Alien Life in Meteorites Claimed

first_imgAfter scrutinizing rare meteorites for over a decade, a NASA astrobiologist decided to go with his announcement: he may have found alien life.  Fox News began his story, “We are not alone in the universe – and alien life forms may have a lot more in common with life on Earth than we had previously thought.  That’s the stunning conclusion one NASA scientist has come to, releasing his groundbreaking revelations in a new study in the March edition of the Journal of Cosmology.”    There are only about nine CI-1 carbonaceous chondrites known.  In the ones Dr. Richard B. Hoover has cracked open and studied, he has found “fossilized remains of micro-organisms not so different from ordinary ones found underfoot – here on earth, that is.”  That’s one of the strange things about this story.  If these are organisms that originated independently of earth, why would some of them be recognizable as “generic species here on earth”?  Another problem is that the samples contain no nitrogen, an essential ingredient in life as we know it.  All amino acids and DNA contain nitrogen.    Hoover tried to be extremely careful with his samples, and expected a hotbed of controversy.  He has invited scrutiny of his work by 100 experts, and wants thousands of scientists around the world to weigh in on its validity.  Some, like David Marais, another NASA astrobiologist, are taking a wait-and-see attitude: “These kinds of claims have been made before, he noted – and found to be false.”  Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute doesn’t rule out the possibility but recognizes the controversial claim will have far-reaching implications.  He speculated that this might support panspermia of some sort: “It would suggest, well, life didn’t really begin on the Earth, it began as the solar system was forming.”  That raises other questions of how and where environments in the early solar system could have been more conducive to life than planet earth.    Rob Sheldon, a colleague of Hoover’s and an advocate of intelligent design, mentioned Hoover last December in his blog response on The Procrustean responding to the arsenic-life claim (12/02/2010).  He indicated that Hoover probably would have expected alien life to be very different biochemically from earth life.    On a different but related story, New Scientist and the BBC News speculated that “Meteorites ‘could have carried nitrogen to Earth’” in the form of ammonia carried on chondrites, chips of asteroids.  Aside from questions left begging about whether these “missing ingredients for life” had anything to do with the origin of life, that story appears contradictory to Hoover’s, who found no nitrogen in his samples.  “If someone can explain,” Hoover said, “how it is possible to have a biological remain that has no nitrogen, or nitrogen below the detect ability limits that I have, in a time period as short as 150 years, then I would be very interested in hearing that.”Is this another claim in the tradition of the Martian meteorite ALH 84001?  Is NASA trying to get more funding (01/07/2005) for astrobiology?  Possibly.  They’ve probably learned how to be more careful by now and give the appearance of honest skeptical inquiry.  In the early stages of controversial announcements, the Marais wait-and-see response is wise.  The best advice is to look carefully at the raw data, check assumptions, and ask the right questions.  The first question is to verify if this really is fossilized living material.  The second is to rule out contamination.  The third is to avoid jumping to conclusions and to consider all the possibilities.    With the Martian meteorite, the similarities to cells were superficial and never widely accepted as anything more than coincidental shapes.  Years after the huge flurry of media hype, after scientists found other ways the shapes could have been generated chemically, the hubbub died down.  Now only a few scientists believe it (12/14/2000, 11/20/2001, 03/18/2002, 05/15/2002, 01/30/2004, 03/23/2006, 09/01/2009).    Maybe this time things will be different.  Hoover seems more cautious than McKay.  What if the majority confirms that this was living material?  Does it mean life evolved in outer space?  No; it could have been created somewhere else, or it may be earth life that got here by a round trip.  Creation scientist Walt Brown has a theory that asteroids and comets were ejected from earth at the time of the Flood, when hyper-pressurized water shot into space from the fountains of the great deep, carrying rocky material from the continental margins with it.  It’s a speculative idea, but it’s one possibility to have life get out to space and back.  As for the Fox News lead-in that “We are not alone in the universe,” good grief; this is about the solar system, not the universe (see extrapolation).    Materialists will undoubtedly hype evolution, but the details revealed so far should be as puzzling to them as to their critics.  No nitrogen, but similar to earth life?  Astrobiologists have long tried to argue that life found elsewhere is bound to be very different from ours, but from the photos, these structures look remarkably similar to known bacteria.  Nothing in creation science or intelligent design requires life only to be found on earth anyway (see initial thoughts by ID advocate Denyse O’Leary on Uncommon Descent).  And why are these structures found only in a very rare class of meteorites, instead of all of them?    Further speculation is unwise till the claim goes through the scrutiny of skeptical scientists.  This commentary should only caution readers that healthy skepticism of spectacular claims is always in order, and to beware of being led down the primrose path by the media to answers without first asking the questions.    Already Fox News’s exclusive story is echoing around the world on other news sources and blogs.  Undoubtedly there will be more to say later about this claim.  Have your Baloney Detector tuned and ready.Update 03/07/2011: Criticisms of the claim are starting to come in from the scientific community and from evolutionists (see Space.com, PhysOrg, and Fox News follow-up story), so don’t get too excited about alien bacteria just yet.  Space.com also posted a gallery of past alleged proofs of alien life.Update 03/08/2011: New Scientist said there is “monster mud-slinging” going on among scientists about this claim.  Jeffrey Bada pointed out that minerals can show “many non-biological artefacts” to confuse the observer.  Alison Olcott Marshall [U of Kansas] said, “Morphology alone isn’t enough; geological context isn’t enough – you need all the pieces.  You need multiple lines of evidence: morphology that is highly reminiscent of biology, a geological context that makes sense and strong chemical evidence.”  New Scientist also hinted that the paper might have been a last gasp for the Journal of Cosmology, a journal deemed dubious by other astrobiologists.  It may go out of business in a few months.  This story is looking like a bright meteor – in and out of public attention in record time.(Visited 11 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

African communicators coming to Johannesburg

first_imgThey will be attending the third annual 2010 National Communication Partnership Conference. The conference will be held in Johannesburg on July 29 and 30.The theme of the 2008 Conference is ‘Africa’s time has come, Mobilising for 2010 and beyond’. This is a call to action to everyone to stand up and be counted. It is derived from South Africa’s bid to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, which was themed ‘Africa’s time has come – South Africa is ready’.The many entities that work within the shared communication framework of South Africa’s 2010 National Communication Partnership include Government Communication Information Systems (GCIS) the International Marketing Council (IMC), Proudly South African, the South African 2010 FIFA World Cup™, SA Tourism, private sector and Civil Society.Explains Nkenke Kekana, the Chairperson of the 2010 National Communication Partnership, “We want to achieve a coherent and action-oriented plan. That is why the conference this year is held over two days as against the one day conferences we held in 2006 and 2007. The conference will make it possible for African communicators to exchange ideas and practical suggestions on how to improve the continent’s image and reputation in the world, using the opportunities presented by the 2010 World Cup”.“It is also a way to build African solidarity and to foster a climate that contributes to African growth and development”, said Nkwenkwe Nkomo, the Co-Chairperson of the 2010 National Communication Partnership.The first day of the conference will have a South African focus, and delegates will be introduced to the United South Africa Campaign.The second day will focus on sharing the Partnership’s communication framework for the next two years and the emphasis will be on Africa. One of the highlights will be a presentation by a Public Relations expert from Africa who will address the way to mobilise, communicate and market the continent.Ends.Issued by:Meropa Communications on behalf of The National Communication PartnershipFor more information, please contact:Lauretta Theys: 011 772 1000/ 083 444 4755laurettat@meropa.co.za orPamela Dlamini: 011 772 1000// 082 686 2198pamelad@meropa.co.zaGosebo Mathope IMC: 078 784 3724gosebom@brandsouthafrica.comlast_img read more

A Spring field update

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest As planting enters the latter stages across Ohio, farmers now turn their attention to pest and disease issues. As Beck’s Hybrids Alex Johnson tells The Ohio Ag Net’s Ty Higgins, cutworms may be coming to Ohio corn fields, along with bean-leaf beetles in young soybean fields and head scab in wheat.last_img

One Time in Bandcamp: Challenging MySpace Music

first_img9 Books That Make Perfect Gifts for Industry Ex… Tags:#music#web 4 Keys to a Kid-Safe App Bill Tancer, Hitwise GM of Global Research recently wrote about MySpace’s departure as a top traffic generator for entertainment and music sites. Says Tancer, “MySpace was the most significant contributor of traffic to entertainment – multimedia sites providing over 35% of traffic to the category…that percentage now hovers below 10%.”And then on a related note, Wired’s Eliot Van Buskirk profiled SoundCloud as MySpace’s biggest music threat. While no one is arguing that MySpace has lost its grip as one of the leading music and entertainment destination traffic generators, I disagree with Van Buskirk’s choice in SoundCloud as the great equalizer. Due to the service’s ease-of-use and speed, SoundCloud is indeed one of the best file collaboration and music sharing sites. Quite simply, the site does everything right except help indie artists monetize. Meanwhile sites like Mix Match Music and Bandcamp provide solutions for bands to share AND monetize their products. In particular, Bandcamp’s execution is extremely elegant. As with MySpace, musicians upload their cover art, track listings, liner notes, lyrics and audio files. But Bandcamp adds four additional key features:1. File Conversions: The site converts a single uploaded file into eight different formats to meet device and music player requirements.2. Monetization: Bandcamp allows musicians to price their tracks and albums as they see fit. There is even the option to let fans decide prices on a sliding scale.3. Sharing Tools: The service provides embeddable player widgets for Facebook, MySpace and a variety of 3rd party blogs.4. Analytics: Perhaps most importantly, site analytics measure popular songs, track links and locate where files have been embedded. This means that musicians can search out their best advocates even if they’re miles (and sites) apart.While SoundCloud is definitely a fantastic tool for collaboration and remixing, it’s the storefront-style tools like Bandcamp that will either eat or be eaten by MySpace Music. We’ll just have to see where the major artists choose to flock in the coming months. CORRECTION: Earlier the writer described SoundCloud as a P2P site. SoundCloud is not structurally based on a peer-to-peer network of nodes. Instead the company considers itself a “Flickr for audio”. Related Posts center_img 5 Outdoor Activities for Beating Office Burnout dana oshiro 12 Unique Gifts for the Hard-to-Shop-for People…last_img read more

Parties’ tall claims for rejuvenation of lakes

first_imgThough both the major political parties have been making tall claims for rejuvenation of water bodies in the “City of Lakes”, the voters here are disillusioned with their “restricted vision” which they say is unable to grasp the significance of the ecosystem that ensures protection of catchment areas. The lakes here are facing a major issue of pollution and reduction of submergence area.After the successful removal of water hyacinth about six years ago, the water bodies such as Pichola Lake, Swaroop Sagar and Udai Sagar are facing contamination caused by the discharge of pollutants from the phosphorite mines and chemical factories and the release of sewage and domestic waste from settlements and hotels.The residents of the city expect the two stalwarts pitted against each other – Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria (BJP) and former Union Minister Girija Vyas (Congress) – to resolve the lake pollution issue for saving the identity of Udaipur, on which the survival of tourism business depends.Udaipur district BJP president Dinesh Bhatt told The Hindu that the State government was making “serious efforts” for conservation of lakes. Mr. Kataria, contesting for the fourth consecutive term, has highlighted his achievements on the law and order front as the Home Minister and the city’s infrastructure development as the MLA during his election campaign. He has credited the jump in Udaipur’s rank as a tourist destination to the projects initiated by the BJP government.On the other hand, District Congress Committee general secretary Saddam Hussain said Ms. Vyas’ return to the constituency after serving in the Centre as the National Commission for Women’s chairperson was a challenge before Mr. Kataria which he would find difficult to face. On the lake front, the Jheel Sanrakshan Samiti and the Jheel Hitaishi Nagrik Manch have taken up the initiatives for educating the people and cleaning the water bodies. Manch’s founder Haji Sardar Mohammed said the community efforts for taking out pollutants and aquatic weeds through boats had led to an improvement in the situation. The activists working for conservation of lakes have demanded that the next government centralise the works currently undertaken by as many as five different agencies.last_img read more