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Thread: Can We Handle Finding Life Outside Our World?

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    Can We Handle Finding Life Outside Our World?

    NASA's Chief Scientist doesn't think so according to this recent article below. I wasn't sure if this forum was the right spot to post it, maybe we do need a metaphysical forum

    Snip -
    Life on Mars could be found within two years but world is 'not prepared', Nasa's chief scientist say

    Nasa is close to finding life on Mars but the world is not ready for the “revolutionary” implications of the discovery, the space agency’s chief scientist has said.

    Dr Jim Green has warned that two rovers from Nasa and the European Space Agency (ESA) could find evidence of life within months of arriving on Mars in March 2021.

    The ExoMars Rover, which has been dubbed “Rosalind” in memory of British chemist Rosalind Franklin, will search for extra-terrestrial life by drilling 6.5 feet down into Mars’ core to take samples.

    Those samples will then be crushed up and examined for organic matter in a mobile laboratory.

    Dr Green compared the potential discovery to when the astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus stated that the Earth revolves around the Sun in the 16th century....more below...

    Linked Source :
    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/s...-a9125076.html

    My own thoughts on this is that discovering Martian microbes wouldn't shake up our sense of reality too much, but contact with an alien intelligence would be a magnitude 10 mental earthquake....baby steps.

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    Is Jim Green an expert on social psychology?
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    A discovery of some protist wouldn't be a blip today.

    A SETI signal, might be of interest--but politics would be back in the headlines: "This (insert hated politician here) leader isn't what we need to make contact with"

    We aren't making contact sir--this was likely just a radar beam from another...

    My guess is that it would take news of an asteroid strike to go to the front page--and then there would be a human interest story of surfers wanting to find the tsunami...

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    There are what, 7 billion people today? I imagine that many different reactions. Fake news, hoax, wonderment, who cares, I've known that since Viking, about time they admitted it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Is Jim Green an expert on social psychology?
    I have no idea of his credentials other than he's a "NASA Chief Scientist", and btw neither am I ;-). Maybe he's going by the reaction from back in the 90's when NASA announced finding fosslized evidence of microbes inside a meteor from Mars? As far as I know NASA still stands by that determination. I suspect that if the new probes do detect life or life signs on Mars it would then require DNA analyses to confirm it's not of Earth origin.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spacedude View Post
    ...it would then require DNA analyses to confirm it's not of Earth origin.
    Or that we're not of Mars origin...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Is Jim Green an expert on social psychology?
    No, he's basically an expert on magnetospheres, though he worked in data processing for space missions and used to be the head of the planetary exploration division at NASA, so he managed missions. Actually, I may have a chance to talk to him over the weekend (I am going to a conference that he is also attending), so if I run in to him I might ask how serious it was.
    As above, so below

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    No, he's basically an expert on magnetospheres, though he worked in data processing for space missions and used to be the head of the planetary exploration division at NASA, so he managed missions. Actually, I may have a chance to talk to him over the weekend (I am going to a conference that he is also attending), so if I run in to him I might ask how serious it was.
    Neat!
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spacedude View Post

    My own thoughts on this is that discovering Martian microbes wouldn't shake up our sense of reality too much, but contact with an alien intelligence would be a magnitude 10 mental earthquake....baby steps.
    I would share your view ^^^

    As exciting as it would be to discover E.T I think most of us are expecting to find some form of primitive life somewhere even within our own solar system, its just a matter of time. I think I would be more surprised if we never found any other life anywhere else, in fact I think this would be quite profound considering the vastness of space and number of star systems.

    Finding intelligent life on the other hand is another matter, especially if its as much or more advanced than us. This will change everything, our cultures our understanding our religions... and if we met intelligent life then there could be any number of implications some very worrying and potentially life threatening.

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    Given how bored people seemed to be the last two times we "discovered life on Mars" (the Viking labelled release experiment and the Alan Hills meteorite), I think we've already done the experiment and failed with flying colours.

    Grant Hutchison

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    No, he's basically an expert on magnetospheres, though he worked in data processing for space missions and used to be the head of the planetary exploration division at NASA, so he managed missions. Actually, I may have a chance to talk to him over the weekend (I am going to a conference that he is also attending), so if I run in to him I might ask how serious it was.
    Neat +++
    Hope you do have a chance, it's always best to go straight to the source for their unfiltered view point. Ask him if he minored is social psychology too ;-)

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    With all due respect to his credentials in his primary lines of work, I must say that my hunch is that Dr. Green has an overactive imagination on this topic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spacedude View Post
    NASA's Chief Scientist doesn't think so according to this recent article below. I wasn't sure if this forum was the right spot to post it, maybe we do need a metaphysical forum

    Snip -
    Life on Mars could be found within two years but world is 'not prepared', Nasa's chief scientist say

    Nasa is close to finding life on Mars but the world is not ready for the “revolutionary” implications of the discovery, the space agency’s chief scientist has said.

    Dr Jim Green has warned that two rovers from Nasa and the European Space Agency (ESA) could find evidence of life within months of arriving on Mars in March 2021.

    The ExoMars Rover, which has been dubbed “Rosalind” in memory of British chemist Rosalind Franklin, will search for extra-terrestrial life by drilling 6.5 feet down into Mars’ core to take samples.

    Those samples will then be crushed up and examined for organic matter in a mobile laboratory.

    Dr Green compared the potential discovery to when the astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus stated that the Earth revolves around the Sun in the 16th century....more below...

    Linked Source :
    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/s...-a9125076.html

    My own thoughts on this is that discovering Martian microbes wouldn't shake up our sense of reality too much, but contact with an alien intelligence would be a magnitude 10 mental earthquake....baby steps.
    While there may be a low percentage Chance of fining ancient life on Mars, That hype has been with humans since the Viking Project and this failed miserably.
    Drilling into the surface is less likely to find possible existence of life. That project may discover ancient information of the surface eons ago and the depositional environment at the time. This will lead to the ever present view of Mars "may" have had life hundreds of million years ago.
    Until many more sophisticated instruments are sent to Mars the existence of life will remain a mystery/possibility. IMO

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spacedude View Post
    Maybe he's going by the reaction from back in the 90's when NASA announced finding fosslized evidence of microbes inside a meteor from Mars? As far as I know NASA still stands by that determination.
    It is more complex than that. The announcement about the the Allan Hills meteorite was never a statement of certainty, and the evidence has been discussed in great detail since - with inconclusive results.

    One problem is that, if this meteorite contains life, it is life of a kind that does not resemble life on Earth - in particular the 'fossils' are too small. I'd like to think that these 'fossils' do represent some kind of life-form - maybe a prebiotic life-like phenomenon rather than actual microbes; but it is currently impossible to be sure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by eburacum45 View Post
    It is more complex than that. The announcement about the the Allan Hills meteorite was never a statement of certainty, and the evidence has been discussed in great detail since - with inconclusive results.

    One problem is that, if this meteorite contains life, it is life of a kind that does not resemble life on Earth - in particular the 'fossils' are too small. I'd like to think that these 'fossils' do represent some kind of life-form - maybe a prebiotic life-like phenomenon rather than actual microbes; but it is currently impossible to be sure.
    When President Clinton held a press conference to announce the discovery back in 1996 NASA scientists seemed pretty sure and although there are other arguments to refute their findings they still seem certain of their side of the story. But still the debate goes on of course. Below is a 2016 update after 20 years and here's one snippet :

    The scientists behind the 1996 study "continue to support our original hypothesis," Thomas-Keprta said. Gibson concurred, adding that "no scientific data has been presented to date that disproves any of the four original lines of evidence presented in 1996. Interpretation of the data is where the disagreement arises."

    https://www.space.com/33690-allen-hi...-20-years.html

    Who knows, we may resolve this issue in about 2 years?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    No, he's basically an expert on magnetospheres, though he worked in data processing for space missions and used to be the head of the planetary exploration division at NASA, so he managed missions. Actually, I may have a chance to talk to him over the weekend (I am going to a conference that he is also attending), so if I run in to him I might ask how serious it was.
    That's cool. I'd bet an ice cream sundae that he will say the paper used hyperbole on his comments. [Some papers are free depending on the sandwich order. ]

    The excitement for such a find on Mars will be determined by whatever sign this species will be displaying at the time of discovery. I doubt any bacterial discovery will get much negative response by the vast majority of religions, especially if there's ambiguity on whether or not its origin was Earth.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

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    Its interesting to note the method recently used for identifying 3.5b year old life in the stromatolite formations in the Pibara region of West Australia is not so dissimilar to that which led to the ALH 84001 meteorite controversy.
    Yet the community conclusion from the ALH 'discovery' was:
    Quote Originally Posted by Wiki
    However, the scientific consensus is that "morphology alone cannot be used unambiguously as a tool for primitive life detection." Interpretation of morphology is notoriously subjective, and its use alone has led to numerous errors of interpretation.
    It looks to me like Green may be foreshadowing yet another so-called 'discovery' (this time, onsite, on Mars) using the same disputed method of morphological interpretation and ambiguity of mineralogical analysis, so not much wonder he'd also be predicting disputes when that happens.
    (Putting aside the obvious woo in his proclamation for the moment, that is).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spacedude View Post
    When President Clinton held a press conference to announce the discovery back in 1996 NASA scientists seemed pretty sure and although there are other arguments to refute their findings they still seem certain of their side of the story.
    Indeed, the original scientists behind the 1996 study still support their original claims. That doesn't mean to say that NASA as a whole take a side on the issue. Here's a NASA press release casting doubt on some of the original study's findings.
    https://www.nasa.gov/centers/johnson...4/J04-025.html
    Golden’s team concluded that the shapes of the MV-1 and ALH84001 elongated crystals differ. Their study concluded that inorganic processes can make the magnetite crystals in ALH84001, so any claim to a biological source is uncertain.
    It would be nice to resolve the issue when the Rosalind Franklin gets there, but there is still the chance of a false negative result as well as the chance of a false positive even then.

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    I also wonder what makes ESA so sure they won't encounter NASA InSight's drilling problems, in order to achieve their proposed drilling depth of ~2 meters?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hornblower View Post
    With all due respect to his credentials in his primary lines of work, I must say that my hunch is that Dr. Green has an overactive imagination on this topic.
    I wish you could be a bit slower to judge. I had a chance to talk to him today, and I asked him about the interview. Basically, he said that when he mentioned being prepared, what he meant to say was that with the Viking discovery it wasn’t anything living, but what if we found an actual living bacterium, we would have to consider the possibility that it might be pathogenic. So he was talking about the very practical issue of contamination, not a philosophical issue. And I think his point makes perfect sense from that regard. Speaking from experience, journalists do sometimes sensationalize things not necessarily out of malice but simply because they did’t understand the subtleties of a statement.
    As above, so below

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    Speaking from experience, journalists do sometimes sensationalize things not necessarily out of malice but simply because they did’t understand the subtleties of a statement.
    There's also the "What's the real story here?" phenomenon, which encourages journalists to recast a minor part of a complex argument as if it is the Big Issue, because that's what's going to get clicks.
    Journalists for print newspapers are also encouraged to sort the presentation of the story so that it leads with a simple and eye-catching paragraph, and then presents more minor aspects and increasing detail farther down the column. This makes it easy for sub-editors to "trim to fit", by removing later (and presumed less important) paragraphs of the story to fit the space on the page. But occasionally that removes so much subtlety that it actually misrepresents the original story.
    My father, who worked in newspapers in the days of hot metal publishing, had a story about how that latter fate befell a piece written by the paper's angling correspondent. (These regular columns are usually assigned a fixed space and word-count, so they're written with a definite beginning, middle and end.) Having found his article clipped of its ending, and having never crossed the threshold of the newspaper's offices in recorded memory, the angling correspondent turned up the next day carrying a salmon priest [a large wooden club used to kill large landed fish], walked up to the front desk, announced who he was, and then said, calmly and politely, "I'd just like a quick word with the sub-editor who worked on my column yesterday."

    Grant Hutchison

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    Thanks Jens for going to the source and clearing that up, what a huge difference in context from the original one which I copied in the first post. Reporters should record their interviews, if this one only took notes then he/she needs to get their act straight. If Dr Green had mentioned "pathogenic" in his conversation with the reporter then that should have shined a bright light as to his actual concern. Things can get lost in translation but this is one h@ll of a Whopper turning the story's meaning from day into night.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    I wish you could be a bit slower to judge. I had a chance to talk to him today, and I asked him about the interview. Basically, he said that when he mentioned being prepared, what he meant to say was that with the Viking discovery it wasn’t anything living ..
    Whilst its good to see a frank admission, apparently based on mostly intuition, I wouldn't say this opinion is reflective of the evidence at hand.

    Gil Levin & others have made their views perfectly clear
    that:
    no explanation involving inorganic chemistry as of 2016 is able to give satisfactory explanations of the complete data from the LR experiment
    Green is thus not speaking from the consensus position, (which is: 'Undetermined' .. which is derived from the evidence at hand).

    Noteworthy also is that the International Committee Against Mars Sample Return (ICAMSR) opposes the sample return on the basis of possible contamination by pathogens. It would seem that Green is lobbying in support of this committee's 'pro mars life' views, although he doesn't appear as an official ICAMSR lobbyist.

    The one point we can draw from all this opinion-based lobbying, is that it is abundantly clear we are still unable to convincingly 'prove', (or dispel), the belief in remotely residing, currently invisible, microbial exo-life .. even on our closest 'habitable zone' neighbouring planet! This fact also won't change if/where the returned sample also produces a 'no life' determination .. which then demonstrates the extravagance of pursuing 'Holy Grail-like' exploration strategies producing entire missions such as ExoMars.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    I wish you could be a bit slower to judge. I had a chance to talk to him today, and I asked him about the interview. Basically, he said that when he mentioned being prepared, what he meant to say was that with the Viking discovery it wasn’t anything living, but what if we found an actual living bacterium, we would have to consider the possibility that it might be pathogenic. So he was talking about the very practical issue of contamination, not a philosophical issue. And I think his point makes perfect sense from that regard. Speaking from experience, journalists do sometimes sensationalize things not necessarily out of malice but simply because they did’t understand the subtleties of a statement.
    I stand corrected. I should have thought of the possibility that a journalist might have blown it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    I wish you could be a bit slower to judge. I had a chance to talk to him today, and I asked him about the interview. Basically, he said that when he mentioned being prepared, what he meant to say was that with the Viking discovery it wasn’t anything living, but what if we found an actual living bacterium, we would have to consider the possibility that it might be pathogenic. So he was talking about the very practical issue of contamination, not a philosophical issue. And I think his point makes perfect sense from that regard. Speaking from experience, journalists do sometimes sensationalize things not necessarily out of malice but simply because they did’t understand the subtleties of a statement.
    What a shock! Some "journalists" now walk on their hands as they too often don't have a leg to stand on.

    [Paraphrasing a golfing opponent -- and trying to mock hyperbolic abuse -- who once told me that, "If I had legs as ugly as yours, I'd walk on my hands." ]
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

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    Recent ian hislop programme about fake news. Pulitzer and Hearst, very guilty including a lovely story about people on the moon, charmingly naked, seen by a new telescope and many readers taken in. Many believers even after debunking in the New York Times. Not so long ago.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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