Dateline - 9/24/97
The recent discovery of misplaced images from the Pathfinder approach to Mars has the scientific community in an uproar. One image taken on the approach clearly shows what appears to be a giant candle. Since maintaining a flame in vacuum is clearly beyond any technology known on earth, there is considerable speculation that we have finally discovered an alien artifact.
Analysis has shown it to be 42.7 kilometers long with a calculated mass of 30,962 metric tons. Spectroanalysis shows it to be 89% paraffin with a melting point of 128 degrees. Other components are mineral oil 7%, stearic acid 3%, with small traces of an unknown substance 1%.
Scientists have speculated that the high percentage of mineral oil may account for the mottled surface, and that it is designed to be some type of space beacon. Although most scientists are not saying much, here are a few quotes from prominent scientists who have asked to remain anonymous:
"Boy is that the UGLIEST candle I have ever seen"
"We don't know who made it , but they have poor taste in candles"
"I think they used too much mold release"
"If this catches on here, it may be the end of life as we know it"
"The presence of this candle threatens the good taste of candle lovers everywhere"
"The shape defies gravity, they must have constructed it in space"
"What if this is their idea of a floating candle"
"Where can I get that color dye?"
"Do you think they buy their wax wholesale?"
"They must have used 6,000 ply wick. Would that be size #100?"
"I hope it doesn't fall into the Sun, the Solar Flare would wipe out life in our Solar System"
Outraged candle expert MikeH responds to the scientists - "I could make a candle that'd burn in a vacuum...certain oxidizers in the wax mix, etc... I'm just not sure I could keep it from becoming a rocket..."
Scientists, realising their error start experimenting with candles to replace the shuttle's booster rockets, and take credit for the idea themselves.
Rumors are circulating that a major space agency is considering mining the alien candle for its petroleum based resources.
Discomfort starts among candle makers - One is quoted as saying "How can we compete?"
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