Exista viata pe Marte?
23 Ianuarie 2008
O serie de fotografii realizate pe planeta Marte de unul dintre robotii agentiei NASA par sa infatiseze o femeie cu bratul intins, transmite pagina electronica a publicatiei Daily Mail.
Imaginile au provocat reactii imediate ale internautilor, care incearca sa elucideze misterul silutei. Potrivit unora, "femeia" nu este altceva decat o iluzie optica datorata peisajului, insa altii sunt convinsi ca e vorba de "un extraterestru in pielea goala".
Cele cateva imagini publicate de Daily Mail au fost transmise de Spirit, unul dintre vehiculele de explorare ale NASA, care a ajuns pe Marte in urma cu patru ani, la 4 ianuarie 2004.
Examinarea initiala a fotografiilor nu a dezvaluit nimic important, insa astronomi amatori au anuntat ulterior descoperirea siluetei.
Aha... obişnuita ştire senzaţională... presa noastră cea de toate zilele, profesionistă până la măduva oaselor nu se dezminte. Dar, aşa cum fac eu de fiecare dată, m-am apucat să verific pe la surse. Mergeţi şi dumneavoastră aici:
Vedeţi ceva despre amintita ştire senzaţională? Desigur, nimic de găsit acolo. Atunci de unde şi până unde apăru informaţia la gazetă. Desigur, de la publicaţia Daily Mail. Atunci haideţi să mergem şi acolo. Să vedeţi ce am găsit aici:
Dacă nu vreţi să accesaţi linkul, vă pun eu textul chiar aici:
A little green martian? Of course not. But this picture just proves our enduring obsession with finding life on Mars
By MICHAEL HANLON Last updated at 09:36am on 24th January 2008
The proper word for it is pareidolia: the phenomenon where people tend to see human faces and other familiar forms in otherwise unfamiliar inanimate objects. We have all seen faces and creatures in the sky.
When Hamlet saw a strange cloud, he exclaimed to Polonius, "Methinks it is like a weasel" (Polonius, for his part, thought it more like a camel).
People are for ever seeing Jesus or the Virgin Mary in tortillas, buns, the swirls in their coffee and reflections in windows.
But, for some reason, one of the most popular places to see these unlikely visions is in space.
This week, the Mail showed an extraordinary photograph taken by the Nasa Mars Rover, Spirit, which has been trundling across the surface of the Red Planet for four years.
In the picture, which I have no reason to suspect was doctored or altered, there appears to be a greenish-brown human figure, a woman perhaps, perched on a rock, staring rather wistfully at the crater floor below her.
But it is an illusion; there is no woman, green or otherwise, on the surface of Mars. If there were, she would suffocate and freeze in short order.
This is simply a trick of the light, shadow and perspective, the brain seeing something familiar in an alien jumble of volcanic rocks under a strange orange-pink sky.
Yet this is not the first - and will not be the last - time we have seen strange apparitions on Mars, on Earth and on other planets.
The first and best-known example of pareidolia in space was of course the Man in the Moon.
I have never found its surface to look particularly human, but many people insist the pattern of dark lava plains and brighter highland areas looks for all the world like a human nose, mouth and two eyes.
If I squint, I suppose I can just about see it.
Mars, for some unknown reason, is home to many strange apparitions. People have been "seeing" things on the Red Planet that aren't there for more than a century.
Back in the 1890s, the American astronomer Percival Lowell spent night after chilly night in his observatory in Arizona, wrapped in blankets, as he sketched the intricate network of canals and oases he saw on Mars through his magnificent telescope.
It became received wisdom that the canals of Mars were as real as the rivers and canals of Earth. Learned articles were written in respected scientific journals speculating on the nature of the canal builders, their ways and more.
The fact that few other astronomers, particularly this side of the Atlantic, ever saw a single canal was an awkward truth that became clear only with the advent of the space age, when the first probes showed a dusty and dry Martian surface devoid of canals, little green men or great cities.
A few years ago I had the privilege of looking at Mars through Lowell's old telescope - on one of the best nights to see the planet for centuries. I saw no canals.
But Lowell was not lying - he was simply seeing what was not there.
He was tricked by his brain. People's brains still play tricks on them - especially, it seems, where Mars is concerned.
For even after the advent of space probes, people see strange things on this mysterious planet.
The most famous is the "face", a craggy hill in the Cydonia region a couple of miles long and a few hundred feet high. When it was photographed by the Nasa Viking 1 probe in July 1976, it created a sensation.
The photographs appear not to show a random, wind-eroded hill, but a human face, massive and sphinx-like, sitting on the Martian surface.
Silly conspiracy theorists to this day insist that the 'face' is an artefact, and fanciful mythologies have been constructed involving the face-builders, the ancient Egyptians and a massive Nasa cover-up.
Sadly, and predictably, when a new probe, with a better camera, flew over the "face" in the late 1990s, it showed it for what it is - a hill, on which patterns of light and shade at certain times of day (plus the fortuitous addition of a pair of dots, part of the photographic process which give the superficial appearance of nostrils) allow a human brain to make sense of it by morphing it into the object we find most reassuringly familiar - a face.
Despite the new evidence, of course, the conspiracy theorists do not give up. Others claim to have seen cities, other faces, pictures of animals (including the Cydonia "dolphin"), replicas of Stonehenge and Avebury, and even World War II tanks on the Martian surface!
After the two recent Nasa rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, landed there was much excitement at the sight of a Martian 'rabbit' apparently frolicking on the dusty soil near to Opportunity.
The bunny, again the subject of much internet speculation, turned out to be a bit of packaging or insulation shed by the lander as it bounced to a halt on the Martian surface.
One of the most intriguing Martian "illusions" are the great "worms" spotted in some images sent back by the Global Surveyor orbiter. Some insist that these pictures show colossal snakelike creatures on the Martian surface.
Others say they are immense glass tunnels, 150ft across and several miles long.
Actually, the "worms" are long chains of sand dunes in the valley floor; it is our eyes, and brains, that join up the dots to make us see something that isn't there.
Similarly, near the Martian poles some people claim to see forests of pine trees and shrubs. These intriguing features are real, but they are not trees, just patterns of dust on the icy surface. Again, we are making sense of a surreal image, putting the familiar in the unfamiliar.
Space is full of hoaxes, allegations of hoaxes, and endless lunatic hypotheses which often rely on strange and unsettling images that "prove" things differ from the official line.
Every few months somebody writes a book alleging that the Nasa astronauts never went to the Moon, or that if they did they saw things there that the "CIA" or somesuch has been covering up ever since.
Certainly, the astronauts saw some strange things. Flashing lights and clouds of diamond-like objects drifting past the spacecraft windows, for instance. The explanation: not an alien visitation, but more likely frozen human waste ejected from the spacecraft.
Similarly, those people who see "evidence" in the photographs taken by the Apollo astronauts that the whole thing was faked and shot by a film director in a Hollywood studio are believing what their brain thinks, not what their eye sees.
Perhaps it is not surprising that a green lady has cropped up on Mars. The Martian landscape, like all the places photographed by humanity's growing armada of spacecraft, is appropriately otherworldly, incomprehensible, perhaps a little unreal.
When medieval mapmakers drew parts of the world that had yet to be explored, they were wont to populate them with strange inhabitants, giants and dragons. In seeing canals, faces and young women staring nonchalantly into the Martian horizon, we are doing exactly the same thing.
Nu mă mai obosesc să traduc, dar lucrurile sunt destul de clare. Jurnaliştii noştri au prostul obicei de a nu verifica informaţiile. Au apărut ele într-o gazetă oarecare? Atunci de ce să nu le preluam şi noi? De ce să mai căutăm verificarea datelor? De ce să mai apelăm la cei ce se pricep cu adevărat la subiect?
Dacă ştirea este senzaţională, atunci nu se mai merita să te împiedici de adevăr!