Water on Mars - Now we need to find intelligent life

MARS

So they've found flowing water on Mars. Now all we need to do is find intelligent life on Earth. Yes, this is an art and technology blog, but we really can't ignore this latest news.

Mars
Flowing water on Mars is a truly magnificent discovery

 

For years I have been following conspiracy theorists, as opposed to conspiracy theories. I adore theorists in the same way that one would adore a barmy uncle or a dog who keeps walking into glass doors.

For years online forums have been active with conspiracies that Mars is occupied, and that what appear to be stones are not really stones at all. They're skeletons of Giants, dust covered rodents, and statues of Martian Gods, but NASA have always denied that they are anything but rocks.

They put it down to a psychological phenomenon that involves a stimulus that the mind perceives as an image or a shape where none actually exist.

The phenomenon is called Pareiddolia. I think I have it. I see shapes in everything, in part because that's how I was taught art, and in part because my day job requires me to see emerging patterns in often random data. I don't think it's a problem though.

But fascinated I am that at long last some of the conspiracy theorists have been proven to be nearly right. They said there was flowing water on Mars, some even suggested that they had a Starbucks. But those that stuck to flowing water do not look quite so silly, with a couple being labelled as once crazy, now genius. Are not those two things similar?

But where do we go from here? What happens next? It is difficult to say which direction the discovery team will take next because there are so many decisions to take. Not least that there are fears that a Mars rover carrying contaminants from Earth could pollute the water streaks if it gets too close.

The other problem is that of distance. Currently the Mars rover is sitting some 30-miles from the water streaks. The distance for the rover is not unachievable, it will be a difficult trek for sure, but not impossible. The real issue is that Curiosity is not sterile.

Curiosity
No help from the Rover - It's not sterile

 

We don't know for certain that it is not carrying bugs from Earth, these could contaminate the water and disrupt any future scientific endeavours to investigate the area. It would also be a breach of the regulations that are in place against the pollution of other planets.

The Committee for Space Research specifically forbids contamination from earthly organisms and dirt contaminating other planets.

Some think that ultraviolet light levels on Mars will have already killed off any microorganism son the rover, but no one can be absolutely sure. Others have said that Martian dust which costs the rover may have protected the organisms if they exist.

The next real opportunity for further discovery could be some years away. There is a planned mission to launch a joint European and Russian sterile rover that will drill into the planet’s surface, but the launch isn't going to happen until 2018, and it's not a five minute hop to reach Mars.

There will be some heated debates over the coming weeks and probably months on just how far Curiosity will be allowed to explore.

It wasn't too long ago that we were informed that in order to find life outside of our planet, other planets would need to be within the Goldilocks zone. A suitable distance from a star, and of course flowing water was also a prerequisite.

More prerequisites are required other than being in the right place at the right time, and it seems that only weeks ago the idea of a Goldilocks zone or as some call it, a habitable zone was the key to finding life on another planet.

Not too long ago we were told that there is no hope of life existing on Venus because of its runaway greenhouse gasses and boiling temperatures. At the same time we were told that Mars was an arid and frozen wasteland. Now we have flowing water. The new film, The Martian is clearly out of date in some respects now.

But there is a question that we must face if we are to ever find life beyond our Earth, exactly what is life?

We make many assumptions that life has to be similar to any life on our planet, it needs to be an organism, and it doesn't have to be intelligent, although finding intelligent life is the ultimate outcome. But what of life is something else?

Earlier this year we heard some talk of us being a hologram, but can we really imagine what other form life can take if we have never experienced it? How do you define it?

Meanwhile the conspiracy theories are gearing up, speculation in the scientific community is readying itself to tackle more and more questions. But there are many who say that we have already had alien visitation, and that governments around the world are in cahoots with the Greys.

But how would a government keep it a secret and why? The general conclusion is that the truth of an extraterrestrial existence would destabilise the world, be the ruin of religion, and send people running into the streets in scenes reminiscent of War of the Worlds. Or it could run deeper and governments do not want other governments to know that they have used alien technology.

I often ask people if they have ever seen a UFO. Their immediate response is that there is no such thing as aliens. That's not the question though. The question is have you seen something that cannot immediately be identified. I have to say that during my 46-years, I have on three memorable occasions seen something that I could not identify. I'm not saying it was aliens, but each of those three sightings have stayed with me. As vivid as the day I saw each of them.

It's something that I hope we will one day be able to confirm or deny, but if a government denies the existence of alien life, there will be millions of people who say the government are keeping it a secret.

Maybe the conspiracy theorists are closer to the truth than we think. Maybe disclosure is gradually happening. First the Goldilocks zone, now flowing water on Mars, maybe next we will hear of microbial life. I would like to think that if disclosure is something that is being gradually introduced that they would just hurry up a little. Maybe if they are waiting for disclosure they are testing the public opinion. Would the disclosure of alien life send you into a tail spin? Or, would it make you question your religious beliefs?

And this is why finding flowing water on Mars is such an important discovery. We now know that our previous assumptions are literally out of the water. Now we must open our minds to see what the eye cannot. I think we are ready, but do you?

ART THIEF FOUND IN LONDON CANAL

According to various news sources the death of an art thief tied to a shopping trolley in London’s Regent’s Canal is being treated as ‘suspicious’.

The partially de-composed body of a known art thief by the name of Sebastiano Magnanini was found tied up to the trolley when it was discovered. It is known that Magnanini once stole a masterpiece from a church. He was found in the canal near the entrance to Islington Tunnel near Kings Cross.

Although Magnanini had no papers or identification on him, but did have a tattoo of a lizard on his right shoulder and a Koi Carp on his torso, together with other small tattoo’s on the fingers of his hand. Magnanini was last seen in the area on the 22nd September 2015, some two days before his corpse was found.

He had only recently moved to London after travelling to Thailand, Cambodia, and Colombia. Police are asking anyone with information to come forward. Magnanini was originally from Italy, but had been living and working in South London. His next of kin have been informed, but at the time of writing formal identification had not taken place. There have been no arrests so far and enquiries are continuing.

A detective has said that the reasons why an Italian art thief was found dead bound and tied to a shopping trolley in a London canal are known by people living close to the murder scene, and have nothing to do with his alleged links to organised crime or travels around the world.

Magnanini was jailed for 18 months in the late 1990s after stealing an 18th-century painting worth nearly 2bn lire (then about £1m) from a church. But friends from his time as a tour guide with an Italian company in Cambodia in 2009 said he was not a criminal and was “a wonderful human being”.

BANKSY

Surprisingly two Banksy murals have sold at an auction in Beverly Hills for £198,000 a price that is less than a third of their estimated value. I Remember When All This Was Tree was created at a former Detroit auto plant and was sold at Julien's Auctions in Beverly Hills, California for £90,000.

The 8-foot (2.44-metre), 1,500-pound (680-kilogram) section of cinderblock wall featuring the artwork was excavated from the Packard Plant site in 2010 by the non-profit 555 gallery in Detroit. The mural features a child holding a bucket of red paint and a brush next to a message that says ‘I remember when all this was trees’.

This is a surprising turn of events for an original Banksy. Although some of his works have previously failed to sell, I doubt that this means that Banksy is on the downturn, and not selling the works does not mean that they are not valuable, more likely that the right buyers were not in the room. The non-profit gallery will get around £72,000 for the sale made, which will be used to fund community arts programs.

THE MOST EXPENSIVE ART COLLECTION

Masterpieces belonging to the controversial former Sotheby’s owner, A. Alfred Taubman have gone on display in Hong Kong and are being touted as the most valuable private art collection ever to be offered at auction.

Sotheby’s has indicated estimates of the 500 works will fetch $500m U.S. The collection includes works such as ‘Portrait de Paulette Jourdain’ along with pieces by Picasso, Degas, Willem de Kooning, and Mark Rothko.

The collection which has taken over 70—years to amass, includes some of the Old Masters, impressionists, modern and contemporary pieces, and both Sotheby’s and Christie’s had battled to auction the works. Sotheby’s eventually succeeded in grabbing the lots.

Christie’s have said that the most valuable work, a reclining nude ‘Nu CouchĂ©’ which is predicted to fetch around $100m U.S. The Taubman collection will go on sale in four separate Sotheby’s auctions in New York from November to January.

Technology Ban
Technology Ban - No SnapChat for these children

 

NO TECHNOLOGY ZONE FOR KIDS

In a rare turn of events, and independent school in London has taken a rather bold move to ban all types of technical devices. The ban extends to the use of technology on holidays too. Acorn school which was founded in 2013, and charges annual fees of up to £11,000, has asked parents to commit to technology free environments.

The ban affects all children up to the age of 16 in some way, and according to one of the founding parents of the school, this ban is to help children to become active creators, rather than being passive consumers.

The school charter reads “We are against all forms of electronics for small children ... and only gradual integration towards it in adolescence. That includes the internet. In choosing this school, you have undertaken to support that view, no matter what you may feel personally.”

Students at the school are only able to watch movies until they 14, forbidden to watch television before the age of 12, and after that are only able to watch documentaries that have been approved by the parents.

This does seem a backward leap from more recent positions where everyone is encouraged to use technology from a very early age, and I wonder if there is some hard hitting scientific basis that has made the school move in this direction. Personally, I am of the opinion that children should engage with technology from an early age, but only to an extent. The use of games has proven to increase motor cognitive skills, and my daughter has always had an interest in coding. Something I learned in the early 80’s. But is this move necessary? Is this a school you would willingly send your child too?

I am sure the school have good results, but should this really be at the detriment of preparing children for life in the bigger world? Please feel free to leave your comments below.

So that’s all for today, I am off to attempt to finish a few commissioned artworks, and then hopefully I might find some time to carry on building my old school retro arcade game machine. Something that is teaching me the finer skills of woodwork, technology, and artwork for the panels. Guess what? My daughter is helping me!

 

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