No smoke without fire…

The NASA mission to belt the moon really hard with a large hammer seems to have excited just about everyone:

  • The astronomy geeks are excited because it could tell us interesting stuff about the moon, the possible presence of water in some form, etc.
  • The scientists are just excited because it’s making somthing go ka-boom, which is what they like best, let’s face it, whether we’re talking about sub-atomic particles, dynamite or caravans.
  • The policy wonks are excited because they’re trying to work out whether this violates a UN Treaty regulating “activities on the Moon and other celestial bodies”.
  • The conspiracy theorists are having a field day, because for them, this is a de facto declaration of war on the extra-terrestrials who shadowed every moon mission…

As for me, I can’t shake the image of a couple of NASA planners having a meeting:

Bob*: “Say, what do we know about the moon… I mean, really know… not just from staring at it, or scratching around on the surface?”

Bill: “Unh, I dunno… not much, I guess. Like, is there water there, but it’s just stuck to all the particles of dust instead of being an underground lake…?”

Bob: “Like in Dune, right?”

Bill: “Right… underground lakes would be cool”

Bill: “So… how about we pound on it with, like, a really big rocket?”

Bob: “Yeah… let’s do it!”

And the tragedy is, the caricature wouldn’t leap so readily to mind if there weren’t a germ of truth in it somewhere.

There’s no smoke without fire… and apparently there’s no plume of steam without a big ****ing explosion.

*Thinking of Bill and Bob… the names were not chosen entirely at random. Some years ago I was sent for a couple of 5-week projects to IBM Poughkeepsie. While there, my co-assignees and I noticed that periodically the PA system would come to life, and a pleasantly-modulated female voice would say: “Bob Molson: 13-12-24; Bob Molson: 13-12-24”. Or, another day, “Bill Molson: 14-29-37; Bill Molson: 14-29-37”.

Out of idle curiosity we checked the online employee directory, but found no Molsons… and the numbers didn’t appear to correspond to internal extensions either.

We never did find out what the PA announcements were about. Perhaps it was just someone’s little Dada-ist “jeu d’esprit“, like the mysterious radio announcements in Jean Cocteau’s “OrphĂ©e”.