Now we know that briny brooks flow down the mountain-sides on Mars. The news came yesterday in a paper in Nature Geoscience (link). The immediate speculation turned to the possible presence of Life on the red planet—not presently, presumably, because the water is way to salty to allow that—but a ways back in time. Good stuff for the science fiction writer, myself one such, only we’ve already been there. We’ve done it by imagination—and quite old knowledge that Mars has water; the planet has an ice cap on its northern pole. The NASA team used satellite-based instruments to discover the flowing brine. What strikes me as interesting, here, is our strong faith in our own theories of how life begins and then develops. All one needs is water, some heat, minerals, and lots and lots of time. Given these minima, Life’s sure to begin. Now as for intelligence, that’s a little bit more difficult. But I am sure that science, in its dogged determination, will one of these days discover the presence of coffee on Mars. That’s when I’ll get excited—knowing, as I do, that without coffee in the morning, my own intelligence is almost non-existent.