Taken aback, I flippantly answered, “Maybe their skin contains chlorophyll.” I wondered where Jonathan’s question was leading this time.
My friend pressed on. “If sunlight on Mars is less intense than it is on Earth, doesn’t it make sense that photosynthesis might not be a factor about life on Mars?”
I countered my friend’s logic. “Since Mars has a much thinner atmosphere than Earth, photosynthesis might be the best way for creatures to get nourishment. By the way, I can’t believe we’re having a serious discussion about this.”
Jonathan said he had come across a snippet of an old song called “The Little Green Men from Mars”. The ditty reminded him that little green men from Mars has been a popular concept for a long time.
Green beings from Mars used to be a big part of pop culture back in the 1950s and 1960s until the current notion of aliens being amorphous grey beings. One of my favorite Warner Brothers cartoon characters was Marvin the Martian. He was dressed in a green and red space suit.
One of my favorite teevee sitcoms of the 1960s was “My Favorite Martian”. Although “Uncle Martin” wasn’t green, he had lots of superpowers that were used in humorous television story plots. The show was sort of a science fiction version of “Bewitched” and “I Dream of Jeannie”.
Uncle Martin is a 150-year-old Martian anthropologist. His spaceship nearly collided with an X-15 spy plane causing the silver spaceship to crash land. Newspaper reporter Tim O’Hara just happens to be on the way home from Edwards Air Base after reporting on a flight of the X-15 airplane.
For reasons known only to television situation comedy writers, O’Hara rescues Uncle Martin. The earthling promises to keep Martin’s true identity a secret while Martin tries to repair the spaceship. The ship is kept in a garage apartment owned by a kindly, scatterbrained landlady. Much hilarity ensues. The first run of “My Favorite Martian” ran on CBS from Autumn of 1963 until Spring of 1966. I was unhappy about the series being discontinued.
A more sinister view of Martians was popularized in 1897 by H.G. Wells in his famous novel The War of the Worlds. The story depicts catastrophic invasions between invading Martians and mankind. Wells’ story is considered to be an all-time science fiction classic. There have been numerous spin-offs of the tale, including the famous Halloween 1938 broadcast by the “Mercury Theatre on the Air” directed and narrated by Orson Welles. The radio production was so believable that it caused a public panic.
“His name is ‘Mr. Spock.’ And the first view of him can be almost frightening–a face so heavy-lidded and satanic you might almost expect him to have a forked tail. Probably half Martian, he has a slightly reddish complexion and semi-pointed ears.”–Gene Roddenberry
Contemporary culture is infused with space aliens and travel through Outer Space. Although most contemporary aliens come from other star systems and galaxies, there are still a few Martians in the mix. The idea of Martian life is one of the inspirations behind our dreams of traveling to Mars to establish a colony there. Perhaps we’ll finally discover why the little men from Mars are green.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes theoretical physicist Michio Kaku. “If a Martian came down to Earth and watched television, he’d come to the conclusion that all the world’s society is based on Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. He’d be amazed that our society hasn’t collapsed.”