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Thursday, August 14, 2008 

Deception Point

NASA discovers a meteorite with fossils of insect-like creatures in it. Well, that's what NASA would like for you to believe. NASA has been using over $15 billion dollars a year in tax payer money without much results. U.S. Senator Sedgewick Sexton is using NASA's inefficiency as his campaign platform to run for President.

As in all Dan Brown's novels, this one starts off with a mysterious murder as well. This time it occurs in the Arctic. Senator Sexton's daughter, Rachel Sexton, a National Reconnaissance Office liaison, is called by the current President of the United States to confirm the veracity of the meteorite finding. At first, it seems that the meteorite is real. It has fossils of alien bugs that look like insects on earth. This seems to validate the panspermia theory which hypothesizes that life on earth was originally seeded by life existing elsewhere in the universe. The rock also had a fusion crust, a burnt outer layer, that shows that it got fried as it entered earth's atmosphere. Chondrules, molten minerals that are formed by rapid heating, were also found. Thus, NASA believed they had conclusive evidence of a meteorite that had fossils.

It would be amazing to say the least if this discovery was actually found. The billions of dollars spent on NASA research would all be worth it, if man had discovered life outside our own planet. Unfortunately, Rachel Sexton and her friends soon discover that this was an elaborate hoax. The guys who set this all up now want to keep Rachel and friends from telling the world.

As in all Dan Brown books, there is a twist or two at the end. And just like his other books, the male and female lead characters end up in bed together at the end of the book.

The technology and military secret ops discussed sound like something out of a Tom Clancy novel.

The fossils found are just like creatures found in the bottom of the ocean. Due to the buoyancy properties creatures have in water, creatures can grow to be larger than they would be on land.

A liquid hydrogen engine would also be capable of making a fusion crust on the rock.

There are rocks on the bottom of the ocean near underwater volcanoes that also have chondrules that are like those found in meteorites. The nickel content is also in the range of what rocks on earth are composed of as opposed to those found in meteorites.

If geologists like those found in the book were able to discover the fake meteorite, then it would only be a matter of time before other scientists discover the fraud. This just seemed like an implausible idea from the start.

Ultimately, it was the NRO director who masterminded the whole plan. He did not want NASA to be privatized. He feared that privatization of space exploration would undermine U. S. intelligence.

The Highs: Fast paced, fun, interesting read.

The Lows: The whole fraudulent meteorite scheme just sounded like a bad idea from the start. I can't believe the NRO director thought he would ever get away with it.

The Verdict: "Intelligent sounding" thriller for the masses.

B+, 89.

Sounds interesting. I don't believe I've read anything by Dan Brown, I'll have to check him out.

Portia,

Dan Brown is a best selling author best known for the Da Vinci Code. However, many literary critics would not regard him as a great writer.

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