Dr. Boss and the Martians

By now, you’ve probably seen our Outreach Astronomer, Dr. Rapson, talking about the new discovery of exoplanets around the TRAPPIST-1 system.  Or maybe you’ve heard her talking about the coming solar eclipse, or the discovery of water on Mars, or any of a number of astronomical topics.  She’s fulfilling a role that the representatives from Dudley have played for over a century: explaining new developments in astronomy to the public of the Capital region.

Of our directors, Dr. Benjamin Boss was the most active public scientist.  Local papers frequently went to his to deliver an explanation or a verdict.  And it wasn’t always restricted to astronomy; when an earthquake shook Albany in October, 1935, Dr. Boss could be found in the Albany Times-Union explaining fault lines.

And sometimes, he could be found crushing a dream …

Albany Times-Union, November 12, 1931

The gist of the article is that a group of scientists were speculating on a rocket trip to Mars.  The TU turned to “internationally noted authority on astronomy” Benjamin Boss.  Boss explained some of the difficulties: the duration of the trip and the need for supplies and oxygen, the damage that could be inflicted by the velocities at take off and the velocity on hitting Mars, and the fact that there would be no obvious way back.

Apparently the editors of the TU decided to run through their clippings file on Mars and include whatever pictures they found. The “martian” is Oamaruru, the martian woman who was supposedly in psychic contact with Dr. Hugh Mansfield Robinson in the 1920s.  That raises questions about who these scientists planning a trip to Mars actually are.

(“But all these dreams are shattered by Dr. Benjamin Boss, noted astrologist …”  I dare you to call Dr. Rapson an “astrologist.”  Just wait until I’m in another room.)

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