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Thread: A "What if?" question about life on Mars

  1. #1
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    A "What if?" question about life on Mars

    I don't want to sound like a woo-woo or a Mars Face beleiver, but a strange thought popped into my head the other day.

    Taking a hypothetical from this past week. When Spirit first broadcast pictures to Earth, the feed was being fed live though JPL on NASA TV (I was watching it Saturday night) and I know was picked up breifly by at least Fox News.

    Any thought as to what might really have happened if the camera clicked on and spotted some very obvious relic of a lost civilization? Something that couldn't possibly be discounted as a trick of the light or the photo resolution. Does NASA and/or JPL have some plan in place in the event that they find something like that? Do they block the live feed until they can examine it? Or do they let it go live while they discuss it?

    BTW, I can picture two committees drawing up an "alien artifact" discovery procedure. One is way too serious, pounding coffee while they discuss political and theological ramifications of such a discovery. The other is a group in shirt sleeves laughing while they write something to satisfy the higher up that made them do it. :-)

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    there was a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon to that effect once..

    hopefully, this link will work to it


    http://www.reemst.com/calvin_and_hob...p;details=1039


    John

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    I believe they will flaunt it for all the world to see. Any evidence for life out there that is verifiable would mean a huge budget increse. So why hide it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Humphrey
    I believe they will flaunt it for all the world to see. Any evidence for life out there that is verifiable would mean a huge budget increse. So why hide it?
    Oh, it's not that I beleive for a moment that they'd hide it. In fact, I've told people before that beleive that NASA is hiding the "Face" on Mars that it's stupid because they'd be hiding the biggest funding increase in their history.

    What I wonder is, do they have a policy or procedure for the first few minutes/hours/days? They'd certainly let the world know in a hurry, but would they go hide it until they could be sure, perhaps?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Humphrey
    I believe they will flaunt it for all the world to see. Any evidence for life out there that is verifiable would mean a huge budget increse. So why hide it?
    While I have quite a bit of faith in scientists, I'm not so certain about the military, so I wonder if anyone would at least try to suppress it for reasons of national security.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eirik
    Quote Originally Posted by Humphrey
    I believe they will flaunt it for all the world to see. Any evidence for life out there that is verifiable would mean a huge budget increse. So why hide it?
    Oh, it's not that I beleive for a moment that they'd hide it. In fact, I've told people before that beleive that NASA is hiding the "Face" on Mars that it's stupid because they'd be hiding the biggest funding increase in their history.

    What I wonder is, do they have a policy or procedure for the first few minutes/hours/days? They'd certainly let the world know in a hurry, but would they go hide it until they could be sure, perhaps?
    Oh i misunderstood your question. Doh!

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    Quote Originally Posted by SciFi Chick
    While I have quite a bit of faith in scientists, I'm not so certain about the military, so I wonder if anyone would at least try to suppress it for reasons of national security.
    Very true. There could be great military potention in ancient, if not possibly advanced technology. But what if it is a monument of some kind. Say a actual statue of a martian and not any technology or living life.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eirik
    They'd certainly let the world know in a hurry, but would they go hide it until they could be sure, perhaps?
    I don't think they'd hide it at all, because if they do, then the military might step in and make disclosure difficult.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Humphrey
    Very true. There could be great military potention in ancient, if not possibly advanced technology. But what if it is a monument of some kind. Say a actual statue of a martian and not any technology or living life.
    I think if they broadcast it right away, no problem. If they wait any time at all, I sincerely think the military would step in and be paranoid. In a way, that's their job, to think of the worst case scenario and plan against it.

    I just remember the movie Thirteen Days, and the military was just a big pain in the butt when it came to paranoia.

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    Richard Hoagland claims it already happened with Pathfinder

    (Reading this article may cause effects similar to those of reading a thread on GLP, i.e., mental discomfort and possible head-pounding.)
    Everything I need to know I learned through Googling.

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    I don't think they could possibly hide it even if they wanted to. There are a lot of people watching the live feeds, a lot of members of the press too. If something obvious showed up on a video image, about 20 people would pull out cell phones and start making calls. The cat would be out of the bag in under a minute.

    There's really no way that life advanced enough to have left monuments could have had time to evolve on Mars. If there was any life at all, it was probably single celled or microscopic multicellular life. It'd be really exciting to just find that and I'm sure NASA would be happy with evidence of bacteria. To me, a really Earth-shatteringly stupendous discovery would be something like fossilized crustaceans. Even for something as simple as that, they'd pretty much have to send a manned mission to have a really through look. But realistically, if there was any life at all on Mars, it was microscopic. There's no way that higher organisms ever developed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tofu
    I don't think they could possibly hide it even if they wanted to. There are a lot of people watching the live feeds, a lot of members of the press too. If something obvious showed up on a video image, about 20 people would pull out cell phones and start making calls. The cat would be out of the bag in under a minute.

    There's really no way that life advanced enough to have left monuments could have had time to evolve on Mars. If there was any life at all, it was probably single celled or microscopic multicellular life. It'd be really exciting to just find that and I'm sure NASA would be happy with evidence of bacteria. To me, a really Earth-shatteringly stupendous discovery would be something like fossilized crustaceans. Even for something as simple as that, they'd pretty much have to send a manned mission to have a really through look. But realistically, if there was any life at all on Mars, it was microscopic. There's no way that higher organisms ever developed.
    While I agree that life couldn't have had time to evolve there, and what I'm about to say is unlikely, maybe Mars was settled by aliens that evolved elsewhere - you know, while they were seeding the Earth.

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    While I think the military establishment has kept secrets before, I doubt they have that much influence on NASA. It isn't like there's a guy in the Pentagon with an "off" switch watching live NASA feeds.

    The military is good -- at least okay -- at keeping secrets on things that fall within their bailiwick, but none of the armed services has a bunch of guys watching every government agency, NASA included. And frankly, any alien technology would probably be pretty useless militarily, because if we could reverse-engineer it we were most of the way there already, (since it would have to be comprehensible) and if you can't, well, you can't.

    An analogy might be showing someone from the following periods -- the year 1000, 1750, and 1900 a modern automobile. The guy from 1000 won't be able to reverse engineer it because the tools to make the parts don't exist. A guy from 1750 would probably be able to design an internal combustion engine based on the principles in a modern one, but he could not duplicate the materials and his would be a far niferior model. The guy from 1900 is the only one who could actually make use of the technology to get ahead -- they had ICEs in 1900 -- but the solid-state computers would baffle him completely, because quantum physics was not invented until the 1920s and withuot that solid-state design isn't possible.

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    I think it is incorrect to state with confidence that complex life could not have developed on Mars in the time before it lost it's field, (substantial) atmosphere and (liquid) surface water. By complex life, I am speaking of above microscopic. While the relative 'window' of favorable conditions for life to develop on Mars was vastly shorter than in the case of Earth, and occured far earlier in our solar system's history, such a period did exist where the martian environment, and that of Earth when it was favorable to basic life, were extremely similar. I think when asking this question, one must consider both the depth of similarity and the breadth of difference, and look at the issue with understanding of what can and does lay between those two.

    I do not expect that much of anything above what we might find evidence of on Earth from it's Proterozoic era would have developed. However, it took only 300 - 500 million years for prokaryotic cell organisms develop, and very shortly after, blue-green algae and photosynthesis. Eukaryotic cell and multicelled organisms developed just over another 1 billion years after that point...and this in our terrestrial environment. If we have learned anything in recent times, it is that organization of systems occurs far sooner than we might think - or that we might see manifest in some initial representative examples. Planets, stars, galaxies...all have been found to have formed earlier and in a more developed fashion than previously thought. Life has been found to exist in places and conditions once thought impossible...

    I do not think there were any (native) monument-producing organisms on Mars...but I think there is a good chance that higher than microscopic life did develop before it's life-supportive environment began to degrade. Fortunately, we should have the answer to this question relatively soon - in the next decade, we should have the most basic foundation of this question answered.

    As for hiding evidence of life or complex life, well, I can only recall how that was portrayed with the film 'Contact'. I have no doubt that there will be those, some in the military, who would rather such information not be openly broadcast or revealed...but I also am quite sure there are those who will, by the nature of information collection or by design and conscious effort, will act in ways to make such non-disclosure impossible. We will know, one way or the other.

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    (First post by the way, great forum and site)

    I just had a wierd idea. Just think, the camera pans around and several yards away we see----
    either a DEFINATE artifact or maybe even fossil bones. Something that's absolutely unmistakable.

    I could just see all the -- um ---- woo-woos?--- or whatever screaming-- FAKE! Sounds trippy yes, but to me, these people can't function in reality. So they make up all kinds of things. When confronted by the REAL thing, they might not be able to handle it.

    As far as the rest of us, or at least the fairly sane (?) people of the world, we'd be jumping up and down and cheering!
    And then the budget for NASA would go out the roof. People would be so excited that I doubt any of us would sleep for weeks.

    EDIT: I doubt there'd be a news blackout or cover up on this, since like has been mentioned, how do you hide something this important?
    There'd most likely be a lot of fear going around, but I think we'd make it thru that and get down to business to learn more.

    Rc

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    If the Mars probes don't show signs of alien life then NASA is either covering it up or faking the mission entirely. If they do discover life then NASA is faking the whole thing to increase its budget or provide a distraction from the Iraq War.

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    selected from the previously referenced Hoagland page:

    http://www.enterprisemission.com/images/plaq-ss.jpg

    uh, yeah. Like, whatever you say, Richard

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    In my opinion I think they would hide it. You would have to do a lot of rewrites. Religion for one. We could no longer say God created us only. You would have to think that God created another group and would they have had the same bible. Did they have a Jesus as well. Will they be in the same heaven and hell as we will. To me it would be mind boggling if we did discover life on another planet it would be incredible. Thats my opinion.

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    deleting one of a double post...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Garnett
    In my opinion I think they would hide it. You would have to do a lot of rewrites. Religion for one. We could no longer say God created us only. You would have to think that God created another group and would they have had the same bible. Did they have a Jesus as well. Will they be in the same heaven and hell as we will. To me it would be mind boggling if we did discover life on another planet it would be incredible. Thats my opinion.
    Well, a lot of us have already done those rewrites based on science. I'm sure that people who want to keep believing would figure out a way to fit it into their belief structure.

    And, why just stop at the Bible or Jesus? You know there's lots of religions, right?

    The Buddhists, of course, would not have to rewrite anything, as it would already fit within their belief system.

    Besides, most of the people working for NASA aren't religious, so they would probably be okay with shaking up the religious infrastructure.

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    My big question remains...WHY would they try to hide it? I mean come on!!
    It would be the GREATEST DISCOVERY EVER!!! And there would be no way that it could be kept a secret.
    The facts, gentlemen, and nothing but the facts, for careful eyes are narrowly watching. Isaac Asimov

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    Quote Originally Posted by Anthrage
    I think it is incorrect to state with confidence that complex life could not have developed on Mars in the time before it lost it's field, (substantial) atmosphere and (liquid) surface water. By complex life, I am speaking of above microscopic.
    You seem to know what you're talking about, and I don't disagree with you. But I didn't say complex life. I said advanced, as in advanced enough to build houses and other structures that might have survived and advanced enough to leave technology we could find evidence of. I believe the original post mentioned finding a "relic of a lost civilization" so I assumed we were talking about human level intelligence at least.

    Would you agree with the contention that Mars was not capable of supporting life long enough for high-level intelligence to arise?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Garnett
    In my opinion I think they would hide it.
    You may be right that they'd want to hide it, but personally I don't think they would be successful. I think that people idolize the secret or hidden parts of the government. We idolize it because Tom Clancy novels and shows like the X-Files are very very cool. So, we want to believe that the government is this streamlined, well-oiled machine but I don't think that accurate.

    What are some things that the government was successful in hiding? Well, take the example of the stealth fighter. That thing was classified as highly as anything could be classified, yet I read about it in popular mechanics in the mid '80s. They had drawings of it based on eye witness reports of a triangle shaped aircraft. There was even a model kit of a stealth fighter. It looked nothing like the F-117 but it proves that people knew for a long time of the existence of the thing.

    So anyway, my point is that I think sometimes we overstate the government's ability to keep a secret.
    Quote Originally Posted by Garnett
    You would have to do a lot of rewrites. Religion for one.
    Religion for one? Besides religion, what would you have to rewrite?

    Quote Originally Posted by Garnett
    We could no longer say God created us only. You would have to think that God created another group and would they have had the same bible. Did they have a Jesus as well.
    That's true only if we discover intelligent life. Hopefully most religions, even the monotheistic ones, would assimilate the idea of lower forms of life on other planets without too much problem. I mean, if we find bacteria on Mars they should be ok with that. But if and when we find evidence of a really advanced race of space farers you're absolutely right, it's going to send shock waves through society.

    On the bright side consider this, if we could find proof of very simple life in the solar system now, then finding advanced life elsewhere wont be so much of a shock. If we went from our present situation, having no proof that there is any life anywhere else in the universe, to finding ET... that'd be a lot to adjust to. But if we took a small step in that direction now, by finding evidence of simple life on Mars, then finding ET wont be as big of a deal. So, getting back to the idea that the government would hide evidence of life, I think that the people who might want to suppress the evidence must also have figured this out, and so they'd happily reveal the existence of simple life on Mars.

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    Tofu

    You seem to know what you're talking about, and I don't disagree with you. But I didn't say complex life. I said advanced, as in advanced enough to build houses and other structures that might have survived and advanced enough to leave technology we could find evidence of. I believe the original post mentioned finding a "relic of a lost civilization" so I assumed we were talking about human level intelligence at least.
    Actually, this is (also) what you said:

    But realistically, if there was any life at all on Mars, it was microscopic. There's no way that higher organisms ever developed.
    I disagree there. I agree as regards what you call 'advanced' life.

    I also agree on the government, our erroneous perceptions of it and it's ability to maintain secrecy. Even when they do so, there is evidence of it - the freedom of information act allows us access to many documents. In a large number of cases, great sections of the documents are blacked out - but the information is there, albeit inaccessible. Unreleased or unclassified documents are similar 'evidence'. I have no doubt there are secrets that are well kept, but they are the exception, not the rule.

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    I find it hard to believe that there would be any martian artifacts visible on the surface. Think about it for a moment. With the months-long global dust storms, all that dust being blown about would have long ago obliterated anything we might recognize as an artifact (unless it's a very large structure). Anything vehicle-sized or smaller would have by now been covered in dust. All we'd be able to see is a pile of sand. Hoagland always points out things that are comparatively small. Anything that small would have been covered eons ago.

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