on Earth because natural selection is such an elegant process, it’s hard to conceive of a universe in which life would emerge and not be subject to it. How does it work out your way?

Your universe seems to have quite the negative attitude toward space exploration. Where does that come from? Do you have other planets in your solar system? Do you have solar systems? You must at least have Google translate, since you message reached me in English, though I think you might have a few glitches. Anyway, nice to hear from you. Keep in touch.

About this blog
Faye Flam - writer
In pursuit of her stories, writer Faye Flam has weathered storms in Greenland, gotten frost nip at the South Pole, and floated weightless aboard NASA’s zero-g plane. She has a degree in geophysics from the California Institute of Technology and started her writing career with the Economist. She later took on the particle physics and cosmology beat at Science Magazine before coming to the Inquirer in 1995. Her previous science column, “Carnal Knowledge,” ran from 2005 to 2008. Her new column and blog, Planet of the Apes, explores the topic of evolution and runs here and in the Inquirer’s health section each Monday. Email Faye at fflam@phillynews.com. Reach Planet of the at fflam@phillynews.com.

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