Tales from the Watercooler: A story that hit me like a meteorite between the eyes


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The Independent Online

Two things strike me about this week’s revelation that scientists from the University of Sheffield had collected some actual, no messing, set-phasers-to-stun alien organisms from the stratosphere.

Firstly, hello!?! Did you hear me? Alien! Organisms! Are we really so jaded that this news elicits nothing more than a yawn? Thankfully, this newspaper picked up the story, but then again, we don’t often miss much.

While I’m not suggesting that this phenomenal, forget-everything-you-know announcement should facilitate the breakdown of society’s rules and regs, causing us to strip off our clothes, paint each other with vivid Mayan hieroglyphs and have a mass tickle-fight outside Greggs, I thought someone might be a little interested. Seriously, why does anyone still give a warm toffee about the Labour party conference when the existence of alien life is now an open and shut case? Then again, party conference season generally leaves me wishing I was on some distant alien world, naked and wading waist-deep through a lake of lemon juice, having just received a nasty paper cut on my big toe.

The other aspect of this story which hit me like a meteorite between the eyes was the name of the scientist in charge of the discovery. Step forward, Professor Milton Wainwright, a boffin in possession of a name of such magnificent oddness that, were it not for Professor Cuthbert Calculus, a supporting role in the next Tintin story would surely be a certainty.

In any case, well done, you Sheffield brainiacs. At least I was impressed…