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Raining Extraterrestrial Microbes in Kerala?

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the edge-of-science dept.

Space 255

jdfox writes "World Science is reporting on a controversial paper to be published shortly in the peer-reviewed research journal Astrophysics and Space Science, describing a strange red rain that fell in India in 2001, shortly after a meteor airburst event in the area. The authors posit that the red particles found in the raindrops may be extraterrestrial microbes. The authors' last two papers on the subject were unpublished: this published paper is more cautious. The paper can be viewed online, and should obviously be considered in context. More info on the 'panspermia' hypothesis can be found at Wikipedia."

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255 comments

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Great. Space herpes. (5, Funny)

Unknown Poltroon (31628) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415561)

Just what we needed.

Re:Great. Space herpes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14415691)

This gives a new meaning to STD... Spatially Transmitted Diseases

POLL for Single Slashdotters (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14415710)

How old are you and how long's it been since you had sex? I'll start: I'm 23 and it's going on almost 2 years.

Re:POLL for Single Slashdotters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14415816)

22 and about 8 months. I started dating a girl 6 months ago, but she decided to break my heart last month. She never gave it up either. :-(

Re:POLL for Single Slashdotters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14415848)

Let's see, I'm 27 and the last time was never, so that makes it 27 years.

Not kidding (This is /. after all)

Oh That Intelligent Designer... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14415564)

Spreading his Glorious seed.

Case closed! Who wants lunch?

Salman Rushdies new book (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14415594)

"And Jehovah Jizzed" is sure to become and instant classic.

Well, he SAID "Behold, I come quickly," after all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14415649)

*nt*

Pern? (4, Funny)

IdolizingStewie (878683) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415567)

At least it's not Thread.

sing along~ (2, Funny)

dartarrow (930250) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415571)

it's raining spacemen, Alleluia it's raining spacemen! Ramen!

Re:sing along~ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14415829)

for the first time in history...

Fuck Panspermia! (1)

gavri (663286) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415572)

Red rain in Commuinst Kerala! This is the Flying Spaghetti Monster being poetic.

First ... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14415574)

Contact!

Re:First ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14415592)

I for one welcome our new red microbe overlords...

Re:First ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14415628)

Great. Our first contact with the Great Beyond is Space Spunk.

Wonder what Jodie Foster would make of that one?

Re:First ... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14415875)

Great. Our first contact with the Great Beyond is Space Spunk. Wonder what Jodie Foster would make of that one?

A great target.

Venus (5, Funny)

TheBlairMan (929930) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415578)

It was just Venus' time of the month, and it made it's way through space to reach us here.

Re:Venus (1)

Wandering Wombat (531833) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415658)

Ewwwwww.....

Red particles... (2, Interesting)

mhore (582354) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415584)

I skimmed over his paper briefly... looking at the images of the red cells and all of that. I noticed that in a few pictures, the cells resemble red blood cells. Perhaps the meteor smashed into a flock of birds? Hah.

Mike.

Re:Red particles... (2, Funny)

Basehart (633304) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415646)

"Perhaps the meteor smashed into a flock of birds?"

Didn't this happen back in the 80's?

Oh wait, that was a flock of seagulls.

(OK, I'm sorry already, jeez)

Re:Red particles... (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415703)

Hehe, that was funny.

But I wonder: you often see cloud formation when a sonic boom is about to occur. Could it be that there was something in the air already that rained down from these clouds? Something that didn't come from the alleged meteor?

Re:Red particles... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14415656)

I doubt so. The paper indicates that the red rain was spread over 100 KM and their sampling indicate 50,000 kg of particles.

Re:Red particles... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14415696)

"I skimmed over his paper briefly..."

your skimming must have been really brief since you missed the abstract. From the abstract:

"Strangely, a test for DNA using Ethidium Bromide dye fluorescence technique indicates absence of DNA in these cells."

But since they know so little about these particles, I wonder how do they know if these "cell walls" are permeable to EthBr?

Also, not sure whether you also read the headline, but they didn't find a comet, they collect rain water over a period of days.

Re:Red particles... (4, Informative)

onco_p53 (231322) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415700)

Interesting idea, but when you prepare SEM samples, they often shrivel up a bit.

They are about the right size though, these particles range in size from 4 to 10 m. And human RBCs [wikipedia.org] are about 6-8 m. It would explain the lack of a nucleus and DNA too.

But the TEM images are all wrong (thick "cell wall"), and the low Iron and high silicon content makes it very suspect too.

Spock's blood?

But seriously I hope they send some of these things over to other labs for investigation (like mine!) I would start with universal primers, PCR can amplify the tiniest amount of DNA, all they did was dunk the `cells' in Edithium bromide.

Re:Red particles... (1)

clambake (37702) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415712)

But seriously I hope they send some of these things over to other labs for investigation (like mine!) I would start with universal primers, PCR can amplify the tiniest amount of DNA, all they did was dunk the `cells' in Edithium bromide.

In the interst of science they took the remaining samples and finally subjected them to a 4 million degree inferno created in a supercollider, just to see what would happen.

Would have to be a bloody big bird (2, Interesting)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415733)

The article claims that about 50.000kg fell down. Now that is a heck of a turkey even by US standards. (How 50.000kg becomes 55tons is anyones guess)

Anyway you would expect other things, like hail of McNuggets in a meteroid vs bird incident.

It is a weird incident in anycase. If it is a life form then the fact that so much of it fell down could this mean the entire meteroid was made of it?

The previous theories suggested that small microbes might hide among the rocky part of the asteroid. Not the entire asteroid being made of it.

Also why is this taking so long? India is a tech nation isn't it? In 4 years they should have been able to analyze this down the individual atoms.

Re:Would have to be a bloody big bird (1)

Max von H. (19283) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415762)

(How 50.000kg becomes 55tons is anyones guess)


50.000kg is, logically, 50 metric tons, but it's also 55 short tons (US measurement system) or 49.21 long tons (UK system).

(How any educated writer could use anything but the metric system in a science-related article is anyone's guess) ;)

Cheers,

Re:Would have to be a bloody big bird (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14415832)

Just one question...and pardon my american ignorance...but why the hell do you use periods and not commas?

Re:Would have to be a bloody big bird (1)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415893)

Because that's the way it's done in Europe.

Re:Would have to be a bloody big bird (2, Informative)

Max von H. (19283) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415895)

I just made a copy/paste from an online converter ;)

Though, to correct your american ignorance, the thousands-separator varie between countries, as does the rest of the punctuation. In the USA you guys use commas, in the UK it's periods, in France just a space and in Switzerland it's " ' ", and that's just the ones I know.

Thus, one million dollars and fifty cents would be spelled:

In the USA: $1,000,000.50
In the UK: $1.000.000,50
In France: $1 000 000,50
In Switzerland: $1'000'000.50

Yup, it sometimes makes it a helluva confusing...

Re:Would have to be a bloody big bird (1)

resonte (900899) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415907)

Correction:

In the UK we use $1,000,000.50 as well, I believe in most other european countries they use the $1.000.000,50 system.

Re:Would have to be a bloody big bird (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415914)

In the UK: $1.000.000,50

Sorry, wrong - we use exactly the same system in the UK as the US does: £1,000,000.50

Contradicts Intelligence (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14415586)

Seems this theory has gained some flack from the Intelligent Design community.

http://www.ideacenter.org/contentmgr/showdetails.p hp/id/849 [ideacenter.org]

Re:Contradicts Intelligence (4, Insightful)

quokkapox (847798) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415774)

The text at the link [ideacenter.org] provided asserts that When it comes to religious questions, the IDEA Center's staff and founders believe that compelling evidence shows that the universe was as a whole designed by a "superintellect" that was not natural.

They aren't interested in understanding nature. They're just trying to redefine science.

There are a thousand ways to collaborate scientifically using the Internet. Intelligent Design propenents need to immediately begin describing their ideas more concisely and subjecting them to peer review and public criticism. Without these, their wild speculation will remain subject to extreme ridicule among the educated and their movement will continue to be shunned and exposed as a political and anti-intellectual project, standing for everything science is not.

The continued silence from ID is not an encouraging sign for their "theory". But there is no shortage of new research that tests, supports, and expands upon the existing evolutionary framework. Evolutionary biology is the only theory which is making real progress with understanding nature.

Re: Contradicts Intelligence (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415863)

> > When it comes to religious questions, the IDEA Center's staff and founders believe that compelling evidence shows that the universe was as a whole designed by a "superintellect" that was not natural.

> They aren't interested in understanding nature. They're just trying to redefine science.

To let their preferred answer in.

And the quoted text reveals that after the Dover spanking they're not bothering to pretend ID isn't religion anymore.

Re: Contradicts Intelligence (1)

quokkapox (847798) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415881)

I'm not sure how closely the Discovery Institute associates itself with ideacenter.org, but a cursory review of ideacenter.org gives me the impression that it's mostly a bunch of garbage. ideacenter.org gives readers guidance on suggestions as not to how not to incur scoldings from Darwinists who may not use the "common" or "non-technical" definitions. of the word "theory". Oh my.

Re:Contradicts Intelligence (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14415925)

?? The ID people understand the universe perfectly!

Their is a mountain of scientific evidence that supports ID, and very little scientific evidence to support science. The evidence cleary shows that god created earth, and everyone on it in less then a week. It also shows that everyone on this planet is related (and thus comiting sin every time they have sex), that god likes incest (he created eve from adam, so technecally, eve is adams daughter), and that god is so evil he will kill you, and your family if you dont pray to him. Furthermore, rain is really god pissing, and the universe is held together by evil religous terrorists called vaticinions. This particle in the universe is why the universe doesnt fall apart, and why scientist can never understand the universe. The vaticinion particles can only be seen by true believers.

Luckely for all of us, this god seems to have died out a few thousand years ago, proving that god really was just a alien, and that the religions his race spawned are evil fanatics for their evil army of galatic war, rape, and piliging.

I for one .... (2, Funny)

qwave54 (671614) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415588)

welcome our new red extraterrestrial microbe overlords!

Ah well ......

Interesting conclusion... (2, Interesting)

Inaffect (862616) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415593)

"The present study of red rain phenomenon in Kerala shows that the particles, which caused the red colouration of the red rain, are not possibly terrestrial in origin. It appears that these particles may have originated from the atmospheric disintegration of cometary meteor fragmants, which are presumably containing dense collections of red rain particles. These particles have much similarity with biological cells though they are devoid of DNA. Are these cell particles a kind of alternate life from space? If the red rain particles are biological cells and are of cometary origin, then this phenomena can be a case of panspermia where comets can breed microorgranisms in their radiogenically heated interiors and can act as vehicles for spreading life in the universe."

Re:Interesting conclusion... (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415753)

There's a teeny wittle woblem with panspermia. Remember the Shoemaker comet, the one that crashed into Jupiter ? Remember the resulting explosions that were visible from Earth ? If Shoemaker was carrying microbes, those microbes were in the middle of the explosion. See the problem ?

Re:Interesting conclusion... (1)

silverkniveshotmail. (713965) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415827)

It's a good thing that comets don't leave trails and that all things entering the atmosphere either explode into nothingness or disolve.

You should read this one (5, Interesting)

ookabooka (731013) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415597)

I strongly suggest looking through this article (Yes, I know this is Slashdot, how could I suggest such a thing) as I found the summary made me extremely skeptical. If the information is not falsified, I would say it is certainly worth investigating, even with a hefty grain of salt. . . or would that be grains? . . .anyway I digress. I found the electron microscope pictures quite intriguing, it certainly "looked" like a cell, though I understand this sort of observation is hardly irrefutable. I did not see any evidence of the particles replicating which would suggest life (they could replicate and still not be considered "life" ofcourse). I believe a good analog would be the potential bacteria found in a Martian meteor. [nasa.gov]

Nonsense (4, Funny)

quantaman (517394) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415599)

This human researcher is clearly incorrect.

The red particles that landed in sector omega-3 were obviously not a virus know as MindGobblers designed to manipulate the portions of your puny brains involved with sensory reception effectivly allow us to transform you into a slave race.

I suggest you fellow humans all make bad jokes about human researcher and realize his findings are not true.

Iron Oxide Chrondules (2, Insightful)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415600)

From the paper: "Under low magnification the particles look like smooth, red coloured glass beads. Under high magnifications (1000x) their differences in size and shape can be seen,"

These are iron oxide chrondules from the vaporisation of a nickel-iron meteorite. There's no need to invoke aliens or intelligent designers.

Re:Iron Oxide Chrondules (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14415652)

Not flaming you or anything (I skimmed the paper myself, and the quality of it is shoddy at best - just check out the references), but Google isn't turning up anything on "chrondules" - enlighten us? The paper jumps to outrageous conclusions, and makes the claim that they are "cell-like" with fine membranes but doesn't bother analyze membrane composition!

Re:Iron Oxide Chrondules (1)

belmolis (702863) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415685)

OP made a typo. Try googling: chondrules.

Re:Iron Oxide Chrondules (5, Interesting)

barakn (641218) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415702)

Iron oxide chondrules with carbon as the main ingredient? I don't think so... did you see the elemental analyses?

you're being unscientific (1)

penguin-collective (932038) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415734)

At this point, there is no particular reason to have a bias in favor of life evolving on this planet, in space, or on some other planet. Stubbornly clinging to the notion that life on earth must have evolved on earth is unscientific, as is equating panspermia with "aliens" or "intelligent designers".

Re:you're being unscientific (1)

eraserewind (446891) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415755)

The fact that life is on earth, and nowhere else we can see so far, seems like a reasonable reason to favour earth as our working assumption for the origin of earthly life.

Sure there are other possibilities, but in the absence of evidence of life, let alone origins of life in other locations, those ideas must remain speculation at best.

Re:you're being unscientific (1)

penguin-collective (932038) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415849)

The fact that life is on earth, and nowhere else we can see so far, seems like a reasonable reason to favour earth as our working assumption for the origin of earthly life.

We had missed most of the biomass on earth itself until a decade ago, as well as huge branches of the phylogenetic tree.

Given what we now know, many bodies in the solar system may contain life, including Mars, Europa, Callisto, Ceres, Venus, Jupiter, Charon, and even many comets. Given the conditions under which we now know life can exist, if rest of the solar system turned out to be completely sterile, that would be more suprising and difficult to explain than if it were full of bacterial life.

Re:you're being unscientific (1)

CosmeticLobotamy (155360) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415826)

While it doesn't prove anything, Occam would probably tell you that life starting in a place friendly to tons of kinds of life is more likely than it germinating someplace more harsh and then traveling millions of miles to get here. Even given equally good life-starting conditions, life beginning anywhere but Earth and then moving to Earth is less likely than it just popping up here. So, until someone comes up with a reason life is much more likely to begin outside a big gravity-having object with an atmosphere and liquid water, there's reason to have some bias, just not certainty.

Re:Iron Oxide Chrondules (2, Interesting)

krel (588588) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415743)

If you read the second paper, you'll see the cells are clearly alive. The only question is whether they came from space.

Re:Iron Oxide Chrondules (1)

khayman80 (824400) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415904)

These are iron oxide chrondules from the vaporisation of a nickel-iron meteorite. There's no need to invoke aliens or intelligent designers.

They do look like iron oxide chondrules, but look at table 1. Iron only makes up 1% of the substance by weight. The main elements present are carbon and oxygen.

Also, as someone else pointed out, their other two papers make it more clear that the "glass beads" are alive. Of course, this didn't make it into the peer reviewed paper so I'm treating it with a little more skepticism than usual.

Common occurance (4, Informative)

Belseth (835595) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415607)

I've read about quite a few of these colored rain falls and most of them have an obvious terrestrial source. They usually are volcanic or caused by birds or insects. It's one thing for trace amounts of organic matter to survive reentry but large amounts are highly unlikely. Organic material would mostly be incinerated. A comet fragment would have a better chance with the ice protecting the organic matter. I doubt the paper will survive peer review.

Re:Common occurance (1)

Inaffect (862616) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415616)

Yet the paper suggests these are microorgranisms from the heated interior.. could it be possible that these things could be among the small amount that does survive re-entry? Quite clearly this is a rare event.. hasn't rained red around here lately.

Re:Common occurance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14415683)

that was exactly what I was thinking. It hasn't rained red around here... Regardless there are many meteors that fall in the area. It seems that their samples are all in india, but why isn't think phenomonon known throughout the world? And why don't they have data from other falls like this from other countries?

Seems strange to me.

Re:Common occurance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14415671)

I guess you didn't check out the link to the paper itself:

"accepted for publication in Astrophysics and Space Science"

this means it _has_ survived peer review, which only really just means that the researchers' methods and results are kosher, but does not imply that his conclusions are correct.

I've read a lot of papers where the results are all good but the conclusions are completely off-base, but that's what conclusion is about, for people to speculate.

Re:Common occurance (1)

Max Threshold (540114) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415790)

Generally only a thin layer on the surface of a meteor endures the extreme heat of reentry. Most of the heat is carried away through ablation of the surface material. And if it breaks up, the particles quickly slow to a speed at which atmospheric heating is not a factor.

Re:Common occurance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14415852)

I doubt the paper will survive peer review.

Agreed. The fact that it lists ufoindia.org as a reference doesn't help much, either.

Re:Common occurance (1)

Mr. Flibble (12943) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415867)

Actually, all meteorites that land (hence the name) are actually cold due to ablation. While the meteor exterior gets quite hot, it begins to ablate, and lose mass due to friction. This keeps the temperature of the main mass nearly the same as it was in space, Very cold indeed. However, as another poster pointed out, the rain was likely red due to iron and not xenobacteria.

OMG! J-E-N-O-V-A! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14415622)

We're dooooomed, doooooomed!

Got Sample? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14415624)

Got Sample?

Didn't anyone think to get a sample of the strange rain? It's hard to imagine any doctor or chemist out there not taking a sample.

Re:Got Sample? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14415636)

Dude, why don't you read the friggin paper... theres photos of em. They resemble cells but they have no dna.

Quick, geeks (2, Funny)

phorm (591458) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415644)

Look for the woman infected with an alien micro-organism that gives her the powerful urge to mate quickly in order to produce her world-dominating alien-human crossbid progeny. Of course, she'll probably kill you afterwards, but it's all the change some of you will get before you die anyhow!

Re:Quick, geeks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14415659)

I'd hit it.

Alien invasion (1)

Rank_Tyro (721935) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415645)

If I am not mistaken, this is how the Chtorr gained a foot hold on the Earth.

Good grief - more stuff sent to India (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14415667)

Now even the aliens are sending microbe jobs to India! Where does it end? Not at the atmosphere, apparently. Somewhere in space, some alien GE executive overlord has gotten his or her bonus for the year. Oh well, the quality will suck, quality assurance will suck, they'll miss their deadline for taking over the planet, and the project will fail.

I guess we're safe.

Re:Good grief - more stuff sent to India (1)

cHiphead (17854) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415765)

Its not that the quality will suck, its just that the language barrier will lead to miscommunications about the form and function of the giant walking alien mecha.

i saw that movie (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415674)

Re:i saw that movie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14415682)

That's a shame. It was a hella shitty movie, but probably the greatest geek novel ever written.

Sterling, Gibson, Vinge... laborious hacks, next to old-school Crichton. Straight up, yo.

Re:i saw that movie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14415845)

Bullshit. Crichton is only good at misrepresenting science, causing distrust of science, and generally making an embarrassment of the medical school that actually passed the dumbass.

His SF sucks, and so does his knowledge of anything beyond high school science class.

This could be more serious than we thought... (2, Funny)

titzandkunt (623280) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415680)


I was going to post a longer comment, but two Marine officers have arrived at my house in an unmarked car. All they said was:

"Dr Titzandkunt? There's been a fire."

Gotta go!

T&K.

...a clue for the clueless:clicky clicky [imdb.com]

alien micro-organism (1)

.de_domain (943973) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415692)

hi, alien micro-organism comes ervery days by cometfragments so i think in such a way also the life on earth developed

best Regards
domain [domainunion.de]

If this is true, it is good news. (1)

nihilistcanada (698105) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415693)

Think about it, if it truly rained alien microbes then this is great news for humanity. For one it proves life exists elsewhere. Plus it provides a rather simple solution to how we came to exist on this planet, without involving The Big Angry Dude in the Sky. Finally since we are not all dead, and for that matter exist at all, it shows that whatever out there is and has been taken into account by our immune system. Thus making instellar travel if it happens just that much safer.

Re:If this is true, it is good news. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14415705)

WHAT?! No! How dare you challenge my legacy! Watcha gonna do?!?! When the 24 inch pythons and God destroy you! - The Big Angry Dude in The Sky (aka G0D)

Well making a giant leap (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415752)

and assuming this is a life form then this doesn't prove that we are immune to it. You see, this lifeform is an EX-lifeform. It has ceased to be. It is a dead space born cell based lifeform.

I don't know what killed it although exploding on entry might be a clue.

Anyway anyone knows that all alien invasions start of slowly at first. They are probably biding their time infiltrating our culture and drawing key companies under their evil control. You don't think outsourcing to india is just a coincidince right?

Re:If this is true, it is good news. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14415757)

There is no reason that life developing on earth is any less plausable than life developing elsewhere and catching a lift in on an asteroid. It still needed to begin somewhere, some how (without bringing any religious arguements into the discussion).

Re:If this is true, it is good news. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14415779)

Your whole poast is just dumb. (sorry, but it had to be said).

Biblical stories about "raining blood"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14415695)

This might provide an example of some historical basis for the stories in the Bible and other historical texts about "raining blood". Doesn't matter if it is alien life or something natural, its obviously rare enough that it doesn't happen normally. But if it happened once, it probably happened in the past, and people didn't have science and microscopes back then so if it looked like it was raining blood that's probably exactly what they thought was happening. Can't imagine anyone ever coming up with a positive explanation if they think blood is raining from the skies!!

Elemnetal composition of the particles (3, Insightful)

S3D (745318) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415711)

The /. editorial doesn't mention elemental composition of the particles. From TFA:
45.4% quartz (!) 49.5% carbonate calcium
Doesn't look like life or organic at all. Another case of wishful thinking.

Re:Elemnetal composition of the particles (1)

lordholm (649770) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415892)

It's clearly a fossilised life form based on both silicon and carbon.

so we have discovered... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14415727)

interstellar rust...

so what

My $.02 (2, Insightful)

barakn (641218) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415730)

The elemental analyses provided in the paper suggest a composition of of mostly carbohydrate with a smattering of something like a hydrocarbon. My guess is that they're some sort of pollen that had their DNA destroyed by ultraviolet light high in the atmosphere and then absorbed water and swelled. Nothing that couldn't have come from our own planet.

I'm not alone here (0)

RickPartin (892479) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415735)

Sometimes things like this make me question my own sanity. Any possible disaster could happen and I would be happy about it so long as it involved either advanced space fighter ships, alien invasion, or both. Come on I'm not alone here. Who else secretly wishes these really turn out to be a bunch of alien microbes even if they end up wiping out our entire planet?

The Reds are coming! (1)

themadplasterer (931983) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415744)

A possible case of communist expansion. The region of Kerala in India has a state government which gained the distinction, in 1957, of being the first democratically elected communist government in the world. http://www.indax.com/kerala.html [indax.com]

Uhmm... its quite clear... (1)

Synth3t1c (881734) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415749)

It is quite clear to me that by todays definition of "life" these red microbes do not fall under that category.
Key Features of life:
1.)Water
2.)Carbon
3.)DNA
4.)RNA

The article states:

Strangely, a test for DNA using Ethidium Bromide dye fluorescence technique indicates absence of DNA in these cells.

DNA is neccessary for life according to todays definition. Now that definition might be off because that information is taken from a part of my brain that hasn't been used for quite some time. But I know for a fact that DNA is part of todays life definition, therefore until the definition is changed i'm convinced that aliens haven't rained down their child spores to take over the world.

Re:Uhmm... its quite clear... (1)

Zen Punk (785385) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415802)

uhhhhhhh....no. No, sir. Having DNA and RNA is not required for something to be considered "alive." Now, any organism has to have a way to convey hereditary information, and on this planet, that's DNA and RNA. But we've never seen life from elsewhere, and I've never heard anyone seriously suggest that the way to look for extraterrestrial life involves DNA tests.

Re:Uhmm... its quite clear... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14415804)

I was under the impression that viri have only RNA, but are considered "life." But, I haven't had a biology class in 6 years.

Intelligent Design (3, Funny)

liangzai (837960) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415763)

This could be the ultimate proof the ID camp has been looking for... God jerking off, spreading his seed, instilling life into the lifeless soil. The Beloved Gardener in the Heavenly Paradise Cometh unto us.

Re:Intelligent Design (1)

ArtfulDodger75 (943980) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415818)

No, clearly this is bolognaise from the Flying Spaghietti Monster.

It's just perception (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14415769)

I would think, since we humans have not discovered all the possible forms of life on earth, any thing out of the ordinary can be called 'alien' and extra-terrestrial based on perception. Just a couple of months ago, BBC reported scientists have found a new mammal that looks like a cat. Just because it was on the ground it supposedly always existed on earth and we didn't know about it. Why not use the same explanaition for raindrops as well. It might just have been an aerial microbe we haven't yet encountered. When visiting USA they still ask me if I'm an illegal alien. Someday I might as well snap out of my human skin.

Meteor theory amusing but not necessary (3, Insightful)

barakn (641218) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415793)

The prevalence of the red rain along the southwest coast of India is explained in the paper as being the trail of a meteor that happened to follow the coast. I explain it with this June- Sept precipitation map [ernet.in] , which shows the coast receiving 150 cm of rain while areas immediately to the east get 30 cm. Red rain fell in areas where rain is likely to fall. No need to invoke a meteor for which there is little evidence.

bad paper (2, Interesting)

penguin-collective (932038) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415813)

If this were related to panspermia, one would expect to find DNA or RNA and they didn't. But their experiments were pretty poor to begin with: it's easy to test for lipids, proteins, sugars, amino acids as well and they didn't.

Red rain==Iron !ET (0)

zenst (558964) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415821)

Given most metorite have iron then the breakup in the upper atomosphere would produce alot of iron particles.

Now if said particles get caught into the atomosphere and gravity they will fall. If they hit moisture laiden cloads they will act as catolists in the production of rain (this is how rain forms). As such the higher precipitation and red nature of the rain are totaly explainable without calling in ET.

This illustrates a problem (3, Insightful)

bremstrong (523910) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415831)

This illustrates a problem with the way science is presently conducted.

Apparently, two years ago a scientist in India wrote a paper about a long series of tests he conducted on a potential non-dna based life form that can reproduce at 300C and may have arrived on a comet.

Of course it sounds unlikely, but if he's right, it is the scientific find of the century.

And, he has samples of the purported organism.

If scientists were really seeking uncover truth, they'd have repeated his work at five different labs and see if it held up.

Instead, they're all to scared of looking silly to their peers, and they barely even let the Indian researcher publish his findings!

Does anyone else see this as a problem?

Software glitches in the Matrix (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14415850)

Agent Smith: Damn we need a better Operating System, this one just started crashing our program and things started changing color.

Agent Two: Gosh, that explains those frogs falling out of the sky and the recent red rain stuff, so Reboot?

Smith: Not as simple as that we need to get something out of the matrix, they call it Linux, they say it can run clusters - we might find it useful.

Two: The last time we took a program out of the Matrix, it made all Windows into stone walls despite being called Windows. This one will replace all humans with penguins, forget it!

Smith: Hey, what's the name of that thing we're running?

Two: M.......... <Carrier not found, Connection Lost>

Planet X... (1)

TheIndifferentiate (914096) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415866)

or Nibiru is supposed to spread a red dust with its passing: "When Nibiru passes between the Earth and the Sun, small red dust will rain down coloring drinking water reddish." There's info on it here [zen-style.com] and here [theforbidd...wledge.com] although there are probably better sites out there. I haven't read about it in a long time, but it is interesting junk that Sitchin talked about that couldn't possibly be true, except we keep finding big stuff floating out there past the Kuiper belt. Who knows... Hmm, note to self-gather up tin foil for project with the kids tomorrow.

we have just entered a distinct era in history (2, Funny)

lordholm (649770) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415900)

Both warp drives and aliens the same week. It should be clear that the alien bacteria detected the warp drive research and decided to make contact, unfortunately the all perished when their space ship blew up over India.

Now, we will never know what they wanted, and their friends will believe that we shot them down...

red minerals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14415905)

red dirt and minerals are most likely oxidized iron & iron ore (rust), be it either terrestrial or extraterrestrial

waterspout and red algae? (1)

afaiktoit (831835) | more than 8 years ago | (#14415913)

Thats my theory
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