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Author Topic: Methane question  (Read 5065 times)

Offline Gneiss

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Methane question
« on: 29/03/2004 23:01:42 »
Can anyone tell me whether Methane can be synthesised in the atmosphere independantly of any life forms?

You may have guessed that this question relates to the recent discovery of methane on mars...

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Offline gsmollin

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Re: Methane question
« Reply #1 on: 04/04/2004 06:10:08 »
Many organic chemicals are synthesized by non-organic means, including methane. I can't tell you specifically about Mars, but finding methane does not mean there are cows grazing nearby!
 

Offline Gneiss

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Re: Methane question
« Reply #2 on: 04/04/2004 20:50:47 »
:DYes, the suggestion would be some form of primitive bacteria, possibly subterranean - and certainly not cows grazing among the rocks ;)

The point about this discovery is that methane is unstable in the Martian atmosphere, therefore itís presence suggests continuous production.

Obviously it is far too early to jump to any conclusions, but a biological source is a possibility that can't be ruled out at this stage.


Theory is when you know everything and nothing is working. Organization is when nothing is working and everyone knows why. Practice is when everything is working and no one knows why.
« Last Edit: 04/04/2004 20:51:44 by Gneiss »
 

Offline gsmollin

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Re: Methane question
« Reply #3 on: 04/04/2004 22:36:48 »
No, rule out nothing at this point. It could be anerobic bacteria. It is the kind of lead that justified the mission. It is just that there are other possibilities that are not organic. An organic source is a more complicated source than an inorganic, and Ocham's razor tells us to rule them out before considering an organic source.
 

Offline chris

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Re: Methane question
« Reply #4 on: 05/04/2004 10:02:35 »
I thought that methane could spontaneously arise via the same chemistry that has given rise to clouds of ethanol and methanol at the centre of our galaxy :

http://www.thenakedscientists.com/html/shows/2001.11.18.htm#3 (see under "tonnes of alcohol floating around" - third block down the page.

Chris

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Offline gsmollin

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Re: Methane question
« Reply #5 on: 04/04/2004 06:10:08 »
Many organic chemicals are synthesized by non-organic means, including methane. I can't tell you specifically about Mars, but finding methane does not mean there are cows grazing nearby!
 

Offline Gneiss

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Re: Methane question
« Reply #6 on: 04/04/2004 20:50:47 »
:DYes, the suggestion would be some form of primitive bacteria, possibly subterranean - and certainly not cows grazing among the rocks ;)

The point about this discovery is that methane is unstable in the Martian atmosphere, therefore itís presence suggests continuous production.

Obviously it is far too early to jump to any conclusions, but a biological source is a possibility that can't be ruled out at this stage.


Theory is when you know everything and nothing is working. Organization is when nothing is working and everyone knows why. Practice is when everything is working and no one knows why.
« Last Edit: 04/04/2004 20:51:44 by Gneiss »
 

Offline gsmollin

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Re: Methane question
« Reply #7 on: 04/04/2004 22:36:48 »
No, rule out nothing at this point. It could be anerobic bacteria. It is the kind of lead that justified the mission. It is just that there are other possibilities that are not organic. An organic source is a more complicated source than an inorganic, and Ocham's razor tells us to rule them out before considering an organic source.
 

Offline chris

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Re: Methane question
« Reply #8 on: 05/04/2004 10:02:35 »
I thought that methane could spontaneously arise via the same chemistry that has given rise to clouds of ethanol and methanol at the centre of our galaxy :

http://www.thenakedscientists.com/html/shows/2001.11.18.htm#3 (see under "tonnes of alcohol floating around" - third block down the page.

Chris

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Offline Ylide

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Re: Methane question
« Reply #9 on: 20/04/2004 06:51:49 »
Methane can result from a reduction of carbon dioxide.  It's not likely to happen in the earth's atmosphere as it exists now, but in the reducing environment of the early stages of earth's life cycle, it wouldn't be a bad assumption.

I don't know much about Mars' atmosphere to state wether it's a reducing environment or not.

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Re: Methane question
« Reply #9 on: 20/04/2004 06:51:49 »

 

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