Counter-culture Journals (文革)

Counter-culture Journals (文革)

Friday, May 31, 2013

Mission to Mars

Excerpts from: The Journals Of A 21st Century Schizoid Man

Mission to Mars

It would be a few weeks of traveling through the deep dark blackness of space. Once we left Saturn and its moons, we would have nothing to look at but the Sun, which for a while would look only as a large star and other stars and planets so far from us that they just looked like stars. The little red planet would eventually grow to be a large disc for us to aim at. But that would take a while.
We were headed to Mars Base 7, a space station that looked a lot like the one we just left on Titan. Captain Sprawling is doing some biological research there and we are going to check on his progress.
 As we approached the red planet, the disc started to get larger and as we got closer we could see more features on it.
Captain Sprawling was an old white haired man, who looked like one of those ancient scientists on a distant world, in the old Star Trek episodes.  He was a little old fashion, liked books and no doubt had a large sprawling lab with equipment of all kinds everywhere. 
Upon landing, we went straight into the lab station and met with Captain Sprawling.
“Do my eyes deceive me Captain Skyhawk?” Sprawling said. “There seems to be two of you.”
“This thing or man or what-ever it is, will be kept here as a prisoner to be studied,” Skyhawk said. “He is a quasi-clone of me, made from some cosmic goo we found on the moon Titan.”
“So you’re an alien?” Sprawling asked Number Two.
“Yes,” he said. “But don’t use that word around Skyhawk. He seems intent on treating me as a Petri dish fascination. I’m nothing more than a ‘specimen’ to him. He didn’t even give me a real name. He just calls me Number Two.”
“I would point out that I wrote it out as if it actually were a name,” I insisted.
“As long as I’m here, why don’t I get a real name?” claimed Number Two.
“Since you will be working here with me, the two of us will come up with a dignified name for you,” said Sprawling, always the diplomat and a jolly guy in general.
After a few minutes, Captain Sprawling signaled us over to one of his microscopes.
“You’ve got to see this,” he said. I’ve discovered a Martian worm. It’s the first multi-cellular life form anyone has ever discovered here on Mars. It probably evolved since the planet became dry and most life forms went underground. This is a major find. We not only find that life is a process that has been found on this earthlike sister planet, but it also shows signs that evolution is a life process as well.”
We all looked at the microscopic little worm that seemed rather plain and yet on the planet Mars, it may have been a blue whale in its rarity.
“Do you realize it took more than 3 billion years for multi-cellular life forms to develop on Earth,” Sprawling said.  “The earth had nothing but one celled beings on it for more than 3 billion years. We believe surface water has been missing on mars for more than 2 billion years. That means this evolution took place without any surface water and not development on the surface with lake water or sunlight.”
I can remember when Members of the religious right won control of the Kansas State Board of Education in the 2004 election. They had been voted out in the prior election after they embarrassed the state by removing requirements for teaching evolution in Kansas public schools, in 1999. After their 2004 victory, they plan to renew their attacks on Charles Darwin’s theory.
Vikki Foster, was a political Christian right-wing activist, fighting the teaching of evolution in her local Hawkins County School, in Tennessee. She has stated openly that she believes the Bible is absolutely true and that God created the world in six days.
Life on earth began at least 4 billion years ago. The evidence to this is overwhelming. There is no way all the extinct animals, whose fossils we’ve found, could have existed at once, just 20,000 years or even 200,000 years ago, as Foster tried to claim. That was just not logical. Anyone who says that needs to do the math. It doesn’t add up.
Some creationists claim that the universe is only about 20,000 years old. The Bible said God made light on the second day.
And yet we can see the light from quasars which are over a billion light years away. I once heard a creationist explain, while at a forum, that God created the light from far away stars so humans could see them. That’s not science. It is mythology.
Creationists claim that evolution can’t be duplicated in a lab experiment. Christian Scientist author Henry Morris wrote:

“In this chapter and the next we shall summarize the evidence against evolution by showing, first, that there is no evidence of evolution occurring at present and second, that there is no evidence that evolution has occurred in the past.”

They ignore the signs of evolution can be seen today. A salamander called a Congo-eel has four tiny legs that are useless to the animal. The Congo-eel had evolved into a serpent shaped animal that doesn’t need its legs any more. Millions of years ago, the legs were as useful as on any other salamander. A million years from now they will be completely gone. That’s evidence of evolution in the present.
There is also plenty of evidence of past evolution. Morris focused several pages to the idea that no species can evolve into a new one. By 2004 scientist were beginning to find fossils of dinosaurs in the process of evolving into birds. Feathered and winged dinosaurs were found in China’s Liaoning province in the early part of 2000. This is just one of many examples of past evolution and it demonstrates how a modern species can evolve from an extinct one.

          “Do you realize how much of my time is spent verifying these finds are not earth life?” Sprawling asked us. “Thanks to earlier efforts to colonize the planet, in 2023 an outfit called Mars One decided to put up a permanent colony for humans to live on Mars. They claimed they would pick a place that would not be likely to have any life, in case indigenous life was found on Mars.
…Perhaps it was just an old fashion real estate scam. But, as with most “free enterprise projects involving space exploration, everything that could go wrong did. They manage to pollute the planet’s water, air and ground. They spread all kinds of earth germs to this planet before we even knew if there were any real Mars microbes already living here. Their stupidity has caused me to have to verify every find I make against known earth germs and RNA and DNA configurations to make sure I’m not just looking at an earth bug that those idiots let loose on this planet. Who knows how many indigenous life forms have been wiped out due to the introduction of Earth life here by these incompetent profiteers?”
“I remember that project,” I added. “They said they wanted to preserve life on Mars, but all they really wanted to do was make money.” 
“If it weren’t for those idiots from Mars One, I would have already verified that this worm is the first multi-cellular organism found on Mars.”
After we finished a spirited debate, I received permission to put on a Mars-day-suit and use a ground scooter to gout out and explore the surface of Mars. This was my first trip to the surface of Mars and I couldn’t wait to go exploring.
The scooter was electric and could go 50 miles per hour. The day suit looked a lot like a wet suit used by skin divers. I also had to wear an oxygen tank and goggles, that made me look like a skin diver. The suit was needed to counter the thin air pressure that would allow my blood to boil if I wasn’t wearing it. The air is mostly carbon dioxide with a small amount of oxygen, about 1%. The goggles were needed to protect me eyes from the harsh ultraviolet light that would easily cause blindness in just a few minutes. But the air temperature was between 70 to 90° Fahrenheit. The weather was perfect and no chance of rain. A dust storm was the most intrusive weather I had to worry about and that particular day seemed rather calm.
Had a gone out at night, I would have needed a suit similar to the one I wore on Titan. The temperature drops down colder than the coldest nights at the Earth’s South Pole. That requires a lot of heat and insulation and a much bulkier suit.
The various types of terrain that I drove over in my little scooter amazed me. There were valley s with gullies, dried creek beds as well as dried out river beads and lake bottoms. There were all types of mountains that closely resembled those of earth, minus the snow caps found on earth. The sky was a beautiful pink color and at time, I could see small white clouds in the distance. I knew they were made of ice, but they still held the same beauty as clouds on earth. In the morning I could see the sun streaking through the daytime sky. It was breathtaking. I felt extremely privileged to get to take in these sites.
As I moved from the mountains, I began to notice the plains that resembled the deserts of Arizona. There were rocks and dust all over the place. Rocks were strewn all around the ground. Except for the lack of plants, such as cacti and sagebrush, and lack of a blue sky, it was just like traveling through the desert except there was no extreme heat and not water found on the surface anywhere.
Years after sending up spaceships and carrying out thousands of experiments, the question of life on Mars had finally been answered. There are obviously no little green men, no Marvin the Martian or any of those other strange creatures we saw in all the old movies and old Twilight Zone episodes. Now we would settle for just a few microbes.
I was lucky to get to stand on the surface of Mars and Titan. In my lifetime it was hard for me to even imagine that I would ever make it to such worlds.
By the year 2013, the political climate across the US was that Universities should take part in research only if it would lead to a profit. The idea of knowledge for the sake of knowledge seemed to be on its way out. Those with PHDs who could not provide a way to turn their research into a profit making enterprises were being let go. If it weren’t for the colonization and mining on Mars, no humans would have ever been sent there.  
So while Captain Sprawling complained about the colonies of Mars One, he would have never gotten the government grant money to travel in space if it weren’t for those jerks and the politicians who promoted them.

In my early life-time, in my early teens, my country went to the moon and no one had to justify it using economics.

It was during John F. Kennedy’s Moon Speech - Rice Stadium- September 12, 1962;

“Those who came before us made certain that this country rode the first waves of the industrial revolutions, the first waves of modern invention, and the first wave of nuclear power, and this generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space. We mean to be a part of it--we mean to lead it. For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. We have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding….

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.
It is for these reasons that I regard the decision last year to shift our efforts in space from low to high gear as among the most important decisions that will be made during my incumbency in the office of the Presidency.”

He never had to justify the spending to anyone. That is not like today. And then there was Sputnik 1, a satellite the Soviet Union launched into space. No one knew what that thing actually did, but it actually started the space race. So it was the Soviet revisionist Nikita Khrushchev who really started our space race.
 But instead of moving on to Mars, the US government, in the mid 1970s, decided to focus more on the Vietnam War and Mars was just plain forgotten. Instead this country decided to let the fictional show Star Trek find aliens of all kinds, that just happen to look human and all lived just a few light-years away. Some people living on Earth actually learned to speak the fictional language Klingon. That language was originally spoken and referred to as Klingonese in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Trouble With Tribbles” where it was actually pronounced by a Klingon character.   
The Borg; the Vulcans; the Romulans; and the Ferengi; almost surely don’t exist. The tiny bugs that do exist are actually more exciting to me than those fictional characters. However, compared to the real world around us, fiction is just too much easier and more profitable.
My own fantasies include stories about strange creatures found right here in the solar system. So why do people show so little interests in the very solar system they live in. If we don’t explore the solar system around us, what is the point of imagining that some day we will visit human-like creatures that live on planets light years away?
We all like our fantasies, science fiction or otherwise. When I make up stories, I just prefer they happen closer to home.
After a few hours of scooter travel I headed back for the base. As I got there, I was met by some strange glares from my co-travelers as I came in the building.
“You took out a hover-craft for less than 20 minutes today?” Captain Sprawling asked me.
“What are you talking about,” I replied. “When I left I took a scooter. That’s all I thought I needed. I’m just now returning. What is the problem?”
“Twenty minutes ago we got a message from the garage that you were trading in the scooter for a hover-craft,” Sprawling explained. “So what happened?”
“What happened?! I returned the scooter and came back in. End of story!”
“Who took the hover-craft?” Sprawling asked me.
“How would I know?”
Then it came to me. What if Number Two went out and stole a hover-craft?
“By the way—has anyone seen Number Two?”
They all looked at each other.
“No!” they all said in unison. “Where is he?” they repeated again in unison.
“Mark, that THING was YOUR responsibility!” Captain Skyhawk said. I could tell he was mad. He didn’t like Number Two in the first place. So now he was beginning to get seriously pissed.
“Now take it easy,” I said nervously. “We can find him rather quickly since he has no credentials.
Next Skyhawk started checking his pants pockets.
“My Wallet, My credentials, he has everything of mine! I have nothing!—SPIES! What’s going on here?”
“Maybe Number Two stole your credentials,” I said in a rather meek voice. “He seems pretty smart.”
“Don’t worry Skyhawk,” said Sprawling. “We can all get your credentials replaced fairly easily.”
“In the meantime, that ass-hole is somewhere on Mars pretending to be me!”
Skyhawk was not the least bit interested in his twin’s motivations, only the embarrassment he will cause him.
“We can test your own DNA to verify that you are you since we already know Number Two will not have identical DNA to yours,” Sprawling said. “We can verify who you are right now. Then we can disprove the imposter when we find him.”
“You mean, when Mark Spies finally captures him!” Skyhawk thundered. “You better find him before he does anymore damage. Remember Spies! You’re responsible for him and all he does! “
Actually I felt a certain pride that my “Frankenstein Monster” had found a clever way to escape. I was in trouble if he wasn’t found soon, however, I couldn’t help wondering if his curiosity got the best of him and he was still trying to see what it might be like being human. Did he want to meet woman—did he want to do more than just meet them? Did he want to learn more than he had so far?
I was far more curious than Captain Skyhawk. I guess there was not much I could do until some trace of him showed up. We did an inventory of the base and Number Two took a night suit. He could be gone for a few days on Mars before he would need to find a base or colony. 


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