On Oct. 9 at 7:31 a.m. EDT, the world witnessed a momentous occasion: NASA's Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) fired two large projectiles into one of the moon's polar craters to study the composition of the lunar surface.
The lunar impact was hailed as a huge success in the scientific community. The most significant discovery by far has been the existence of water molecules that were kicked up with the debris from the crash. This finding has been deemed crucial to the continued exploration of the solar system as astronauts could mine the abundance of lunar water as a source of rocket fuel.
News of the impact has not been entirely well-received across the globe. Several nations have shown a great concern for the United States' apparent "bombing" of the moon, citing a fear of violent retaliation from any potential lunar inhabitants. A United Nations committee is prepared to engage the moon men in peaceful negotiations, but the whereabouts of a Lunar Embassy on Earth are largely unknown.
The moon bombing has also incited moral outrage among various polytheistic and earth-based religions, many of whom believe that the moon goddess or other celestial spirits will be greatly angered by NASA's activities. "We (moon-worshippers) have been making ritual sacrifices to Selene and praying for her forgiveness," said one such follower, who wished to remain anonymous.
America's heartland shares a different perspective on the negative consequences of the lunar impact. "The moon bombing is the latest in a long line of violent offenses that man has made against God's beautiful creation," said an angry pastor from Landover, Iowa.
"These so-called ‘scientists' are overstepping the boundaries that the good Lord has set for them. First they created an atomic bomb. Then they invented greenhouse gases. Then came the cloning, the stem cell research, the genetically engineered tomatoes … and now this? Sweet merciful Jesus, they're playing God with their moon bombs, and we've got to stop them!"
At Brown, the general student body was sharply divided over the issue, which eclipsed other dinner-table discussions about the economy, midterm exams and the controversial decision of the Nobel Prize committee to award the 2009 Nobel Peace prize to President Barack Obama.
Supporters of the LCROSS impacts largely cited the scientific merits of the project, including the chance discovery of water on the moon. "Finding water on the moon is just so amazing," said one enthusiastic freshman. "The environment is becoming so polluted nowadays, it's comforting to know that there's still potable water in the solar system. Just don't let the bottled water companies get to it first."
Others saw the lunar impact as a revival of the old doctrine of Manifest Destiny, thinking that the United States has a divine mandate to colonize the moon. "Just as Christianity was important in the founding of the United States, so shall it be important in the founding of the first Lunar Colony," said a particularly fanatical senior. "The Moon Men know not Christianity, and thus lack the bedrock to construct a great United States of the Moon. The LCROSS project has been their saving grace."
On the other side of the fence, many students fear that the moon bombing is going to be the start of a long, unjustified war against the lunar inhabitants. "We're all for peace and love, dude!" shouted a raucous hippie. "Don't let the Man start another war, dude! Bomb exams, not moon-people!"
A more serious junior remarked, "I'm definitely against this moon-bombing business. I think it represents the hegemony of Western culture and its oppressive geocentric views. We should embrace the ethnic diversity of the moon and come to a mutual understanding with them through intellectual discourse. By bombing them, we are perpetuating a wave of neo-imperialism that dictated much of our international relations during the Bush administration."
Rumors have already begun to spread throughout campus that human-rights groups are planning to launch various campaigns for the fair treatment of the indigenous peoples of the moon. One such campaign, the Lunar Liberation Project, is planning several exhibitions throughout the course of the year urging students to demand the welfare of the lunar inhabitants by refusing to eat them. Various pro-lunar peace student groups are gathering support, but it is currently unclear if any existing organizations are planning to protest the LCROSS project. Students for a Democratic Society could not be reached for comment.
Fortunately, the burden of diplomacy falls on the shoulders of our most beloved leader, Obama. When asked if the Nobel laureate would facilitate peace talks with the moon men, he responded, "Look, I received a Nobel Prize for world peace — not cosmic peace. I fear that peace accords may be years in the making, but I promise that my 2012 platform will be strongly pro-moon."
Michael Fitzpatrick '12 hates geocentric oppression, neo-imperialism, and scientific illiteracy. He can be contacted at michael_fitzpatrick(at)brown.edu