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I'd read about this in the paper, where it was big news for about half a day and then sort of... disappeared from view? Whenever I've read a book or watched a film about FINDING LIFE ON OTHER PLANETS it has generally tended to be a bit of a bigger deal than this. Admittedly the life they usually find tends to have RAY GUNS and/or NEFARIOUS INTENTIONS, but still, I have never seen a film where the discovery of life elsewhere in the universe is shunted off the news by the fact that The Prime Minister Is A Turd. I mean, I know it's a big deal how awful the government is, but is it really a bigger deal than one of the greatest questions in human history finally being (potentially) answered?
The programme itself was BRILLIANT, and full of Scientists desperately trying, and failing, to contain their ENORMOUS EXCITEMENT about what they might have discovered. They had found evidence of PHOSPHINE in the atmosphere of Venus, and the only way they could explain so MUCH of it being there was that it was being produced, consistently, by living organisms. ZOINKS! SPACE ALIENS!
It's lovely when you see actual proper Academics on the telly being actual proper Academics, and the lead Professor was a GRATE example of the genre, bursting with pride, being slightly eccentric, and also trying to slightly downplay the magnitude of what she and her team had discovered. There was also a biochemist who had written A SONG about the whole thing, which the Production team must have LOVED as they kept cutting back to him playing it. It was, in part and in whole, A DELIGHT.
What was most exciting for me though was the fact that they were merrily chatting about some HUGE SCIENCE FICTION IDEAS as if they were perfectly normal things to talk about. For instance, the theory seems to be that there is some kind of bacterial life floating about in the atmosphere 50km above the surface of Venus. However, the clouds there are made of SULPHURIC ACID, which would make it impossible for anything we know of as life to exist. BUT, instead of just going "OK then, that means there's no life there" like Space Scientists always seem to, they went "Aha, then maybe it is a form of life completely different to what we have got here on The Planet Earth."
I let out an audible "YES!" at this point, as it always seems DAFT when scientists talk about the search for life on different worlds but assume it must be the same as it is here. The MUCH MORE FUN Scientists here went on to suggest that this meant they could now look at ANY old planet in SPACE as a potential place where life could exist, even if it wasn't the sort of life we could point at and/or adopt as a pet/next door neighbour. They then went on to talk about how it might be ARMOURED BACTERIA or something that lived in/on ACID, and then developed entire possible LIFE CYCLES for these creatures.
It was basically a really really good show, and I HEARTILY recommend watching it as soon as possible to enjoy the EXCITEMENT, just in case a bunch of significantly less interesting scientists come along and say it was all a mistake or produced by something BORING like volcanoes. SHUT UP, OTHER SCIENTISTS!
posted 17/9/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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