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Mars Space Science

Biological Activity on Mars 489

Posted by Zonk
from the evil-green-things-from-outer-space dept.
visination.com writes "Recent ground based observations of Mars have confirmed the presence of water and methane. The 300 year life time of methane on Mars is short, giving scientists reason to beleive that Mars may be biologically active." From the article: "Every one of these longitudes shows a very substantial enhancement in the equatorial zone...So this is a very intense source of methane on Mars in this region. It also requires a very rapid decay of methane...more rapid than photochemistry would allow..."
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Biological Activity on Mars

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  • Terraforming (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Colin Smith (2679) on Tuesday April 19, 2005 @06:01PM (#12286565)
    You know this eliminates the possibility of terraforming Mars, don't you. We'll have "Save the microbe" campaigns every time a mission is sent there.

  • Re:Just Curious (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0racle (667029) on Tuesday April 19, 2005 @06:11PM (#12286672)
    Why would it. Depending on what you believe, it was either written by some primitive people or given to people on this planet relating to things on this planet.

    That said, no, finding life on other planets would also not mean there is no God or that the bible is false. The ramifications for reasonable people would be very little, but there are plenty of nutcases, religious people and athiests, that will tell you otherwise.
  • Re:Just Curious (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Tuesday April 19, 2005 @06:14PM (#12286700)
    Actually, in all seriousness, here's a quote from the Bible:


    "Now as I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel upon the earth beside the living creatures one for each of the four of them. As for the appearance of the wheels and their construction, their appearance was like the gleaming of a chrysolite, and the four had the same likeness being as it were a wheel within a wheel. The four wheels had rims and they had spokes, and their rims were full of eyes round about. And when the living creatures went, the wheels went beside them and when the living creatures went, the wheels went with them, for the living creature was in the wheel".
    - Ezekiel, chapter 1, Versus 15 thru 21.


    Sound like a close encounter to you?
  • Re:Just Curious (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Pillowthink (823672) on Tuesday April 19, 2005 @06:14PM (#12286701)
    Funny story. The bible doesn't mention other planets. Unless by 'firmament' [genesis], every planet in existence was meant. The bible takes a very local approach to geography [not mentioning far away civilizations, like norway].
  • by avandesande (143899) on Tuesday April 19, 2005 @06:15PM (#12286709) Journal
    What is that 300 year figure from? Wouldn't the use of 'half-life' be more appropriate?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 19, 2005 @06:15PM (#12286720)
    I for one welcome our new Methane producing Martian Overlords
  • Re:Just Curious (Score:4, Insightful)

    by toygeek (473120) on Tuesday April 19, 2005 @06:21PM (#12286766) Homepage Journal
    Actually that was a vision by the prophet Ezekiel, it was not a literal physical interaction.
  • by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Tuesday April 19, 2005 @06:27PM (#12286806) Homepage Journal
    An tha beasties live in active volcanoes!

    Tis like I were tellin ya, bout them strange underwater dragons wot lived beneath the waves in Davy Jones locker, feastin on the heat of the volcanoes that go down straight ta Hades ...

    .

    .

    Seriously, just because life exists in biological and temperature extremes, as was recently discovered by researchers here at the University of Washington - Huskies represent! - doesn't necessarily mean that there has yet been proven to be life on Mars. That requires something to validate the hypothesis, like a mars rover, or a manned space flight, or some other validation. We only have emissions and temperature readings, which could be caused by other things, given our lack of data to date.

    But kudos if it is life!

  • Re:Just Curious (Score:1, Insightful)

    by DogDude (805747) on Tuesday April 19, 2005 @06:34PM (#12286880) Homepage
    The Bible, while not a scientific document (and it does not intend to be one) does hold some VERY accurate, simple scientific truths. While his contemporaries believed the world to be flat (along with science at the time), the prophet Isaiah spoke of "the circle of the earth". Another scripture speaks of the Earth hanging by nothing, which is accurate.

    Those aren't "truths" unless the definition of the word "truth" has also been twisted around by religious people. Those are simply a few phrases, which can be interpreted in many different ways. In no way are those "truths" and more than the "truths" in the Bible pertaining to stoning a disobedient wife or keeping slaves is. The Bible is simply a bizarre, violent, abusive fairy tale. It is no more relevant to science than "Jack and the Beanstalk" is.
  • Re:Just Curious (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Tuesday April 19, 2005 @06:39PM (#12286921)
    Um...has it occurred to you that Ezikiel, seeing such a fantastic sight, might have assumed it was a vision from God? For that matter, are you absolutely certain your translation is accurate, that he meant 'vision' as 'hallucination', rather than 'something seen'?
  • Re:Just Curious (Score:5, Insightful)

    by UnrefinedLayman (185512) on Tuesday April 19, 2005 @06:43PM (#12286969)
    The Bible, while not a scientific document (and it does not intend to be one) does hold some VERY accurate, simple scientific truths. While his contemporaries believed the world to be flat (along with science at the time), the prophet Isaiah spoke of "the circle of the earth". Another scripture speaks of the Earth hanging by nothing, which is accurate.
    Don't confuse one correct statement out of thousands of proclamations with the scientific process.

    Galileo learned what he did through study and could prove it. Isaiah speaking of the "circle of the earth" and scripture saying the earth hangs by nothing hold no more "simple scientific truth" than a missive from Nostradamus.

    The ideas presented are not science. No matter how you look at it, we cannot assume that scientific process was used to come to those conclusions--they're statements without the all important thing called proof. Faith is not proof.

    Besides, we all know it's turtles all the way down.
  • Re:Just Curious (Score:3, Insightful)

    by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday April 19, 2005 @06:48PM (#12287027) Homepage
    It's true.... religion gave up the face that the earth is not the center of the universe... that the sun doesn't revolve around the earth... that the moon doesn't... oh yeah it does... anyway you know what I'm saying.

    religion, if it hopes to survive will adapt or die of denial... a kind of natural selection for religion.
  • Re:Or... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mattyrobinson69 (751521) on Tuesday April 19, 2005 @06:53PM (#12287079)
    wouldn't geothermal activity by a good sign for life also? (at the bottom of our ocean, specialised creatures live off geothermal vents)
  • Re:Just Curious (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 19, 2005 @06:53PM (#12287082)

    The Bible, while not a scientific document (and it does not intend to be one) does hold some VERY accurate, simple scientific truths.

    Such as the value of pi?

    Every time science and the level of science education in the general public reaches a point at which there is an abundantly obvious conflict between the Bible and the real world, religious people back down and tell everybody that it was only meant as a metaphor anyway. Neglecting to explain why they have been teaching such "metaphors" as fact for centuries.

    How long before the Bible in its entirety is regarded as a bunch of fables with no basis in reality? I give it another hundred years or so.

    Back during ancient Greek times, I'm sure they had similar arguments between people who believed in Zeus and people who had other explanations for lightning bolts coming from the sky.

  • by 01000011011101000111 (868998) on Tuesday April 19, 2005 @06:54PM (#12287088)
    I would post a list of anti-democratic and self serving actions by the US over the last 100 yrs, but it'd be trolling and would also upset me (I do actually admire the ideals America was built on); anyone who wants to can google the facts for themself... I *wish* people would start admitting the faults in their own countries :'( I'm british, and i can admit we've done some really crappy stuff in the past (appeasment, Colonizing america/australia, colonialism, various european wars, selling arms to "Bad People" - just for starters) - i think this is reason for the general low opinion of the US globally - they just won't admit they make mistakes :(
    Mod this however you want - flamebait even - I'm depressed at the death of idealism now... bloody secret polic^H^H^H^H^Hservices :(
  • Re:Fossils? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 19, 2005 @06:56PM (#12287102)
    It is possible, but not particularly likely, if the Earth is any indication. The first ~4 billion of the Earth's ~4.5 billion year history is not very fossiliferous (the Precambrian), and multicellular fossils consist of microscopic algal filaments and a few other oddities. Only towards the very end (.6 billion years ago or so) do multicellular animal fossils show up, and those fossils are initially pretty rare and occur only in areas of special preservation (though the trace fossils -- tracks and such -- are more common, and would be just as significant if found).

    The one exception is stromatolites, which are usually mound-shaped sedimentary structures built up by sediment sticking to algal-bacterial mat communities. Those could be visible as macrofossils, and, if Earth is any indication, realistically have the potential to exist on Mars during the earlier parts of its history that were wet. However, even on Earth, there are non-biological processes that can produce superficially similar structures, and it often takes microscopic examination to verify their identification.

    So, the chances are not zero for an astropaleontologist, and, from what I've read, some of the first priorities (if probes could be landed anywhere) are in in places where microbial communities are likely to occur (hot springs and other geothermal areas), perhaps in the form of visible fossils like stromatolites. Something more elaborate, like animal fossils? Not likely, unless animal life evolved much earlier on Mars than on Earth, or suitable conditions persisted almost as long, in a geological sense, as they did on Earth.

    I'm with you, though -- it would be fantastic to hunt, remotely or in person. In some ways, the Opportunity and Spirit are already doing that.
  • Re:Just Curious (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RichardX (457979) on Tuesday April 19, 2005 @06:58PM (#12287111) Homepage
    You're asking questions about accuracy of details in the Bible. A document which asserts the earth is flat, at the centre of the universe, and rests on pillars, that the mustard seed is the smallest seed, that hares and coneys chew the cud, that giants and unicorns are real, that bats are birds, that stars are small objects which can fall fromt the sky and be stamped upon, that.. well.. you get the idea. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
  • Re:Just Curious (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Duhavid (677874) on Tuesday April 19, 2005 @07:01PM (#12287136)
    Ah, yes; the old "it's arrogant to think we're the only ones" argument. I personally feel the opposite is true; the fact that people continue to claim that there must be life on other planets in the complete absence of any evidence of any kind is the height of arrogance. "We're so smart, we have deduced this truth from pure reason."


    Wasnt *quite* what I was trying to get across. My thinking, not well gotten across, what that it would be arrogant for us to think that God might not very well have created other races in this vast universe. Or not. Up to Him.

    Now from a biblical standpoint, humans are the pinnacle of creation and the universe was created to give us some inkling of God's glory and eternal nature. It's not arrogant if it's true.


    Pinnacle of creation? Where is that claim made? I agree that the universe is there to give us a view of God's glory and ability to create and his eternal nature. And I agree, it is not arrogant if true. But, refering back to the top, I dont know of anywhere in the bible where it is said that we are the only life/intelligent life in the universe, or that we are the pinnacle of life. The bible, from my reading, is silent on this subject.
  • Re:Just Curious (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Tuesday April 19, 2005 @07:03PM (#12287150)
    My point is that we have no way of knowing whether Ezekiel saw a 'vision', either with the aid of strenuous prayer, psychotropic drugs, or congenital predisposition, or if he in fact saw something that was really there.

    Ezekiel could have seen a real event and reported it as such, or could have seen a real event and reported it as a vision, or could have seen a vision and reported it as a real event, or could have seen a vision and reported it as such. After a few millienia and several translations, it's difficult to say.
  • Re:Terraforming (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slittle (4150) on Tuesday April 19, 2005 @07:13PM (#12287223) Homepage
    AIUI, terraforming would take centuries (alien pyramids notwithstanding), so there's no huge rush, and we're going to have to build airtight structures to start with anyway.
  • by Paua Fritter (448250) on Tuesday April 19, 2005 @07:18PM (#12287258)
    For the sake of argument I will agree that the reasons used to persuade the world we needed to invade Iraq turned out be flawed.

    Perhaps "reasons used to try to persuade the world" ... because let's face it, the world was not persuaded. Actually the reasons were really only good for domestic consumption.

    However we have already invaded Afganistan, and I belive most people would say that was justified, so our strike rate is already 50%, and would go to 66%. If you disagree, than the strike rate would be 33%. If we have invaded another country, please advise and I will stand corrected.

    LOL! How many countries has the US invaded?!!

    For over a hundred years the US has been invading countries all over the world, from Mexico, to Russia, to Nicaragua, to Vietnam... must have been literally dozens of places, even if you leave the World Wars out of it. Bogus justifications (e.g. the Gulf of Tonkin "incident") are the rule rather than the exception.

    But if you're talking about invasions in the last few years then you'll have to include Haiti, supposedly invaded to bring peace and respect for human rights to that troubled country ... starting by kidnapping the democratically elected president and sending him to Africa. I don't think that one does the US "strike rate" any good either.

  • by OmgTEHMATRICKS (836103) on Tuesday April 19, 2005 @07:21PM (#12287271) Journal
    I, for one, welcome our new Martian overlords.

    ......what?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 19, 2005 @08:00PM (#12287598)
    Isaiah 40:22 clearly indicates the earth is round.

    As does Job 26. Where do you get this information?
  • Re:Methane (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rei (128717) on Tuesday April 19, 2005 @08:01PM (#12287609) Homepage
    I hate to ruin everyone here's potty humor, but methane is odorless. The only reason that you smell natural gas is because they add mercaptan to it (specifically, T-butyl mercaptan). Methyl mercaptan, by the way, is formed in the decay process, while allyl mercaptan is released when onions are cut, and butyl mercaptan is found in skunk spray. Mercaptan compounds have a -SH attached to them.

  • Re:Terraforming (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SubtleNuance (184325) on Tuesday April 19, 2005 @08:27PM (#12287803) Journal
    yes, because debating the intrinsic value of nature -- and life itself -- is something to be offhandedly dismissed.

    right?
  • by uberdave (526529) on Tuesday April 19, 2005 @08:41PM (#12287920) Homepage
    That didn't stop us from going to the Moon. It also does't stop us from handling deadly viruses and bacteria in labs all around the world.

    I don't think that there is any other reason to go. "Resources" some say. Resources are cheaper here.
    "Offworld backup of Humanity", say others. Any disaster that would wipe out humanity would wipe out so much of the ecosystem that these people wouldn't be able to return anyways.

    There are two good reasons to go to Mars. The best one is "Because we can". However, adventuring doesn't typically generate a lot of financial support from governments these days. The other reason would be to bring back something that we don't have here, something of scientific interest that we couldn't trust the detection and retrieval of to robotic systems: Martian life.
  • Vision of God (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Corpus_Callosum (617295) on Tuesday April 19, 2005 @09:08PM (#12288131) Homepage
    Ezekiel 1:1

    1 Now it came about in the thirtieth year, in the fourth [month], on the fifth [day] of the month, while I was in the midst of the exiled people by the river Chebar, that the heavens were opened and I began to see visions of God.

    "Now as I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel upon the earth beside the living creatures one for each of the four of them. As for the appearance of the wheels and their construction, their appearance was like the gleaming of a chrysolite, and the four had the same likeness being as it were a wheel within a wheel. The four wheels had rims and they had spokes, and their rims were full of eyes round about. And when the living creatures went, the wheels went beside them and when the living creatures went, the wheels went with them, for the living creature was in the wheel".

    - Ezekiel, chapter 1, Versus 15 thru 21.
    It could be that I am just dense when it comes to interpretations of scripture, but the phrase "...by the river Chebar, that the heavens were opened and I began to see visions of God." reads to me like a dude was by a river, the clouds were disturbed and he saw something that could only be understood as the work of god.

    I really don't think that he meant that he was standing by the river, the clouds opened up, then he passed out and channeled with god who made him halucinate or dream something completely irrelevant but that just so happened to perfectly describe what he would have seen if he had seen flying saucers with portholes carrying lifeforms from the sky, disturbing the clouds as they came down. Since he neglected to mention that he passed out and hallucinated or dreamed, I think we can assume that he was describing what he saw and "vision of god" is a literal translation.
  • by Mant (578427) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @04:08AM (#12290428) Homepage

    I think the one that makes most sense is that some people now interpret the description as resulting in something like what they believe alien ships (as opposed to 'UFOs' which are often quite mundane) would look like.

    You could interpret the description into something like you believe a flying saucer to be, but it isn't the only interpretation, or the only way people think alien space ships are. Claiming this description is 'exactly' like that of a UFO seems a massive reach to me.

    So you can add

    or

    (E) Ezekiel saw something and wrote a confusing description of it, that modern people with the concept of a stereotypical flying saucer interpret as being that, but that interpretation may well be wrong.

    If I was using Occam's razor, I know where it would lead me.

  • Re:Just Curious (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Raven_Stark (747360) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @10:06AM (#12292000)

    Currently the Bible says nothing one way or the other. However, once extraterrestrial life is found, confirming verses will be found and prove the Bible is infalible.

  • by ifwm (687373) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @11:48AM (#12292914) Journal
    "God doesn't just go far out; He goes far in"

    That's what Mary said too.

    By the way, your belief system is a fairy tale based on a book of lies.

    Have a nice day.

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