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Making the Case For Microscopic Life In Meteorites

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the told-my-sister-she-was-an-alien dept.

Space 103

An anonymous reader writes "NASA scientist Dr. Richard Hoover claims he discovered evidence of extraterritorial life in a meteorite. He published his results in the March issue of Journal of Cosmology. In front of the article there is an official statement form the editor in chief: 'We believe Dr. Hoover's careful analysis provides definitive evidence of ancient microbial life on astral bodies some of which may predate the origin of Earth and this solar system. Dr. Richard Hoover is a highly respected scientist and astrobiologist with a prestigious record of accomplishment at NASA. Given the controversial nature of his discovery, we have invited 100 experts and have issued a general invitation to over 5000 scientists from the scientific community to review the paper and to offer their critical analysis.'"

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103 comments

Life? (2)

paazin (719486) | more than 3 years ago | (#35388788)

How exactly does this differ from the studies and analysis done on ALH84001 some ten or so years ago?

Re:Life? (4, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389014)

Well, I'm still trying to figure out the "extra-territorial" bit.
Does that mean that life began outside Port Darwin?

Re:Life? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35389220)

Well, I'm still trying to figure out the "extra-territorial" bit.
Does that mean that life began outside Port Darwin?

The shocking bit would be finding intelligent life inside Port Darwin. Pa da dah.

Re:Life? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35392578)

Yes! It was an astral body, so it can't be extraterritorial, but outside Port Darwin.

Re:Life? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35390276)

How exactly does this differ from the studies and analysis done on ALH84001 some ten or so years ago?

The biggest thing is size. The ALH84001 "bacteria" were 20-100 nanometres in diameter, these "bacteria" are on the order of 5 micrometers. Bacteria on Earth range from 0.5 to 20 micrometers.

Re:Life? (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 3 years ago | (#35390314)

As far as I understand: that is how:

Under the scanning electron microscope structures were revealed that may be the remains—in the form of fossils—of bacteria-like lifeforms. The structures found on ALH 84001 are 20-100 nanometres in diameter, similar in size to the theoretical nanobacteria, but smaller than any known cellular life at the time of their discovery.

and

Dr. Hoover has concluded they are indigenous to these meteors and are similar to trichomic cyanobacteria and other trichomic prokaryotes such as filamentous sulfur bacteria.

Nanobacteria is very rare, cianobacteria is not so rare.

Suspiciously enough the reference to Search for past life on Mars: possible relic biogenic activity in martian meteorite ALH84001.McKay DS, Gibson EK Jr, Thomas-Keprta KL, Vali H, Romanek CS, Clemett SJ, Chillier XD, Maechling CR, Zare RN. [nih.gov] is missing.

Re:Life? (1)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 3 years ago | (#35391140)

It's different from that in that the supposed fossils are mostly very similar in size and structure to existing types of life we already know about. The previous examples were at the extreme lower end of the size range of common bacteria.

      In any case the ALH84001 data is still open to interpretation, not debunked. The current case is far more plausible evidence.

its as fake as the moon landing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35391842)

nuff said

Re:Life? (1)

Xyrus (755017) | more than 3 years ago | (#35394850)

By quite a bit. The article has the paper, along with multiple images and chemical analysis from various other meteorites.

Of course.. (3)

gtvr (1702650) | more than 3 years ago | (#35388790)

In the movies, this is the part where the aliens are watching this story on the TV news from behind the moon, preparing their invasion plans.

Re:Of course.. (1)

AffidavitDonda (1736752) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389450)

Or they would show a close shot of the remaining samples in some dark corner. And the stuff, now with air and moisture, starts to GROW!

Re:Of course the aliens are real! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35402276)

Will NASA scientists ever learn HTML code invented after 1995? Dr. Hoover's Cosmology webite looks like it was written by an 8 year old (with a large dictionary).

Will 'E.T.'s 'Arrival' on a 'Meteor' have a 'Deep Impact'- maybe even 'Armageddon'- or is 'Alien' life forever 'Lost in Space'? ;)

Re:Of course the aliens are real! (1)

RancidPeanutOil (607744) | more than 3 years ago | (#35402442)

You're right. I would never peg that site as a real journal if I was just wandering by. It's very timecubey.

Re:Of course the aliens are real! (1)

SDotBigYus (2010242) | more than 3 years ago | (#35402712)

Honestly the thick cell table borders are very authentic to researchers posting papers online. They don't have time to mess with graphics- they learn a little HTML code to format a document- and thick tables make them feel like they have some graphic design.

_VERY_ old school page style, thus authentically academic.

not last (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35388794)

I am first!

Next Signs From Westboro Baptist Church (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35388800)

I can see it now. The next set of protest signs from Westboro Baptist Church outside of NASA:
* God hates meteorites!
* God hates microbes!
* God hates scientists!

And so it begins (1)

darealpat (826858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35388802)

Any guesses about when, and HOW this will this will be picked up by mainstream media?

Which network will do the first Orson Wells voiceover?

Fun fact.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35396188)

> Any guesses about when, and HOW this will this will be picked up by mainstream media?

No idea, but I first heard about this on 4chan.org/b/. Strange world we're living in.

extraterritorial (1)

yincrash (854885) | more than 3 years ago | (#35388810)

is not the same as extraterrestrial

Re:extraterritorial (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35388862)

The article and the editorial comment before the article explicitly say that the life in the meteorites was there before meteorites (last) entered the Earth's athmosphere.

Ah yes (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35388920)

The Journal of Cosmology. They recently had an article called "Rouge Planet Discovered." About some Neptune-sized planet discovered in the oort cloud. They had this to say about the Bad Astronomy guy IN THE ARTICLE:

The torches and pitchforks crowd, led by astronomer-wannabe Phil Plait claims its not so. But then, Plait's most famous discovery was finding one of his old socks when it went missing after a spin in his dryer.

Sounds like a real reputable source.

As a biochemist, I've done extremely thorough research into the abiogenic origin of life. Earth, as it was, had all of the necessary building blocks for the formation of life. This "article" is pretty devoid of information, akin to a creationist saying "it was God because I believe it to be!"

Seriously slashdot editors, what the hell is wrong with you that you can't seem to do a basic source check?!

Re:Ah yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35389030)

...

Seriously slashdot editors, what the hell is wrong with you that you can't seem to do a basic source check?!

You presume they can read.

Re:Ah yes (4, Interesting)

gilleain (1310105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389056)

The Journal of Cosmology does have an amateur feel about it, but that doesn't necessarily mean that all articles in it are junk. My former supervisor published a paper there with a member of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Mike Russell) as co-author on the origin of life.

As a biochemist, I've done extremely thorough research into the abiogenic origin of life.

Really? I have a degree in biochemistry, yet I wouldn't say that necessarily gave me any special insight into abiogenesis. It's closer to geology than biology, I would think.

Since I liked it very much, I'll mention again on ./ the talk given by Nick Lane on the origin of life and the origin of multicellularity. Although his expertise is in mitochondrial energetics, he gave a nice summary of recent research (including Russell's work). Although most schemes are quite speculative, the one he outlined involved the common mineral serpentine acting as a kind of reaction chamber for primitive metabolism involving proton gradients and methanogenesis.

So, although conditions on the early Earth may have made chemical life inevitable, that doesn't mean this paper is nonsense, nor is this journal worthless just because of some slightly odd papers published in it.

Re:Ah yes (0)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389250)

You've got a degree in biochemistry and you think abiogenesis has more to do with geology?

I call bullshit.

Re:Ah yes (5, Interesting)

gilleain (1310105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389396)

You've got a degree in biochemistry and you think abiogenesis has more to do with geology?

I call bullshit.

My point was actually that "I a have a degree in X" is argument from authority - much as I dislike the formal argument ..er.. memes, tropes, whatever. I'll expand on my point a little:

Firstly, life is a complex system which continually repairs itself, and maintains a boundary separating itself from the environment. Alternatively, it is a series of positive feedbacks (explosions) controlled by negative feedback (death). Whatever definition is used, there is a clear principle that life comes from life - cells reproduce to make other cells; viruses hijack cellular machinery to make copies of themselves; etc. See Steven Rose on 'Lifelines' where he argues that the cell, not the gene is the fundamental unit of selection

So, clearly, some system nearly as complex as a living one was needed to 'initiate' life. The only possibility is a geological system. Now Graham Cairns-Smith (oddly enough, also at Glasgow) considered clays to be the template for ribozyme synthesis, with selection on those RNA molecules that stabilised or protected efficient clay replicators. He came up with the metaphor of a rope to illustrate the transition from system to system - clay to RNA to DNA to cell. In this metaphor, no 'strand' (system) stretches from one end of the rope to the other (which is an axis of time) but 'hands off' to the next system.

In Russell's theory, inorganic minerals form the boundary of proto-cells, and carry out primitive metabolism. Various iron/nickel sulphur minerals could have preformed the necessary redox reactions and proton gradients necessary for the energetic systems. Cooperation with short peptides in an autocatalytic cycle that generated longer protein-like catalysts was a possible method for bootstrapping enzymes. Personally, I don't see that there is a problem of which out of RNA and protein came first - perhaps both evolved at the same time and cross-catalysed each others autocatalysis.

In summary, the interface between life and non-life must necessarily involve a lot of geochemistry and geology. That's not to say that understanding of biochemistry is unneeded : many redox enzymes contain what are essentially nanocrystals of between 4 and 10 atoms that carry out essential parts of the reaction. Further, there is a PhD student in my lab who works on coenzymes (vitamins, essentially) who has done interesting work on the conservation of these coenzymes in evolution - perhaps there are some clues there as to the first mechanisms to arise to do things like C-C bond formation or peptide hydrolysis.

Re:Ah yes (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35389308)

The Journal of Cosmology does have an amateur feel about it, but that doesn't necessarily mean that all articles in it are junk. My former supervisor published a paper there with a member of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Mike Russell) as co-author on the origin of life.

While you are correct, it does fail the basic criteria of a good journal. The editorial board is chock full of PhD's, but few are experts in the journal's field. Many of the articles I've read make political statements. Others use extremely poor reasoning. (The data is there, we just have to find it!)

Really? I have a degree in biochemistry, yet I wouldn't say that necessarily gave me any special insight into abiogenesis. It's closer to geology than biology, I would think.

Geology is the restraint on the organic chemistry. Without that chemical background you have no idea what is possible.

So, although conditions on the early Earth may have made chemical life inevitable, that doesn't mean this paper is nonsense, nor is this journal worthless just because of some slightly odd papers published in it.

Credibility is gained by having good editorial standards. As it stands, JoC does not have a lot of credibility. As scientists, we must be open to criticism, even if we privately despise it. Some JoC authors have demonstrated that they are not open to criticism and engage in public ad hominem attacks against their critics through the journal itself. Hardly the kind of editorial standard I'd like from a journal. How then can I be sure that the data presented are genuine research and not part of a retaliatory gesture against a critic?

Re:Ah yes (1)

gilleain (1310105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389744)

I take your point that the editors make a journal. Perhaps there is too lax a policy because many of the topics are quite speculative, but I would agree that political statements and poor reasoning are bad signs. However 'Cosmology' is necessarily an interdisciplinary subject - theoretically all disciplines; that doesn't mean the editors shouldn't have expertise in some subject, but is there such a person as a 'Cosmologist'?

Geology is the restraint on the organic chemistry...

A nice way of putting it, and I absolutely agree! Unfortunately, I would understand it differently..

...Without that chemical background you have no idea what is possible.

...Alternatively, 'without the geological background, there is no organic chemistry'. What I mean is this : the geology is the crucible in which the first complex self-sustaining chemical reactions were formed. (See long rant in reply to MightyMartian). Once geochemistry gave way to biochemistry, life started to set its own limits on what was possible.

Finally, I also look with suspicion on ad hominem attacks in what is meant to be a serious science journal. Perhaps you are right that bad apples like this indicate the whole thing is spoiled. I am slightly more optimistic, but I agree in principle

.

Re:Ah yes (1)

brillow (917507) | more than 3 years ago | (#35390214)

A degree in biochemistry doesn't make you a biochemist.

Re:Ah yes (1)

gilleain (1310105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35390330)

A degree in biochemistry doesn't make you a biochemist.

Your point being? I'm a computational biologist currently working in the area of cheminformatics. Or chemoinformatics, or whatever the hell you call it. My point was that experience (of any kind) in biochemistry is not (necessarily) relevant to origin of life studies.

Knowledge of biochemistry is relevant (1)

gregor-e (136142) | more than 3 years ago | (#35391074)

Knowledge of biochemistry is relevant to extraterrestrial life studies. If the putative life forms are DNA-based, then it is easy for even an undergrad biochem student to rule out any long-term space dwelling for that life form. DNA is thermodynamically unstable, and the formation of pyrimidine dimers [wikipedia.org] is energetically favored. Without adequate shielding from UV and cosmic radiation, DNA degrades faster than any DNA repair mechanism can keep up with. This pretty much rules out extraterrestrial DNA-based life existing on meteors, comets or small moons.

Re:Knowledge of biochemistry is relevant (1)

JumperCable (673155) | more than 3 years ago | (#35391284)

Without adequate shielding from UV and cosmic radiation, DNA degrades faster than any DNA repair mechanism can keep up with. This pretty much rules out extraterrestrial DNA-based life existing on meteors, comets or small moons.

So you are saying that a small moon could not provide sufficient UV & cosmic radiation shielding no matter how far deep in the center of the small moon a theoretical DNA based life fore might be?

Re:Ah yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35402558)

It's a pretty good start, though.

Re:Ah yes (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 3 years ago | (#35390440)

that doesn't mean this paper is nonsense

, it just means that it does not deserve the hoopla.

This is how journals like that get decent articles: decent article rejected from Science or Nature (always worth a try), then J. of Mol Biology, then Proteins, then Protein Science,..., and then it gets finally published in J. of Theor. Biology.

Re:Ah yes - bogus journal (1)

HellCatF6 (1824178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396512)

The JoC is bogus as far as I can tell. Hidden publishers, a headline asking if Jesus can explain evolution, and lots of dubious articles. They even claim Sir Roger (Penrose) as a sometimes editor. I wonder if he knows?

The point is that we've seen unknown conservative entities hijack 'liberal' academic institutions in an attempt to legitimize their own agendas.

TO THE EDITORS AND READERS OF /.
please don't fall prey. This is one of the last
bastions of true skeptics. Don't believe me?
Run the whois on these guys. Find the editorial
board. Run the academic background of the
referees who would "peer review" an article
BEFORE it is published.

The rest of the world is counting on you.

Re:Ah yes (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35391514)

Yeah, I saw that and mentioned it in my article about the meteorite.

The JoC article about me was fascinating. Rather than "pitchforks and torches", what I actually said in my article about the planet is that it very well could be out there, but that the media were way overhyping it. Ironically, the JoC article about the planet is factually incorrect in several places.

Re:Ah yes (3, Interesting)

rgbatduke (1231380) | more than 3 years ago | (#35391862)

I think that the argument would go something like this: The Universe is 13.73 billion years in its current post-bang Yuga. Life can arise on any planet formed out of supernova remnants of a second or third generation star. There have been planets so formed for at least 10 billion years, probably longer (since at least some large, short lifetime metal rich stars would have been formed after the first very short lifetime supergiants went nova). Current estimates for the numbers of third or fourth generation stars with planets with the building blocks required for the formation of life are in the hundreds of millions to billions, over most of the last 10 billion years. If life arose on any planet in the Milky Way Galaxy some 9 or 10 billion years ago then natural processes from supernova to solar wind could easily have seeded the interstellar gas clouds with spores, spores that accrete along with everything else into the masses of matter that eventually collapse into a new star. Any of these life-bearing packages that happens to fall into a suitable environment on a newly formed planet can short-circuit the abiogenesis route for all or most planets formed in the Milky Way after the first few managed the trick.

The reason this is plausible is simple. If abiogenesis is indeed likely, then it is likely that it happened long ago and that traces of life can be found throughout the Oort cloud and beyond, because there are literally billions of years for it to cross the interstellar distances at the speeds of outgoing shock waves from supernovas and outgoing solar wind. In that case it might be a race, but fully formed organisms preserved in comets and other leftovers of leftovers of exploding star systems would have a huge advantage over local organisms that appeared from abiogenesis, which would be extremely primitive (and hence vulnerable) for a time.

If abiogenesis is in fact unlikely -- and of course we have no explicit model for abiogenesis that is yet accepted as being particularly plausible or probable in the sense that it is well supported by either evidence or even good seat of the pants statistical models or computations, so it might well be rather unlikely -- then even if it is unlikely that life arose on Earth (say, one in a million) the Galaxy as a whole has probably had tens to hundreds of millions of shots and life has arisen tens to hundreds of times, and every life-bearing planet very likely sheds "life" into its galactic vicinity at some nontrivial rate, especially in catastrophes such as when it is struck by an asteroid or blown away.

I therefore think that the meteor evidence is highly intriguing. To be truthful, I'd think it very odd if meteors and comets and dust particles from the Oort cloud on out did not have evidence of life -- that would suggest that life is somehow unique to Earth, which is most improbable. A chain reaction spread of life from one or more nucleation points that spontaneously appeared in a very large sample space indeed seems at least as plausible in the worst case, and far more plausible overall, given a state of near complete ignorance about the abiogenesis process itself.

Of course this could change -- somebody could come up with an evidence-supported model for abiogenesis, or a computationally plausible mechanism, or demonstrate it in the lab (at which point we could compute the probabilities a bit better). Or we could start to find evidence of life in all sorts of rocks that have never been anywhere near the Earth, once we manage to get out there and visit them. Or a big meteor shower could give off green light that blinds everybody who watches it and the next few days these big tree-people with sharp spiky things could sprout up and start eating people. Evidence, in other words, should be our guide here, not a personal bias towards local abiogenesis versus abiogenesis long ago and far away. Life is probably around ten or even eleven or twelve billion years old in the visible Universe as a whole (think about that Gaussian tail with a trillion trillion or more stars over many complete stellar generations, with planets galore), unless we really did win an enormously unlikely lottery. Bayes and a bit of common sense suggest that the latter is less likely a priori than the former, given the evidence of our own existence.

rgb

Re:Ah yes (3, Interesting)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 3 years ago | (#35392934)

somebody could come up with an evidence-supported model for abiogenesis, or a computationally plausible mechanism

Dr. Jack Szostak is your man. No ridiculous probablities, no supernatural forces, no lightning striking a mud puddle, just chemistry [youtube.com]. There is no clear line where complex organic chemistry suddenly becomes alive. Abiogenisis is not the improbable miricale of a single microbe popping into existance that happened once at one specific place, it's a constant process of increasingly complex organic chemistry that occurs in newly formed oceans. Given the theory in the video it follows that microbial life in the universe is almost as common as liquid water, it's just that (so far) we haven't been able to visit anywhere with liquid water. It also follows that it's highly likey that micobes did arrive on a young Earth via comets (and still do) however it also likely that the early Earth's ecosystem ate them.

Re:Ah yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35393764)

Mod this up - people NEED to see this video.

Re:Ah yes (1)

rgbatduke (1231380) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396878)

Great video, good argument. I've seen the argument before, of course, and find the lipid-bilayer bit to be moderately convincing. However, it is only one of a moderately long string of proposed models or partial models, obviously in the "replication first" rather than the "metabolism first" camp. Wikipedia (as always) has a list of at least the primary (named) propositions. In particular the sea-foam (bubble) argument is almost identical to this one, with an even more generic source of compartmentalization and different sources of free energy.

The only real problems that I have with this or the other models are:

* There are still a lot of models! There is still not good agreement on even basic chicken/egg things like metabolism/replication. The reason there are a lot of models is that there is not a lot of compelling evidence favoring one model over the rest. As a physicist/outsider, I find the replication first argument slightly more convincing because I write genetic optimization code and am aware of the enormous power of a good GA, but there's a whole lot of chemistry that is not, actually, reducible to nifty dots in a movie that say "this is what happened" -- not without evidence or actual numbers and experiments to support it.

* The good thing about the video is it shows a plausible chain (relying heavily on the aforementioned power of a GA to "discover" favorable proteins which are then first weakly conserved, then more strongly conserved as some of the proteins discovered improve conservation) from stuff to primitive cells (with metabolism one of the discoveries along the way to eventually free cells from their volcanic vent). The bad thing is that there are a whole lot of probabilities in there that the video implicitly asserts are essentially unity over specific ranges of time, without anything vaguely resembling proof! Or even a mathematical argument. It basically proposes that if you set up a heat source in a soup with roughly the right local chemistry and wait some unspecified time, the soup will have a macroscopically relevant probability of spitting out a living cell with both metabolism and replication capable of living away from the heat source. The problem here is obvious -- that is a serious claim in statistical mechanics and chemistry, where big numbers/small numbers abound that can easily be so big/so small. A sound computation of the probabilities might end up with many lifetimes of the visible Universe per (e)vent, so that only by having a visible Universe filled with vents does one get a finite (but very small) number of "wins". Or, as you seem to wish to believe, it could happen with near certainty around any vent given a mere million years of cooking, so that life is essentially certain on any planet with vents and the right chemistry and temperature and pressure ranges available "somewhere" for geological times. The same objection holds for the other models -- they show some greater or lesser degree of plausibility without having anything like a computation of the actual probabilities beyond hand waving.

My argument is still largely unchanged, as it is model independent. If life is so likely as to be nearly inevitable, then life abounds in the galaxy and has for some ten billion years. It is not then implausible that life has evolved to take advantage of unique niche environments such as comets, moons, gas giants; it is not unlikely that life seeds the stardust leftovers from the destruction of life-bearing solar systems upon the death of their sun. The rarer abiogenesis is, the more likely it is that the life we observe is the result of nucleation elsewhere followed by transport rather than local nucleation. For a wide range of probabilities assigned to the event itself, we would most likely be descended from interstellar hitchhikers from genetic stock that might be ten billion years old, and even in the case of high local probability there would be something of a race between the evolution of local organisms and the evolution of organisms brought in on the comets that created the oceans, where the latter would have a substantial head start.

That's why the meteor discovery is interesting (if eventually replicated and verified, ideally by e.g. landing something on a comet and taking it more or less apart in the search for similar fossils or signs of life). Pretty stories may be plausible, but evidence is convincing (or not). The manifest existence of life makes it a priori very reasonable that life is probable rather than improbable., but to come up with an evidence-based, systematically improving estimate of the probabilities requires a search and samples. Specific abiogenesis models would become WAY more plausible if somebody would do experiments that at the very least walk the first few steps along the way and are supported by computational models or simulations that at least provide and estimate for the lifetimes/probabilities of the rest of the way.

rgb

Re:Ah yes (1)

JamesP (688957) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396930)

Earth, as it was, had all of the necessary building blocks for the formation of life

It's funny how scientists prove me that the whole 'skeptic' thing is BS everyday

No, WE DON'T KNOW Earth had all the element necessary to life. Experiments certainly point that way, BUT THEY NEVER PRODUCED LIFE. We DON'T KNOW what all the necessary elements are. Maybe we're missing, I dunno, rare earths, or something like that.

If this was any other (new) discussion, with double the evidence, everybody would call BS on them

And even if Earth had everything, was on its way, a meteorite could have gone 'bam' and brought 'ready-made' life here.

Nice Treatment by Journal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35388930)

I rather like how the journal handled this. I am pleased they chose to publish and to embrace if not promote the controversy. We need more editors and referees willing to "go where no one has gone before."

Journal of Cosmology ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35388934)

The website looks bad, the articles don't have a very professional look and the content seems very speculative, to say the least. Does anyone know if this journal is reliable ?

Re:Journal of Cosmology ? (1)

MaDeR (826021) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389854)

This is panspermia propaganda piece. Interstellar, of course (interplanetary would be too sane and too plausible). They are not as crackpotey as, say, creationists, but after gems like cosmic life cycle in molecular clouds I consider them strictly outside of mainstream science.

Re:Journal of Cosmology ? (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 3 years ago | (#35391770)

This is panspermia propaganda piece. Interstellar, of course (interplanetary would be too sane and too plausible). They are not as crackpotey as, say, creationists, but after gems like cosmic life cycle in molecular clouds I consider them strictly outside of mainstream science.

A lot of what is currently mainstream science was once outside of the mainstream. That said, in science, you don't get nor deserve accolades for being right, but for proving it.

The abstract says it all.... (3, Insightful)

Fallen Andy (795676) | more than 3 years ago | (#35388938)

Not consistent with known minerals - yet - the environments we inhabit, the planet we inhabit is clearly a small subset of geological processes, same with biology i guess - but as a miserable amateur dreamer with scientific experience i figure we will see some delightful surprises....

---> open verdict, let the usual scientific bloodbath begin

---> quit the lame marketting crap NASA please

(one day i'll wake up and we *will* have good exobiological evidence - at least i hope so)

I'll stay a sceptic (although the optimist inside me would love to see a few cages rattled ;-) )

Andy

Re:The abstract says it all.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35389832)

Yeah, the interesting part of the article really is the elemental composition of the filaments. The microscopy is neat, but just because you found a filament that looks like another bacteria could be Pareidolia, or whatever the term would be for things looking like bacteria. But the fact that they appear to have a different elemental composition, and that this composition is similar to ones found in living things is very interesting. Even if it isn't life, and I most certainly am a skeptic (though I do hope we find real evidence in my lifetime), and it turns out to be a new mineral, I find it interesting to find essential elements for life in nice clumps elsewhere. As someone else said here, the beginning of life is a mix of geophysics and biochemistry, and even if this isn't a bacterial fossil (really, I'd be surprised if it was, the article isn't really thorough enough, and goes off on tangents, which is never good in a scientific paper), the idea that these elements come together in some mineral could help us understand the very beginnings of life. Now we just have to get more scientists to replicate this, and keep looking. Extraterrestrial life isn't something that will be simple to prove (unless they land and demand to see our leader), and it will take many studies, verification, and a whole lot of evidence to convince people. Even if this is only a small step in that direction, it is a step. Now it comes to skepticism, replication, alternate theories and more evidence. Science doesn't work quickly for a reason, and I'll happily wait for more evidence.

Re:The abstract says it all.... (1)

SDotBigYus (2010242) | more than 3 years ago | (#35402636)

*_ Fallout on Alien Life Fossils & Meteorites

I read the paper by Richard B. Hoover, Ph.D. NASA scientist (link below)

"Fossils of Cyanobacteria in CI1 Carbonaceous Meteorites: Implications to Life on Comets, Europa, and Enceladus"

My analysis-

Wow- what a discovery! Alien life fossilized in meteorites are found. E.T. is here! :) But wait- where is the evidence? These are not normal meteorites made of metal and rock. They are soft coal clay with old bacteria fossils inside. Is it likely or even possible for local meteorite debris to contain alien life fossils from other planets? Where do most local asteroids come from? Pieces of asteroids and moons were broken off, spat out, or left over from early formation of planets in their orbits- such as Earth and Mars. The Asteroid Belt beyond Mars is a planetary orbit that never gathered enough mass to collect the accretion disc of rocky asteroids. The majority of asteroids near the Earth's orbit are from local Earth to Mars to Asteroid Belt space. The Earth sweeps up a few asteroids and comets that are ancient wayward travellers from outside the inner solar system. It is improbable that more than a few meteorites hitting Earth originated outside the near plane of our solar system. Meteorite samples must come from local planet and asteroid debris, not an alien planet of unknown origin.

We are Stardust.

Upon seeing an exploding supernova, am I witnessing the hand of God giving birth to ubiquitous elements- building blocks of our physical world and life on Earth? If so it follows that we are made of Stardust. Even in different environments on other planets, their chemistry is the same as ours. They are Stardust. From millions of supernovae stardust, organic life may exist across a vast universe of billions of planets. However numerous alien life may be, logically vast distances of space and time separate Earth from alien life on other planets. It is likely that any organic biomarkers or bacteria fossils found here are not alien. They originated on Earth itself and were ejected, or possibly formed on an earlier local planet preceeding the modern solar system. Any life we encounter in or near our solar system is probably our own ancient relatives coming back home. Another popular theory of finding bacteria on Europa or Mars is possible- not alien life but sharing a common local ancestry. Perhaps this is our destiny- to colonize nearby stars and split into new planet ecosystems. Later only to rediscover distant lost cousins and strange but related life.

Are alien fossils here?

Totally alien life arriving here on a rogue comet would have to be very old- older than the solar system itself travelling at speed to reach Earth across deep space. Though alien life might be in the millions it would be too far away to reach us easily. Given that vast distances separate us from most of the universe, it is extremely unlikely we would find alien fossils in local meteorites.

Nice clay-theory play. But no pay day.

Amazing how these carbonaceous meteors are identical in chemical and mineral makeup to coal and aqueous Earth clay containing perfect fossilized bacterial Earth life. Is it then similar but alien fossils? Where is the proof? There are no other places or planets in the solar system containing identical clay and coal material besides the Earth itself. These carbonaceous coal-clay meteor fragments with distinct Earth bacteria fossils could only have formed in Earth clay and Earth coal derived from Earth organisms.

This is obvious. It is astonishing to see a distinguished scientist ignoring what is right in front of his nose. The good scientist's claim to have discovered alien life is built on mere speculation and the absence of disproof. But it can be disproven once the fossils are matched to specific Earth organisms. Positive evidence is needed for the paper's main premise of extra-terrestrial origin of fossilized bacteria- but there is no such proof at all. For example, actual positive evidence of alien life might be found by taking direct samples of asteroids and comets in situ never touched by Earth contaminants or ejecta. As stated by the paper, the carbonaceous meteorites are unlike 99% of other asteroid parented meteorites- so must be something different. They turn out to be identical to Earth clay and coal, and amazingly contain fossils identical to Earth prokaryotes and organisms. The real significance is the carbonaceous meteorites are a valuable ancient fossil showing our long history and that fossils (in this case from Earth) may exist in meteors.

A claim is made that if a rock falls from the sky it must be from an alien planet. Eureka- a great modern scientific discovery- alien life fossils are found! But the obvious truth is that the meteorites are simply a rare chunk of Earth mud batted out of the ball-park that has returned to home plate.

The Rock Stops Here.

Therefore these fossil meteorites originated on a parent planet- as stated by the NASA scientist's paper. Not from another alien planet, but rather the fossil meteorites must be ejecta from planet Earth spat or smashed into local space and then swept back up by mother Earth. No aliens here, but maybe when we travel to other stars we will find the real thing.

+=+=+

Questions for further study _______

*_ How old are the carbonaceous meteorite fossils? Do they pre-date identical known fossils? The article says they align in time with similar bacteria but then suggests much older space rocks.

*_ When I see a falling star (a meteorite), am I witnessing the hand of God re-enacting the genesis of life on Earth?

*_ Were the seeds of life on Earth planted by life spores from other planets? Are meteors a mechanism of cross-transfer spreading organisms between other planets and the Earth?

*_ Go beyond dead fossils ejected from planets. Can living organisms survive inside comets travelling the stars and dust clouds? Like microorganisms suspended in a tiny drop of water on a leaf in the wind, could comets transport alien life across deep space?

*_ March 2011 linked article- http://journalofcosmology.com/Life100.html [journalofcosmology.com]

+=+=+

Not exactly a mainstream journal (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35388944)

Lest anyone get the wrong impression, The Journal of Cosmology is not exactly a mainstream journal. A quick perusal of the website should make that abundantly clear. I am not qualified to judge the paper as presented and I'll leave it to others with specific expertise to comment on that front (even if I have pretty clear opinions already).

However, as an academic, I am perfectly well-qualified to judge whether something like this should be taken terribly seriously from the outset. For one thing, the fact that Dr Hoover's article is flanked by images and links to Amazon for books about the hypothesis that life on Earth was seeded from outer space written by him and the chief editor of the journal should raise immediate questions about academic standards in anyone's mind. And a skim through some of the other papers on the website serves only to reinforce that judgement.

Re:Not exactly a mainstream journal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35389118)

Thanks, saved me a night digging into this.

why not be a little more blunt ?? (5, Informative)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389148)

The site is a scam, the model is you pay $35 to have your article submitted, then pay even more, $150, when it publishes. Content-wise it's like the national enquirer of cosmology and xenobiology but business-wise fleecing dumb writers instead of dumb supermarket shoppers. The 1970's comic book style images are a nice touch though, let's break out the tie-dye T-shirts and lava lamps and roll up a J and flash on ET riding a bicycle to Meatloaf rock operetta.

Re:why not be a little more blunt ?? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35389260)

To be fair, most scientific journals work like that. You pay to have your article published, you pay to access articles, and you review their articles for free.

Re:why not be a little more blunt ?? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389286)

let's break out the tie-dye T-shirts and lava lamps and roll up a J and flash on ET riding a bicycle to Meatloaf rock operetta.

Sadly, the most insightful comment on the thread.

Re:why not be a little more blunt ?? (3, Insightful)

Trapezium Artist (919330) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389288)

Well, while I'm certainly of the opinion that the scientific content is highly dubious, it's not necessarily the case that it's a scam per se. That is, I don't think it's a money-raising scheme, fleecing unwitting cranks by deluding them that they're publishing in a reputable journal. I rather think that they all know what they're doing and are doing it willingly, namely that they're a bunch of iconoclasts who've decided to club together to promote their decidedly non-mainstream ideas. I imagine the money involved just covers some minimal costs of running the website etc. No-one's getting rich off this.

After all, the editor-in-chief, Rudy Schild, is a staff astronomer at the Harvard Center for Astrophysics, a completely unimpeachable organisation, and has published many perfectly serious astrophysics papers over the years (although that doesn't necessarily vouch for some of his latter-day publications). Similarly, I imagine that many of the other authors publishing in this "journal" are legitimate scientists of various kinds, but who've decided to take a position against some of the mainstream views of modern cosmology, including the Big Bang.

Of course, being a scientist doesn't automatically make you right and reading through some of the papers on the site, you do have to have to wonder whether they've approached their studies with such open minds that their brains have fallen out.

[p.s. For what it's worth, I also posted the original "Not exactly a mainstream journal" entry, but had forgotten to log in when I did so]

Re:why not be a little more blunt ?? (2)

gilleain (1310105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389432)

The site is a scam, the model is you pay $35 to have your article submitted, then pay even more, $150, when it publishes.

Hmm. Okay, I didn't realise this. However, many journals have a pay-to-publish sca... er.. model. Then university libraries pay them again in subscriptions. It's an interesting business really.

Re:why not be a little more blunt ?? (2)

tibit (1762298) | more than 3 years ago | (#35390098)

HAHA. $185 is an order of magnitude less than many other journals would charge. PLoS Biology will milk you $2900 per article.

Re:why not be a little more blunt ?? (1)

edremy (36408) | more than 3 years ago | (#35393830)

But access to PLoS Biology is free. Personally, I like that model a lot more than other journals that may have low-to-zero publication fees and tens of thousands per year for a subscription to look at the content.

Re:why not be a little more blunt ?? (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 3 years ago | (#35397360)

So, they need $2900 per article to cover their operating costs?! Is their data center on the Moon or something? Peer reviewers do it for free, editing is usually minimal, so WTF costs so much?

Re:Not exactly a mainstream journal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35389230)

This is like the Medical Hypotheses equivalent of an astronomy journal.

Re:Not exactly a mainstream journal (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 3 years ago | (#35390452)

A quick perusal of the website should make that abundantly clear.

or a list of scientific journals sorted by field and impact factor in the /. help.

Extraordinary claims..... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35388980)

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. I wish I had the expertise to fully understand the paper but I'd assume this guy is in for a firestorm.

CONCLUSIONS (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35388982)

It is concluded that the complex filaments found embedded in the CI1 carbonaceous meteorites represent the remains of indigenous microfossils of cyanobacteria and other prokaryotes associated with modern and fossil prokaryotic mats. Many of the Ivuna and Orgueil filaments are isodiametric and others tapered, polarized and exhibit clearly differentiated apical and basal cells. These filaments were found in freshly fractured stones and are observed to be attached to the meteorite rock matrix in the manner of terrestrial assemblages of aquatic benthic, epipelic, and epilithic cyanobacterial communities comprised of species that grow on or in mud or clay sediments. Filamentous cyanobacteria similar in size and detailed morphology with basal heterocysts are well known in benthic cyanobacterial mats, where they attach the filament to the sediment at the interface between the liquid water and the substratum. The size, size range and complex morphological features and characteristics exhibited by these filaments render them recognizable as representatives of the filamentous Cyanobacteriaceae and associated trichomic prokaryotes commonly encountered in cyanobacterial mats. Therefore, the well-preserved mineralized trichomic filaments with carbonaceous sheaths found embedded in freshly fractured interior surfaces of the Alais, Ivuna, and Orgueil CI1 carbonaceous meteorites are interpreted as the fossilized remains of prokaryotic microorganisms that grew in liquid regimes on the parent body of the meteorites before they entered the Earthâ(TM)s atmosphere.

"Journal of Cosmology"? never heard of it. (3, Interesting)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389032)

Considering that this would be the most important discovery in the last 500 years, it's a little worrying that it's not in Nature, or any science journal I've ever heard of. A few mintes looking at their site and other's opinions shows it to be remarkably "open minded" in the articles it publishes: "Sex on Mars"; "Cosmological foundations of consciousness".

Doesn't necessarily mean this isn't true; but it raises suspicion.

Re:"Journal of Cosmology"? never heard of it. (1)

mark_elf (2009518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389128)

Never heard a meteorite called an "astral" body before. "Extraterritorial life"? Dr. Hoover is real, website is fake. And ugly too, I might add.

Re:"Journal of Cosmology"? never heard of it. (5, Interesting)

starless (60879) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389150)

From a quick google, it seems that Hoover already announced his "discovery" at least back in 2007, if not before:
http://www.panspermia.org/hoover2.htm
Richard B. Hoover of NASA/NSSTC announced today the discovery of evidence for the detection of a fossilized cyanobacterial mat in a freshly fractured, interior surface of the Orgueil carbonaceous meteorite. Many of the images presented were obtained 21-23 July 2004, using the Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscope at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The announcement was made in Denver, Colorado at the "Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology VIII" (Conference 5555) at SPIE's International Symposium on Optical Science and Technology (its 49th Annual Meeting).

Re:"Journal of Cosmology"? never heard of it. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35390764)

It doesn't make a *speck* of sense. Carbonaceous chondrites are agglomerations of a bunch of small mineral grains (chondrules) that glommed together as the solar system was forming. It's relatively undifferentiated material -- i.e. from small asteroids that didn't heat up enough to have chemical separation of their constituents. This is the absolutely *last* place you would expect a "cyanobacterial mat" to be growing. Cyanobacteria ("blue-green algae") are photosynthetic creatures that live in water exposed to sunlight. What the hell was it living on? The sunny side of the asteroid in a lake, exposed to the hard vacuum of space?

On top of that, the meteorite in question, the Orgueil meterorite [wikipedia.org], fell in France back in 1864 and wasn't exactly collected under sterile conditions. This particular meteorite fall has a long history of the "discovery" of various kinds of terrestrial contamination, such as Earthly pollen and spores.

The images and elemental analyses in the article are thoroughly unconvincing.

Re:"Journal of Cosmology"? never heard of it. (1)

dtml-try MyNick (453562) | more than 3 years ago | (#35392614)

Considering that this would be the most important discovery in the last 500 years, it's a little worrying that it's not in Nature, or any science journal I've ever heard of. A few mintes looking at their site and other's opinions shows it to be remarkably "open minded" in the articles it publishes: "Sex on Mars"; "Cosmological foundations of consciousness".

Excuses in advance for my ignorance but as far as I understand this guy claims to have found evidence of bacteria that did not originate from earth.
As a layman I interpreted that as extraterrestrial life.

Life that has started and evolved somewhere else in the Universe instead of earth. Wouldn't that make it by far the most important discovery ever?
Of course I could have understand it completely wrong and got exited about nothing ;-)

Welcome... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35389060)

I for one welcome our new microbial overlo... I don't feel so well....headache, fever, stomach in a knot.....

Just wait for peer review (1)

KOTMATPOCKUH (1676014) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389094)

There will be no consensus on these findings, but no intelligent person these days should be surprised by presence of life elsewhere in the universe.

Journal of Cosmology? (1)

PineGreen (446635) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389146)

Umm, I tried to find impact factor of Journal of Cosmology and it is too shitty to find. This is a crackpot journal as far as I can tell...
(Don't mix it with SISSA's Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics (JCAP) - that is a decent journal)

The right thing... (1)

xTantrum (919048) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389206)

This is a bold claim and I commend the journal for providing it to as many referees as they are. Chandra, still needs ultimate proof on this Pansperma and the similiar Exogenesis theories and I hope this will help. Excellent step in the right direction, this is the true scientific method, unlike what NASA did a couple months back. Kudos.

I bought a few meteorites (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35389272)

from a seller on ebay and I do tend to more allergic when I'm around them.

Maybe not (4, Insightful)

laing (303349) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389622)

I read the paper. He points out that there is a lack of detectable nitrogen in the fossils. This is the basis for his belief that they are extraterrestrial in origin. He also notes that fossils of cyanobacteria on Earth from 2.7 billion years ago have a lack of detectable nitrogen. He shows lots of charts and graphs of mass spectrometer data with most other Earth based fossils showing nitrogen. He does not explain the correlation of lack of nitrogen in these fossils and the 2.7 Gya Earth based cyanobacteria fossils. It's staring him in the face and he doesn't see it.

Here's my theory and I would be happy if someone could point to some element of the paper that would disprove it: A large carbonaceous chondrite meteor hit a swap on Earth 2.7 billion years ago and caused some ejecta to fly off. The ejecta consisted of a mixture of the original asteroid and the swamp (including the bacteria). Some of the ejecta landed elsewhere on the earth and appeared to be a meteor. Several billion years later an ambitious NASA scientist wants to prove his theory of extraterrestrial life so he writes this paper without considering other possible explanations for his observations. His conclusions are not based upon the facts. They are speculation.

Re:Maybe not (2)

dkegel (904729) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389812)

+1

Ejecta from a collision with early Earth seems the most likely explanation. Pretty cool, but not proof of life coming from elsewhere.

Re:Maybe not (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 3 years ago | (#35394512)

Well, the meteorite are of recent origin. They have to be protected from exposure to water or they disintegrate. If you want these to be an ancient pieces of Earth, then they have to be in an orbit for 3 Ga that gets them back here. That seems unlikely. Small bodies in the inner solar system tend to get swept up or ejected faster than that. Typically what falls to Earth now is from further out in the solar system.

Engines of Light Trilogy (1)

Lemming Mark (849014) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389758)

In the Engines of Light Trilogy by Ken Macleod, one of the major intelligent factions is actually composed of bacterial life living within asteroids all over the galaxy. It's a great series, especially the first book and it has some really interesting takes on a high-tech sci-fi future (e.g. light speed travel but no faster than light communications) as well as creating a universe in which it's possible to playfully "explain" everything from men in black to mass hallucinations, alien abductions, ancient monster myths, etc.

Oh and this research sounds pretty awesome, I hope it leads somewhere as interesting as it sounds like it could!

Re:Engines of Light Trilogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35396210)

How is faster than light travel NOT faster than light communication?

Whhat (2)

MaDeR (826021) | more than 3 years ago | (#35389790)

I am sorry, but what? Propaganda piece for panspermia announces that someone discovered "evidence of extraterritorial life in a meteorite" ? No shit.
Somehow I doubt this will stand scrunity...

Tin whiskers anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35389924)

Not wishing to appear a doubter, but man those pictures in the paper look very much like this one:

http://nepp.nasa.gov/whisker/photos/bus_rail2/Sweden-area2-w1_SE.jpg

Taken from another Nasa site discussing issues with soldering.

http://nepp.nasa.gov/whisker/photos/index.html#pot1

Lame HTML = Bogus Journal (1)

jolyonr (560227) | more than 3 years ago | (#35390182)

Truism of the internet. The more crackpot your ideas are, the larger you have to set your HTML border widths on your table elements.

Re:Lame HTML = Bogus Journal (1)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | more than 3 years ago | (#35390518)

I hate to say it, because I know that some smart, non-crackpot people just haven't bothered to update their HTML and UI style skills since the 90's, but I saw the big borders and pretty much immediately clicked the back button.

Re: Making the case for microscopic life in meteor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35390814)

Gentlemen, Allow me to play devil's advocate and take a contrarian position on this topic. Do these microbes pay rent? Do they have jobs? Maybe they're just freeloaders.

If we allow microbes to hang out just anywhere and do whatever they damn well please, then that is the first step down the slippery slope of anarchy! Mark my words, these laissez-faire microbes with their bongo drums, their beards, and their jazz records will corrupt our children and frighten the women and horses with their beatnik shenanigans.

I would further point out that these microbes don't speak our language, and that they have a propensity for doing as they please, and acting with total disregard for the conventions and mores of a civilized society. I admonish you, that you will rue the day when you opened your homes and hearths to these unkempt little buggers with their "tea shades" and their "jazz cigarettes."

Sincerely,
John Q. Fussbudget, Esq.

be very, very skeptical (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35391416)

I just posted an article on my blog about this [discovermagazine.com]. My opinion: we need to be very skeptical (shocker, I know). The scientist involved is legit, even if the journal in which the study is published has some very shaky stuff in it (they published an insulting ad hominem screed against me, for example, linked in my post). His evidence is interesting, and is more than just pictures; he did a chemical analysis as well. I am not an expert and so I cannot say whether this finding will hold up or not, but I wanted to get some facts out there before the media blow this up into an impending alien invasion in December 2012. :)

Terrestrial origin? (2)

radarvectors (103651) | more than 3 years ago | (#35392036)

I really don't see any reference in the article to consideration of the possibility that these meteors might be terrestrial in origin - blasted into space from Earth's crust by a large impactor, and eventually re-entering, to be discovered and found bearing remnants of terrestrial bacteria.

Nothing in the paper is inconsistent with that hypothesis. All of the attention in the article devoted to possible sources in comets, asteroids, Jovian moons, and the Kuiper Belt, but no consideration given to the closest source of organic materials - the earth itself.

Sounds like a severe case of confirmation bias...

Re:Terrestrial origin? (1)

geomancer23 (2009736) | more than 3 years ago | (#35399866)

I really don't see any reference in the article to consideration of the possibility that these meteors might be terrestrial in origin - blasted into space from Earth's crust by a large impactor, and eventually re-entering, to be discovered and found bearing remnants of terrestrial bacteria.

Nothing in the paper is inconsistent with that hypothesis. All of the attention in the article devoted to possible sources in comets, asteroids, Jovian moons, and the Kuiper Belt, but no consideration given to the closest source of organic materials - the earth itself.

Sounds like a severe case of confirmation bias...

The deuterium/hydrogen ratios are consistent with cometary origin

Dr. Richard Hoover (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35394888)

Dr. Dick Sucker ?

CI1 chondrite meteorites in question (1)

geomancer23 (2009736) | more than 3 years ago | (#35394900)

If there ever is a meteorite type likely to preserve extra-terrestrial life, it is the CI1 chondrites described in the article. They are micro-breccias thought to be regolith (in this case, material weathered by water) from the surface of the parent body – probably an asteroid or comet. These extremely rare meteorites crumble to dust when they get wet because their microscopic particles are held together with clay and water-soluble minerals. Only 5 falls have been directly observed, Orgueil in 1864 being the biggest (4 others were found in Antarctica). The CI1s are soft enough to be cut with a knife, and early observers described them as humus- or bitumen-like. They are highly carbonaceous and contain complex organic compounds such as kerogen, long-chain fatty acids, protein amino acids, and the breakdown products of chlorophyll. The microscopic filaments exposed on fresh surfaces look very much like bacteria and certainly are not biological contaminants because they lack nitrogen, as do multi-million year old fossils from Earth.

The Hoover loon published it already in 2004 (1)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 3 years ago | (#35396200)

http://www.panspermia.org/hoover2.htm [panspermia.org]

Richard B. Hoover of NASA/NSSTC announced today the discovery of evidence for the detection of a fossilized cyanobacterial mat in a freshly fractured, interior surface of the Orgueil carbonaceous meteorite. Many of the images presented were obtained 21-23 July 2004, using the Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscope at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The announcement was made in Denver, Colorado at the "Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology VIII" (Conference 5555) at SPIE's International Symposium on Optical Science and Technology (its 49th Annual Meeting).

This is part of the postmodern craze where all views all allowed to be heard with undue respect. We are heading for some serious disaster unless it is halted.

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