Conscious Choice cover

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

An ancient curving channel on Mars

Context image of curving channels
Click for full image.

Cool image time! The photo to the right, rotated, cropped, and reduced to post here, was taken by the wide angle context camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) in April 2019. It shows an area on Mars where a number of meandering curving channels flow downhill from the west to the east.

Earlier MRO images had already spotted these channels, so when this context image was taken the scientists also took a high resolution image of the same channels, with the white box indicating the area covered by the rotated, cropped, and reduced image below.

Both images are today’s MRO image of the day, where the MRO team notes that “The objective of this observation is to examine a complex network of channels. Some parts of the channels are quite curved.”

High resolution image of curving channels
Click for full image.

Overview map

What can they glean from these images? First, look closely at the craters in the high resolution image to the right. You will see that while the channels have cut through some craters, other craters have clearly impacted the channels after they were formed.

In other words, these channels have been here for quite awhile, many millions of years and possibly more than a billion. The scientists can in fact date the channels roughly based on their present estimate of the impact rate on Mars. By counting the total number of craters and comparing the numbers that occurred before and after the channels, they can establish a approximate age for the channels.

The latitude of the image, 36 degrees north, tells us more. While the channels themselves appear to be clean bedrock with some dust and dunes within, the large crater in the northeast quadrant of the context camera image above appears to be filled with glacial material. Ice thus has played a part in carving these channels.

The overview map to the right also gives a clue. These channels, marked by the white cross, are about 150 miles north of Kazei Valles, which scientists believe was formed by a combination of catastrophic floods, glacial processes, and a fast lava flow that washed through the already carved canyon. All three processes also probably contributed to the formation of these curved channels, though I suspect the first two dominated.

One last intriguing detail: In the wider context camera picture it appears that the flow originally headed more or less straight downhill, rather than curving sharply to the north before turning to the east. At some point the flow was forced sideways to form its present very striking meander. Why is of course another mystery that needs solving.


Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

Your support is even more essential to me because I keep this site free from advertisements and do not participate in corrupt social media companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook. I depend wholly on the direct support of my readers.

You can provide that support to Behind The Black with a contribution via Patreon or PayPal. To use Patreon, go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation. For PayPal click one of the following buttons:


Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


If Patreon or Paypal don't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to

Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

One comment

  • Alex Andrite

    Cool puzzle time !

    “At some point the flow was forced sideways to form its present very striking meander. Why is of course another mystery that needs solving.”

    It appears as if the flow dropped into a (primary?) flow route previously established ?

Readers: the rules for commenting!


No registration is required. I welcome all opinions, even those that strongly criticize my commentary.


However, name-calling and obscenities will not be tolerated. First time offenders who are new to the site will be warned. Second time offenders or first time offenders who have been here awhile will be suspended for a week. After that, I will ban you. Period.


Note also that first time commenters as well as any comment with more than one link will be placed in moderation for my approval. Be patient, I will get to it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *