Dr. Saber received a grant of $3000 from the Confederacy Aeronautics and Space Ministry (CASM) to find objects in space that could pose a threat to Earth. In his application for the grant, Dr. Saber impressed the judges panel with his stern warning of impending doom if any unfriendly NEO encounters Earth.
“Such an incident would cause mass panic and confusion. Rioting would be expected and acts of civil disobedience would turn the peaceful streets of the Confederacy into avenues of blood!”
Dr. Saber continued by describing NEO visitations in ancient times and how their appearance affected the planet's biological history. In his slide show he included a picture of dinosaurs, to give one the impression he was referring to the mass extinction of dinosaurs millions of years ago when a large asteroid hit Earth just off the coast of Mexico. What he didn't say was his belief that aliens visited the planet and brought dinosaurs with them, thus making all species of dinosaurs alien in origin.
“It’s only a matter of time before more NEO’s arrive and change human history forever. We cannot sit idly by and let this happen. We must locate these unwelcome guests into our solar system and find ways to protect ourselves from their influence,” he wrote in his grant summation.
The panel was moved by his paper and released the money with a statement urging him to find NEO’s “for the safety of all mankind”.
In a press conference, CASM’s director announced the award, telling the Confederacy’s population that his agency was taking decisive steps to locate all Near Earth Objects in hopes of preventing Earth impacts. When asked for the definition of Near Earth Objects, the director replied,
“Near Earth Objects are comets and asteroids with a mass great enough to cause a partial to complete extinction of life on Earth.”Many in the audience applauded the Director’s decision to spend tax dollars on such a noble endeavour. It was the Director’s greatest accomplishment for the year. He stood proud with his chest out and chin tilted upward for photographs.
What the director didn’t know was Dr. Saber’s definition of NEO’s. You see, Dr. Saber’s is the President of Cloverdale’s “Close Encounter’s Club”. The CEC is an organization made of those who claim to have survived close encounters of the third kind (actual encounters with an aliens from another planet). Dr. Saber skillfully manipulated the wording of his grant to give the judges the impression he and his students would be searching for asteroids and comets whose orbits cross Earth’s; when in reality he was planning to use the money and the school’s telescope in a search for UFO’s.
“Aren’t unidentified flying objects actually near Earth objects as well?” he explained to his 2:00 P.M. beginning physics class in an attempt to justify his deception. Those not texting or tweeting nodded in agreement. “Well, our job is to keep this misunderstanding with CASM ‘A Misunderstanding’ . Right?” he asked his students while tapping his forefinger against the right side of his nose, the international signal of secret keepers.
“Now to change the subject, anyone in this class interested in taking tonight’s watch in the observatory?”
“Me,” shouted Scott Simmons. Everyone turned to look at the star of the community colleges regularly defeated basketball team.
“What I meant to say was that Susan and I will take tonight’s watch,” he continued. Susan smiled and blew him a kiss from across the room. Everyone knew Scott and Susan were an item. Everyone that is except Dr. Saber. Everyone also knew that neither of them had any intention of using the telescope or searching the night sky for UFO’s or NEO’s or anything else. They were planning on doing research of another kind.
“Excellent!” Dr. Saber announced. “Now that’s the kind of dedication to our cause I’m looking for.”
Of course, no one expects the college or CASM to discover Dr. Saber's deception. How often are real NEO’s discovered by Earth’s best astronomers using the planet's best telescopes? The answer is - rarely.
Everyone wins with this this grant. CASM receives great press at a good price. Dr. Saber get’s his UFO research funded by the government and many of the college’s student get a nice quiet place to get to know each other.
Life continues here in Cloverdale, our community of the bewildered on the banks of the Clover River in Clovershire.