More Than a Little Curious…

It’s here.

In just about six and a half hours’ time, the NASA rover Curiosity will land on the surface of Mars, joining its still-active brother, Opportunity, in exploring the red planet.

This time, though, we’re sending a complete organic chemistry analysis lab, capable of testing samples for the components, or remnants, of life as we know it.  For the first time, we’ll be in a great position to determine once and for all if Mars has ever supported living things.

Excited yet?

Let’s just say that drill goes down and pulls back something that tests positive.   What will it mean for us all?

My mom and I were discussing it today, and she commented “It won’t affect us.”

“Whaaat?” I said, “Of course it will! If we find even extinct life, it would mean for the first time we know life exists outside our world!  Our whole concept of the universe would change, our whole view of our place in it would change.  Science itself would be changed forever, it would be the biggest discovery of all time!”

“Well, yeah,” she added. “But that’s ALL…”

She’s a character, my mom.  But she went on to say that our daily life and experiences wouldn’t change.

IS she right?

Say NASA / JPL announce this week that Curiosity has found actual microbial organisms in the Martian soil.

How would your life change?

How would your views/beliefs change?

How would your understanding of what it means to BE alive change?

Would it be better to find out they are wholly unrelated to us and unique to Mars, or would it be better to learn we all came from the same comet strikes, or something of that sort?  Or would it matter at all?

How much more or less likely would you be to support space exploration?

Would you care at all? Or is it just something for us nerds to geekgasm over?

I can tell you that I, for one, will be watching tonight and hanging on every press release from NASA / JPL in the coming weeks. Who knows when or if such a discovery might happen / be announced?  Or it might not happen at all.  It might be that Curiosity finds nothing, except more rocks and dirt, yielding no doubt fascinating geological data, but nothing that would shake us to our philosophical and religious cores.

But that won’t stop us from wondering, and wanting to go out there more and more, and further and further, and see and touch and examine and seek and find all the secrets of the world and unlock each and every one of them.  At least, I desperately hope it doesn’t, don’t you?

Aren’t you curious?

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