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'Life on Mars' Meteorite Rejected After 10 Years 219

An anonymous reader writes "Ten years ago, NASA announced that the Martian meteorite ALH84001 showed evidence of life on Mars. The announcement made headlines around the world, and even prompted President Clinton to make a statement. Ten years later, most scientists believe that everything in the meteorite can be explained by non-biological processes. "We certainly have not convinced the community, and that's been a little bit disappointing," said David McKay, a scientist behind the 'life on Mars' paper. Unfortunately, David McKay's own brother is one of his critics. "He [David] got a little testy about the results we were getting," said Gordon McKay. "What we have shown is that it is possible to form these things inorganically.""
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'Life on Mars' Meteorite Rejected After 10 Years

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  • The hard truth (Score:3, Insightful)

    by canuck57 ( 662392 ) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @09:32AM (#15855136)

    No one wants to admit life started out there somewhere. For all we know the meteorites seeded life on Earth... and elsewhere. Why is it so hard for people to believe life exists beyond earth? The probabilities and facts dictate the earth is not the center of the universe.

    I for one think it would be good for mankind to have a significant first contact with a superior race. At least then we can then look to exploration and not war to keep us occupied while we grow up.

    • Re:The hard truth (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 06, 2006 @09:37AM (#15855150)
      No one wants to admit life started out there somewhere. For all we know the meteorites seeded life on Earth... and elsewhere. Why is it so hard for people to believe life exists beyond earth?

      Just because people believe life started elsewhere doesn't mean that this rock is an example of life. Wanting life to exist elsewhere does not account for good scientific judgement. I fear that Mr. McKay has much of the former but little of the latter.
      • No one wants to admit life started out there somewhere

        It had to start somewhere, but why did have to start "out there". That's not enough to explain the origins anyway, it just defers the question (ie. how did life start "out there").

        How is a meteorite, or Mars, or whatever, a better place to kick-start life than earth?

        • Re:The hard truth (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Fordiman ( 689627 ) <fordiman@g m a i l.com> on Sunday August 06, 2006 @05:05PM (#15856473) Homepage Journal
          Well, think about it. Organized crystal structures form much more readily in low-gravity, and an impact event (two asteroids violently meeting in the black) could easily produced the sort of initial chaos needed to allow for a life-formation event (formation of amino acids and proteins as the rocks cool). Smash that into the earth, and you have a similar situation. I wouldn't be surprised if an impact event is the catalyst for life on those planets which can support it.

          Before people start getting uppity about silicon-based life and how it could exist on a very hot planet, keep this in mind: Yes, silicon organics are possible and have been synthesized - but what would they use instead of water? In order to be as flexible as carbon organics, they have to be much hotter (> 100C), so there is a need for a liquid that handles those temperatures with similar properties (Anyone know the properties of Li2S?)

          I submit that it is no accident that earth life is carbon-based. Lower energies needed to remain pliable and adaptable at the molecular level, and it just happens to be the most promiscuous atom to be found (can handle four covalent bonds and links up far more rapidly to the next-best, silicon).

          I think if we're going to find life out there, we should be looking for a planet with similar heat characteristics to earth, with an asteroid belt or cometary system that would cause likley impacts every hundered thousand years or so (often enough to produce many many high-energy impact events to stir things up enough to form life, but not often enough to kill all life before it's got a chance to go multicellular)

          I mean, once you're in our temperature range, water's a no brainer. Just captured solar wind over the millenia may be enough hydrogen to allow enough water to accrete on a planetoid (especially if there's enough oxygen in the planetoid's original mass-mix).
    • Re:The hard truth (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 06, 2006 @09:38AM (#15855154)
      This stuff is science, not religion. All that's being said in the article is that there are explanations for the contents of that chunk of rock other than life. That doesn't rule out the possibility that life was involved, but it does rule out the meteorite as proof that there was life. So, we're back where we were before: no one knows for sure.
    • So are you telling me that Gil Gerard DIDN'T go back in time and ejaculate into the primordial ooze?
    • No one wants to admit life started out there somewhere. For all we know the meteorites seeded life on Earth... and elsewhere.

      Er, exactly how would life begin on a meteorite? Exactly what chemistry would allow that to happen? I think it's a tad more likely that life would begin on a planet with the requisite natural resources.

      The probabilities and facts dictate the earth is not the center of the universe.

      We have absolutely zero evidence for life on planets other than earth. On the other hand, we have considerable evidence [wikipedia.org] that we're alone in the galaxy (other galaxies are too far away to know anything about).

      I for one think it would be good for mankind to have a significant first contact with a superior race. At least then we can then look to exploration and not war to keep us occupied while we grow up.

      I for one think magic wands would be good for mankind as well. Then we could keep busy with our wands and not war. It would also eliminate resource limitations, which are fundamentally the reason for war. Magic wands are about as likely as alien life, so why not go for broke?

      • Magic wands are about as likely as alien life, so why not go for broke?

        Magic wands require breaking most physical laws, alien life does not. I think you're grossly underestimating the likelihood of alien life!
        • Magic wands require breaking most physical laws, alien life does not. I think you're grossly underestimating the likelihood of alien life!

          Well, I might have exaggerated a tiny bit, but it was mostly in response to the original poster's silly point that seemed to imply that finding alien life was some social responsibility, as though we only had to pony up the money in order to make it a reality.

          Frankly, the Fermi argument pretty much convinces me that intelligent life here is completely unique in the

      • On the other hand, we have considerable evidence that we're alone in the galaxy (other galaxies are too far away to know anything about).

        Actually we have zero evidence either way. You link to the fermi paradox, which is not a paradox, nor is it an acceptable theory, and at the end of the day, scarcely reaches the level of idle canteen chatter. To say that the elements in the "paradox" are not the whole story would qualify as the understatement of the decade.

        Heres a couple of madcap theories:

        1. They

        • You link to the fermi paradox, which is not a paradox, nor is it an acceptable theory, and at the end of the day, scarcely reaches the level of idle canteen chatter.

          If you think the Fermi Paradox is not strong evidence, then I suggest you haven't completely studied the ramifications.

          I think the strongest argument is the "time to fill" argument. Basically, when you figure out how long it takes to fill a galaxy by a space-faring civilization, even at sublight speeds, it only takes a few million years. G

          • If you think the Fermi Paradox is not strong evidence, then I suggest you haven't completely studied the ramifications.

            Nope it is not evidence. Maybe there is something we don't know about stopping interstellar travel. Maybe there was a giant war in this part of the universe a few hundred thousand years ago. Maybe someone did pick up our signals and is chugging merrily towards us at .9c from a distance of 200 light years. Even if a single race did explore the galaxy, there are a myriad of reasons why th

            • Nope it is not evidence.

              I think you're confusing the word "evidence" with "proof". I never said the Fermi Paradox proved anything, I only said it provided evidence of certain things. We can ask infinite "what if" questions. Hey, what if God created everything five minutes ago, and we only think we've been alive longer than that? I can cast doubt on anything with endless "what if" scenerios. The point is that we have zero evidence for any of your "what if" scenerios, and we have a lot of evidence of a la

      • Er, exactly how would life begin on a meteorite? Exactly what chemistry would allow that to happen? I think it's a tad more likely that life would begin on a planet with the requisite natural resources.

        Er, exactly what chemistry would allow life to happen PERIOD? We don't know how to create life and it's entirely possible that life can be based on a chemical make-up other than our chemical make-up. I know a lot of people have said that our form of life is the only one that could possibly work but I'll tak
      • On the other hand, we have considerable evidence that we're alone in the galaxy (other galaxies are too far away to know anything about).

        Wikipedia misses the most obvious answer to the Fermi paradox - that aliens are out there, know we exist, and are frankly too disgusted by a race that would invent slashdot to have any desire to communicate with us. In fact, they're purposefully avoiding us because they hate the idea of getting embroiled in long purposeless debates about subjects that don't matter with peo

    • Re:The hard truth (Score:5, Interesting)

      by starseeker ( 141897 ) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @10:16AM (#15855269) Homepage
      Science has to be skeptical about anything. For example, let's take two statements:

      1. Life had its origins on Earth, and is not to be found elsewhere.
      2. Life started elsewhere, and is only present on Earth by virtue of some metorite hitting the right spot.

      Science will accept NEITHER of these without proof. Science (good science anyway) is always testing EVERY hypothesis. Anything in science is ALWAYS open to being challenged, revisited, updated, or thrown out if contradicted. If it isn't, it's not science.

      This is a very uncomfortable thing for lots of people, who want certainties in their lives. But science is what it is - certainties last only as long as the evidence supports them. F=ma could go out the window tomorrow if conclusive experimental evidence indicates it isn't true. (Now, after a certain point, things are assumed to be correct until proven otherwise, in order to make progress possible. But EVERYTHING in science is ALWAYS subject to challenge. Your challenge had better be good for F=ma though, since there is a VERY large body of evidence suggesting that relationship is a useful description of part of the natural world.)

      So I'd say that instead of it being hard for people to believe there is life beyond Earth, it is important that any evidence of such life be subject to skeptical and rigorous test. This is why you have people looking for ways something could NOT be a sign of life - to make sure we don't overlook something in our hope that there IS other life out there. Good science has no favorites, and the facts will ALWAYS overrule wishful thinking (one way or the other.) If someone gets a result they want, one of the best things for them to do is sit down and think of ways this result could NOT mean what you want it to mean.

      If we have first contact with a superior race (what is superior, anyway? more advanced? more peaceful?) the consequences will likely be completely unpredictable. I doubt meaningful communication would be established for a VERY long time (if it even CAN be established) - science fiction grossly underestimates that difficulty, in my opinion. And no doubt a sizable percentage of the population wouldn't be able to handle it, particularly if it/they are really different from us. We have enough trouble handling ourselves, nevermind something REALLY alien.
      • Re:The hard truth (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Veteran ( 203989 )
        "But EVERYTHING in science is ALWAYS subject to challenge."

        Everything EXCEPT skepticism itself that is. That is not subject to challenge now is it?

        One mustn't question the process itself - since we accept as a matter of faith - of religious dogma - that skepticism is the right way to do things. Anyone who questions the process of skepticism is a BLASPHEMER in the church of science.

        Exactly what is the scientific confidence level that skepticism is the correct way to do things? How did scientists reach that c
        • Re:The hard truth (Score:2, Insightful)

          by kiracatgirl ( 791797 )
          If you use a different process, it just isn't called science. Science IS the process, and skeptism is part of the process - that's in its definition. Taking the skeptism out of science is like taking purple and leeching the blue out of it, and then trying to claim that the red that's left is still purple. No one is saying "Science is the one and only correct way of determining the truth!" However, if you are following the scientific process, i.e. using science, then you are going to have to use scientif
          • The problem with skepticism is that it elevates the turd to a respected rank in science. The correct process is for everyone to work together to arrive at the best answers possible given the amount of data available.

            Instead of an adversarial system - a cooperative system is the way to do things - with errors gently pointed out instead of with scorn and ridicule as is done today.

            Skepticism attempts to eliminate "false positives" from science in the process it throws in a lot of "false negatives" - it rejects
            • Skepticism attempts to eliminate "false positives" from science in the process it throws in a lot of "false negatives" - it rejects things which are true - but for which some other possible explanation exists.

              How do you know that those things are true when some other possible explanation exists?

              You know by challenging them: By considering which predictions can be made based on the theory you believe to be true, and trying to find ways to contradict those predictions. In other words, by being skeptic.

        • "Everything EXCEPT skepticism itself that is. That is not subject to challenge now is it?"

          Was that not a challenge?

          Well the results of using skepticism can be addressed scientifically actually.

          Theory: skepticism leads to rise in understanding of nature.

          Support: Our challenging eg, newton's theories have lead to general relativity, quantum physics et al, that have increased our understanding of nature, and lead to technological advancements.

          Tests: If futher analysis shows that evidance supporting newer theor

      • I think you chose an interesting example of the reasonableness of science wrt to changing it's hypothesis.

        Discover Magazine currently [discover.com] has a cover article that suggests that a change to that exact formula is required: "a change to F = ma/a0 when accelerations fall below one 10-billionth of a meter per second every second".

        Not surprisingly, the physicist is facing a lot of resistance to the change, a good deal of it just due to the fact that F=ma has lots of historical precedent, not strictly becuase o

    • Re:The hard truth (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 4D6963 ( 933028 ) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @10:18AM (#15855277)

      For all we know the meteorites seeded life on Earth

      So far the theory of panspermia is very far from proven, and the most widely accepted theory about the formation of life on earth is not panspermia but chemical reactions forming aminate acids, or somethnig of this kind.

      Why is it so hard for people to believe life exists beyond earth?

      When it comes to science, thou shalt ban the verb 'to believe' out of thy vocabulary.

      I for one think it would be good for mankind to have a significant first contact with a superior race

      Why do people systematically consider that an extraterrestrial race would have to be superior to us in the same way that we are superior to the rest of animals? Keep us occupied while we grow up? What's making you think that we're growing up? Our nature is immuable, the only way we can give ourselves the feeling of evolving is through the evolution of our civilization, but that's not going to make us closer to any hypothetical superior extraterrestrial race, if there even can be such a thing as animals significantly superior to us. It seems that the idea of us being probably the most evolved life form possible has went through relatively few people's minds.

      Back to the topic, scientists have no trouble admitting some forms of life might exist or might have existed in the universe, even inside our very own solar system. But the object of this article is about determining whether this precise piece of rock reveals the existence of any actual extraterrestrial form of life, it's not about determining whether there could or could not have been life in the Universe, nor even on Mars.

      It's all about this precise rock.

      • Why is it so hard for people to believe life exists beyond earth?
        Fear and tradition.

        There is no proof on either side so one can't take a position without a belief or hypothesis.
        The hypothesis that there is other life is the better approach because it makes you look for it. The other side likely would not be looking as hard and pushing for a narrow definition for life.

        Once we find signs of life, then we can make loose estimates on how much there is.
      • "When it comes to science, thou shalt ban the verb 'to believe' out of thy vocabulary"

        And replace it with what?

        "I guess"? Doesn't inspire much confidence, like "I guess the moon goes around the earth" sounds very uncertain.

        "I know"? Well this is definitely not scientific, as it ignores that there are possibly alternatives; sounds too certain.

        "I postulate"? "I hypothesize"? Well they basically are the same as "I believe", and am sure you must be complaining about the meaning of the word rather than something
      • Calling the idea that life on Earth may have originated on Mars panspermia is going a bit far. It's hard to come up with a plausible method for true panspermia, but exogenesis, which is what we are talking about here, does seem reasonable. The same methods whereby life may have developed on Earth look just as likely on Mars.

        Since Mars is so much smaller than Earth, it probably cooled and formed a crust first. If life developed on Mars, it may well have done so while it was still impossible here. It appe
    • Why is it so hard for people to believe life exists beyond earth?

      Why is it so hard for people to believe life could have formed here on its own?

      • Exactly, I believe in life on other planets, but I didn't believe in this one for one second. And I'm very happy with Earth-made life. Why fabricate some silly far flung theory around a Martian rock... Beats me.
      • And while we're at it, what's with the absurd insistence on reducing the question to simplistic all-inclusive alternatives by both sides of this debate? It could very well be the life is common and develops independently anywhere where the conditions are favorable, without the need to wallow in silliness that life on Earth is unique (completely ignoring the pathetically small sample size available to us); or that life itself is unique and needs some sort of super-galactic magical explanation to explain its
    • Superior races (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mangu ( 126918 ) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @11:00AM (#15855464)
      it would be good for mankind to have a significant first contact with a superior race


      Yet, even assuming such races exist, the probability for our meeting them is exceedingly small. Consider that it took about ten thousand years for us to go from the stone age to space exploration. Viable planets for developing life had existed for several billion years before life arose in the Earth.


      Therefore, for us to meet a race that's more advanced than us, but not so advanced for that contact to become completely irrelevant, we would have to meet a race that developed just a tiny bit of time, percentage wise, before we did.


      If and when we find life outside the Earth, it will most probably be either very primitive or very advanced relative to us. Baring extreme coincidence, any more advanced race we are likely to meet will have as much to teach us as we have to teach to a garden slug.

      • Your argument assumes technological advancement increases at a certain speed, and has no limit (or a limit far beyond our current level). You should state that so that you don't beg the question.

        It is possible that we are near the limits of technological advancement. It is also possible that we are near a point of advancement beyond wich progress is extremely slow. I doubt this is the case, but I won't consider it proven as you seem to do.
    • This example actually hurts your case. By throwing around such apochrypal claims as definitive "proof," it hurts the claims that life originated outside of out atmosphere. Simply because you believe that something is true is no reason to attempt to spin everything into proving that belief.
    • "No one wants to admit life started out there somewhere. For all we know the meteorites seeded life on Earth... and elsewhere. Why is it so hard for people to believe life exists beyond earth?"

      Who is having trouble believing that life exists out there? What the topic of this debate is whether or not a particular rock (the ALH84001 meteorite) contains life. At first scientists believed they had found evidence of life in it, but in the 10 years since they havn't won over much support.

      "I for one think i

    • Why is it so hard for people to believe life exists beyond earth? The probabilities and facts dictate the earth is not the center of the universe.

      It is possible to believe that life exists elsewhere in the universe while still having a scientific responsibility to prove that the artifacts in the Mars meteorite could have happened by inorganic processes.

      Why is it that so many folks here whine about nobody following scientific process until it proves that something they want to believe in may not be true,

    • No one wants to admit life started out there somewhere.

      Quite the opposite, actually. Nobody wants to admit we may be all alone in the whole Universe.

      Most everyone (you included) is looking for the Deus ex machina to come along and solve all our problems for us.

      Why is it so hard for people to believe life exists beyond earth?

      It is equally as hard to believe life exists beyond earth, as it is to believe it does not.

      The probabilities and facts dictate the earth is not the center of the universe.

      The Earth is n

    • hy is it so hard for people to believe life exists beyond earth? The probabilities and facts dictate the earth is not the center of the universe.

      Your belief system is interesting. However, without proof, it is just that.... a belief system. Science is not to be based upon your faith, or mine. I, for one, doubt life is very common across the universe, and sincerely doubt intelligent life has more than an infintessimal chance of existing on any given planet. I believe we are damn lucky.

      Nonetheless, I support
  • Well, this reporter was...possibly a little hasty earlier and would like to...reaffirm his allegiance to this country and its human president. May not be perfect, but it's still the best government we have. For now.
  • burden of proof (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bartmoss ( 16109 ) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @09:47AM (#15855182) Homepage Journal
    Just because these things can be formed inorganically doesn't mean they were. Still the burden of proof definitely rests on those who says it is organic in origin. Especially now.

    Luckily, just because the meteor may not have signs of former life, doesn't mean mars never had any. It would be really sad if our solar system turned out to be sterile.
    • Re:burden of proof (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mark-t ( 151149 )
      It would be really sad if our solar system turned out to be sterile.
      I assume you mean the REST of our solar system... Otherwise, yes, it'd be not only sad, but devastating.

      But grammar nitpicking aside, why would it be sad if the other planets were sterile, exactly? What difference would that _actually_ make to us, here on Earth?

      • What difference would that _actually_ make to us, here on Earth?

        Well, personally, it wouldn't make one whit of difference.

        Reasons that it would be sad is that it would speak to the "prevalence" of life in the universe. If our little backwater of a solar system can have two or three or four bodies that support life, it might be common. Since we believe that more complex life (eg animals, worms, etc.) evolves from simpler life (eg, bacteria), the more simple life we find means that, statistically, we have a

    • Just because these things can be formed inorganically doesn't mean they were.

      What is life anyway? Does it have to be organic?

      Maybe the problem is that we're looking for life that's similar to us---possibly breathing oxygen existing in our gravity/temperature range, and fond of water. Such life is unlikely to be present anywhere but on an identical twin planet.

      That still leaves the possibility of life evolving in ways that we would consider impossible (or would not consider life at all). Maybe `they' have al
    • "burden of proof" is a legal, not scientific, concept. It does not apply.
    • It would be really sad if our solar system turned out to be sterile.

      Yes, it would be very sad if we all found out we aren't actually alive.
  • cool science (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fermion ( 181285 ) * on Sunday August 06, 2006 @09:48AM (#15855183) Homepage Journal
    This is the kind of subtlety that people seem to miss in science. Just because something could be true, does not mean it is true. In this case the samples in question could have been formed by an organic process, but they did not have to be. And since the overwhelming evidence is that there is no life on mars, and in fact we have no real process as yet that would have developed life on mars, the reasonable person still concludes that life probably does not exist. Now some people just are going to believe for personal reasons, and that is cool. Those people need to look for evidence in an attempt to prove their case. But this particular piece of evidence appears to have been taken out of contention.
    • I tend to take the opposite view to life on Mars (and other planets/moons).
      I assume there will be "life" in most places.
      Just look around this great varied Earth of ours. In the furthest reaches [state.tx.us], in the darkest depths [sunysb.edu] and the most impossible places [nasa.gov] we find that it flourishes.

      We have barely begun to look around on Mars and we certainly haven't dug far below the surface, give it time and I think we will find it.

      Why is it so difficult to believe we are alone?
      • Re:cool science (Score:5, Insightful)

        by lawpoop ( 604919 ) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @10:10AM (#15855252) Homepage Journal
        I take a somewhat different tack.

        It is true that we do find life in some rather inhospitable places, like highly radioactive nuclear reactor cores, inside solid rock, in boiling steam vents, metabolizing sulfur -- but does that mean life can arise in such places, or does it require particular conditions to arise, and then it is capable of evolving to adapt to such harsh environments? The basic amino acids that constitute life do not survive in such environments. The living organisms which live in such environments have special mechanisms to protect and repair their delicate parts.

        But the places where we find the most diversity of life is in the oceans and the tropical rain forests. That tells me there are a few elements that life really wants -- a relatively small temperature window, light, and most importantly water. The oceans are water, and the tropical rain forests are almost always at 100% humidity. I would even say that the temperature range that life wants is the range of liquid water. Taking this a step further, I would say that anywhere we find liquid water, we will find life.
    1. Unexplained evidence.
    2. Testable hypothesis.
    3. Testing of the hypothesis.
    4. Alternative explanation for the evidence.
    5. Revision or rejection of the hypothesis.
    6. Goto step 3.


    Compare to Creationism. *Cough* excuse me, "Intelligent Design".

    1. Unexplained evidence.
    2. God did it.
    3. End of discussion. Or else.


    If I may inject a personal note, I do believe in God. But I don't believe He created an existance so simple that anything we don't understand must have His hand directly involved.
    • char* explainEvidence (char* evidence, char* method)
      {
      char* explanation;
      if (method == "scientificMethod")
      {
      while( 1 ) explanation = test((hypothesis)evidence);
      }

      if (method == "intelligentdesign") explanation = "God";

      return explanation;
      }


      Sorry, but your scientific method gives us an infinite loop. Revise it.
    • The problem is that many scientists insert an unspoken step 0:

      0. Assume that everything that has ever happened in the universe is attributable exclusively to natural causes.

      That may be a reasonable thing to assume for repeatable experiments that you are doing in your laboratory. And it's probably a good idea to generally look for and favor naturalistic solutions to events that happen in general. But to go from "Anything we don't understand msut have His hand directly involved" to "God's hand is absolut

  • by DumbSwede ( 521261 ) <slashdotbin@hotmail.com> on Sunday August 06, 2006 @10:00AM (#15855222) Homepage Journal
    Coming in the wake of this recent news [marsdaily.com] about atmospheric hydrogen-peroxide possibly scouring Mars's surface of microbial life it looks like the odds of finding life easily on Mars are dwindling. Subsurface drilling still holds out hope.

    Regardless of current life conditions I still hold out hope for past life fossil discoveries, multi-cellular past life. Several of the Mars rover pictures look to show fossils, but NASA is being very cautious in it assessments. Not sure what the ID camp or Creationists will make of bring back criniod like fossils from Mars estimated to be 1-2 billion years old. Actually I already pretty much do know, so consider the question rhetorical.
  • McKays (Score:5, Funny)

    by FuturePastNow ( 836765 ) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @10:19AM (#15855285)
    David....Gordon

    Their third brother, Rodney, was unfortunately too far away to comment on the possibility of life on other worlds.
  • So... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CiXeL ( 56313 ) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @10:34AM (#15855356) Homepage
    Can we start trying to put it there now?
    • Re:So... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bluebox_rob ( 948307 )
      Absolutely not! All this means is that nothing has changed - we still don't know whether anything lives on Mars or not. If we try to introduce life there we run the risk of A) making it much harder to prove that any life subsequently discovered there is actually indigenous and B) wiping out, or irreversably changing, anything that does live there. Even if we had the means, we should hold back a good long while yet...
      • Re:So... (Score:2, Insightful)

        by solitas ( 916005 )
        Absolutely not! All this means ... a good long while yet.

        What's more important in this collective fetish to colonize Mars (manned bases, mining, etc.) - to determine that some kind of life was ONCE there? Or to prove that, whatever the circumstances, we can introduce sustainable life to aid in colonization? (And, yes: I've read K.S.Robinson's 'Red/Green/Blue Mars' trilogy.)

        I can't see where it matters at all, in the grand scheme of extraterrestrial colonization, whether or not bugs (cells, bacteria, et

    • Except there may well be a good reason for why there appears to be no life on Mars, it is not a very habitable planet.
  • by crhylove ( 205956 ) <rhy@leperkhanz.com> on Sunday August 06, 2006 @10:35AM (#15855360) Homepage Journal
    Whether that little rock had evidence or not, I agree with Einstein: There is no logical number between 0 and infiniti. Therefore if there is life HERE, there is and has been life all over the damned place. One little rock doesn't change the statistical likelihood of that.

    rhY
    • Therefore if there is life HERE, there is and has been life all over the damned place. One little rock doesn't change the statistical likelihood of that.

      You cannot give any statistical analysis with only one (positive) sample. That is a statistic with an infinite margin of error.

      If you ask 100 people a yes/no question, and only one person says "yes", does that mean 60 million people in the world would also say "yes", or does that mean in a freak of chance, you just happen to get the one single person of al

  • Terrible (Score:2, Funny)

    by bigmauler ( 905356 )
    I feel a great disturbance in the net. As if millions of slashdoters cried out and were suddenly smacked with a cold reality they couldn't accept.
  • by deft ( 253558 ) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @11:05AM (#15855482) Homepage
    NOT getting the results that most of the scientific community would REALLY want as such a cool discovery that could advance thinking is a great example to show religious types.

    This is what it looks like when the process beats an idea with logic and testing and eventually disproves what they really wanted to be true. In things like "intelligent design" it could never ever come out with such a neutral result agreed upon by people who may have been very much for the idea the entire time. No lying, not falsifying, no BS logic.... just the truth through science.

    I applaud their dilligence, and wonder if that guy in Vegas who one the "when will life on other planets be dicovered" jackpot gets to keep his $$$ :)
    • The problem is that religion is untestable. Or how would you conduct a scientific experiment to detect the presence of a omnipotent, eternal being that transcends time, and manipulates physical laws at will? As far as science is considered, a God is irrelevant, because it is outside the framework of science i.e. the physical realm.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Meanwhile, at the McKay family dinner table...

    David: Hey Mom! Guess what? I just discovered life on Mars!

    Gordon: Did not!

    David: Did too!

    Gordon: Did not!

    David: Did too!

    Mom: (Sigh.)

  • Let's see if you can try to do a decent job for once. This is the second article I've seen today with a title that is very badly worded. The title here appears to say that scientists have now, after 10 years of study, rejected the claim of the NASA scientists that there is life on this rock. When in reality, the story is more about the 10 year anniversary of the controversial announcement. No, I'm not asking for an involved fact checking assignment, just for you to do a quick glance at the article and m
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I worked in Antarctica off and on, for 12 years.

    I'll never forget the very intelligent and very adament scientist who told me the "Mars life Rock" was total BS. He went on to say that it was geology, not biology.

    Mind you, he also told me that NASA would ride it to the end to make sure that they could send missions to Mars.

    The woman that found it was a minor celebrity and ran the lab for several years.
  • by patio11 ( 857072 ) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @09:30PM (#15857181)
    As I remember, "life on Mars, wow!" was used to justify a NASA budget increase. So, does anyone know how much we paid for a garden-variety rock?

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