Friday, February 01, 2008
The Dutch Moisturize Mars
The pessimist mourns the glass’s half-emptiness, the optimist rejoices that it’s semi-full and the engineer just thinks the glass is twice the size it should be. I wonder what a space engineer would think of this map of Mars, half underwater.
Although the latest scientific evidence seems to indicate there once was water on Mars - laying to rest a controversy that has raged ever since ‘canals’ were detected on its surface – The Red Planet nowadays is rather rocky and definitely dusty, and not even close to moist. To map Mars as if it’s covered with oceans, seas and bays is clearly too Terra-centric.
It might help to know that this map of of a semi-submerged Mars is of Dutch origin. As the Dutch have always struggled to keep their country above sea-level, they might find it impossible to imagine a world without encroaching seas. This map therefore may say less about the precarious environment of Mars than about that of the Netherlands itself, a country not coincidentally named for its disadvantageous position vis-à-vis the North Sea.
One of the commentators gives the source as the Dutch translation of Camille Flammarion’s Astronomie populaire, published in 1884 as De wonderen des hemels (”The Marvels of the Heavens”).
The Dutch image which was originally accompanying the article has disappeared from the blog. I've substituted what I believe is the French version, thanks to cosmovisions.com