On this day, in 1655, Christiaan Huygens discovered Titan. Titan is the largest moon of Saturn and the only satellite known to have a dense atmosphere. Perhaps more exciting is that it is the only rock out there other than Earth to have surface liquid. This liquid is actually methane, which on Earth we find mostly as gas, and can rain down on the planet as water does here. These and other features lead to the conclusion that life on Titan could be possible in some form very different from ours. While we may not find towering cities and someone to talk to, it would be nice to know for certain that we are not alone.
For the moment we will have to wait for technology to take us further than we’ve been so far. Some feel that we have taken a step back in the space programme, but even as the US cuts funding to NASA, private organisations are in the race to go to the moon and beyond. I’d like to think that in my lifetime a trip to the moon will be like taking the bus to work.
As for Christiaan Huygens, I feel I could do him more credit than a short post, so I may save his life story for another day. In fact, I think I will write something about a lot of scientists and other people who have made a significant and positive impact on all of us. It’s time we bring the heroes of old back into our lives and acknowledge the debt we owe them. Maybe their stories will inspire some of you to do something great, and add another rung on the ladder of humanity.