It’s a Blue Planet, Although It *is* Snowing on Mars

Vote Obama or McCain: Global Electoral College | The Economist.

There’s a nice application over at the Economist that gives a feeling of how the world would vote if the concept of the United States’ “electoral college” was exported to the entire world.

Unsurprisingly, they favor the guy who is more their color.

Which is to say, blue (and off-white, to be honest).

To briefly extend the red-state/blue-state metaphor to one of global proportions, I would much prefer we live on a Blue Planet rather than a Red Planet.

The Blue Planet is beautiful and awe-inspiring.   Yes, sometimes vicious and cruel, but no more than is necessary.

The Red Planet is a planet of war and conquest (and a horrid movie).  It is a planet of heroes and tragedies.  Right now, however, we’re learning circumstances there are much stranger than previously thought.

September 29, 2008 (Computerworld) Forget trying to find evidence that there used to be water on Mars. Scientists from NASA said today that its instruments on the Red Planet have detected falling snow.

While the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been circling the planet, the Phoenix Mars Lander has been sitting on the northern pole of the planet for several months, testing Martian soil samples for any materials — including water-ice — that could support life. A robotic arm on the lander has dug up pieces of ice, and the orbiter has sent back pictures of what look like old fractures in the planet’s surface, and trails of waterways.

Scientists today added to that mounting list of scientific Martian discoveries with evidence of falling snow. “Nothing like this view has ever been seen on Mars,” said Jim Whiteway, lead scientist for the Canadian-supplied Meteorological Station on Phoenix. “We’ll be looking for signs that the snow may even reach the ground.”

[full story]

I think the metaphorical implications of this latest discovery are quite revealing.  A planet (or politician) once thought to represent all that was glorious in war, is actually kind of cold and crying on the inside.  The sadness never quite makes it all the way out, and the devils of the past remain evident, yet the full picture piques curiousity more than respect.  We end up feeling more of a distant pity than a searing loyalty.

And so it is with the man who wants to lead a Red Planet, as the global poll numbers would suggest.

Advertisements

The Eye In the Sky Don’t Lie

Google maps give close-up view of U.N. refugee camps – Yahoo! News


Rebecca Moore, head of Earth Outreach for Google, said the browsable, high-definition pictures of humanitarian crisis zones stood to captivate a mass audience that may not otherwise see them.

Many of the 350 million people who have downloaded Google Earth use it to scan for holiday destinations or to see what other corners of the world look like from above. The sharp satellite images are updated about every month, though in some places they are older and in others no public shots exist.

Moore told a packed audience of aid experts at the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) headquarters that they could add video interviews of refugees, photographs of displacement crises and educational text to the satellite backdrop to educate even casual users about unfolding crises.

“Use Google Earth to tell your story,” she urged.

We are moving slowly, inexorably, towards a globally available view of the globe.  Now we just need to get something close to real-time info, get rid of tribal mentalities, and eat the rich and everything will be fine an dandy…until the aliens come.