Thursday, August 13, 2015

Life on Mars? We'd like to think so...

The red planet has fascinated us Earthlings for many years. I watched John Carter just a few weeks ago. I kno, I know. But I prefer to wait for the DVD, you see. Anyway, it was a fun movie, with the intrepid American adventurer finding himself on far off Barsoom fighting for a Martian princess. And in the end, of course, love conquers all.

It was altogether a more comfortable experience than The War of the Worlds, H.G. Wells's turn of the last century masterpiece. It has been filmed many times, with varying degrees of success.

Of course, now we know that the Martian canals don't exist, that Barsoom is fiction, and that the octopus-like aliens in their tripod machines came from one man's imagination. So far, we haven't even confirmed a microbe on Mars.

But we just can't let it go. Humans recognise patterns. Pareidolia is probably a hard-wired defence mechanism, very useful for primitive man. These days, it tends to manifest as seeing people where there aren't any. The man in the moon is one example. If you clicked on the link to pareidolia you will have found the reference to the face on Mars. Naturally, that one had the plot bunnies up and running, and a movie was made (Mission to Mars - not one that made it to the Oscar nominations). The real explanation for the face is rather more prosaic.

Now we have a new example - the ghostly woman on Mars. It seems the UFO-hunters are freaking out. Maybe the princess on Barsoom is real? It doesn't take a very vivid imagination to come up with a plot incorporating the lady. Perhaps a sentinel warning off the alien invaders. Maybe there's something underground that triggered a hologram when the rover came too near? Or... ooh ooh ... perhaps it's a welcoming committee?

What do you think?

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