Last week, as you may recall, I used this space to pay homage to one of man's finest culinary inventions: the doughnut. In short, I confessed to occasionally eating more of the delectable delights than I should, and frequently going out of my way to procure free doughnuts whenever they're offered.
But that was last week's column, and I'm not here to talk about the past; I'm here to talk about the future, which I apparently predicted correctly last week. You see, just days after my column hit the streets, a doughnut made headlines around the world, further proving that I am, indeed, magic, just like I've always believed.
OK, it might not actually be a doughnut, but that's not the point. The guy from NASA referred to it as a "jelly doughnut," so that's what I'm going with. The fact that it's on Mars and is probably just a rock in no way diminishes the amazing fact that I called it.
Here's the scoop, for those of you who might have missed it: NASA's Opportunity rover, which will celebrate it's 10th anniversary on Mars tomorrow, took pictures of a nondescript patch of dirt and flat rocks on the red planet. Twelve days later, Opportunity photographed the same patch of dirt and rocks from roughly the same angle, only this time there was a white, doughnut-shaped rock where there hadn't been one before.
Cue the music from 2001. (It's called "Also sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30" by Richard Strauss, but of course you knew that.)
Obviously, this means there's life on Mars. Someone or something had to have put the rock there, otherwise it couldn't possibly have gotten where it was. Rocks don't just move around on their own, except for at that one place in Death Valley. The Martian rock was clearly placed there by a living creature. There is no other feasible explanation.
Given that, I find the scientific community's response to what is perhaps the most profound discovery in the history of mankind surprisingly muted. Seriously, wouldn't you think people would be a little more excited about this? We just proved that life exists somewhere other than Earth. How much more awesome is that than the stupid Higgs boson? And yet, scientists can't stop yapping about that one.
Sadly, Opportunity didn't get a picture of the creature that left the doughnut, so we can only speculate as to what it looked like. Instead of speculating wildly, though, I propose that we use what we know about Mars to determine what manner of creature could not only survive there but also make and enjoy doughnuts.
As a starting point, I think we should use a stereotypical doughnut-eater from Earth, by which I mean either me or Homer Simpson. Mars' gravity is about one-third as strong as Earth's, so I'd weigh a svelte 70 pounds or so. Plus, gravity that faint wouldn't have wreaked as much havoc on things like my waistline, gut and chins as Earth's gravity has over the last 43 years. I'm even willing to blame Earth's gravity for the fact that I'm bald.
So, Martian me would be tall and thin with a nice head of hair. He'd probably be in better shape than me, too, the jerk; we'll see how cool he is when he comes here and has to deal with our gravity. And for some reason I'm picturing him dressed like a Tusken raider from the original Star Wars. I have no reason for thinking that, but since I'm the one who can tell the future, I advise you to just go with it.
Anyway, now that we know what our Martian doughnut-eater looks like, we should try to predict his actions (I'm ruling out the chance that it could be female, since women eat fewer doughnuts and generally clean up after themselves.) This, I think, is where Opportunity may have a perfect opportunity because if we assume that the doughnut-eater is like me, we know one thing for certain: It will definitely be coming back for the rest of that doughnut. The thing looks it's barely been touched.
NASA should direct Opportunity to go back to its location overlooking the doughnut and snap a picture when the creature returns. Then we'll have the proof that we need. And this time NASA should instruct Opportunity to make sure its treads don't accidentally kick up a doughnut-shaped rock and cause idiots like me to jump to incorrect conclusions about extraterrestrial life.
Todd Hartley predicts that any people who go to Mars will be psyched they can get doughnuts. To read more or leave a comment, please visit zerobudget.net.