Soon after I began reading adult books, I devoured every science fiction book I could. My favorite author was E. E. “Doc” Smith. His seven-book Lensman Series is the most imaginative, thrilling, and engaging material in the sci-fi genre I’ve had the pleasure of reading.

I also listened to “Dimension X” and “Flash Gordon” serials alongside the written word via our old-style Philco radio. You might say my body was on Earth, but my mind was far out in the deep reaches of space.

Eventually, sci-fi came to TV shows and movies. I read, watched, and fantasized about worlds with possibilities only a dreamer could imagine. Many early writers were scientists, and much of what they wrote has come to pass. “Star Trek” and “Star Wars” brought a combination of science fiction and science fact to be viewed widely by the general public, intended not just for nerds like me. Most believed them to be strictly entertainment. I considered them heralds of our shared future.

No, I didn’t have an unpleasant or abusive life as a child and the need to use my private world to escape. As I’ve said in other writing, we were dirt poor but well-loved. Yes, we worked hard, but my brothers and I played hard. It’s just that my curiosity and imagination knew no bounds.

Most of my friends and family considered me foolish when I said that these futuristic ideas and devices would come to pass. Some would concede that since we made it to the Moon, we might also get to Mars, but we were sure no one would live off-planet. I firmly believe that we will later travel to the stars once we are established on the red planet. We will explore other galaxies. What about aliens? You might think we are the only life in our universe, but I believe we’ll find many forms of life scattered along many frontiers.

As a teen, I would gaze from my bedroom window into the night sky and wish/hope star travelers would land in our fields. I longed to greet them and welcome them to Earth. There are groups of people who are sure that “aliens” have already discovered Earth and are among us. Do I believe there are visitors here and now? Probably. I say “probably,” not “certainly.” The word “science” is seen twice in this article’s title and repeated within. Science contains verifiable facts, not wishful speculation.

Did you know that science has proven that some cephalopods, such as octopus, squid, and cuttlefish, have DNA drastically different from other creatures on our planet? That they don’t even evolve in the same way has confounded the scientists researching them so much some refer to them as “alien.” Unproven speculation is that their DNA (which contains 33,000 pairs instead of the usual 27,000) arrived via meteorites some millennia ago.

In my youth, a respected adult told me to trust nothing I hear and only half of what I see. I’ve found that there is a lot of truth to that. I can distinguish between belief (faith) in the things I think will come to pass and the sure knowledge of what exists, readily available to my senses. I attempt never to confuse the two, but as a human, I don’t always succeed. So please forgive my failings if you catch me out in some statement that seems contradictory …or if you spot me wearing a tinfoil hat!

Jerry My Mind Laid Bare

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