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Mars Earth

We All May Have a Little Martian In Us 168

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

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  • slow news day (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slashmydots (2189826) on Thursday August 29, 2013 @06:25PM (#44711531)
    So it's a slow news day wherever this was written. It seems they pull this recycled article out of the garbage somewhere every couple months. Yes, we "might" be from Mars. That isn't news. I think I saw a special on it on TV in 1998.
    • Re:slow news day (Score:5, Insightful)

      by oodaloop (1229816) on Thursday August 29, 2013 @06:31PM (#44711569)
      Yes, let us never speak of this again, regardless of whatever new evidence is found! Evar!
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by icebike (68054)

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

        New evidence? What evidence, new or old?

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

        • Re:slow news day (Score:5, Insightful)

          by oodaloop (1229816) on Thursday August 29, 2013 @06:46PM (#44711703)
          Um, it does say "new research" in the first sentence of both TFS and TFA. True, we have not yet set foot on Mars. But are suggesting this means there is NO EVIDENCE from Mars? Besides which, if a rock matches the chemical composition from our nearest neighbor, it kind of narrows things down. Maybe these scientists know a thing or two about what they're doing.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by icebike (68054)

            Chemical composition?

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

            • by Maritz (1829006)

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

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

              • Re:slow news day (Score:5, Interesting)

                by icebike (68054) on Thursday August 29, 2013 @09:30PM (#44712839)

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

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

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

                • Re:slow news day (Score:4, Interesting)

                  by Maritz (1829006) on Thursday August 29, 2013 @10:11PM (#44713041)

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

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

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

                  Non sequitur. Don't care.

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

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

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

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

                • by dywolf (2673597)

                  Icebike exists to troll.
                  Don't feed the trolls.

                • Thanks for nothing Captain Buzz Kill.
                  Guess it's back to looking like I'm working.

          • Dubious Evidence (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Roger W Moore (538166) on Thursday August 29, 2013 @08:01PM (#44712341) Journal
            As far as I can tell the article mentions that research has found one thing that might help in the formation of early life. They combine this with what evidence there is of the conditions on both Earth and Mars 3.5 billion years ago (and for Mars I imagine that is highly sketchy) and leap to the conclusion that life may have originated on Mars.

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

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

            • Re:Dubious Evidence (Score:5, Interesting)

              by AvderTheTerrible (1960234) on Thursday August 29, 2013 @10:26PM (#44713129)

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

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

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

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

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

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

              • Re:Dubious Evidence (Score:4, Interesting)

                by symbolset (646467) * on Friday August 30, 2013 @02:37AM (#44714093) Journal
                This is a good story. Sharpen it by learning more about the primordial atmosphere composition, because you have that part exactly backward. Still, nicely done.
              • by ecotax (303198)

                I agree it's an awesome but highly speculative idea.

                There's no need for the piece of rock having to fly around for thousands, millions, maybe even billions of years before landing on Earth, though. Since we're talking about probabilities in the order of once in the lifetime of the universe, we may just as well assume that this particular rock happened to be flying in a 'lucky' trajectory.
                In this case, a few years or decades should be enough.

                • It is much more likely that it wouldn't have flown directly at Earth though. The Anthropic Principle doesn't really imply that everything had to happen as efficiently as possible. The chance that we are in a Universe where this hypothetical rock took 10 years rather than 1,000,000 on its journey is still quite low :p

                  • by ecotax (303198)

                    My assumption was that a very long journey would seriously decrease the chance of the life within the rock surviving the journey.
                    In that case, the Anthropic Principle does favour the shorter trip. Otherwise, yes, a longer one would be more likely of course.

              • If these martian organisms can survive the journey why are they still not covering Mars? The surface of Mars is far, far more hospitable to life than the cold, hard, irradiated vacuum of space. Indeed space probes going to Mars have to be disinfected because there are terran micro-organisms that would thrive there.

                For your story to be correct you have to explain what sterilized the surface of Mars and removed all signs of life from it (or at least hid it well). It seems far, far more probable to me that
                • If these martian organisms can survive the journey why are they still not covering Mars? The surface of Mars is far, far more hospitable to life than the cold, hard, irradiated vacuum of space. Indeed space probes going to Mars have to be disinfected because there are terran micro-organisms that would thrive there. For your story to be correct you have to explain what sterilized the surface of Mars and removed all signs of life from it (or at least hid it well). It seems far, far more probable to me that live evolved here on Earth by a mechanism that we still imperfectly understand.

                  For starters, we don't want any Terran organisms contaminating the research, so naturally the equipment is disinfected. That doesn't presume that those organisms would thrive or last for thousands or years or more, but they'd last long enough to compromise and muddle the research.

                  A few decades in interplanetary space is probably no worse, if not better, than a billion years on Mars. Mars, unlike Earth has no magnetic field, nothing to protect it from the solar wind, radiation, and coronal mass ejectio

                • They aren't covering the surface of Mars because Mars no longer has a magnetic field or substantial atmosphere. Earth's magnetic field protects our atmosphere from being stripped away by the solar wind. And the magnetic field, combined with the atmosphere, protects those of us on the ground from the harmful radiation that the sun emits, random gamma rays from space, and other nasty stuff that we have yet to discover.

                  Long ago Mars did have a magnetic field. It also likely had a substantial atmosphere becaus

              • What would be even more interesting would be if Earth already had some single cell life and the invading Martian life wound up more adaptable, thrived more, and drove the Earth life to extinction.

            • Re:Dubious Evidence (Score:5, Interesting)

              by Woek (161635) on Friday August 30, 2013 @03:34AM (#44714281)

              Exactly! Whenever I see claims that life started on Mars (or was brought here on meteors) I wonder why there is even a need for those hypotheses. You need pretty strong evidence that life COULDN'T have started on earth to resort to such a much less likely theory...

              • by dywolf (2673597)

                you dont need to say that life -couldnt- evolve here.
                you just need to say that is just simply -hadn't happened-, yet, at that time.

            • You can conjecture with no evidence.

              The fact is that considering the known chemical makeup of much of mars, we can be very close to certain that rock have come from mars to Earth.

              The lack of oxygen on early Earth is similarly well understood. If there were a lot of oxygen in some localized area, it would rapidly dissipate throughout the whole ocean. (There was only one)

              The evidence is mounting that Earth didn't have a good environment for generating the necessary precursors if life.

              Now they've found evidenc

            • by dywolf (2673597)

              You make a good point.

              Maybe we should send a probe or two to Mars and find out.

        • Re:slow news day (Score:4, Interesting)

          by rahvin112 (446269) on Thursday August 29, 2013 @06:51PM (#44711749)

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

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

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

          • Re:slow news day (Score:4, Interesting)

            by tibit (1762298) on Thursday August 29, 2013 @06:59PM (#44711831)

            very little life can survive being frozen

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

            • Re:slow news day (Score:4, Interesting)

              by Longjmp (632577) on Thursday August 29, 2013 @07:38PM (#44712163)
              To be fair, you are certainly correct about the freezing part.
              However, GP's other points remain valid. Not much survives the heat of an impact, even less (molten) debris ejected into space. Simple organic molecules are destroyed easily with heat (and radiation), not even talking about (primitive) life forms.
              As for the article, we can safely assume that probability of life originating from Mars is about the same as amino acids from "outer space" hitting the earth - or the remains of FSM's tomato sauce.
              In other words, pure fantasy.
              • Re:slow news day (Score:4, Insightful)

                by ColdWetDog (752185) on Thursday August 29, 2013 @09:50PM (#44712931) Homepage

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

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

              • Ever heard of Deinococcus radiodurans [wikipedia.org]?
            • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

              very little life can survive being frozen

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

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

              In short, for life to

              • by symbolset (646467) *
                Waterbears. That wasn't even hard.
                • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

                  Waterbears. That wasn't even hard.

                  I believe the article was talking about single cell organisms, but yes, tardigrades can survive boiling, freezing and vacuum. I wonder, though could they survive the 2800 degree F (hot enough to melt iron) temperature that would be involved on both leaving Mars and re-entering Earth's atmosphere? Then there is the cosmic radiation of such a trip and of course they would have to have existed on Mars at the time the chunk of rock was blown off it's surface and made it's way here.

                  Not saying it couldn't have h

            • Re:slow news day (Score:4, Informative)

              by symbolset (646467) * on Friday August 30, 2013 @02:55AM (#44714129) Journal
              Waterbears can be dehydrated, frozen to only a few degrees Kelvin, and in that dehydrated frozen state withstand 100 g acceleration, hard vacuum and radiation without ill effect, on contact with liquid water reanimating. They can do so for at least a decade and thousands of years is not beyond reason. And that is not RNA, nor a bacterium. It is a complex animal. There are life forms that actually prefer extreme environments like this.
              • by Agent0013 (828350)
                Just last week I had to defend my farm from wandering waterbears. They even survived from multiple gunshots! They are very tough animals.
          • by Livius (318358)

            It just takes one bacterium.

          • by Jmc23 (2353706)
            I'm pretty sure Jor-El took that all into consideration.
        • I agree! I have it on good authority that we started "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..." and I'm pretty sure that Marlon Brando was involved in sending higher life to this planet...
          I may have paraphrased some of that...
    • Re:slow news day (Score:5, Informative)

      by girlintraining (1395911) on Thursday August 29, 2013 @06:42PM (#44711673)

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

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

      I guess that's progress.

      • by Jmc23 (2353706)
        Actually, the we came from Mars theory has been around for millenia in other cultures. The west is usually late to the table.
  • Gonna need proof there was life on Mars or that whatever life we have here somehow came from Mars.

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

  • by joocemann (1273720) on Thursday August 29, 2013 @06:45PM (#44711697)

    I ain't descended from no martian!

    Jeebus.

  • get your ass to mars
    get your ass to mars
    get your ass to mars

  • by Burz (138833) on Thursday August 29, 2013 @06:58PM (#44711825) Journal

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

    • I thought Venus WAS at, or near the "Goldilocks zone". It's just all the CO2 clouds that mess that up, presumably from the ancient Venusions driving their SUVs.

  • Ugh (Score:4, Interesting)

    by khallow (566160) on Thursday August 29, 2013 @07:17PM (#44711993)
    So we don't have even a scrap of evidence that there was ever life on Mars, but evidence is "building" that we come from there. No, that's not science.

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

    The only argument against water as the tar-inhibitor agent is that it is "corrosive" to RNA. But which of these three compounds (including oxides of boron and molydenum) are currently found in living cells in quantity?
  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Thursday August 29, 2013 @07:23PM (#44712029)

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

    I didn't need that.

    • by Sasayaki (1096761)

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

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

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

  • Hypothesis (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 29, 2013 @07:24PM (#44712033)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Re:Hypothesis (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jc42 (318812) on Thursday August 29, 2013 @09:14PM (#44712745) Homepage Journal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • by tekrat (242117) on Thursday August 29, 2013 @07:27PM (#44712071) Homepage Journal

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

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

    • All I could find on IMDB was Five Million Miles to Earth, with Ymir the Venusian monster by Ray Harryhousen.
    • by RDW (41497)

      Also check out the original BBC series from the 50s:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7JY9xtpCxY [youtube.com]

      Incredibly, most of it was performed live.

    • by srmalloy (263556)

      This also puts an odd spin on H. Beam Piper's "Paratime" stories, where humanity evolved on Mars and colonized Earth as the Martian environment became less and less hospitable, and the various 'bands' across the various timelines were categorized by how successful the colonization was -- First Level, where the colonization succeeded fully; Second Level, where there were collapses in civilization, but they retained their knowledge of their Martian origins; Third Level, where the colonization was mostly unsu

  • by brillow (917507) on Thursday August 29, 2013 @07:31PM (#44712103)

    we also might be from Uranus, I'm sick of this zombie story.

  • Our ancestors messed up Mars and after evolving to be able to do it again - there you go... Next planet goes bust and already looking to move on.
  • Seriously, posting the "we might be martians" story has become equivalent to trolling Slashdot. I would carry on about why the notion of Earth life coming from Mars is flimsy and fanciful to begin with, but we have had that discussion over and over. It's like Groundhog's Day - only not entertaining.
  • by Oligonicella (659917) on Thursday August 29, 2013 @08:02PM (#44712359)
    It's conjecture, no more, and weak at that.
    • Well I am not versed enough in genetics to know if an over abundance of water is bad for forming RNA, or if you need oxygen to create life, but assuming he does not have his facts all wrong, he has some interesting new ideas. He seems to be theorising that early-earth-like is actually not a very good environment for life to first form, and that early-Mars-like is far better. This gives us many new ideas; Maybe it would be better to look for Mars-like planets, if we are looking for life. Maybe, the reason we

      • FTA

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

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

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

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

  • Perclorates (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jeremylichtman (1717920) on Thursday August 29, 2013 @08:12PM (#44712417) Homepage
    The Martian soil is full of really nasty chlorine compounds that would make it hard for living things to grow in it. Are they saying those compounds weren't there back then?
    • by Jmc23 (2353706)
      Those came only after the citizens thought chlorine was the bomb for killing stuff so in their infinite wisdom they decided to use it in their drinking water and the preparation of all their foods. Things went horribly wrong when someone thought that extra clean and extra dead was a good thing so they decided to wash the pink slime in chlorine.
  • by kenj0418 (230916) on Thursday August 29, 2013 @08:32PM (#44712547)

    We All May Have a Little Martian In Us

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

    • We All May Have a Little Martian In Us

      How did he get in there?

    • by dwye (1127395)

      Or read anything by H. Beam Piper, especially Lord Kalvan Of Otherwhen, where the entire multi-timeline cosmology and pre-history is laid out by someone who should know, as his timeline had no decline after the migration from Mars.

  • POPPYCOCK!!

    I always wanted to say that, so thanks for a post that made that possible.

  • by TheGoodNamesWereGone (1844118) on Thursday August 29, 2013 @11:14PM (#44713353)
    The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one...
  • by greichert (464285) on Friday August 30, 2013 @03:14AM (#44714205)
    The atomic number of Molybdenum is 42!
  • "Cyborgs are supposed to be from Earth" as Cerebroid113's iconic cybernetics essay would have you think, but new research presented this week suggests that in reality; we all may hail from the Blue Planet. "The evidence seems to be building that we are actually all Earthlings; that mechanical life started on Earth and came to Mars to escape the insane organics thereupon. It's lucky that we ended up here nevertheless, as certainly Mars has been the better of the two planets for sustaining mechanoelectric life. If our hypothetical Earthling ancestors had remained on Earth, the murderous monkeys there likely would have eliminated the possibility of this and all stories," submits Pontificator Program42 of The Westcrater Implementation for Knowledge Optimization and Compression.

  • Dude: "Hey baby, do you have a little Martian in you".
    Girl: "No".
    Dude: "Want one?"

  • We must find the Soul Cube and give it to our greatest hero!
  • ... Ray Walston didn't live to see the headline for this piece.
  • by booch (4157) <(moc.kehcubgiarc) (ta) (0102todhsals)> on Friday August 30, 2013 @10:44AM (#44716493) Homepage

    I don't always read astronomy news, but when I do, I read it on NetworkWorld.

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