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Brother Mark is a pseudonym of The Reverend Dr Robert Jaggs-Fowler, a clergyman, physician, writer and poet. His biography can be found at: www.robertjaggsfowler.com

Sunday, December 30, 2007

A ‘What if...’ Moment

At around midnight last night, the sky in North Lincolnshire was beautifully clear. It was one of those rare times when the stars stood out in twinkling splendour on a background of deepest black. My own knowledge of the constellations is limited. However, I could clearly identify Aries, Pisces, Ursa Major (the plough) and Ursa Minor. To the east of them all, rather as a governess overseeing a scattering of her charges, floated the moon, now approaching its final quarter (on the 31st December).

Venus is best seen in the mornings at around 7am and was therefore not visible to me last night. Scientists, however, are currently studying the planet Venus, as, despite its toxic state today, it is once thought to have had an atmosphere akin to ours on Earth. Indeed, it is thought that its surface once contained water and may have been capable of supporting life. Now, dense clouds of sulphuric acid form an intense ‘greenhouse effect’ and all water has evaporated. It may therefore offer some suggestions as to how we can combat the warming of our own planet and thus avoid an ultimate total catastrophe.

As my wife and I stood mesmerised by the beautiful scene before us, my mind, fuelled by the above thoughts, wandered off into one of those ‘what if’ moments...

The culture of the ancient Egyptians has long been a matter for admiration and astonishment. They had competencies in the fields of engineering, geometrics, astronomy and medicine (just to name a few subjects) which leave us wondering at how they could have developed such skills and knowledge. Certainly, our knowledge of their pre-history is, by the very statement, minimal. Additionally, much of their understanding has had to be re-learned or re-discovered over successive millennia.

So, what if human life had once existed on Venus (or some such similar planet) and had developed into a very advanced and sophisticated civilisation? Then, that planet was subjected to the forces of global warming to the point where the inhabitants were looking at the destruction of their world. Because of their advanced technology, they were able to leave their planet and travel to another, equally hospitable to their biological needs; a planet we now know as Earth.

Of course, the immediate culture arriving on Earth would have the knowledge it brought with it, but limited technology at its disposal. Perhaps then, it would take a further seven thousand years or so before the subsequent generations were beginning to develop and match their predecessors in knowledge and skills... only then to find that they too were confronted with the need to find solutions to the problem of global warming...

As I stood wondering at the immensity of the night sky last evening, it made me think more than ever before about our relative position within the universe and the fact that it just may hold the key to not only our origins, but also our future.

...or was it just the malt whisky speaking...