A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
My whole life has been a lie — and so has yours! Unless you’re some super-duper scientist, you’ve been living under the delusion that the Earth has only one moon — conveniently called “The Moon.” You’re wrong. Our planet actually has two moons, and the second one is called Cruithne. You didn’t know that, did ya? Well, don’t feel bad ’cause neither does anyone else outside the super-duper scientist community. But wait: there’s more! The reason you and I and everybody else have never heard about Cruithne is another bunch of super-duper scientists thought about it for a while and called “Bullshit!” They say that this other moon isn’t really a moon; it’s a NEO (Near Earth Object) and, apparently, there are thousands of them flying around out there. Nerd wars!
The truth is, it doesn’t matter if the Earth has one, two or a thousand moons. Aside from screwing up some romantic song lyrics and making the horoscope people look like idiots, what difference does it make? Not much! The important thing, however, is we have a crew of super-duper smart people sitting around all day, thinking about smart stuff — like whether a space rock the size of a golf course is a moon or not.
Here’s the deal: 500 years ago (1518) if you mentioned the Earth revolved around the Sun, you’d have been burned as a heretic. (Galileo and his buddy Copernicus barely missed getting the crispy critter treatment for saying exactly that — 25 years later.) But you don’t have to go back that far. Less than a hundred years ago, if you told people a moldy cantaloupe could cure everything from pneumonia to blood poisoning, they’d have found a straitjacket and put you in it. Hell, 30 years ago we only had one moon! My point is, who knows what absolute facts will be proven wrong 500, 100 or even 30 years from now?
Ordinary people, like me, don’t know anything about microbes or moons or any of the other billions and one things scooting through our universe. We need super-duper smart people to think about that stuff and figure it out for the rest of us. People like Da Vinci, Newton, Madame Curie, Einstein and good old what’s-his-name who discovered Cruithne in 1986. These are the folks who, throughout history, changed the human race from a bunch of thugs with thumbs into the dominant species on this planet. And if it weren’t for them, we’d still be dancing around the campfire and howling at the moon — whichever one you fancy.
BTW, it’s been generally decided that 3753 Cruithne is not a moon, but for a while there, it looked like we’d all be singing “By the light of the silvery Cruithne.”