Germs From Space!

Sorry about the title of this post; I couldn’t resist.  I am a science fiction writer after all!

A NASA scientist, Dr. Richard B. Hoover, claims to have found fossilized alien bacteria in a CI1 carbonaceous chondrite meteorite.

I know, you’ve heard stuff like this before, but wait before you pass judgement.

Dr. Hoover published his study on Friday (March 4th, 2011) in the controversial (to some) online Journal of Cosmology.  Time Magazine, Yahoo, Fox News, Wired Magazine, and others quickly released stories about it.

Hang on!  Don’t close that window just yet, at least not until you’ve read the study.  It appears to directly address many of the complaints made against similar findings in the past.  Also, don’t make the mistake of ignoring it just because you don’t trust one or more of the sources.  Journals that are more widely regarded as “more responsible” often seem to shun space alien stuff as a category.

It needs to be reviewed very closely and carefully for flaws because it might be a paradigm shifting discovery, but it should also be viewed with an open mind for the same reason.  I read somewhere that this particular type of rock comes from asteroids, and that some asteroids can have wide enough orbits to travel from star to star.  There are materials in some of these meteors that scientists say predate our solar system and these fossils look an awful lot like bacteria that currently lives on our planet.

Here is another thing that some of the readers of this blog might find interesting.  At this writing, the majority of the strikingly negative comments that I’ve read from scientists about this particular discovery seem to me to be more along the lines of negative comments about the Journal of Cosmology, or Fox News, or Dr. Hoover, or NASA or past similar claims.  One of these sources admits outright that he doesn’t intend to waste even time even reading this study or any other that makes this or similar claims.  The more responsibly worded remarks I’ve seen from folks smarter than me (like Phil Plait and Robert Zimmerman), who seem to have actually read the study, appear cautiously optimistic and generally positive about the way Dr. Hoover put this study together.

If the likes of Phil Plait are waiting for more study before opining on this, I ain’t touchin’ it.  I’ve provided lots of links in the text above and in the Zemanta provided links below for you to do your own reading…and I urge you to use these to stay informed and work it out for yourself.

Followup: I must withdraw my earlier comment that Phil Plait seems neutral on this issue.  He has now issued a new blog post that sounds more like him on these matters.  He has some microbiologist experts on his side in concluding, for several reasons, that Dr. Hoover and his conclusions are wrong.  It would seem that while I was writing my post, the issue was still expanding and several experts started weighing in on the negative side.  NASA seems ominously quiet over this finding still, even though I did find an old essay about it, or something like it, on their website.  We’ll probably hear from them later on.

Followup: CosmicLog on MSNBC.com has an informative summary of developments on this, but it doesn’t seem to be present in my Zemanta links below.  BTW, I just went through that list, added newer links and threw out many of the older ones.

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~ by Bill Housley on March 7, 2011.

One Response to “Germs From Space!”

  1. Hi Bill. Thanks for the link. I guess the discovery (even if not true) and the debate around it must be fantastic fuel for a science fiction writer!

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