Monday, June 23, 2008

The Universe is So Ours

Have you ever seen a space alien?

In Iowa City I knew a fellow who believed he was visited by aliens often. They'd come to his bedroom from time to time, paralyze him, and mill around talking. I've been reading about alien abductees, and their stories. Pretty consistently there's some medical procedure upon abduction, then there's some weird alien interview, and then some period of time where the abductee is subjected to some random images of earth life. This experience scares the bageezus out of some, and others it leaves with a deep sense of belonging and purpose.

I find the alien abduction story compelling. It's the sort of story I want to believe. I listen to or read the accounts and willingly let go of my skepticism and disbelief. I don't analyze or ask for proof or ask questions that might puncture the veracity of the story at all because the strange, expansive feeling I get when I hear the stories feels so fragile that it could pop at any minute. There's this lush, endless Homeric wilderness out there, inhabited with big-eyed, god-like creatures that want to tinker in our lives like Zeus.

Every once in a while somebody will come along and tease us with a story or a sighting, and every time I hope it's at least a convincing hoax. But it's usually a grainy photograph take by a cell phone, or something that's obviously a puppet head staring into a window; like the people perpetrating the story didn't even try very hard.

Ah well. If nobody else is out there, that means it's all OURS, right?

The most interesting story on this front comes from Universe Today, a group of soldiers in Afghanistan have expressed a willingness to make a one way colonization trip to Mars and Google is offering 20 Million dollars to the first private organization to land a robotic probe on the Moon.

I like this uncoupling of space exploration from the fickle hands of nations. I wonder if Burt Rutan will will the Google prize like he won the Ansari X-prize for first private citizen to develop a craft that can make a sub-orbital flight into space.

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