It was a celebratory mood with the boys at NASA; they had just made the scientific achievement of a lifetime.
As they were uncorking a bottle of champagne, Dr. Lowenstein, the head scientist at NASA, asked everyone to be quiet as he had received a congratulatory phone call from the President of the United States.
He picked up a special red phone, and spoke into it.
"Mr. President," said Dr. Lowenstein, grinning broadly, "after twelve years of hard research and billions of dollars spent, we have finally found intelligent life on Mars."
He listened for a second, and his smile gradually disappeared, replaced by a frown.
He said, "But that’s impossible... we could never do it. Yes Mr. President,” and hung up the phone.
He addressed the crowd of scientists staring at him curiously.
"I have some bad news," he said, "the President said that now that we’ve found intelligent life on Mars... he wants us to try to find it in Congress."
NASA was interviewing professionals to be sent to Mars.
Only one could go and they could never return to Earth.
The first applicant, an engineer, was asked how much he wanted to be paid for going.
“A million dollars,” he answered, “because I want to donate it to M.I.T.”
The next applicant, a doctor, was asked the same question.
He asked for $2 million. “I want to give a million to my family,” he explained, “and leave the other million for the advancement of medical research.”
The last applicant was a lawyer. When asked how much money he wanted, he whispered in the interviewer’s ear, “Three million dollars.”
“Why so much?” asked the interviewer.
The lawyer replied, “You convince them I'm the best candidate. I’ll give you $1 million, I’ll keep $1 million, and we’ll send the engineer to Mars.”