19 June 2011
I’ve been quiet here for a while, thanks to looming post-doc application deadlines on July 1, and the even more terrifying thought that I need to finish my PhD by December, but there has been a rash of stupid articles about Mars lately that I think warrant some comment.
Did you hear about Bio Station Alpha? No, it’s not a new video game. It’s a mysterious feature that someone spotted in Google Mars. In the northern hemisphere of Mars, at coordinates 71°49’22.11″N 29°32’35.64″W there is a cluster of white pixels just barely visible if you zoom all the way in. And obviously, the most logical expanation is that these pixels are a secret Mars base. Obviously. It is definitely not a glitch in the image caused by a cosmic ray hitting the detector and then exacerbated by compressing and map-projecting the image.
Another amazing discovery on Mars is the profile of Mahatma Ghandi! You can find it yourself at 33°12’29.82″N and 12°55’51.21″W. This stunning discovery was made by a guy who “has also claimed to have found vegetation, entrances to underground tunnels and city ruins on Mars in the past few weeks” according to this article. Clearly, this is evidence that Ghandi was actually the ambassador from a race of wise and powerful Martians.
Finally, we have this spectacular evidence of runways on Mars. These parallel lines are surely evidence for advanced civilizations. Never mind the other image artifacts in this image like the sudden changes in color that occur along perfectly straight lines. There is no way that this could be the result of an imperfect attempt at overlaying several images.
It pains me to have to spell this out, but sarcasm on the internet is a dangerous thing so let me be clear: none of these images are evidence of intelligent civilizations on Mars. They are all evidence instead of our imperfect cameras, our imperfect ability to overlay images on a map, and our imperfect brains which are all too eager to see faces everywhere we look.
I love Google Mars, and I am 100% in favor of making all data available and easy to access, but this is one of the side effects. What bothers me about this is that stupidity like this makes the news while all the actual weird and worderful things that we can see in images of Mars never make the cut. Maybe someone should do something about that. If only there were someone with experience looking at images of Mars and the inclination to blog about the cool things in those images.
Oh wait. I guess that’s my cue.