John F. Kennedy and the Mars rock

Figure 1 - Images approximately two weeks apart from the Mars Rover.  Left before the appearnce and right after the mysterious appearance of the "Jelly doughnut" rock.  Images from NASA and in the public domain.

Figure 1 – Images approximately two weeks apart from the Mars Rover. Left before the appearance and right after the mysterious appearance of the “Jelly doughnut” rock. Images from NASA and in the public domain.

Ten years ago NASA sent Mars Rover for a three month “robotic eyes” mission to the Red Planet, and now ten years later Rover is still sending back beautiful images and data.  This past week it has spawned a great mystery.  Comparing two images (see

As I write this, my cat has just knocked a container of bath salts into the bath tub – just sayin’… Also in New England each spring thaw brings a new crop of rocks to the surface of our lawns.  We speak of our gardens growing stones.  But this frost heave effect, does not appear to be at play in this case, and we are going to have to leave NASA scientists to figure it all out, which I am sure they will.  I am reminded of a famous quote from physicist Sir Isaac Newton:

“I was like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”

The amusing part of the Mars rock story is, of course, its supposed resemblance to a jelly doughty. It’s a  pareidolia for sure.  Honestly, I see it, but not so much!  Fortunately, the Mars image did not cause me to run out and seek the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts.  I don’t need that, for sure.  It did get me thinking however, funny how the mind works, of John F. Kennedy:

Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was “civis Romanus sum”. Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is “Ich bin ein Berliner.”


Now it has been reported that what Kennedy actually meant to say was ‘Ich bin Berliner,’ meaning ‘I am from Berlin’ and what he actually said was “I am a jelly doughnut” – hence my brain’s connection with the Mars rock.  However, and much to my relief, Wikipedia sets us straight on all of this.  First of all, we learn that in Berlin a jelly doughnut is a “Pfannkuchen” (“pancake”).  Only in northern ans western Germany is a jelly doughnut a “berliner.” The situation gets grammatically stickier, indeed,  if Kennedy wanted to say “I am a person from Berlin”, he would have omitted the definite article. (I know this is getting complicated)  But Kennedy meant that he was a Berliner in a figurative sense; so the statement is literally correct. Phew! Hopefully some of my German speaking readers will tell me that I am completely wrong and that Kennedy was indeed a jelly doughnut.

In the end neither Kennedy, who launched NASA and the American space program, nor the Mars rock are true jelly doughnuts.  The speech and the video images are iconic and they still raise the Gänsehaut on the back of my neck.

This entry was posted in Reviews and Critiques.

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  1. […] I posted last Wednesday about the now famous Mars rock, I thought that was it.  But, the plot thickens, as they say.  So I could not resist picking up […]