Some time ago, I had drafted a short piece on conspiracies and toothbrushes and I was just waiting for some ideas to flesh it out before publishing it. For reasons that will soon become clear, this post won’t read anything like that post, this is just a tribute.
While suffering from a persistent vague sore throat, I started typing into Google “Is my toothbrush…” and, ever obliging, Google did that thing where it brings up a few auto-complete searches. Now, I wanted to know if my toothbrush was responsible for my ongoing sore throat somehow (the embryo of conspiracy theorism implanted in my mind many years ago). Right up there in the list was the question:
Is my toothbrush trying to kill me?
You may well be thinking “that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard in my life”. If so, I’d suggest you look away now and keep doing so until the government of your country has subtly eroded all your civil liberties. If however, you are one of a number of people who suspects your toothbrush may have murderous intentions, read on. You won’t find out much about the bacterial ecosystem of the toothbrush, but you’ll definitely come away with a different opinion of Mars Rover space programs. Unless, like me, you thought there was a conspiracy all along.
As it happens, my toothbrush did try to kill me once. It was clearly in cahoots with the bathroom door which didn’t open quickly enough as I was running towards it whilst brushing my teeth. And I wrote a lovely piece about it which, somehow, no longer exists. It must have been done on the WordPress app on my phone which, conveniently, didn’t sync with the site and, conveniently, is no longer installed on my phone. Incontrovertible evidence that not only had my toothbrush tried to kill me, it was now trying to cover it up.
But anyway, space programs. Does anyone remember Beagle 2? It was a European Space Agency Mars rover, it was going to be the first thing the human race landed on the red planet. It was set up with measuring instruments and communications technology to send data back to Earth. “Yeah” you’re all saying, “What happened to that thing, didn’t it, like, totally fail, right?” If one is naive enough to believe what one reads in the news, yes it was what one might call a “fail”. Beagle 2 never made contact with Earth, or even Mars it seemed. It simply disappeared, leading to some scientists claiming it was the “Worst. Christmas. Ever.”
Initially, I thought this was just a tragically misguided quest to find life on other planets gone wrong. But then, a throw away detail in the news caught my attention. And no one else’s. (Maybe it caught your attention, are there more people like me out there? Or am I simply involved in a tragically misguided quest to find intelligent conspiracy theorism on Earth?) Here’s the rub. Although Beagle 2 was an ESA bot, launched from Kazakhstan, on a Russian rocket, the “Eagle has landed signal” was to be routed via the NASA spacecraft Mars Odyssey. That’s right people. The USA were in charge of telling the Europeans – with Russian and middle Eastern connections – that their rover was the first ever to land safely on Mars. Think about it. Do you really think the USAians were happy about this mission? Do you think their government was capable of setting aside international rivalries for the sake of scientific advancement?
Thank you, Cenk.
So you see, I’ve spent the last decade wracked with disgust at their deplorable behaviour yet not really really discussing it because, you know, *nerd alert*. But oh ho ho, what have we here? Beagle 2 has been found? FOUND?! Yes, found by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. AND scientists believe it may have been collecting data all this time (not that I’m usually one to fall for the “scientists believe” gag). So the question is now “what’s in in for NASA?” We’ll just have to wait and find out. I’ll keep you posted.