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Monday, January 01, 2007

Close encounters with improbable events ('Goofers') and implausible beliefs (Martians)

On my flight home yesterday from vacation in Arizona and New Mexico, a lady from Santa Fe asked about my screen saver showing photographic evidence from NASA that water flows freely on the surface of Mars. She told me that this is just a cover up by the US Government of Martians living under the surface of their planet. "The truth will come out soon," this New Mexican said, "They cannot suppress the bloggers who know that aliens really do exist." I suspect this woman scoffed at NASA's high resolution photos taken in July of the Face on Mars showing it to be only a geological mesa -- not an artificial monument by extraterrestials. The diehard believers in Martians, represented by a caller to the Art Bell "Coast to Coast" radio show, say that NASA dropped a nuclear bomb this structure to de-face it!

My trip last week featured a few other improbabilities. Its purpose was to see the Minnesota Gopher football team play in the Insight Bowl at Arizona State University's stadium in the Phoenix area. Us Minnesotans cheered wildly as our team went up by 31 points past the halfway point of the game. Sadly, the 'Goofers' blew their seemingly insurmountable lead and let the Red Raiders of Texas Tech win in overtime. This reportedly was the biggest comeback in a Division 1A bowl. Cursory research on the history of bowl games shows them going back over a century with accelerating frequency in recent years -- perhaps a few thousand games in all. I suppose I should feel lucky to see this unlikely event, but what really pleases me is that the coach got fired immediately afterwards.

The other unusual event experienced by me and my traveling companions was a record 16 inch snowfall in Albuquerque where I'd booked our flights to save on airfare. Fortunately the weather cleared just in time for takeoff. En route to the airport we stopped at Meteor Crater where NASA astronauts train for extraterrestial missions. Some people, like my fellow traveler from Santa Fe, believe that this was where the NASA perpetrated the hoax of man traveling to the moon. After seeing the Minnesota team implode at the Insight Bowl and then on my trip home almost getting stuck in over a foot of snow in supposedly sunny New Mexico, I am ready to believe that just about anything can happen. Come on NASA -- quit covering up: Bring on those eight-fingered aliens! By the way, how are they at handling oblate spheroids?

(Photo by H. P. Anderson)


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