In a few weeks the Mars Science Laboratory will land on Sol-3 and begin its mission to search for life. Code named Curiosity; the rover was launched in November of 2011 and has been travelling through space for 8 months. Its mission is to search for life and investigate the Martian climate and geology for future manned missions to the planet.  This is incredibly exciting for a space geek like me who’s been dreaming of living on Mars for quite some time. Curiosity is quite a bit bigger than other rovers and equipped with instruments much more sensitive than other missions. Hopefully NASA will use it to confirm past findings from other missions.

What findings? Well, some people believe life was already found on Mars. You see, data is a funny thing; if you can’t read it properly, you see nothing but noise. As an example, the first exoplanet was discovered using a special technique, and when the data was looked over, it turns out we had recorded evidence of several planets; we just didn’t know what we were looking for.

Back to Viking and its life signs. Turns out, 1 out of 4 tests were positive for life. Now, I don’t know about you, but if I got a positive result on a medical test, I would damn sure check again. For whatever reason, we’ve waited 36 years to double check. The data was also tested based on what we understood of life at the time, and since then it’s grown. (I’m so punny). So, we have new criteria and better instruments. Let’s just hope they don’t land in the desert.

Speaking of landing, Mars has a lot of ground to cover. It has roughly the same land mass as earth. There are many places on earth you could land and have a hard time finding life. However, if I was a betting man I would check where there were signs of life. Again, for some reason we have ignored the giant clouds of methane that are in the Marian atmosphere. Being that methane is a by-product of life, I would think that would be a place to check.

I for one, will be awaiting details.

What would you have me do?

There are a lot of conflicting opinions about what is wrong with the youth of today, but they all agree that there is something wrong. Being a relatively young person myself I take offence to most of what’s being said; and I’m going to explain why with a story.

Let’s imagine shall we that there is a young man somewhere in Canada that just graduated high school and wants to start his life. Let’s call him John. First off, it’s a shame that he’s been taught that real life is somewhere “out there” and not what he’s been doing for the last 18 years. His parents and teachers constantly talk about the “real world” and how he’s not in it, so he’s looking forward to get into it. He’s looking into post-secondary education because he’s been told that’s what he needs to do to be successful. John knows he can’t get a good job with just a high school education. Even though there are plenty of online and self-taught resources John never took a high school class on self-reliance or intrinsic self-worth so he doesn’t know this is an option.

Now, John heard there are great opportunities in Northern Alberta where they are really looking for skilled people and will pay top dollar. He looks into an apprenticeship program, but because his school cancelled shop class, he doesn’t feel qualified. His friends are going to university, so he applies as well. He’s good at memorizing facts for tests so he has good marks but was never challenged so John doesn’t know what he wants to do.

He is accepted into General Studies. He takes a part time job to pay for school, but that only goes so far. He wants to ask for money from his parents, but he’s been told that he shouldn’t be mooching off his parents and that he should leave the nest. Most of his money goes to pay rent for an apartment he’s staying in with some friends.

It’s now becoming hard to make ends meet. John moved back in with his parents to save money and took out student loans to pay for school. All seems well.

Now he’s graduated and looking for work. He’s still with his parents because part time is all that’s available and he’s paying down his loans. He didn’t get the good job he was promised. He didn’t understand what he was supposed to learn in school therefor is missing the soft skills needed to survive. He’s told that he needs to work his way up the cooperate ladder and somehow be outgoing and innovative at the same time. He wants to show people what’s he can do but no one will talk to him until he gets experience.

Meanwhile, there is pressure to move out, so he joins the rental market, putting him further in debt. He gets a cellphone, internet connecting and a nice suit to keep pace with all the other applicants. He’s told that he needs to start saving for retirement and to buy a house as soon as he can but he’s having a hard time paying for food.

Now he’s got a job, starting at the bottom. Management doesn’t understand how well he can multitask so he sits idle most of the day. No one wants to give him responsibility because that would take work away from them. He’s worried about his finances and keeps hearing on the news about consumer confidence and if people stop buying things the economy suffers. He’s given conflicting advice every step of the way. He did everything he was told and ended up going nowhere. He asks himself “How can a family in India making 1/5 of what I do feed themselves and I have a hard time?” He doesn’t understand why the company says things are busy be he has no work. He wants to contribute but all his life he’s been told to wait for someone to give him the opportunity.

What would you have John do, in a world that taught him to wait for opportunities and puts him in a position that reinforces these rules?