Depends on how you see things, but there's either good news or bad news to come out of the science world this week. At first, people got all excited because a Russian scientist claims he found evidence of life on Venus after studying photos of the planet taken 30 years ago by a Soviet space probe. Now, other scientists aren't so sure. A professor at Arizona State University's Space Flight Facility says Not so fast, there, buddy. He thinks the photo doesn't show any sort of life on Venus whatsoever.
In fact, he claims that the "crablike" creature photographed isn't a living being, it's just a mechanical component. And the rest of the "creatures" caught on film? NASA's saying they're just camera lenses that popped off the probe and onto Venus' ground.
So folks, looks like there isn't any life on Venus after all. Womp, womp. But that doesn't mean this discovery and its debunkment are all for naught.
I think it just goes to show how infinitely fascinated we are, as a global culture, with life on other planets. Hollywood makes billions from our fascination and scientists are racing to be the first to turn that dream into a reality. From the tiniest molecular cell to full on aliens with big eyes and short arms, any discovery of life is an amazing coup. We all want it so badly that we, too, want to believe that lens cap is actually evidence of life.
Maybe our enthrallment with the idea has to do with not wanting to be alone, or maybe it has to do with wanting some excitement in our lives. Nothing would wake us up more from our existentially boring lives (so to speak) than freakin' aliens. I think the commotion and adventure that would come along with the discovery or significant life on another planet is more the reason we hope for it, rather than a cure for loneliness.
It was eye opening news for a second there -- life on Venus! -- but now it's back to the drawing board. Too bad NASA is a stickler for facts. What spoil sports, right?
Why do you think people are fascinated with life on other planets?
Photo via Lunar and Planetary Institute/Flickr