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Noted in Passing: Alien Aqueducts: The Maps of Martian Canals

To assist his new hobby, Lowell bought himself equipment: an observatory built from scratch in Flagstaff, Arizona.

He soon released a trilogy of studies: Mars (1895); Mars and its Canals (1906); and Mars as the Abode of Life (1908). His thesis? Simple: Schiaparelli’s canals were actually the irrigation channels of an advanced civilization that funneled water from its polar caps in accordance with seasonal demand and a changing climate. Weirder still, the Martian canals were not able to be reliably observed (William Henry Pickering, one of the assistants in Flagstaff, could not see the channels, despite looking through the same equipment where they materialized for Lowell and Andrew Ellicott Douglass). There is some evidence that the whole affair was a collective hallucination, arising from an error built into human pattern recognition. — via Alien Aqueducts: The Maps of Martian Canals – The Public Domain Review

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  • Mike Anderson June 16, 2021, 7:16 AM

    B-b-b-but Barsoom!

  • Joe June 16, 2021, 8:31 AM

    One of my favorite old movies was Invaders From Mars, 1953. Back then it seemed so real. Still does.

  • John the River June 16, 2021, 6:38 PM

    Note: Glad to see you are back and posting new stuff. Mazel Tov!

  • jwm June 16, 2021, 8:54 PM

    You popped a memory. In 6th grade, the great event of my week was getting to stay up alone, to watch Nightmare Theater, 11:30 Friday night on Channel 9, out of Winsdor, Ontario. I remember watching “Invaders From Mars”. That was one of of the scary ones!


  • julie June 16, 2021, 9:46 PM

    I’ll have to share this with the kiddos. We just finished reading Red Planet, and started Out of the Silent Planet, and spent a good deal of time talking about the canals and what they most likely were. It’s one thing to talk, another entirely to see.

  • Gordon Scott June 17, 2021, 1:11 AM

    Guys like Lowell could not afford to buy a telescope off the shelf the way we can today. They ground the lenses themselves for their homebuilt devices. It was tedious, and if you got it wrong, you had to order an new glass blank, and start over.

    All so they could sit in an unheated room and look at the stars.