No particular reason for posting this, except to be able to say "Titicaca" on my blog:
LIMA (Reuters) - Dozens of people living in a Peruvian town near Lake Titicaca reported vomiting and headaches after they went to look at a crater apparently left by a meteorite that crashed down over the weekend, health officials said on Tuesday. After hearing a loud noise, people went to see what had happened and found a crater 65 feet wide and 22 feet deep on an uninhabited plateau near Carancas in the Puno region. Experts from Peru's Geophysical Institute are on their way to the area 800 miles south of Lima to verify whether it was a meteorite. "We've examined about 100 people who got near to the meteorite crater who have vomiting and headaches because of gasses coming out of there," Jorge Lopez, health director in Puno, told Reuters.Until the site is examined, of course, there's no reason to think this is necessarily a meteorite. It could be a plane, a satellite, or some wayward missile.
However...initial sand samples taken near the crater seem to indicate it is a meteorite. The mystery then becomes, what made these people sick?
After all, let's say it was the worst paranoid fantasy of the far left wackjobs: a missile laden with biological weapons, fired by (insert nation here) as either a test launch or a very secret first strike against (insert nation here).
Nobody's died, so not a likely scenario, but let's play the game.
But if the object is indeed manmade, then the illness is easily explained, and treatment can begin. If, however, it is not terrestrial, well, then, how could whatever critter is causing these illnesses have, um, evolved to attack humans when no humans were around for it to adapt to?
The implications of off-planet life, no matter how simple, are enormous from a sociological and psychological outlook.
For instance, if we're God's chosen, you know, the whole Genesis story, where God created only the earth and only embued man with dominance over the planet, then the fact that any other life form on any other planet not only knocks that story into a cocked hat, but also minimizes our dominance over this planet, since we've learned that attain dominance, man had to overcome some fairly nasty obstacles.
If a mere bacterium can be the overlord of another planet, well, what does that say about our efforts?
Too, that whole Star Trek fantasy, about discovering we are not alone and the world suddenly banding together, looks very much in jeopardy as well, but for other reasons: take a look at how we squandered (and don't blame Bush, we Americans could have given a bigger damn about it) the world's goodwill in what was essentially a dry run for the first close encounter.
If we couldn't even put aside our differences to stop a relatively small, powerless group of fanatics, what's going to happen when we are confronted with a civilization that could conceivably wipe us out (assuming they came here first), without breaking a sweat?
Fear not, however, there may be a more prosaic description for what happened at Lake Titicaca: it farted:
Luisa Macedo, a geologist with the Mining Geology and Metallurgy Institute in Lima, told Reuters the reaction between the elements in a meteorite and the Earth's surface can generate gases that then dissipate.There. I worked "Titi", "caca" and "fart" into the same post!