back to article NASA scientist spies extraterrestrial life

A NASA scientist claims to have identified signs of extraterrestrial bacteria in meteorites, and if he's right, it means a strong boost to the theory that such entities are common and could be the origin of life on Earth. In his paper Fossils of Cyanobacteria in CI1 Carbonaceous Meteorites, published on Friday in the Journal of …

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Anonymous Coward

Alien life?

Well, as long as it's not some silicon/acid-based bacteria I'm not worried.

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Sir?

A xenowhut?

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Paris Hilton

Yeah right

The Journal of Cosmology?! That's not really a reputable journal, now is it.

Paris because she's got about as much scientific credibility.

p.s. Have you the Journal of Cosmology webpage? It looks like it was hosted on geocities about 15 years ago.

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It's life, Jim.

So, will the bookies be paying out?

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Anonymous Coward

That's not bacteria.

That's the Vl'hurg invasion fleet encased in a fossilised dog turd.

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Probably not...

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/03/did_scientists_discover_bacter.php

Dunno where this will go but that blog suggests nowhere.

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Been reading horoscopes again have we?

Mind you they're probably more reliable for science info than the Journal Of Cosmology.

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"..and could be the origin of life on Earth."

I've heard this several times but it just seems to push back the origin to somewhere else it doesn't explain how life began

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Anonymous Coward

Re doesn't explain how life began

What? it's so blimey obvious! Must have been a god's fart that settled on some space rock before dropping on earth.

Don't you remember the part in the bible where the snake tells the First Naked that they've been created in the likeness of god? Well, that wasn't exactly true then...

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Alien

You choose

"Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may"... blah, blah, blah, and "Lets us make man in our image, after our likeness" etc... and a bit of spare rib.

Or

Gravity, supernovae, entropy(thus times arrow) and chance.

I made my choice, I never believed the stories of the bothers Grimm when a child, It would be illogical to believe the stories in so called holy books and scripture as an adult. Not that this makes me any more correct in my choice or beliefs than the faithful, no matter how much I instinctively feel it does.

If there has been any kind of life on Mars or elsewhere in our solar system then we will certainly discover this, and the proof. If we have to reach beyond our solar system, perhaps beyond the nearest stars, we may have wait generations before we are able to reach such distances and find the proof. Until then we will just have to rely on gravity, entropy and chance to bring the evidence to us.

Unassailable proof of life elsewhere in the Universe discovered in my own lifetime would strengthen the foundations of my own beliefs and provide yet further evidence that the majority of religion is based on no more than the imaginings of man.

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You're right, it doesn't

BUT just because we don't have all the answers doesn't mean religions aren't a load of arsewater.

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Why not?

Its funny how we think we are the center of everything in the univers! Statistically it would be very odd if we were the only form of life in the enitre univers. It is after all a very large place of huge number of possible environments for life to develop on.

Or maybe everybody is waitting for a meteor containing fossilised alien bones to even consider discussing the idea that there might be other places with life

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almost...

One might almost think it a religious point of view!

But it may spring from the ultra-competitive sports of the greek olympics - we don't mind not being the only one as long as we are first.

For now aliens can exist as bacteria.

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Problem is ..

Anywhere outside the solar system is such a dickens of a long way away that the chances of a very fast chunk of rock arriving here, finding the Earth, surviving entry AND containing signs of life seem pretty remote

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Just one thing though...

While it's unlikely that we are alone in this universe, the sad fact is that somebody or something has to be the very first to arise - and what if it's us?

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FAIL

Wrong...

I dont think anyone on El reg would be arguing that life probably does exist in other locations in the universe and most likely even within our own galaxy.

However, claiming to find extraterrestrial life based on a single look at a meteorite discovered on Earth, doesnt really have much credence.

The creation of life takes a vast array of complex chemicals which under one hypothesis it has been suggested were seeded to the earth in the early years of formation by meteoroid strikes. It then still took millions (billions) of years to get the perfect conditions to start those chemcials replicating and on the road to becoming true living creatures.

This guy however, is claiming to have discovered the remains of bacteria on a small meteorite that prior to its entry into the Earth's atmosphere was travelling around the Solar System in extremely cold temperatures, without any form of gaseous atmosphere and which contained no liquid water.

So you'll forgive me if i call bullsh*t on his conclusions. Surely a more likely conclusion would be that if the shapes he discovered could only have been created by this bacteria (and im not saying that is the only way), then contamination after hitting the Earth would seem to make a lot more sense.

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@Why not?

"Statistically it would be very odd if we were the only form of life in the enitre universe"

Why would it? Do you know how life arises and thus how likely it is to occur? Do you know something nobody else does?

If X is the number of planets where it could happen and it turns out the odds of it happening are 10X to 1, it wouldn't be odd at all. In fact, even if the odds were the other way round, it still wouldn't be odd statistically.

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Aaaaah....

... but if the Universe is infinite then the fact that there's life on Earth proves that there's an infinite amount of life out there - any finite number, no matter how small, multiplied by infinity is still infinity ;)

(turning the Hitchhiker's theory on its head)

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El
Paris Hilton

Another possibility

These meteorites could have originated from the Earth itself, having been kicked up in a huge impact a billion years ago, e.g. the impact that theoretically created the moon.

Paris because she's an expert on huge impacts...

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@Aaaaah....

Except that if the big bang theory is correct (and the evidence suggests that it is) then the universe is NOT infinite, just very, very, very, very big.

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Hands up all who read that ...

"Journal of Cosmetology" ... Fossil proof that kiddie-pop stars are alien?

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Origin of life on Earth

If life could exist in extraterrestial meteorites, where did that life originate, and what does it prove. It doesn't prove that that is the origin of life on Earth, because life on Earth could have originated independently by the same process. And, does it really matter?

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FAIL

Unnecessary complexity

Compare and contrast:

Life was spawned somewhere else, somehow hitched a ride up into orbit, somehow gained escape velocity and left orbit, travelled all the way across the galaxy (Universe?) to Earth, plunged through the atmosphere as an incandescent fireball.

Life was spawned here.

Hmmm...

All that for a measly 3:1 (13.7B/4.7B) increase in timescale? Hey, if it was a 100:1 increase in timescale then it might be worth considering. But 3x isn't worth crossing the street for; let alone all this nonsense.

Note - life evolved here on Earth, probably several times. First batch to evolve a mouth ate all the evidence of the others. Life evolved elsewhere as well. But we need not rely upon it to explain Earth-based life.

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UK funding

Universities in the UK are much involved in areas such as this; for example Chandra Wickramasinghe's department at Cardiff and Milton Wainwright's at Sheffield.

http://www.astrobiology.cf.ac.uk/chandra1.html

http://journalofcosmology.com/Contents11.html

http://journalofcosmology.com/Panspermia2.html

In the present times of financial stringency and cutbacks in the budget for further education it is to be hoped that these endeavours and the contribution they make to the UK's reputation for high-grade academic research have not been neglected.</irony>

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Boffin

These aren't the blobs you're looking for

The scientific world has been through this several times before, with at least two of those iterations being started by guys who thought they saw alien bacteria in carbonaceous chondrites. There's probably life out there somewhere, but this should be filed next to N-rays.

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Stop

Terrestrial Origin?

I hope this stuff is proved out - makes for a much more interesting world.

But, how do we know that these very rare meteorites are not of terrestrial origin? They could have been sent up by supervolcano eruptions, asteroid impacts, etc. There are probably some scenarios where such events could leave chunks floating around that won't get back to earth for millions of years.

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FAIL

Oh look! A blob! And it looks vaguely like this other blob!

That is the full breadth and depth of all this guy has actually observed.

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Flame

A refreshing change that climate scientists should consider....

"Given the controversial nature of his discovery, we have invited 100 experts and have issued a general invitation to over 5,000 scientists from the scientific community to review the paper and to offer their critical analysis."

I don't necessarily disagree that the earth is currently warming however I disagree that it is PRIMARILY man-made. We'd make better use spending the billions currently spent on "Carbon trading" on finding alternatives to oil/petrol (gasoline for our us cousins) and better re-cycling technologies.

Better air quality and wasting as little as possible is a far worthier goal than feeding bankers and their ilk a %age of carbon trading which does nothing to reduce carbon emissions and everything to fill their pockets.

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