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We All May Have a Little Martian In Us

samzenpus posted about 8 months ago | from the back-in-the-day dept.

Mars 168

coondoggie writes "Men are supposed to be from Mars as John Gray's iconic relationship book would have you think, but new research presented this week suggests that in reality; we all may hail from the Red Planet. 'The evidence seems to be building that we are actually all Martians; that life started on Mars and came to Earth on a rock. It's lucky that we ended up here nevertheless, as certainly Earth has been the better of the two planets for sustaining life. If our hypothetical Martian ancestors had remained on Mars, there might not have been a story to tell,' Professor Steven Benner of The Westheimer Institute for Science and Technology said."

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168 comments

slow news day (3, Insightful)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 8 months ago | (#44711531)

So it's a slow news day wherever this was written. It seems they pull this recycled article out of the garbage somewhere every couple months. Yes, we "might" be from Mars. That isn't news. I think I saw a special on it on TV in 1998.

Re:slow news day (5, Insightful)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 8 months ago | (#44711569)

Yes, let us never speak of this again, regardless of whatever new evidence is found! Evar!

Re:slow news day (2, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | about 8 months ago | (#44711625)

Yes, let us never speak of this again, regardless of whatever new evidence is found! Evar!

New evidence? What evidence, new or old?

We haven't even set foot on mars, yet we have had pronouncements that this or that rock found here or there clearly came from mars.
An entire Galaxy ignored, an entire Solar system looked over, Vast Oort Clouds discounted, and a gazillion asteroids hand waved away.
But by god this rock couldn't POSSIBLY been from anywhere but mars!!

Re:slow news day (5, Insightful)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 8 months ago | (#44711703)

Um, it does say "new research" in the first sentence of both TFS and TFA. True, we have not yet set foot on Mars. But are suggesting this means there is NO EVIDENCE from Mars? Besides which, if a rock matches the chemical composition from our nearest neighbor, it kind of narrows things down. Maybe these scientists know a thing or two about what they're doing.

Re:slow news day (2, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about 8 months ago | (#44712055)

Chemical composition?

Really? We have that mapped out for the entire planet do we?
How many other rocky bodies have a similar composition mapped out?

Re:slow news day (2)

Maritz (1829006) | about 8 months ago | (#44712757)

There are rocks that are broadly accepted to be martian because they have isotopic ratios that are consistent with each other and not consistent with the Earth. They also have a consistency with measurements from Mars e.g. Viking, Phoenix. There is also an ability to determine roughly how long the rock spent in space from the effects of cosmic rays.

I don't pretend to know all the details but it's more compelling than this argument from personal incredulity that you appear to be making.

Re:slow news day (4, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | about 8 months ago | (#44712839)

And not that many years ago, the FBI insisted their scientists could tell you if the bullet that killed someone came out of the same box of bullets found in the suspects house, based on a spectral analysis of the lead in the bullet.

They had a whole bunch of scientists willing to swear to this in court under oath.
And it all turned out to be utter and complete bullshit. More than one defendant got out of prison on that one.

You can not know the origin of a random rock from outer space that lands someplace on earth. You can't even tell with certainty where a random rock from earth originated.

Re: slow news day (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44712971)

So you're saying science and scientists are totally untrustworthy. Thanks for adding to today's reasoned debate.

Re: slow news day (1, Flamebait)

arth1 (260657) | about 8 months ago | (#44713195)

So you're saying science and scientists are totally untrustworthy.

Of course they are. In today's scientific climate of "publish or die", that can pretty much be taken for a given. The nature of scientific theories allows others to verify the findings, but few are going to get attaboy from their sponsors for "merely" verifying what others discovered, so there's not nearly enough work on that.
So yes, there are quite a bit of BS out there. Some of it will persist for a while, but eventually most everything will be well verified or refuted. But not immediately, not today.

Re: slow news day (4, Insightful)

barlevg (2111272) | about 8 months ago | (#44713309)

Actually, how science usually works is that someone uses those results in their own research. And if the new results don't jive, one of the first steps is to verify the old research. If the old research can't be verified, they can publish and make a name for themselves out of refuting the previous work.

Re:slow news day (3, Interesting)

Maritz (1829006) | about 8 months ago | (#44713041)

And not that many years ago, the FBI insisted their scientists could tell you if the bullet that killed someone came out of the same box of bullets found in the suspects house, based on a spectral analysis of the lead in the bullet.

Non sequitur. Did anyone claim the lead was not from Earth?

They had a whole bunch of scientists willing to swear to this in court under oath. And it all turned out to be utter and complete bullshit. More than one defendant got out of prison on that one.

Non sequitur. Don't care.

You can not know the origin of a random rock from outer space that lands someplace on earth. You can't even tell with certainty where a random rock from earth originated.

You can't know anything with certainty. So what. They make arguments, and I find theirs compelling whereas I find yours more akin to ignorance mongering.

To clarify, I don't think life originated on Mars. I do think it's reasonable to think that meteorites identified as being from Mars are from there, mainly because of ratios of gases found in the rocks lining up with the composition of the Martian atmosphere (e.g. here [www.imca.cc] ). If you don't think that's reasonable then fine, but if I were to bet it wouldn't be your way.

That's about all I have to say it on it. Thanks ;)

Re:slow news day (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44713279)

Really? We have that mapped out for the entire planet do we?

Actually we have some really wide spread mapping efforts of various isotropic ratios. As with almost anything in science, we've not tested every rock, and there was even a surprise not too long ago where rocks on the surface were found to have a ratio outside the normal range. Although that difference was small compared to the difference seen in some examples of meteors or other changes that happen over long time scales. Some of it also comes down to simple chemistry, in that some of the isotopes decay from elements that are chemically soluble in only certain kinds of minerals in certain conditions. To get some of that wrong would suggest that decay chains are not what we expect, or some basic chemistry is off, which would have much bigger implications than the identify of a 100 or so meteorites.

Dubious Evidence (5, Insightful)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about 8 months ago | (#44712341)

As far as I can tell the article mentions that research has found one thing that might help in the formation of early life. They combine this with what evidence there is of the conditions on both Earth and Mars 3.5 billion years ago (and for Mars I imagine that is highly sketchy) and leap to the conclusion that life may have originated on Mars.

If you find this even vaguely scientifically credible here are some questions to think about:
  • Is highly oxidised molybdenum the only possibility that could assist in the formation of early life or the only one they have found so far?
  • How certain are we of the conditions on Earth 3.5 billion years ago everywhere on the planet? What about deep ocean trenches - even if the surface lacked oxygen did these areas?
  • How certain are we that the conditions required existed on Mars 3.5 billion years ago?
  • How likely is it that an organism which evolved under the conditions required would survive a journey from Mars to Earth on a blasted out chunk of rock? We can find organisms now on Earth that might make the journey but out planet is teeming with a vast array of life - if a similar diverse array of life was present on Mars why hasn't some of it survived? It seems strange that none of these organism could survive on the surface of Mars now and yet survive a meteor impact followed by years in the cold vacuum of space ending with a fiery entry through Earth;s atmosphere.

It's certainly possible but conjecture this wild without the evidence to back it up is just hard science fiction not science.

Re:Dubious Evidence (4, Interesting)

AvderTheTerrible (1960234) | about 8 months ago | (#44713129)

Its because the organisms being talked about are likely some form of bacteria or similarly simple single celled organism. There are many, many varieties of that kind of life, and there seems to be at least one microorganism that can survive in almost every extreme condition short of raw flame, and I'm not even certain if that would stop them forever.

So, this is how I see it having gone down:

Life evolved on mars as single cellular organisms and those organisms spread all over the planet, including places where it was extremely warm, and places where it was chillingly cold. Some of those hardy organisms started to work their way deeper and deeper into some rocks in an exceptionally frigid part of the planet, where they lived, if not thrived, highly adapated to the cold, to the point where they could survive being frozen during the coldest parts of the martian year.

One day, during one of the several bombardments of the solar system by meteors and comets and whatnot, something struck the martian surface near these organisms hard enough to accelerate the rock they were living in out of mars' gravitational field. Coincidentially, this rock was also large enough that when it would eventually enter earths atmosphere, enough of it would survive that not every little organism in it would be fried from the re-entry heat.

So this rock floats in space and the little organisms in it get frozen. And I mean really frozen. Phillip J. Fry frozen. Because, you know, it's actually cold in space. And this rock drifts around, going who knows where for thousands, millions, maybe even billions of years, until it gets caught in earths gravity well. It falls down the well, hits the atmosphere and the outer layers start burning off, and the rest of it starts to warm up. The little organisms in the center of the rock get thawed out, and when the meteor hits one of the early earths primordial seas, some of these little organisms start to slip out of the micro-fractures that were inflicted on whatever remains of their rock.

Those little organisms find for themselves an environment that is alien, but useable. And they thrive. If not off the bat, then within a few generations thanks to how fast single celled organisms can evolve. At some point we get primordial earths first figurative algae bloom, and suddenly the seas are full of em! They start sucking up the methane and other gasses that were present in the early earths atmosphere, coughing out oxygen, and eventually the oxygen in the atmosphere exceeded the earths capacity to store it in rocks and we started to get an oxygenated atmosphere. The seas turned from green to blue as other gasses were driven out of the oceans and replaced by oxygen, and stuff started evolving until one day we arrive at a discussion where some people can wrap their heads around the plausible, yet highly speculative possibility that maybe life did in fact start on Mars instead of Earth, and other people simply can't handle such an awesome idea.

Re:Dubious Evidence (3, Interesting)

symbolset (646467) | about 8 months ago | (#44714093)

This is a good story. Sharpen it by learning more about the primordial atmosphere composition, because you have that part exactly backward. Still, nicely done.

Re:slow news day (3, Interesting)

rahvin112 (446269) | about 8 months ago | (#44711749)

The life we know needs certain things, in particular liquid water. That exists very few places. Mars is proven at this point to have had liquid water in the past, none of the other places has.

On the other hand the force necessary to hurl a chunk of mars off the planet would likely kill even microscopic life in the containing object. I find it silly that people are suggesting that could happen. I imagine that an impact of significant enough magnitude to eject rocks from the surface into space would liquify the rocks (and thus killing everything on them) before they were ejected into space. Even if it didn't liquify them they would be heated to thousands of degrees by the instantaneous change in velocity needed to reach exit velocity. Even if you could come up with some bizarre circumstance that could get life bearing rocks into space the radiation between earth and mars would kill almost anything that wasn't 10's or 100's of feet buried in rock. So eve if it's survives the exit and is buried deep enough to survive the journey what on earth sustains it for the journey? It's not like it would have packed a knapsack. Even with food the temperatures would be near zero and very little life can survive being frozen.

To me what kills the idea is just how impossible the odds are. You have several near impossibilities all combined to move life from one planet to another.

Re:slow news day (3, Interesting)

tibit (1762298) | about 8 months ago | (#44711831)

very little life can survive being frozen

On the contrary, and Samantha Wright please correct me if I'm wrong, but I'd think a whole big hunking lot of single-cellular life can in fact survive being frozen. I mean, come on, human fucking sperm even does. Never mind that frozen life is well, frozen. While the DNA repair mechanisms are dormant, so are the copying mechanisms. Bacteria can live quite deep within porous rocks. I'm not exactly sure if it's really necessary for ejecta to be always heated up to sterilization. Now I'm not saying that this little life-from-Mars theory has got any legs to stand on just yet, but your arguments don't really do much to discount it, I don't think.

Re:slow news day (3, Interesting)

Longjmp (632577) | about 8 months ago | (#44712163)

To be fair, you are certainly correct about the freezing part.
However, GP's other points remain valid. Not much survives the heat of an impact, even less (molten) debris ejected into space. Simple organic molecules are destroyed easily with heat (and radiation), not even talking about (primitive) life forms.
As for the article, we can safely assume that probability of life originating from Mars is about the same as amino acids from "outer space" hitting the earth - or the remains of FSM's tomato sauce.
In other words, pure fantasy.

Re:slow news day (3, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 8 months ago | (#44712931)

People have made credible arguments for survival of micro organisms in large chunks of rock. The rock acts as an ablative shield - pieces burn off and protect the rest of the rock by transferring heat. Episodes such as the Late Heavy Bombardment [wikipedia.org] could have dumped enormous chunks of planetary remains on other planets. An organism safely ensconced in meters of rock might well survive the trip.

The molybendum part I'm a bit concerned about. Sounds like a huge leap but I'm unable to come up with a copy of the lecture so all we have is this near useless summary. Remember, this guy is one of the founders of synthetic biology and has been mentioned as a candidate for a Nobel Prize. That doesn't mean he's right by any means, but he's liable to have put a bit more thought into this than the hive mind here.

Re:slow news day (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44712983)

Al Gore and Barak Obama have won Nobel prizes, this guy has only been mentioned as a candidate. Hell Ted Nugent has been mentioned as a candidate, admittedly the people talking about it were drunk, but he was mentioned.

Re:slow news day (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 8 months ago | (#44712991)

very little life can survive being frozen

On the contrary, and Samantha Wright please correct me if I'm wrong, but I'd think a whole big hunking lot of single-cellular life can in fact survive being frozen. I mean, come on, human fucking sperm even does. Never mind that frozen life is well, frozen. While the DNA repair mechanisms are dormant, so are the copying mechanisms. Bacteria can live quite deep within porous rocks. I'm not exactly sure if it's really necessary for ejecta to be always heated up to sterilization. Now I'm not saying that this little life-from-Mars theory has got any legs to stand on just yet, but your arguments don't really do much to discount it, I don't think.

We have found microbes that can survive frozen. We have found microbes that can live in toxic environments to every other life form on earth. We have found microbes that can survive in each of the conditions the OP mentions. What we have not found are microbes that could survive in all of those environments that would be required to get from Mars to Earth and the changes involved would happen so quickly its unlikely there would be time for any kind of evolution or adaptation to occur.

In short, for life to originate on Mars and make it to Earth from debris being blasted into space would mean that whatever life happened to be on those rocks would need all of those adaptions for the various transition states the trip would require. That, in itself, seems much less likely than whether life ever existed on Mars.

Re:slow news day (3, Informative)

symbolset (646467) | about 8 months ago | (#44714129)

Waterbears can be dehydrated, frozen to only a few degrees Kelvin, and in that dehydrated frozen state withstand 100 g acceleration, hard vacuum and radiation without ill effect, on contact with liquid water reanimating. They can do so for at least a decade and thousands of years is not beyond reason. And that is not RNA, nor a bacterium. It is a complex animal. There are life forms that actually prefer extreme environments like this.

Re:slow news day (1)

AnfieldSierra (737890) | about 8 months ago | (#44712061)

And why the f#*k would it be more likely that life started on Mars than here on Earth ? I mean for what possible reason would it make sense that life began somewhere else and was then magically transported here through the cold vacuum of space. Mars hardly had the ideal environment to bootstrap life, even hundreds of millions of years ago, and especially when compared to early Earth.

We know that here on Earth, all the necessary building blocks were in place and that conditons were right for basic proteins to form, and from there we just mix it all together in the pot for a few million years and *bazinga*... life!

I get really frustrated whenever I read (fairy) stories about life originating on some extra-terrestrial body (comet, asteroid, planet) because even if (against the massively implausible odds) it originated elsewhere, it must have started there by the exact same mechanisms as postulated for life beginning on Earth. Occams razor says enough for me. Eveyone else is just looking for grant funding.

If you want to suggest that life originated somewhere else, you need to convince me that it couldn't have equally plausibly started here too.

Re:slow news day (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44712317)

RTFA. See the part about the mineral form that doesn't exist on Earth ?

Re:slow news day (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | about 8 months ago | (#44713269)

RTFA yourself. He doesn't say oxidized molybdenum doesn't exist on Earth (it does). Or, to quote The International Molybdenum Association in its Background Chemistry of Molybdenum (para Oxidation states)
"In its compounds molybdenum exhibits all oxidation states from -II to V1"

He states (with no support) that it couldn't have at that time and that Mars did and that further, it was necessary for life to form. All conjecture.

Re:slow news day (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 8 months ago | (#44712321)

Here's an idea, RTFA where they explain their reasoning behind why Mars may have been a more hospitable place for life to have first evolved.

Re:slow news day (2)

murdocj (543661) | about 8 months ago | (#44712873)

I RTFA. They didn't mention the part about how the sun was dimmer billions of years ago. Which makes Mars a much less likely spot for life to evolve than Earth. It's interesting speculation but needs way, way more evidence.

Re:slow news day (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44712269)

Maybe you should look into why such rocks are thought to be from Mars and why other planets are discounted, instead of just assuming the vague summaries in popsci news stories are all there are to it. There are some pretty strong correlations to planetoids formation distance from the Sun and various isotropic ratios. Additionally, specific isotropic ratios give timing of things like when the rock was last molten and how long it had been traveling in space away from a planet surface. While it is still possible the origins are different than suspected, the amount of luck or coincidence required makes the unlikely situation of being blasted off a planet and landing here seem relatively easy.

Re:slow news day (2)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | about 8 months ago | (#44713453)

I agree! I have it on good authority that we started "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..." and I'm pretty sure that Marlon Brando was involved in sending higher life to this planet...
I may have paraphrased some of that...

Re:slow news day (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44711577)

Not to mention that typically "martian" is used to refer to hypothetical sentient beings from mars. First time I've ever seen it used to refer to bacteria. The summary is trying very hard to make it sound like there was some beings that came from mars from which we evolved, which is a far cry from the evidence the article discusses.

Re:slow news day (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 8 months ago | (#44712309)

Well, the title certainly is a bit sensationalistic. But really isn't that the heart of all but the most crackpot life-came-from-Mars theories? One or more single-celled beings came from Mars a few billion years ago, and then all life on Earth evolved from them.

Re:slow news day (2)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | about 8 months ago | (#44713657)

crazy people believing what turns out to be evidentially supported does not invalidate the evidence.

crazy people stumble on truth frequently, but the signal to noise ratio is abysmal. best to ignore them, but no need to discount them unless you impartially evaluate each claim.

Re:slow news day (4, Informative)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 8 months ago | (#44711673)

So it's a slow news day wherever this was written. It seems they pull this recycled article out of the garbage somewhere every couple months. Yes, we "might" be from Mars. That isn't news. I think I saw a special on it on TV in 1998.

Actually, the "we came from Mars" thing has been around since the 1600s, ever since we observed there were other planets and imagined life on them. Of course, back then, we burned people at the stake for such ideas... whereas today it's just a piece of pleasant fiction written for a hot summer day.

I guess that's progress.

Re:slow news day (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44711851)

The word "from" means, exactly what, again? Does it mean that Mars was where biology evolved into humans? Or is it that the sky daddy started Adam and Eve there? Or is it that Mars is the direct, and first result of the big bang? It's all so confusing. Of course, I don't believe in Mars anyway...

Re:slow news day (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44712041)

Yes, but think of the fun you can have with religious fanatics. Not only are they descended from monkeys but the monkeys came from mars.

 

factual (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44711557)

Is she illin in the panicillin?
Is she chillin in the panicillin?
Is she stealin in the panicillin?
Is she feelin in the panicillin?

Panka panka

Is she liable no suitifiable pliable style is so suitifiable
Is she liable no suitifiable im not on trial but its suitifiable
Is she reliable no suitifiable not just viable but real suitifiable
Is she try-able no suitifiable lying in the aisle im real suitifiable

Is she spillin in the panicillin?
Is she squealin in the panicillin?
Is she feelin in the panicillin?
Is she trillin in the panicillin?

Panka panka

Is it libel? no suitifiable pliable style is so suitifiable
Is it a style? no suitifiable im not on trial but its suitifiable
Is it a mile? no suitifiable not just viable but real suitifiable
Is it wild? no suitifiable lying in the aisle im real suitifiable

Wouldn't we have evolved differently? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44711579)

I mean seriously. It's like all these scientists and writers have no imagination. Is't it within the realm of possibility that the red planet is very suited to the lifeforms that would have evolved there. All i ever read is how earthlike conditions are the only conditions that could possibly host any sort of evolved life.

Give me the silicon-based lifeforms that see 800 degrees C as a nice, balmy day.

Re:Wouldn't we have evolved differently? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44712227)

"It's like all these scientists and writers have no imagination."
"Give me the silicon-based lifeforms that see 800 degrees C as a nice, balmy day."

It isn't lack of imagination. It's that it has already been looked at, and the chemistry isn't promising. The diversity and complexity of silicon compounds is miniscule in comparison to carbon, among other reasons.

Re:Wouldn't we have evolved differently? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44712995)

But what about the Kaiju? I for one welcome our trench transported, foam suit wearing, city destroying overlords.

oxidize this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44711597)

Pretty speculative. Oxidized molybdenum is crucial for the formation of life? How could he possibly know that?

Re:oxidize this (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44711805)

Pretty speculative. Oxidized molybdenum is crucial for the formation of life? How could he possibly know that?

It's required for bovine life, at least. After all, you can't have a cow without MoO!

Plenty of oxygen (3, Interesting)

mschaffer (97223) | about 8 months ago | (#44712289)

Molybdenum doesn't require free molecular oxygen to oxidize. It can steal the oxygen from other sources.
By the way, when did molybdenum become crucial for life? Did the earliest life require it? I would like to see some proof here.

fossil fueled debate (1)

themushroom (197365) | about 8 months ago | (#44711623)

Gonna need proof there was life on Mars or that whatever life we have here somehow came from Mars.

Meantime here on Earth we have people who ignore dinosaur bones and fern imprints as proof there was life before 4004 BCE.

Re:fossil fueled debate (3, Funny)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | about 8 months ago | (#44711665)

Gonna need proof there was life on Mars or that whatever life we have here somehow came from Mars.

I'm not saying it was aliens, but... [wordpress.com]

Re:fossil fueled debate (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | about 8 months ago | (#44713633)

so the Noah flood story means animals traveled through space, and the end of "war of the worlds " was "great grandpa is that you?" which means Palin is automatically president, retroactively, and gays are illegal and fartbongo has to move back to Kenya.

those guys at fox "news" make it trivial to follow this science stuf.

Re:fossil fueled debate (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44711955)

True, their claims on that are stupid. It is pretty easy to justify anything when you can say, "but {$deity_name} did that to confuse the non-believers". Apparently she (the deity) created a lot of shit just to fool people...

Yep (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44711709)

"Evidence is building" - if you accept his hypothesis that molybdenum played a role in our origins.

Another scientist flogging his pet theory, angling for his 15 minutes of fame.

Re:Yep (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44711923)

The world would definitely be a better place if all these "scientists" kept all their ideas to themselves!

Disagree with his theory, but don't disagree with him telling people about it.

Re:Yep (2)

Oligonicella (659917) | about 8 months ago | (#44712319)

He wasn't disagreeing with the expounding of the hypothesis(sic), he was mocking. There's a difference.

Fantastical ideas with tenuous at best support deserve mockery.

oxidized molybdenum? (1)

mschaffer (97223) | about 8 months ago | (#44712339)

So, was the molybdenum oxidized BEFORE it streaked through the oxygen-rich atmosphere?
His pet theory is just that...a theory.

Could have been Venus, for all we know (2)

Burz (138833) | about 8 months ago | (#44711825)

The sun used to be significantly dimmer billions years ago, maybe putting Venus firmly within the Goldilocks zone of habitability.

Re:Could have been Venus, for all we know (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44713409)

Venus gets its temperature mostly from volcanic activity and greenhouse gases, not directly the sun per se. Venus' atmosphere actually reflects 80% of the sun light that hits it.

Nanu Nanu (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44711863)

Get your facts straight, us Orkans aren't from mars.

Puloto demoted too early. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44711865)

This is BS. We are all from Pluto. Sad, that they demoted Pluto from planet status.

Ugh (3, Interesting)

khallow (566160) | about 8 months ago | (#44711993)

So we don't have even a scrap of evidence that there was ever life on Mars, but evidence is "building" that we come from there. No, that's not science.

And how are organic molecules going to turn into tar in the presence of ample water and little heat (such as the case on the surface)? He seems to have neglected that high levels of liquid water (yet another oxide, but one which was prevalent in the early Earth environment) also inhibits the formation of tar.

The only argument against water as the tar-inhibitor agent is that it is "corrosive" to RNA. But which of these three compounds (including oxides of boron and molydenum) are currently found in living cells in quantity?

Re:Ugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44712561)

Well, we're not from Mars per se, but from the asteroid belt in between, which actually used to be another planet, where we're from...

Re:Ugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44713329)

Well, we're not from Mars per se, but from the asteroid belt in between, which actually used to be another planet, where we're from...

I see a pattern here. We screwed up so bad that we had to leave our first planet, the asteroids between Mars and Jupiter, before it blew up. Then, trying not to repeat our mistake, we had to abandoned Mars for Earth after turning Mars into a water barren wasteland. What's next?

Re:Ugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44713875)

We move our water from earth to mars. duh.

Dagnabit (2)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 8 months ago | (#44712029)

Now we are going to have a whole bunch of cults thinking the Garden of Eden is on Mars.

I didn't need that.

Re:Dagnabit (2)

Sasayaki (1096761) | about 8 months ago | (#44713065)

On one hand, oh god, that is a terrible thought.

On the other hand... if so, that could be a huge catalyst for space funding, if you could convince the Aramahic churches of the world that science says the Garden of Eden is on Mars, and we need to go back there, they could pour funds into sending humans there.

That'd be an interesting idea for a short story, actually. A bunch of Mormons flying out to Mars to find the Garden of Eden.

Re:Dagnabit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44713247)

Now we are going to have a whole bunch of cults thinking the Garden of Eden is on Mars.

I didn't need that.

Then again, the natives would have to accept the fact that we're all immigrants.

Hypothesis (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44712033)

This falls squarely into the category of Hypothesis. Professor Benner hasn't even found a way to test it yet. Therefore it falls into the subheading of Interesting Speculation but nothing more.

Among the many, many things he would have to prove, and this is just for starters:

1). "Oxidized molybdenum could not have existed on Earth in early Earth history." While it's widely accepted that the early Earth had low oxygen levels, it does not follow that oxidized molybdenum could not have existed. There are a couple of ways I can think of without even trying.

2). "Oxidized molybdenum was essential to the formation of life." This is unproven.

3). "Tar is antithetical to life." Well, tar exists now and so does life. Some organisms even consume tar. At any rate it seems overstated and rash to claim that the formation of tarlike compounds would prohibit the formation of life.

4). "Mars was hospitable to the formation of life at that time while Earth was not." Really? How? They were far more alike than dissimilar. My argument is weak but so is Professor Benner's, and he's the one who has to prove his hypothesis.

5). "O2 was essential to the creation of oxidized molybdenum, essential to life." This becomes a paradox. There is widespread agreement that high levels of O2 is indicative of life, not a precondition for it. If that were true, and oxidized molybdenum were essential to life starting, then life could not start to produce the O2 necessary for it's creation.

6). "Transfer of life from Mars to Earth happened at the time observed in the archeological record." This will be a tough one to nail down. It's plausible but that's all.

7). "Reverse seeding of life, from Earth to Mars, did not happen." This may be easier to support. Earth's gravity well is greater than Mars. However ruling it out will be extremely difficult.

8). "The archeological record shows common morphology, and ideally common biology (including genetics) between Earth and Mars." This will have to wait on archeological data from Mars.

I understand that my paraphrases of Professor Benner's position may not correctly reflect his true beliefs. If so, I await correction and will withdraw them as appropriate.

Re:Hypothesis (5, Interesting)

jc42 (318812) | about 8 months ago | (#44712745)

7). "Reverse seeding of life, from Earth to Mars, did not happen." This may be easier to support. Earth's gravity well is greater than Mars. However ruling it out will be extremely difficult.

Actually, some astronomers looked at this back in the 1970s, and concluded that at the bacterial level, Earth to Mars travel is fairly easy, and has almost certainly been going on since early in the Solar System's history.

The mistake people are making is thinking that impacts ejecting rocks are the way that bacterial would make such trips. The astronomers examined and verified the effectiveness of an entirely different mechanism. The Earth (and all the planets with atmospheres) has a "cometary tail" produced by the solar wind. This tail is mostly gases, of course, but it also includes a small proportion of dust-like particles. It turns out that this includes bacterial spores, which have been found at all levels of the Earth's atmosphere, and have probably been there for a few billion years.

The Earth's cometary dust tail is thin, but it is of interest to astronomers. Taking pictures through a haze of air and dust is more difficult than avoiding the air and dust, so some astronomers need to keep track of our planet's tail and avoid it when possible.

Anyway, measurements back in the 1970s did show that the Earth's dust tail contains small particles the size of bacterial spores, and since they exist in our upper atmosphere, they are to be expected in the tail. How long they can survive in space isn't well understood, but tests in orbit have shown some rather good survival rates of the spores when exposed to conditions near our planet.

So the solar wind has been pushing small quantities of Earth's air outward for a few billion years, and that includes assorted tiny dust particles and bacterial spores. This has to have "contaminated" all the outer planets with Earth's bacteria for all that time. Whether they've survived anywhere else isn't known, but Mars is the most likely place.

Some of the astronomers have also calculated the spread of our dust tail outside the Solar System. Most of it does escape eventually, and gets lost out in interstellar space. We make an orbit around the galaxy roughly every 220 million years, so since life arose on Earth, we've been spraying the galaxy with our bacterial spores for around 15 to 20 orbits.

How such spores survive out there, nobody knows, of course. But it's an interesting thing to consider when the "panspermia" hypothesis comes up. Any planet that develops bacterial life will, probably within a billion years or so, start spraying them out into the galaxy like we do, possibly contaminating any compatible planet anywhere else in the galaxy over the next few billion years.

(I recently read somewhere an estimate, based on current measurements of the solar system's dust, the likelihood of spores from Earth hitting Earth-size planets around stars at various distances. The numbers were nonzero, but I took them all with a grain of salt -- also included in the dust -- since so little is known about the reality of interstellar space and the likelihood of a spore surviving a trip that may last a few million years.)

Quatermass and the Pit (2)

tekrat (242117) | about 8 months ago | (#44712071)

Or known is the USA as "Five Million Years to Earth", had this plot although a little more "out there" -- but it essentially claimed that we were all descended from Martians. They came here in a spaceship and integrated their DNA into the indigenous life-forms and presto, that's where we came from.

BTW: If you've never seen this film, it scared the crap out of me as a kid. I didn't sleep for a week. It still sends chills down my spine.

Re:Quatermass and the Pit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44713219)

BTW: If you've never seen this film, it scared the crap out of me as a kid. I didn't sleep for a week. It still sends chills down my spine.

Me too. Thanks Saturday morning Sci-Fi matinee. I was only brave enough to look it up on the internet a few years ago. The only detail that I remembered was ghosts while digging an extension for a subway.

What else is new? (1)

no-body (127863) | about 8 months ago | (#44712109)

Our ancestors messed up Mars and after evolving to be able to do it again - there you go... Next planet goes bust and already looking to move on.

Inside?! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44712165)

Will someone please take out the little parasite.

This is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44712167)

pretty far out there.

It's this logic backwards? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44712203)

Saying that evidence shows we came from Mars is like saying cows originated from the grocery store. Sure, they (or some proteins from them) may have gotten there at some point, but that doesn't make it their origin.

Do we have to have this story again? (1)

wjcofkc (964165) | about 8 months ago | (#44712235)

Seriously, posting the "we might be martians" story has become equivalent to trolling Slashdot. I would carry on about why the notion of Earth life coming from Mars is flimsy and fanciful to begin with, but we have had that discussion over and over. It's like Groundhog's Day - only not entertaining.

Personal fantasy posing as science. (3, Informative)

Oligonicella (659917) | about 8 months ago | (#44712359)

It's conjecture, no more, and weak at that.

Re:Personal fantasy posing as science. (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 8 months ago | (#44712717)

Well I am not versed enough in genetics to know if an over abundance of water is bad for forming RNA, or if you need oxygen to create life, but assuming he does not have his facts all wrong, he has some interesting new ideas. He seems to be theorising that early-earth-like is actually not a very good environment for life to first form, and that early-Mars-like is far better. This gives us many new ideas; Maybe it would be better to look for Mars-like planets, if we are looking for life. Maybe, the reason we still have not figured out exactly how life probably/could have formed on early earth is because it actually could not have formed on early earth.

Re:Personal fantasy posing as science. (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | about 8 months ago | (#44713171)

FTA

The evidence in this case is "an oxidized mineral form of the element molybdenum, which may have been crucial to the origin of life, could only have been available on the surface of Mars and not on Earth," Benner said.

Note the phrase "may have". This is his lynch pin argument and even he states it is conjecture. By the way, we have molybdenum. We use it in ball bearings, for one. It did not arrive later. I therefore believe that his statement "could only have been available on the surface of Mars and not on Earth" to be conjecture as well.

Tar paradox? (1)

mschaffer (97223) | about 8 months ago | (#44712363)

Tar Paradox:
"All living things are made of organic matter, but if you add energy such as heat or light to organic molecules and leave them to themselves, they don't create life. Instead, they turn into something more like tar, oil or asphalt."

I guess they have never been to a greenhouse? Organic molecules, heat, light....hmmm. Plants love that.

Re:Tar paradox? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44713371)

I guess they have never been to a greenhouse? Organic molecules, heat, light....hmmm. Plants love that.

The presence of plants alone constitutes not leaving the organic matter to itself. The idea is that without living creatures to process organic matter and heat, the default chemical reactions are to create tar.

Crock of shit (1, Flamebait)

BitZtream (692029) | about 8 months ago | (#44712397)

So let me get this straight ... we have absolutely no proof that there was EVER life on Mars ... but we have enough of something to postulate that life began on Mars and was carried here by a meteorite?

Slashdot's editors wouldn't know science from fantasy if it smacked them in the face. This is utterly ridiculous crap. An 8 year old kids fantasies have more basis in reality than this sort of ignorance.

Shark, slashdot has jumped you.

Life may have originated on mars ... but as far as we know right this instant it could have just as easily evolved on Earth, or titan, or Europa or in the core of the Sun. We have no fucking clue why there is life here and these sort of fantasies are just obnoxious click-bait for morons thanks to the inept editing skills of slashdots 'editors'

Perclorates (3, Interesting)

jeremylichtman (1717920) | about 8 months ago | (#44712417)

The Martian soil is full of really nasty chlorine compounds that would make it hard for living things to grow in it. Are they saying those compounds weren't there back then?

Or... we didn't? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44712513)

Still plenty of evidence that the early conditions on Earth were sufficient for life to form by itself.

We All May Have a Little Martian In Us (2)

kenj0418 (230916) | about 8 months ago | (#44712547)

We All May Have a Little Martian In Us

And if you don't but would like to imagine you do, just google for "Marvin the Martian Rule 34".

My wife came from Venus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44712671)

Someone had to say it

stories like this make creationists sound like wel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44712711)

Besides being right, their stories have actual themes and moral imperitives. Now, if this guy said "life began in uranus" it would give those gay fellows some support too.

If you can't prove it wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44713461)

If you can't prove it's wrong then it has to be true. CHECK-MATE CREATIONISTS!

Noah Ark review? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44713725)

So... on which planet was the flood mentioned in the bible actually?

Panspermia (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44713755)

NOT NEW. At the most a bit of supporting evidence for an older hypothesis. Still interesting, though.

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