I've always enjoyed watching Science Fiction (actually, space travel) programs and movies. I remember watching Lost In Space and Star Trek when I was little. My Favorite Martian was a favorite. I Dream of Jeannie, with astronaut Tony Nelson, was fun. I even watched It's About Time. You remember It's About Time, don't you? No? Probably for the best.
I didn't get to watch that many SciFi movies when I was young. Except on Thursday nights. Our parents went to a group's monthly meeting on Thursday nights, and we'd get to stay up and watch some movies then. That's where I first saw The War of the Worlds. The one from the 1950s. With Gene Barry. And Ann Robinson. And the three-fingered Martians that flew those cool-but-scary ships.
There was The Angry Red Planet, a really bad trip to Mars movie that I saw at Grandma's house. I'd watch space movies whenever I could. There was also The Incredible Shrinking Man. Heck, I even watched Jerry Lewis in Visit to a Small Planet. But I didn't get to see a lot of other SciFi/space travel movies when I was younger.
I was older, in some cases much older, before I saw Forbidden Planet, 2001: A Space Odyssey, This Island Earth, The Day the Earth Stood Still, When Worlds Collide, The Thing From Another World, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Them, It Came From Outer Space, ... well, you get the idea.
Anyway, I always liked TV shows and movies about space travel or
space aliens and the like. Some were silly and had no redeeming value.
Others were pretty good stories. Of course, when I was little, I didn't
know the difference. I just knew there were space monsters in it, and
that's all that mattered.
Of course, my fascination with space flight wasn't limited to
fiction. I remember watching space flights in the 1960s. Although I'm
old enough to remember the Mercury flights, I don't. I do remember the
Gemini launches, though; watching that huge Titan rocket on the launch
pad and then, shortly before launch ... a hold. It was frustrating, but
still, watching the early space flights was so cool.
Of course, watching the Apollo 8 flight and broadcast from lunar
orbit was cool. As was the Apollo 11 landing in 1969. I'll never forget
watching Neil Armstrong step onto the surface of the moon. And that we
couldn't watch NBC that night. Frank McGee was the announcer on NBC and
I liked him. But Grandma watched CBS and Walter Cronkite. And when
Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the moon, Cronkite was running
his mouth and I didn't get to hear Armstrong's first words.
Anyway, whether real or not, space flight was a huge fascination for me.
So, when back in 1999, I found out about SETI@Home,
I thought that was cool. And I downloaded the software and installed
it. And I've run it ever since. Right now, it's only running on two
computers. It used to run on three. Anyway, it's running, and I'm in
the 97th percentile of users. But why?
At different times, I've been convinced that life exists on other
planets. I used to think that a spacecraft crashed at Roswell, NM.
Heck, I used to think President Kennedy was killed by a conspiracy.
Now, I think it was Oswald acting along. And I don't think aliens
landed in Roswell.
But, I waver between thinking "of course they exist" and "it's very
possible they exist." Right now, I'm at "it's very possible." Back in
1999, it was "of course." And, who knows? I might go back to "of
course" again one day.
Oh, you might not be familiar with SETI@Home. Well, if not, it's a
program you run on your computer (usually as a screen saver) that
connects to the SETI Institute and downloads and analyzes a file of a
radio scan of a section of the sky. The idea is that several computers
working on individual pieces of a scan will be able to leverage a huge
amount of computing power and perhaps detect a signal from space that
indicates life is out there.
What kind of signal? Well, we're putting all kinds of signals in
space. Right now, someone on another planet could be watching Lucy and
Ethel stomping grapes!
Well, the idea is it works both ways. If other intelligent life is
there, they may also be leaking signals into space. And SETI@Home is
looking for stuff like that.
Anyway, they've changed the SETI@Home
software and I'm having a heckuva time with it. I'm not the sharpest
knife in the drawer, but I'm not the dullest, either. But, I'm still
going to run it. Who knows, when the Kanamits arrive with their cookbook, we'll be ready for them. We'll hit them with Vitameatavegamin.