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Making the Case For Microscopic Life In Meteorites 103

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

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  • by paazin (719486) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @10:55AM (#35388788)
    How exactly does this differ from the studies and analysis done on ALH84001 some ten or so years ago?
    • Re:Life? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @11:41AM (#35389014) Homepage Journal

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

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

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

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

    • by mapkinase (958129)

      As far as I understand: that is how:

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

      and

      Dr. Hoover has concluded they are indigenous to these meteors and are similar to trichomic cyanobacteria and other trichomic pro

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

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

    • by mdsolar (1045926)
      One big difference is the type of meteorite. These may have come from comets rather than Mars. http://journalofcosmology.com/Life100.html [journalofcosmology.com]
    • by Xyrus (755017)

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

  • by gtvr (1702650) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @10:55AM (#35388790)
    In the movies, this is the part where the aliens are watching this story on the TV news from behind the moon, preparing their invasion plans.
    • Or they would show a close shot of the remaining samples in some dark corner. And the stuff, now with air and moisture, starts to GROW!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I can see it now. The next set of protest signs from Westboro Baptist Church outside of NASA:
    * God hates meteorites!
    * God hates microbes!
    * God hates scientists!
  • Any guesses about when, and HOW this will this will be picked up by mainstream media?

    Which network will do the first Orson Wells voiceover?

  • is not the same as extraterrestrial
  • Ah yes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 05, 2011 @11:23AM (#35388920)

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

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

    Sounds like a real reputable source.

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

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

    • Re:Ah yes (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gilleain (1310105) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @11:47AM (#35389056)

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

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

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

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

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

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

        I call bullshit.

        • Re:Ah yes (Score:5, Interesting)

          by gilleain (1310105) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @12:50PM (#35389396)

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

          I call bullshit.

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

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

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

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

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

      • by Anonymous Coward

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

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

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

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

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

        Credibility is gained by having good editorial standards. As it stands, JoC does not h

        • by gilleain (1310105)

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

          Geology is the restraint on the organic chemistry...

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

      • by brillow (917507)
        A degree in biochemistry doesn't make you a biochemist.
        • by gilleain (1310105)

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

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

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

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

      • by mapkinase (958129)

        that doesn't mean this paper is nonsense

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

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

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

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

        TO THE EDITORS AND READERS OF /.
        please don't fall prey. This is one of the last
        bastions of true skeptics. Don't believe me?
        Run the whois on these

    • by Anonymous Coward

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

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

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rgbatduke (1231380)
      I think that the argument would go something like this: The Universe is 13.73 billion years in its current post-bang Yuga. Life can arise on any planet formed out of supernova remnants of a second or third generation star. There have been planets so formed for at least 10 billion years, probably longer (since at least some large, short lifetime metal rich stars would have been formed after the first very short lifetime supergiants went nova). Current estimates for the numbers of third or fourth generati
      • Re:Ah yes (Score:4, Interesting)

        by TapeCutter (624760) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @07:58PM (#35392934) Journal

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

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

        • Great video, good argument. I've seen the argument before, of course, and find the lipid-bilayer bit to be moderately convincing. However, it is only one of a moderately long string of proposed models or partial models, obviously in the "replication first" rather than the "metabolism first" camp. Wikipedia (as always) has a list of at least the primary (named) propositions. In particular the sea-foam (bubble) argument is almost identical to this one, with an even more generic source of compartmentalizat
    • by JamesP (688957)

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

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

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

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

      And even if Earth had everything, was on its way, a meteorite could have gone 'bam' and

  • by Fallen Andy (795676) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @11:27AM (#35388938)
    Not consistent with known minerals - yet - the environments we inhabit, the planet we inhabit is clearly a small subset of geological processes, same with biology i guess - but as a miserable amateur dreamer with scientific experience i figure we will see some delightful surprises....

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

    ---> quit the lame marketting crap NASA please

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

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

    Andy

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, the interesting part of the article really is the elemental composition of the filaments. The microscopy is neat, but just because you found a filament that looks like another bacteria could be Pareidolia, or whatever the term would be for things looking like bacteria. But the fact that they appear to have a different elemental composition, and that this composition is similar to ones found in living things is very interesting. Even if it isn't life, and I most certainly am a skeptic (though I do hope

    • *_ Fallout on Alien Life Fossils & Meteorites

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

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

      My analysis-

      Wow- what a discovery! Alien life fossilized in meteorites are found. E.T. is here! :) But wait- where is the evidence? These are not normal meteorites made of metal and rock. They are soft coal clay with old bacteria fossils inside. Is it likely or e

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 05, 2011 @11:28AM (#35388944)

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

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

    • by rubycodez (864176) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @12:00PM (#35389148)
      The site is a scam, the model is you pay $35 to have your article submitted, then pay even more, $150, when it publishes. Content-wise it's like the national enquirer of cosmology and xenobiology but business-wise fleecing dumb writers instead of dumb supermarket shoppers. The 1970's comic book style images are a nice touch though, let's break out the tie-dye T-shirts and lava lamps and roll up a J and flash on ET riding a bicycle to Meatloaf rock operetta.
      • by Anonymous Coward

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

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

        Sadly, the most insightful comment on the thread.

      • by Trapezium Artist (919330) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @12:28PM (#35389288)
        Well, while I'm certainly of the opinion that the scientific content is highly dubious, it's not necessarily the case that it's a scam per se. That is, I don't think it's a money-raising scheme, fleecing unwitting cranks by deluding them that they're publishing in a reputable journal. I rather think that they all know what they're doing and are doing it willingly, namely that they're a bunch of iconoclasts who've decided to club together to promote their decidedly non-mainstream ideas. I imagine the money involved just covers some minimal costs of running the website etc. No-one's getting rich off this.

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

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

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

      • by gilleain (1310105)

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

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

      • by tibit (1762298)

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

        • by edremy (36408)
          But access to PLoS Biology is free. Personally, I like that model a lot more than other journals that may have low-to-zero publication fees and tens of thousands per year for a subscription to look at the content.
          • by tibit (1762298)

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

      • by CFTM (513264)

        This is not an attempt to discredit your statement in any way, rather just to point out that on occasion the national enquirer does get it right. Not too often, but it happens [Evidence [mentalfloss.com]].

        Now any information attained from sources like this need to be approached with a great deal of skepticism but occasionally I'm sure they get things right here too...

    • by mapkinase (958129)

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

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

  • if they're extraterritorial

  • by Anonymous Coward

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

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It is concluded that the complex filaments found embedded in the CI1 carbonaceous meteorites represent the remains of indigenous microfossils of cyanobacteria and other prokaryotes associated with modern and fossil prokaryotic mats. Many of the Ivuna and Orgueil filaments are isodiametric and others tapered, polarized and exhibit clearly differentiated apical and basal cells. These filaments were found in freshly fractured stones and are observed to be attached to the meteorite rock matrix in the manner of

    • Look over my brief in the thread Re:The abstract says it all" above. [slashdot.org] After some thought I decided that the NASA scientist has ignored the forest for the trees by never providing any proof of his main premise- that the meteorite fossils are of extra-terrestrial origin. He only has data showing how the fossils are clearly cyanobacteria and prokaryotes identical to those on Earth. Thus the data disproves his theory of alien fossil origin.

      I think that the soft coal clay containing bacterial fossils can only c

  • Not really required here. There's probably 2-3 days worth of reading.
  • by 1u3hr (530656) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @11:45AM (#35389032)
    Considering that this would be the most important discovery in the last 500 years, it's a little worrying that it's not in Nature, or any science journal I've ever heard of. A few mintes looking at their site and other's opinions shows it to be remarkably "open minded" in the articles it publishes: "Sex on Mars"; "Cosmological foundations of consciousness".

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

    • by mark_elf (2009518)
      Never heard a meteorite called an "astral" body before. "Extraterritorial life"? Dr. Hoover is real, website is fake. And ugly too, I might add.
    • by starless (60879) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @12:00PM (#35389150)

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

      • by Anonymous Coward

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

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

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

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

  • by Anonymous Coward

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

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

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

  • Anyone seen Julianne Moore's t-shirt?

  • This is the sort of tripe the journal is willing to publish: Is Darwin the New Jesus? [cosmology.com] and Is Craig Venter Playing God with Genetics and DNA? [journalofcosmology.com] Garbage journal... disregard.
  • Maybe not (Score:5, Insightful)

    by laing (303349) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @01:16PM (#35389622)
    I read the paper. He points out that there is a lack of detectable nitrogen in the fossils. This is the basis for his belief that they are extraterrestrial in origin. He also notes that fossils of cyanobacteria on Earth from 2.7 billion years ago have a lack of detectable nitrogen. He shows lots of charts and graphs of mass spectrometer data with most other Earth based fossils showing nitrogen. He does not explain the correlation of lack of nitrogen in these fossils and the 2.7 Gya Earth based cyanobacteria fossils. It's staring him in the face and he doesn't see it.

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

    • by dkegel (904729)
      +1

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

    • by mdsolar (1045926)
      Well, the meteorite are of recent origin. They have to be protected from exposure to water or they disintegrate. If you want these to be an ancient pieces of Earth, then they have to be in an orbit for 3 Ga that gets them back here. That seems unlikely. Small bodies in the inner solar system tend to get swept up or ejected faster than that. Typically what falls to Earth now is from further out in the solar system.
  • In the Engines of Light Trilogy by Ken Macleod, one of the major intelligent factions is actually composed of bacterial life living within asteroids all over the galaxy. It's a great series, especially the first book and it has some really interesting takes on a high-tech sci-fi future (e.g. light speed travel but no faster than light communications) as well as creating a universe in which it's possible to playfully "explain" everything from men in black to mass hallucinations, alien abductions, ancient mo

  • by MaDeR (826021)
    I am sorry, but what? Propaganda piece for panspermia announces that someone discovered "evidence of extraterritorial life in a meteorite" ? No shit.
    Somehow I doubt this will stand scrunity...
  • Truism of the internet. The more crackpot your ideas are, the larger you have to set your HTML border widths on your table elements.

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

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 05, 2011 @04:49PM (#35391416)

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

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

    Nothing in the paper is inconsistent with that hypothesis. All of the attention in the article devoted to possible sources in comets, asteroids, Jovian moons, and the Kuiper Belt, but no consideration given to the closes

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

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

      Sounds like a severe case of confirmation bias...

      The deuterium/hydrogen ratios are consistent with cometary origin

  • Rule 34. Because im a horrible, horrible person.
  • If they are right, one would be enough
  • If there ever is a meteorite type likely to preserve extra-terrestrial life, it is the CI1 chondrites described in the article. They are micro-breccias thought to be regolith (in this case, material weathered by water) from the surface of the parent body – probably an asteroid or comet. These extremely rare meteorites crumble to dust when they get wet because their microscopic particles are held together with clay and water-soluble minerals. Only 5 falls have been directly observed, Orgueil in 1864
  • http://www.panspermia.org/hoover2.htm [panspermia.org]

    Richard B. Hoover of NASA/NSSTC announced today the discovery of evidence for the detection of a fossilized cyanobacterial mat in a freshly fractured, interior surface of the Orgueil carbonaceous meteorite. Many of the images presented were obtained 21-23 July 2004, using the Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscope at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The announcement was made in Denver, Colorado at the "Instruments, Methods, and Missions f

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