Many circumstances have changed of late. India has entered, today, her 64th year of independence; the Hubble telescope discovered the beautiful Necklace Nebula; Jay Leno came up with a video metaphor for the US economy; a friend of mine returned to his blog after months of exile; and astronomers discovered an alien world blacker than coal, a Jupiter-sized exoplanet that radiates less than 1% sunlight incident on it (and I still maintain that TrES-2B can be used as a blackbody for an astronomical-scale experiment if we can find sufficient funding!)

Speaking of exoplanets, it occurs to me that the one debate that has never bothered to cool down has been that of the existence of aliens.…