What you guys make of it?
Holy guacamole, I don’t know WHAT to think! There’s no doubt that the images are of organisms, and the pictures are far superior to the debatable ones lifted from “Mars rocks” some years ago. They are almost too good, considering their age, which, if authentic, must at least hail from an earlier generation solar system. What a tantalizing find!
Wickramasinghe has been obsessed with panspermia for ages. I’ll wait for the rebuttal by skeptics before making up my mind on this…
It should be straight forward. As I see it there are only 2 criteria*:
- The rock must be extraterrestrial. Are there sure fire ways of telling?
- The rock must be uncontaminated by terrestrial diatom fossils. Diatomaceous earth has several applications. Is it possible that the porous meteor could have bounced off some discarded filter media?
ETA: *Assuming that no one cheated, of course. 8)
As you say: if genuine it’s flipp’n awesome. Nice basis for a scifi book: fossils invade earth: wait for next comet to wake up and devour human flesh!
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
Incidentally, how does one pronounce the word “diatom”? Is it “die-atom” or “dia-tom”?
here we are debating a fucking pronunciation whilst a (potentially) mind-blowing diatom is discovered on a piece of a meteorite and while BM says it requires extraordinary evidence (which I agree with), I have discovered nothing that negates the report thus far; as I am not qualified to express jay or nay I will also reserve judgement but how cool if it is above board and what if the red rain was the seeding of the planet to kickstart life! Mebbe I’m just naive, but it’s lekker to speculate.
The article states that the meteor disintegrated, but that a fragment was subsequently sent for analysis. The confirmation that it is an extraterrestrial carbonaceous chondrite seems to hinge solely on the finding that it contains a good whack of carbon.
A few percent carbon as revealed by EDX analysis confirms the status of a carbonaceous meteorite.
Unfortunately the article says nothing about how the sample was obtained, sealed and shipped. And also if other rocks in the vicinity are devoid of coal.
Well sure, but a rose by any other name kinda stinks
The Wikipedia entry on the Journal of Cosmology
If the meteorite fell in Sri Lanka on December 29th, 2012, then the publication of a properly peer reviewed article less than two weeks hence is kinda fast, isn’t it?
Maybe the aliens are not here after all.
One of the researchers’ defenses against possible accusations of contamination is that the diatom structures had a chemical composition similar to the meteorite matrix.
Now, diatoms are microscopic algae encased in a silica shell, and silica is pretty darn stable. So much so, in fact, that it is a classic example of a material (calcite being another) that gives rise to “unaltered fossils”. In contrast, materials like wood and bone frequently fossilize through a chemical replacement mechanism whereby the specimen basically turns into rock. This does not happen to diatoms, and so recently deceased diatoms will be chemically indistinguishable from long-dead or so-called “fossilized” diatoms. But this does not quite gel with the finding in the article:
EDX studies on all the larger putative biological structures showed only minor differentials in elemental abundances between the structures themselves and the surrounding material, implying that the larger objects represent microfossils rather than living or recently living cells.
Yes — but there’s a maxim in science that goes “Publish or perish!” Well, more of an imperative, really. And it has lots to do with this situation. Also, in science precedence is (mostly) everything, and with a good topic, a seasoned scientist can roll off a paper in a few days and have it accepted for publication immediately.
Unless it’s a mock-up by the Men in Black!
Here’s an interesting explanation from one Kon Dealer, in a sister thread over at Cloudy Nights
There was a large marine impact event 65 million year ago. It was probably responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs. Who knows how much material was ejected into space?
Methinks the implication is we’re the aliens.
How do diatoms live and reproduce in space anyway? Or are they just carried from planet to planet via meteorites?
I can’t quite remember the details of the panspermia theory anymore and I’m too lazy to go look it up.
A diatom is very poorly adapted for life inside a comet.
On earth, diatoms are free living (not anchored) in lakes, oceans and puddles. Like other green plants, they depend on the availability of sunlight, carbon dioxide and some minerals. Living inside a comet immediately removes access to liquid water and sunlight and I wouldn’t be surprised if any possible carbon dioxide is frozen solid too.
So their presence in the rock must be accidental.
You wouldn’t have to “live” inside the comet to get panspermia. You would freeze with the water and carbon and get re-animated upon arriving at your destination (if diatoms can do that), or maybe coming close enough to the sun for a while, etc…
What I’m wondering now is how exactly the panspermia theory can be tested…