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Saturday I opened for a talk given by Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Schweikart at the Petaluma Museum! I sang 'Rocket Man' for about 200 folks in Petaluma including the mayor....a real nice guy....had them all singing Elton John's classic as Rusty beamed me a smile, arms folded, leaning casually against a door jam, 5 feet from me. I did a parody of one line which got a laugh: "Mars ain't the kind of place to raise the kids...Especially if you're the 'Mars Spirit Rover'.!" Poor 'Spirit' pronounced dead just this week of Martian hypothermia.
Rusty Schweikart's passion is saving the Earth from NEO's...near earth objects...asteroids, comets, planet crashers...I went up to him afterwards, and told him I too was quite concerned about this, and was willing to write their organization an 'anthem' to forward their cause. He was delighted and a bit taken back by the suggestion, but being the song-writing gerbil I am, it's already on the way inspired by his 'astro-physical activism'. Here's the opening line:
"Sticks and stones will break your bones
But an asteroid will break your whole species..."
So 'Go Rusty Go!" I say. We have evolved to be the 'T-Cells' of the planet. What a responsibility! For more information on his efforts in this direction: http://www.b612foundation.org
Sunday's 'MetaQuizzical Cafe' with SETI@home's chief scientist, Dan Werthimer, was the perfect blend of fun and learning. His speech and power point had great moments of insights and humor. He showed several ruined radio telescope pictures saying "see this proves the aliens don't want us to listen to them!" A great, warm-hearted guy who is relentlessly upbeat about the prospects of alien contact even though it hasn't happened yet.
He also thinks we should only be listening and agrees with Steven Hawking that we shouldn't be sending out a beacon or trying to contact 'them' since we're so new and technologically weak and the aliens are likely to be about a billion years ahead of us so we should err on the side of caution and not make the phone call.
Problem is... we've already got 'Voyager 1 out there beaming Mozart and Chuck Berry for the whole galaxy to listen to. Voyager 1 is approx. 12 light hours from the sun and is about to leave the solar system altogether. It's interesting that at the height of the 'Cold War' 1977, an age of suspicion if ever there was one, that we would launch such a trusting call to the Milky Way..'Hey, we're over here!" I guess we trust aliens more than we do each other. More on SETI@home's work at http://setiathome.berkeley.edu/
We had another full house and the audience was friendly and engaging. They sang my new theme song 'The MetaQuizzical Cafe' which is a 'Stray Cats' meets the 'Twilight Zone' satire lots of finger-snapping fun. I also performed 'Sugar in Space' (listen here) for the first time which resonates in my mind as another special moment along this fascinating music-science-philosophy road.