This is my first post on this BB; just thought I'd say 'Hi!'. I've been reading Dr. Plait's website for some time now; what a wonderful piece of work! Funny and logical at the same time - it's nice visiting a place where people actually use their brains; rather than just spout emotional inanities at each other.
About me: My real name is David R. Organ. Folks have laughed at my name; but only once. My former trade as an infantryman and U/C instructor sees to that. I'm a science nut; love everything about astronomy and physics - except the math. Gawd do I hate numbers! Which when you get down to it is a cryin' shame - while I loved my trade as a soldier; once it was taken away through injury I was left at a bit of a loss. I'd like nothing better than to learn more about the Universe; but the fact that I have difficulty dividing fractions kind of throws a monkey wrench into things. So; even though I hate 'em; I'm trying to learn - starting with Grade 9 math and working my way up - it's a hard go for a 36-year-old. (yuk.)
That's sort of secondary - I'm sick of the blue-collar life; so I'm steadily working my way into University; studying my most favourite subject; palaeontology (saurian). Soon; I'll have worked up enough of a financial buffer to be able to quit and start school. (Even part-time's not an option right now; 12-hr. night shifts put paid to that.)
One of the things that bugs me the most about my blue-collar life is the people I work with. Don't get me wrong; a great bunch of people I'm always glad to have over. But wow - can't talk science with 'em. You wouldn't believe the amount of time I spend debunking idiotic ideas during pressdeck bull-sessions. Guys on press talk about much of what's here - the Moon Hoax, the Alignments, etc. Mainly because they see it on TLC - which as everyone knows is completely unbiased and factual. (sigh) The moon hoax was a biggie - there were arguments for a couple of weeks over that one. I found this site well after that show was aired; I was quite pleased that many of my arguments against the 'hoax' were corroborated by Dr. Plait - just goes to show that a little common sense helps; I guess. I missed on a bunch of 'em, of course (in particular, the engine bell). The Bible Code was another one - how the heck do people believe this stuff if they won't believe a used-car salesman?
Anyway, this is WAY too long; so I'd better get to the question; and I warn you, it's dumb.
It concerns extraterrestrial life. I just read a news item saying that NASA's mars probes have found no conditions to support life. There are a lot of people saying 'we've explored Mars, and there's no life, so there's no life anywhere'. Hogwash, IMO. We haven't explored at all - excellent though they are; the probes, including the Vikings - are not the same as going and looking. Even if they were; we'd have explored about one tenth of a bazillionth of the martian surface. I believe thus: We see Black smokers and cold-sinks in Earth's oceans. Bacteria living in antarctic ice. lichen on concrete. Fish that hibernate in dry, cracked mud until the next rains come. Something green in the back of my fridge. We have to date examined only one example of a biosphere, and in that one example, life thrives; regardless of how inhospitable the conditions may be. In some cases - like the black smokers - there cannot be a root 'seed' of life; those living around the smokers and the bacteria in the ice must have developed independantly - their environments are too different and remote. Given that item that seems to be fact - that life will establish given even a ghost of a chance - doesn't that make the probability of life elsewhere in the universe approach certainty? Since I decided on this; I've been wracking my brain trying to figure out if it's wrong and if so; where, but I can't - it seems obvious. This is one of the Big Controversies so there must be a fault in my logic somewhere; I'd really appreciate it if someone could point it out.
Sorry - 'brevity' is the one word I never learned in school.
Glad to be here, and cheers!