Mars: a new modern myth

  Since launching from the United States in July 2020, after a long journey of more than 200 million miles, the US “Perseverance” rover landed on Mars on February 18, 2021. In less than a week after landing on Mars, Perseverance has sent back a large number of photos, reproducing a high-resolution 360-degree panoramic view of the Martian surface.
  Coincidentally, the Chinese Mars Rover was successfully launched on July 23, 2020, and successfully entered the orbit of Mars on February 10, 2021. It is planned to land a Mars rover on the surface of Mars on April 23, 2021, with a duration of 90 cycles. Exploration work on Mars Day.
  On February 20, 2021, the Russian “Expert” weekly website published a report entitled “Everyone has a share in Mars,” saying that Russia and Europe have joined forces to compete with the United States, China and the UAE in the field of Mars exploration. The head of the Mars Research Group of the European Space Agency said that the Russian-European Mars probe is scheduled to be launched in September 2022.
  Suddenly, the topic of Martian immigration became a hot spot again.

It is said that NASA took a photo of a human face during the Mars exploration in 1976.

The novel “World War” by British writer Wells describes the story of Martian life attacking the earth.

American writer Burroughs’ novel “The Princess of Mars” was adapted into the movie “Alien Battlefield.”

  People’s interest in Mars has a long history. There have been two climaxes in history, one in the 1890s and the other in the 1990s a century later.
Is there a canal on Mars?

  The speculation about the existence of life on Mars involves the theory of “multiple worlds” (referred to as pluralism), which originated in ancient Greece. This debate disappeared in the Middle Ages, but since the Renaissance, pluralism has revived. With the support of French philosopher Diderot, American philosopher Benjamin Franklin, German philosopher Emmanuel Kant and others, by the late 18th century, pluralism had almost become the mainstream and consensus.
  Pluralism was shaken in the 1850s. The famous scientist and theologian William Whitwell of Cambridge University criticized the methodological weakness of pluralism. At the same time Darwinism raises doubts about whether intelligent life in other parts of the universe can be replicated. However, evidence in favor of pluralism soon emerged. New astrophysics shows that there are countless stars in the firmament, similar in composition to the sun, and perhaps they are also surrounded by planets. People at the time felt that there might be evidence that pluralists have been missing in this neighbor of Mars.
  The orbit of Mars makes the distance between it and the earth very large. From the perspective of astronomers, in 1877, 1892 and 1909, because Mars was close to the earth, it was particularly suitable for observation of Mars. The observations over the years have just intensified the discussion about whether there is life on Mars.
  Mars, a fiery red planet, has attracted people since ancient times, and Greece is even more known as the god of war. If life is found on Mars, whether it is intelligent life or not, it can prove that life on Earth is not unique. The impact of this on science, theology and culture can be imagined.
  The Victorian obsession with Mars originated from the Vatican Observatory. In 1859, Father Angelo Sic (a pluralist), the head of the Vatican Observatory, discovered a ravine on the surface of Mars, which he called “Canali”. This is the first time the word “Canali” (meaning “waterway” and “canal” in Italian) has been used to describe Mars.
  In 1877, another Italian, one of Europe’s most prominent astronomers, Giovanni Schapparelli, also observed this kind of “Canali”, and he also said that they seemed to form a certain system. He also observed the continents and oceans on Mars, and gave them elegant classical names, such as the Eritrean Sea, Prometheus Bay, etc.
  Although Giovanni Shaparelli is cautious in public, studies have shown that he may be a hidden pluralist. He is familiar with topographic terminology, and still uses “Canali” to refer to the terrain on Mars, which implicitly supports the speculation of pluralists. The word “Canali” was translated into English and became “Canal” (canal). In 1882, Shaparelli discovered two parallel “canals”, which he called the “double canals”. The concept of the double canal adds to the color that it is artificially excavated. How can nature form two parallel rivers? In his lifetime, Shaparelli discovered at least 60 “canals” and 20 “double canals” on Mars.
  In 1886, astronomers Perotin and Toron at the Nice Observatory confirmed some of Shaparelli’s discoveries. However, in 1888, Perotin declared that the Martian continent named “Libya” that Shaparelli had observed in 1886 “does not exist.” At the same time, two famous observatories in the United States did not find the so-called “canals” in one observation, but found some “canals” but no “double canals” in other observations. These contradictory findings in early Mars research actually illustrate the limitations of scientific and technological methods for observing Mars.
  When astronomical observers exchanged reports and papers, mass communicators also began to work. The British astronomer Boda is engaged in professional scientific research as well as the field of popular science. He believes that the “canal” on Mars may be a river, and first proposed that, from the perspective of the earth, the canal on Mars is at least 15 to 20 miles wide.
  The famous French pluralist Kakamiy Framalion had a very wealthy family. He established his own observatory in 1882. In the best-selling book “Laprand Mars” published in 1892, he believed that “the change of the canal may be … the residents renovated the old river in order to distribute the water.” British artist Nathaniel Green proposed that the “canal” may be a visual illusion. He was both a painting teacher of Queen Victoria and an amateur astronomer.

Martians invaded the earth?

  Seeing that the controversy over the Martian “canal” was about to end, but at this moment, the debater and pluralist Percival Lovell came on stage. The Bostonian spent the first half of his life mainly engaged in commercial and diplomatic work in the East, and later entered the astronomy world. He was a mathematician and one of the most popular satirical essays at the time. He was very wealthy. He established his own observatory in Arizona and started working there in 1894. Before he started observing, he announced that “The Canal” might be “the work of a certain intelligent life.”
  Lovell wrote a large number of papers on Mars and “Canals”, and wrote three highly readable best-selling books: “Mars” (1895), “Mars and its Canal” (1906) and “Mars” , As the Residence of Life” (1908).
  At that time, the emerging mass media were very willing to report Lovell’s findings and opinions. “Canal mania” spread rapidly. By 1910, Lovell had discovered more than 400 “canals” with an average length of 2,400 kilometers. He called the “black spots” at the intersection of these “canals” as oasis, and believed that these “canals” were caused by the lack of water on Mars. build. Based on this, he inferred the information about the atmosphere of Mars: the “canal” led the water from the polar ice caps of Mars to various places for irrigation, and finally the water turned into water vapor and returned to the poles. This hypothesis of the water cycle fits well with a view at the time: Mars is an ancient dying planet, and the Martians tried to avoid the fate of extinction through rationality and huge engineering. This is also very similar to the situation on the earth at the time. The Panama Canal, the Dortmund-Eames Canal (an important commercial waterway connecting the Ruhr industrial area and the North Sea), the Manchester Canal (a man-made man-made waterway from Manchester all the way west to the Irish Sea) The Sea Canal) and the Corinth Canal (a canal that crosses the Isthmus of Corinth in southern Greece) were all built in that era.
  Lovell did his best for astronomy, but most astronomers expressed doubts about the “canal” theory, and even resolutely opposed it. Moreover, in the eyes of astronomers, Lovell has never been an astronomer. Lovell’s imagination gave birth to the most popular cultural icon of the 20th century, the fictitious Martian. Although the novelist had described “people” living on Mars before Lovell, his influence on the popularity of “Canals” was profound. The most famous representative of Lovellian Martians appears in Wells’s book “The War of the Worlds” published in 1897. This British masterpiece tells readers at the beginning:
  At the end of the 19th century, no one believed that our world was being watched attentively by an intelligent life that was more advanced than human beings and also inevitably dying. Who would believe that when human beings are busy with their own affairs, they are studied intently, as carefully as people use a microscope to study creatures that squirm and reproduce in a drop of water… There are some intelligent life, their wisdom Compared with us, it’s as if we are compared with the beast. These more rational, colder and unsympathetic intelligent beings are observing the earth with jealous eyes, slowly but firmly preparing to deal with our plans. So the disaster of mankind at the beginning of the 20th century came.
  The implication of Wells’s book is: excellent military technology inspired the ruthless theory of evolution and imperialism. Lovell’s Mars provides the perfect environment for Wells’ metaphor.
  In terms of fashion and ideology, the fictional Mars has obvious similarities with the earth. The American science fiction novelist Edgar Les Burroughs, who later created the “Tarzan of the Apes” series, used Mars as the background of traditional folk fantasy. In his Mars series novels, Mars is a desert full of inferiority. The dying planet inhabits not only monsters, but also beautiful princesses.
  The theme of Mars also appeared in children’s literature. For example, in the British writer Fenton Ash’s Journey to Mars (1909), two typical Edwardian “firm and mature young British” visited this Distant planet. By 1914, there were six films with Mars as the background, including New Zealand’s pioneering film “The Message of Mars” (1909) and the British film of the same name (1913).
  Lovell died in 1916. At that time, the controversy in the astronomy circle had subsided, and it had become a consensus that the “canal” was nothing but an illusion. However, like the Martians, “The Canal” is still very popular in popular novels after World War I. In 1924, some astronomers tried to detect whether the red planet emitted radio signals, and even the U.S. Navy had to shut down its own radio communications to cooperate with the detection. Some more enlightened astronomers, such as the British Royal Astronomer Sir Harold Spencer Jones, believe that there may be life on Mars, but it is most likely to be lower creatures, such as moss or lichen.
The United States has always been a pioneer in exploring Mars

  Time entered 1960, and the space age had arrived. From 1962 to the 1990s, Earthlings launched 23 space missions to Mars. All these missions want to know whether there is life on Mars more or less. Among them, the 1976 National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) “Viking Expedition” program is the most famous, which is specifically to find Mars. Designed for traces of life. The “Viking 1” probe took many photos of Mars, some of which were interpreted by Lovers as artifacts, while others regarded them as natural structures. “Viking 2” landed on Mars and took soil samples, but later analysis came to vague and controversial conclusions.
  In the 1990s, two events aroused the media’s attention to Mars. In August 1996, NASA revealed that a Martian meteorite that has landed on Earth for many years may reveal information about whether there is life on Mars. Scientists submitted dozens of papers on this alien stone called “ALH84001” and came to the opposite conclusion. The second thing is that the “Mars Pathfinder” sent by NASA landed on Mars on July 4, 1997. Soon, the public witnessed the scene of this model probe walking slowly on the rust-red sand of Mars.
  In contrast to the success of the United States, Russia’s failed attempts to explore Mars are less well known. Russia’s Mars 96 spacecraft failed shortly after takeoff in November 1996. The failure of this highly complex and ambitious mission is a major loss in the history of planetary exploration. The objects in the spacecraft (which may now lie deep in the Pacific Ocean) have a CD-ROM with more than 70 novels and articles in 17 languages, including 10th century Arabic poetry and contemporary science fiction , Which expresses the long-term yearning for Mars by mankind.
  The Martian debate in the 1890s has obvious similarities with the Martian fever in the 1990s, but the differences are also obvious. The Martian debate in these two eras is based on human speculation about whether there is life on other planets. In the two Martian fevers, the United States occupies a central position. In the 1890s, the United States became an emerging world economic power, so American astronomers—whether for or against pluralism, their voices can be heard by the world. In the 1990s, the economy and technology of the United States were unparalleled. The crazy speculation about Martians in the 1890s was replaced by more sober comments a century later, but the media still attracted people’s attention with sensational headlines. The speculation about extraterrestrial life, especially life on Mars, is like a “modern myth.” The conjecture of extraterrestrial life conveys the most human cognition of itself, which has been the case from the Epicurean era to the present.