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Homemade 'Mars In a Bottle' Tortures Bacteria

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the why-don't-high-schools-do-this-more dept.

Mars 154

astroengine writes "The only time we've ever directly looked for life on Mars was during the 1970s, when NASA's Viking landers attempted to make direct measurements of Martian microbes metabolizing. Even today, the results of these groundbreaking experiments are hotly debated. Although the Viking experiments were often considered premature, a team of scientists hope to refine the next life-searching experiment to be sent to the Red Planet by building a Mars habitat on Earth. Imagine a Mars environment 'goldfish bowl' complete with UV radiation, dust, chilly temperatures, and an extremely low atmospheric pressure. So what have they done with this micro-Mars environment? They've been torturing various terrestrial microbes to see how they enjoy stints on the Martian surface. Their results have shown that even Earth microorganisms have a trick or two up their sleeves to survive in this alien environment."

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Contamination (1)

arunce (1934350) | more than 2 years ago | (#36552512)

If so, hope that we didn't contaminate the whole planet.

Re:Contamination (2)

arunce (1934350) | more than 2 years ago | (#36552528)

And in some millions of years, future lifeforms will have good theories about panspermia.

Re:Contamination (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36552604)

Your momma has some pretty good insight into panspermia as well.

Re:Contamination (4, Insightful)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 2 years ago | (#36552680)

I think the Viking probes and all that other shit we threw at the planet already did. You can't get them microbe-less once the components are exposed to air, some spores will survive.
There was some controversy that the activity seen in the Martian soil by the Vikings was due to terrestrial contamination (or the chemical activity of the soil), so the soil tests were deemed inconclusive (Gas Release was negative, along with Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometer readings, and pyrolitic release. The only positive was labeled release, which may have been due to inorganic reactions), and most scientists do not accept them as proof of life.

Re:Contamination (2)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 2 years ago | (#36552930)

I know some spores and microbes can survive the harsh conditions of space for a while, but what are the chances that those particularly tough critturs were the ones the Mars landers were contaminated with?

Re:Contamination (3)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 2 years ago | (#36552994)

100%.
Those fuckers can survive damn near anything, and they're omnipresent (the archeobacteria and other extremophiles present around geothermal vents, in deep drill-cores, and all those other places aren't the only indestructible microbes). The law of large numbers practically requires them to have been on the landers.

Re:Contamination (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553190)

All probes have been sterilized, so 0%. If you don't trust the sterilization, both our numbers are speculation.

Re:Contamination (1)

bytesex (112972) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553268)

Weren't there fungi growing on the *outside* of the windows of MIR at one point ? I seem to remember something like that being in the news.

Re:Contamination (1)

belthize (990217) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553924)

Nope, it was growing on the *inside*. Outside would be stunning, inside is interesting.

Re:Contamination (2)

eyenot (102141) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553006)

Hold still. There's one on your eyeball.

Re:Contamination (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553978)

The other question, with spores and such, is whether any of the survivors are surviving actively or passively.

In spore/inactive form, some of the hardier microcritters won't even blink at truly alarming temperature excursions, stints in hard vacuum with a side of radiation, or potentially years to centuries of storage under martian conditions. However, they won't actually do anything until somebody takes them inside and gives them something closer to the weather they actually like.

Such a contamination situation isn't ideal(you'll have to ensure that it isn't just them waking up during all your 'is it life?' experiments, which will be a pain); but it also isn't a deal-breaker: in inactive form they won't be mutating, or reproducing, or modifying their environment, so their numbers will be fixed and small and their impact quite minimal until we get around to doing some more experiments.

If, on the other hand, we accidentally introduced something that is active under martian conditions, it could be merrily mutating and terraforming its way through whatever pockets of mars are only moderately hostile, which would render them pretty much hopeless for research into possible martian life.

Re:Contamination (1)

advance-software (1770510) | more than 2 years ago | (#36552958)

who cares - surely we should be trying to inject life into this planet.

Re:Contamination (1)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553066)

You mean ... the Lifestream? :)

Seriously, while we should strive to protect this planet (it's the only one we've got, so far. And the only place with beer!), we should also be looking towards other planets, with a colonial eye. The only way forward is up, and off this rock.
Let me quote myself, from the prologue and epilogue of my thesis:
"Space is the final frontier(1). After Humanity has conquered the seas and the sky, there will be no other choices for expansion, than out: breaking free from the planet, and creating new colonies in endless void of space, just as Columbus did in his time."
[...]
"[...] Because we cannot, and must not stop after one step. [...] Resource demands will grow, just as population will, and we will be forced to consider our future. If by then we were legally ready for the conquest of these lands, we could accelerate the process, and could even find a solution for the impending energy- and resource-crisis, or the planet's overpopulation, in the near future. And we have to be ready, for the time when the XVI. century's wave of colonization repeats itself, on a much greater scale, as Humanity leaves its planet, and the Columbuses of the future set off."
(Italics added in places to convey the emphasis in the tone of the Hungarian text)
1: Star Trek reference was initially unintentional, but later left in place. I liked the tone too much.

But until this can come to pass, you're right: we should do everything in our power to keep our world liveable, as long as it doesn't impact our capacity to expand.

Re:Contamination (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553236)

Let me quote myself, from the prologue and epilogue of my thesis:

Jesus wept.

Re:Contamination (1)

sco08y (615665) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553498)

Are you surprised?

After all, Jesus died on the cross for our sins.

Worse, being omniscient, he's actually read the whole thesis.

Re:Contamination (1)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553734)

Worse, being omniscient, he's actually read the whole thesis.

Ah, the old question posed in The Tragedy of Man, scene 7: was Jesus and God one and the same, or just fundamentally the same? If just fundamentally, omniscience may not apply.

But let's not stray from the topic at hand!

Re:Contamination (1)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553658)

I agree that we should be trying to inject life into the planet but it needs to be done at a controlled pace so we don't make any mistakes.

Re:Contamination (1)

ideonexus (1257332) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553630)

My pet hypothesis is that Mars was contaminated by Earth millions of years ago. Thinking about it, we have this planet that's down-solar-wind of our planet, catching the microbes whisked away from our upper atmosphere and into outer orbits... like when Earth passes through the remnants of a comet's path, creating meteor showers for hundreds of years afterwards every time we pass through that region of space. There was a story about Russia planning a space probe to Mars' orbit and back, loaded with microbes [scientificamerican.com] , to see if any could survive the journey. If any could, then Mars was populated with microbes from our planet a long long time ago.

Re:Contamination (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#36552796)

Wait, what, "contaminate"? You're anti-life?

Literally worse than Hitler. In the literal sense of literally.

Re:Contamination (1)

mpsmps (178373) | more than 2 years ago | (#36552828)

The concern is that our microbes may be the "invasive species" that destroys the native life on Mars, which would literally be a genocide.

Re:Contamination (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36552926)

Good on us then. Saddle up ladies, we're terraforming!
Oh, and look up words in a dictionary before you use them. Unless there's intelligent life on Mars, it isn't genocide.

Re:Contamination (1)

eyenot (102141) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553070)

Isn't it venocide if eradicate an entire genus? *shrug*

Re:Contamination (1)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553100)

Oh, and look up words in a dictionary before you use them. Unless there's intelligent life on Mars, it isn't genocide.

Unless it's the planned, premeditated destruction of an ethnic or racial group, with the expressed intention of utter and complete eradication, it's not genocide. Legally speaking.

Although I'd love to see the Hague tackle 'Negligent Genocide', or similar. Maybe someone read a scroll of genocide, thinking it was some recipe?

Re:Contamination (1)

AaxelB (1034884) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553976)

Maybe someone read a scroll of genocide, thinking it was some recipe?

Or maybe they thought it was a cursed scroll of genocide, which would merely send in a few instances of the race in question -- "reverse genocide", as it were ;)

Re:Contamination (2)

pizzach (1011925) | more than 2 years ago | (#36552826)

News for ya: if bacteria survives as implied by the article, Mars was likely contaminated long ago even before humans started space explorations. Most likely by a comet bashing into things.

Animal torture (1)

michelcolman (1208008) | more than 2 years ago | (#36552526)

I imagine animal protection groups will be all over this in no time. They are probably planning bomb attacks as we speak.

Re:Animal torture (1)

satuon (1822492) | more than 2 years ago | (#36552618)

You're joking, but seriously, I wonder which species do qualify for animal protection. Mosquitos, slimy worms, etc., they're animals too after all.

Re:Animal torture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36552652)

Maybe they do (in the eyes of some). But those cases are more difficult to spot and probably less likely to be taken seriously by most people (because they don't care about them, and that isn't necessarily a "bad" thing).

Re:Animal torture (1)

Rob Kaper (5960) | more than 2 years ago | (#36552662)

Cuddly, furry ones. And trouser snakes.

Re:Animal torture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36552724)

Which is why no activist complains that the Naked Mole Rat is used for testing sometimes too.
 
Actually, that's less cruel. Due to a strange genetic quirk, NMRs are incapable of feeling pain.

Re:Animal torture (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 2 years ago | (#36552940)

Ah, that explains why my petition to save the Australian blobfish [telegraph.co.uk] was turned down!

Re:Animal torture (3, Interesting)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#36552702)

As a vegan pinko hippie who loves you all, this one has been weighing on my mind recently. My partner (who is omnivorous, but supports cruelty-free farming) decided to get some live mealworms a few days ago to breed and feed to the birds, explaining that the cat has been quite the bird assassin the past few months and this may help strengthen up the population.

While there's certainly no intention to "torture" the mealworms, just give them comfortable living conditions until they are put out where birds are likely to eat them, there's still the issue of sending little creatures to their death. Do I worry about it less because it's a worm and not a lamb? Or a dog?

(I have this image now of that strip where two guys are discussing some problem on the golf course and a black guy appears and says, "Is this the sort of problem white people have?" Really, I'm very grateful that I'm in a position where I can worry about stuff like this, although we have significant health difficulties in the family so it's by far my greatest worry... life's weird...)

Re:Animal torture (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36552802)

What the fuck is wrong with you?

Re:Animal torture (5, Insightful)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#36552862)

The same question is asked of everyone who raises an ethical or philosophical question before its time.

"There's no divine right of kings." What the fuck is wrong with you?

"Blacks are people too." What the fuck is wrong with you?

"Class isn't a birthright." What the fuck is wrong with you?

"Chimpanzees have behaviour suggesting very human-like emotion and intelligence." What the fuck is wrong with you?

"Dogs may not be as bright as humans, but they have capacity for pain and suffering which must be taken into account." What the fuck is wrong with you?

"Much simpler organisms appear to react to stimuli we'd regard as painful in a similar way to us - do they feel pain too?" What the fuck is wrong with you?

"Or should we judge a species' worthiness to life by its intelligence rather than its perceived pain responses? If so, why shouldn't we judge humans similarly?" What the fuck is wrong with you?

I'm allowed to think about the questions. I'm not imposing any conclusion on anyone - I haven't even made one yet. Maybe I never shall, but in the meanwhile I retain an open mind. Does this worry you? Do you want me to angrily tell you that you're a murderer if you swat flies? Are you simply annoyed that I think about these sorts of things rather than whatever you like to think about?

What stereotype would you like me to conform to in order to reinforce your beliefs about those who disagree with you?

(in b4 ybht)

Re:Animal torture (2)

Tx (96709) | more than 2 years ago | (#36552904)

I think what the most eloquent AC was trying to say is that predation is entirely part of nature - animals eat other animals all the time - so it makes no sense to worry about it. Those little mealworms are, by being eaten, fulfilling their manifest destiny as part of the chain of life, and you should send them on their way knowing that you have only helped them do what they exist to do in the first place. Possibly the AC's version was more succinct though ;).

Re:Animal torture (3)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#36552952)

You're certainly right that it's nature's way, but the question mark appears when I'm making a conscious decision to have a hand in the process. The fox which digs a hole which exposes the worm and the bird which takes the worm don't really have the capacity to make a choice. I do have a choice to help the birds, or help the worms, or leave everything alone, or give some balanced input to offset the tremendous impact my modern lifestyle is having.

The Duke of Edinburgh, bless his privileged socks, fairly effectively summarised two different approaches in a recent interview [bbc.co.uk] : you can be an conservationist, concerning yourself at a species level with extinction and other large-scale changes; or you can be a "bunny hugger", worrying too much about the plight of some random donkey. I'd like not to lose sight of the wood for the trees without losing the compassion of the latter sort.

Re:Animal torture (2)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553058)

"The fox which digs a hole which exposes the worm and the bird which takes the worm don't really have the capacity to make a choice."

If you'd spent anytime observing birds and bird behavior, you'd know that some birds very well have the capacity to make a choice. Humans aren't the only animals on the planet that kill other members of their own species or members of other species just for the sake of killing or territory.

I have an older (16 year old) Green Iguana who understands the concept of glass and doors,* he will go taunt smaller lizards (Central Inland Bearded Dragons, Uromasytxs) who don't understand how glass works. He will get them spun up with head bobs, then leave to go piss off the others, once all the smaller lizards are upset, he will retire to his room to bask.

* - Not all lizard species understand what glass is, even larger ones like Agamid lizards, so they spent hours "glass surfing". Monitors and Iguana often figure out what glass is, and sometimes even mirrors.

Re:Animal torture (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553102)

It depends how you define "choice", obviously. I can make a careful and informed rational choice. I don't think the bird can. I don't think your iguana can. Maybe we'll learn that these creatures are way smarter and more insightful in the reasoning behind the choices they make. It doesn't matter, really - what matters from my PoV is that I know I am capable of making such a choice.

Re:Animal torture (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553148)

After living with that Iguana for 16 years, I know he makes choices when he wants to.

Like when told to "stop running across the room!" He will skirt the walls, trying to avoid detection, to get to his goal. Or if he's been locked in his room because humans have been on vacation, he will spend two or three weeks trying to get to my shoes so he can poop in them. Not any shoes, just his owner's shoes.

Observe Ravens in an urban setting, they make rational choices, observe food and objects closely, test for traps, coordinate as a group, it's not just instinct.

Re:Animal torture (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553330)

You're deliberately choosing a different sort of question which only requires a more primitive thought process. Experiencing empathy and pondering high and low level decisions you could make when presented with the option to cause or not cause damage to strangers is not the same as judging the best route from A to B while avoiding C. Even then, the level of input and processing an iguana can put into route optimisation is far exceeded by the level of input a human can put.

I have no doubt that many species can make immediate plans, but that's not the same as contemplating in the abstract. Do you think that a tiger about to catch a deer ever stops and thinks, "You know, I won't catch that deer today... I'm a little hungry but around this time of year another one is bound to come along, and it's clearly still looking after its young. Its young are too small for meat, and they'll slowly starve to death if I eat the mother. So I'll wait for a buck." (Don't sidetrack with an argument about whether that reasoning is entirely optimal! The question is whether it's possible for a tiger to contemplate like this.)

tl;dr Iguanas may be cunning beasts and capable of demonstrating a lot of the abilities we have but I don't think they'll ever manufacture computers or write philosophy treatises. It's not because they don't choose not to but because they can't.

Re:Animal torture (1)

Arlet (29997) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553174)

Your careful and informed rational choice is still based on primitive emotions that you can't control.

What's the rational reason killing is bad in the first place ? I can only think of one: killing is bad if it negatively affects your own survival. Feel free to come up with others (just make sure they are rational).

Re:Animal torture (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553204)

I can only think of one: killing is bad if it negatively affects your own survival.

I'll have to stop you there. Why is my own survival rationally important? I'm not disagreeing, but I would like to know your answer - in particular, I want to make sure that your answer isn't begging the question with something like "because nature is about [genetic] survival".

Re:Animal torture (1)

Arlet (29997) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553294)

Why is my own survival rationally important?

I wouldn't say it was rationally important. It's just the fundamental thing that drives all living species, including determining every action they take (directly or indirectly). In other words, if you didn't think your survival mattered, you might as well end it right now.

Re:Animal torture (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553344)

There's another post in this thread which covers the false dichotomy you're generating.

Re:Animal torture (1)

Arlet (29997) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553410)

Like I said, feel free to come up with a better rational reason. After all, without some axioms ("my survival is good for me"), it's impossible to create any meaningful rational framework at all.

Re:Animal torture (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553608)

So we've gone from reason to axiom.

OK.

Now is what is "good for you", good?

Although, TBH, I'm not that interested in this sort of argument, because there's so much cookie-cutter work to move on from your oft-heard pronouncement to productive debate.

There's lots of work scrawled about veganism and animal rights which come down to weighing minimisation of exploitation (in the widest sense, of nature in general including other humans) against causing yourself excessive hardship. Sometimes there's an underlying philosophy about man using his uniquely powerful mind to achieve some form of balance; sometimes it's merely applying pragmatism to a sense of compassion.

Examine the beliefs of the Vegan Society or the BUAV or any number of groups which are about promoting alternatives, carefully avoiding PETAesque "man is evil and must die" groups. Consider also the more middle-of-the-road position of the British Humanist Society which focuses on minimising suffering.

Re:Animal torture (1)

Arlet (29997) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553730)

There is no absolute good or bad. The question whether something is absolutely good is therefore pointless.

Why is "minimization of exploitation" good ? And even if we assume it's good, it still doesn't tell us much. For instance, we could minimize the exploitation of whales by killing every single one them, therefore reducing the sum of their future exploitation to zero. If we do it swiftly, they won't even suffer.
They're going to all die anyway, and natural deaths aren't usually pretty.

Re:Animal torture (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#36554020)

For instance, we could minimize the exploitation of whales by killing every single one them

If you've ever had the misfortune of looking into PETA (or, worse, working with people in PETA *shudder*), you'll hear its adherents say things like that - not only of animals which are hunted or farmed but also of pets. "Every dog is better off being put to sleep than living or having lived as a companion slave!" This was one of the main reasons I suggested avoiding them, except to see how far away from reasonable you can travel without actually going around killing people.

Do you not see how killing an animal in this context is exploiting it for the furtherance of your (possibly insane quasi-religious cult) philosophy? If you see nature in terms of struggling species as well as living individuals, do you not see that the worst possible exploitation could be regarded as one which eradicates a whole species?

I know it requires more effort but I suggest again that you read the views and writings of some of those organisations listed. Your questions and strawmen are understandable but typical. If this were some computing topic, it'd be the time I'd politely suggest that you read the fine manual.

Re:Animal torture (1)

Dragon_Hilord (941293) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553864)

How about we use the same measures for executing animals for food as we do people for crime? Generally, the consensus is they should die (not here, we use prisons, so lets think to a few countries that support "humane execution"), but it is widely held they should not suffer.

If we use the same techniques on animals...? I'm no vegan or anything, I like my meats and fish, etc. As a grower of chickens, I also don't get that "product of animal" thing either that PETA freaks so much about. I *DO* agree, some eh... slaughter houses out there (literally) are cruel and without a care to how much the animal suffers, which I agree is wrong.

Back to worms though, really I don't see some harm in irradiating a few crawlers now and then for science. We've done some messed up things to chimps and people too (look up space flight and rocket chair respectively). In the end, the general consensus is and shall remain: it's good for science and our understanding of our world/universe.

Re:Animal torture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36553072)

You're an arrogant twit if you really believe your "conscious hand" is something different. You don't need to give balanced input because you don't need to seek balance in everything, nature is not balanced, it is not even in equilibrium and you're really just regurgitating some stupid thoughts that make you feel like you're a special and nice person.

I'd like not to lose sight of the wood for the trees without losing the compassion of the latter sort.

Yes, you're a fucking arrogant twit.

Re:Animal torture (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553116)

You don't need to give balanced input because you don't need to seek balance in everything, nature is not balanced

So you're saying that I need to be a slave to your perception of nature?

It's natural for the early bird to eat the unearthed worm. And it's just as natural for me, the human, to contemplate on it and wonder whether I should act like the bird or behave differently.

Re:Animal torture (1)

LibRT (1966204) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553178)

I honestly don't understand the belief system which posits humans are not only not animals, but are somehow worse than animals, and that animals are all wholesome and pure, with winning personalities to boot. Humans are part of nature in the same way your ill-fated mealworms are. By the same token, skyscrapers and highways are perfectly natural in just the same way as birds' nests and beaver dams are: in all cases it's simply an animal, or a group of animals, reordering their environment to suit their purposes.

So give yourself a break from the self-imposed anguish of struggling with the mealworm destiny issue - feed 'em to the birds, don't feed 'em to the birds, light them on fire, flush them down the toilet, throw them in the next pie you bake or let them loose in your back yard and consider them "free range". In the end, whatever you do is simply nature playing itself out.

In short: less drama, more mealworm death.

Re:Animal torture (1)

m.ducharme (1082683) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553220)

"I honestly don't understand the belief system which posits humans are not only not animals, but are somehow worse than animals, and that animals are all wholesome and pure, with winning personalities to boot."

I blame Disney. And the Bible.

Re:Animal torture (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553696)

The fox which digs a hole which exposes the worm and the bird which takes the worm don't really have the capacity to make a choice.

Now you're contradicting what you said before [slashdot.org] : "Much simpler organisms appear to react to stimuli we'd regard as painful in a similar way to us - do they feel pain too?"

If the fox reacts in a similar way to us, couldn't it follow a similar reasoning process, therefore taking conscious choices?

I think there's no definite point at which we can say for sure there's no self-consciousness below it. However, the simple fact that an organism reacts to stimuli is not enough to call it conscious or assume it follows some internal thought process.

A light switch reacts to the pressure of my finger by turning on a light, does that mean we should never harm light switches?

Re:Animal torture (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553810)

If the fox reacts in a similar way to us, couldn't it follow a similar reasoning process, therefore taking conscious choices?

It could. But it's a huge leap to assume that it reasons like us in general just because it reacts like us to specific immediate stimulus.

A light switch reacts to the pressure of my finger by turning on a light, does that mean we should never harm light switches?

Why is it a habit of geeks to make horribly over-simplifying analogies? :-/ Oh well, I'm sure I've been guilty of it too from time to time. The question I gave was about simpler organisms which appear to react to stimuli we'd regard as painful in a similar way to us. Light switches do not react like this.

If you were to build a robot which acted in a manner indistinguishable from a fox, then - as many have argued in many places - there is a good case for looking at it from an ethical PoV as if it were a fox. The ultimate AI achievement of building an AI indistinguishable from a human would result in regarding the AI from an ethical PoV as if it were human.

(This of course leads to the suggestion that building a human-like AI may in practical terms be a massive waste of time: if you need more ultra-intelligent tools then it's ethically no worse to simply breed slave humans.)

Re:Animal torture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36553062)

The problem with /. is that you can't tell satire from earnest statements anymore. By the way, what exactly is the fuck is wrong with you?

Re:Animal torture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36553056)

Tiger worms; they're juicey and they'll eat anything, including egg shells. Their piss and shit is good for your crops.

As for the murdering cat; plant lillies (and feed them worm piss and shit). The murdering cat will find the pollen to be most dissagreable.

Re:Animal torture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36553200)

Why do you hate mealworms so much? Nothing but speciecide is good enough for you?

Let those poor mealworms have the chance of life, however short, that they wouldn't have had if there weren't birds to feed.

Re:Animal torture (1)

nyctopterus (717502) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553480)

As the omnivorous partner of a vegetarian, I've always argued that it's clearly got to do with mental capacity. Some animals (actually most, because most are wormy type things and insects) just don't have the mental capacity to be worth moral consideration in and of themselves in my opinion. Clearly there's a grade--we should consider our treatment of dogs more carefully than flies, for example. I see this as hard to deny, even if we are uncomfortable with its ramifications for humans (are stupid people less worthy of moral consideration than smart ones?).

Re:Animal torture (1)

Per Wigren (5315) | more than 2 years ago | (#36552766)

If you set up a booth at a market where you let people tear the wings off of mosquitos for fun, you could possibly (and rightfully imho) face animal abuse charges. If you instead set up a mosquito trap killing 100000 mosquitos in an evening you should get a medal instead. In other words, it has all to do with intent. In the first case you're causing pain for profit and sadistic pleasure, in the second case it's just thoughtless killing. With this definition (my own) of what is animal abuse, killing cute animals IS worse than killing insects or other slimy/creepy animals because killing a cute animal requires a colder heart. Also, torture is worse than causing a painful death because of neclect, which in turn is worse than simple thoughtless killing.

Re:Animal torture (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#36552804)

The result for the mosquitoes is the same either way. Actually, the retail torture kills fewer of them. You're criminalising behaviour because it makes you feel icky. Brainstem logic.

Re:Animal torture (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#36552880)

Are a few incidents of torture (assuming mosquitoes so experience it) resulting in death better than mass execution? What if the mass execution has a life-affirming purpose, e.g. to save humans and livestock from malaria?

What about the knock-on effect of promotion of torture?

Re:Animal torture (1)

Terrasque (796014) | more than 2 years ago | (#36552984)

What if the mass execution has a life-affirming purpose, e.g. to save humans and livestock from malaria?

So if it's about improving the quality of life for humans and animals humans care about, its okay? What if the booth also was about improving the quality of life for some humans?

Re:Animal torture (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553050)

So if it's about improving the quality of life for humans and animals humans care about, its okay?

It's not black and white, is it? Consider: experiments on animals for lifesaving medication, carefully designed to minimise use of animals and to minimise suffering of those animals, is considered acceptable by many. But this does not preclude considering animal testing of cosmetics unacceptable - indeed, the EU imposed a testing ban in 2009.

One of the traditional anti-animal-rights strawmen is to claim that all vegans/animal rights activists/etc want no harm whatever to be caused to any living organism by any human. The conclusion usually follows that the only way of doing this is to kill yourself (even then, you're wishing a death sentence on all the bacteria inside you, more numerous than your own cells!). But every argument about protecting animals must in fact draw a line to show thee extent to which it is acceptable to harm the quality of life of living organisms. The line may be determined by quantity or human need or intelligence or sentience of the victim creature. It's these details, and the principles which lead to their application, which are up for debate.

What if the booth also was about improving the quality of life for some humans?

Torturing is not improving any quality of life, not least because it is psychologically damaging to the torturer. Torturing for fun doesn't even admit argument.

In addition, the end does not justify the means. "For every kitten you torture we'll donate $1 to a cancer charity!" is not acceptable. Nor, indeed, is, "For every 1 man you kill we'll donate $1,000,000 to save a thousand from starvation." There is no need to harm the kitten or the 1 man to achieve the goal. But, to stop the spread of malaria, it may be necessary to kill mosquitoes.

Re:Animal torture (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553108)

One of the traditional anti-animal-rights strawmen is to claim that all vegans/animal rights activists/etc want no harm whatever to be caused to any living organism by any human.

I've seen some resort to the appeal to hypocrisy fallacy by claiming that because animal rights activists typically harm plants, they are hypocrites (and therefore no one should listen to them).

not least because it is psychologically damaging to the torturer

What? If he finds it fun and enjoys it, then claiming that he's "evil" or that he "needs help" isn't going to change that (and I highly doubt that absolute morals exist in the first place).

In addition, the end does not justify the means.

That depends on who you ask.

Re:Animal torture (1)

Arlet (29997) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553086)

Any animals kills if it helps its own survival. We are no exception. The question if this is okay is pointless.

Re:Animal torture (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553128)

Any animals kills if it helps its own survival.

And just because it happens in nature or everything does it, that does not mean that it is 'okay' (not sure if that is even what you meant). However, I don't think that this must be true. Why couldn't something refuse to do so?

The question if this is okay is pointless.

To you, perhaps.

Re:Animal torture (1)

Arlet (29997) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553152)

Why couldn't something refuse to do so?

Evolution. Genes that do not maximize chances of survival get replaced by genes that do.

Re:Animal torture (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553872)

And yet, still, it isn't impossible to make that choice. You may die, but the choice was still made.

Re:Animal torture (1)

ZankerH (1401751) | more than 2 years ago | (#36552986)

The ones with nervous systems complex enough to be considered "brains".

Re:Animal torture (1)

vegiVamp (518171) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553782)

So where do you draw the line?

Mutations (1)

DWMorse (1816016) | more than 2 years ago | (#36552540)

I for one welcome our new Mars-hardened bacterial overlords.

wholesale designer lv luxury handbags on sale (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36552580)

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Re:wholesale designer lv luxury handbags on sale (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 2 years ago | (#36552602)

Dude... Two words:

Target audience.

Re:wholesale designer lv luxury handbags on sale (3, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#36552938)

He's not trying to get you to buy one, he's trying to get search engines to rank his site for those terms. Just like the 'someone should write a dissertation on diss' idiot, he hasn't yet realised that, although Slashdot has a high page rank, it puts rel="nofollow" on all links in comments, so search engines will ignore them.

Re:wholesale designer lv luxury handbags on sale (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553690)

I still don't understand how Slashdot has not been inundated with spammers long before now. Taco must have some kind of secret, but what is it?

Maybe Spammers simply know that no-one here is going to buy anything.

What could possibly go wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36552582)

So they're breeding microbes that can survive extreme conditions such as lengthy exposure to UV?

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | more than 2 years ago | (#36552774)

Nothing. With our global warming efforts, we are just making sure that there is something that survives us.

Next stage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36552636)

Try it on a yard monkey or a muzzie

Torture? (4, Funny)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 2 years ago | (#36552640)

So, since when is it OK to torture living things? What the fuck? When did this shit happen? Why is this not being shut down immediately? Let's get the activists on the job, and notify the lawyers. We've got work to do, people.

Re:Torture? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36552684)

It's bacteria. Products which torment and slaughter bacteria by the hundreds of trillions in a single shot are available over the counter.

Re:Torture? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36552736)

first they came after the bacteria, and I said nothing.

then they came for the virri and I a said nothing.

then, they took away the prions, and I also said nothing.

finally, after they came to take me away there was nobody left to say anything...

Re:Torture? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36552842)

First they came after the weak bacteria, and I said nothing.

Then they came after the sligtly stronger bacteria, and I said nothing.

Then they came after the even stronger bacteria, and I said nothing.

Then the super bacterias came after the they, and I said nothing.

Re:Torture? (1)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 2 years ago | (#36552946)

To some bacteria (and similar kingdoms) free oxygen in the atmosphere is toxic and so our current environment is torture ...

Re:Torture? (1)

jovius (974690) | more than 2 years ago | (#36552932)

Imagine the daily torture of oxygene and water the humans have to endure. Each day to live to just live one day less.

Re:Torture? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36553496)

Imagine the daily torture of oxygene.[snip]

Feeling the hatred for Jean-Michel Jarre, now... ;)

Re:Torture? (1)

Arlet (29997) | more than 2 years ago | (#36552968)

I suppose you never clean anything either. Imagine torturing those poor bacteria with soap.

Re:Torture? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36553090)

So, since when is it OK to torture living things? What the fuck? When did this shit happen? Why is this not being shut down immediately?

Since Gitmo and the US President said it was OK.

Mr DNS-and-BIND, please meet Mr President. Mr President, please meet Slashdot.

Re:Torture? (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553514)

Well, bacteria are prokaryotes, so it's outside PETA's bailiwick.

Thanks KSR (3, Informative)

krswan (465308) | more than 2 years ago | (#36552872)

Kim Stanley Robinson wrote about "Mars Bottles" in his Mars Trilogy 20 years ago. I'm glad someone is finally trying it!

Re:Thanks KSR (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553446)

Of course, the "Mars Jars" were in a lab... ON MARS

Hilarity.

Re:Thanks KSR (1)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553476)

On that note, I'm sure it was mentioned elsewhere, but I first read it in Red Mars. What about bacteria living deep underground? Are they planning to test for that at all or are they sticking to surface life for now?

grants ... (1)

tibbar (30026) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553822)

probably took this long for the grant money to come though ...

Pictures (3, Funny)

crow_t_robot (528562) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553026)

I have uploaded some pics of the bacteria in the Martian atmosphere:

http://i.imgur.com/WRO02.jpg [imgur.com] [SFW - not goatse]

Enjoy.

Re:Pictures (1)

vegiVamp (518171) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553846)

So why would we believe you?

In the name of safety for everyone's mind, I courageously checked the link. He is right, it isn't Goatse.

Well, not exactly - it's someone who's just seen Goatse.

Lets not do anything (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36553432)

that will actually help us with our current problems, lets fuck off some more money for a 1950's B movie dream

Re:Lets not do anything (1)

belthize (990217) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553966)

Says the prolific AC, taking time from his busy schedule to post a random thought on a news aggregation site.

Cabon Dioxide? (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553596)

They say the atmosphere is 95 percent CO2. They should see if any plant species can grow there.

don't you mean (2)

SolusSD (680489) | more than 2 years ago | (#36553826)

Enhanced interrogation?

Plot to new movie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36553908)

Resident Evil: Evolution

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