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John Craig Venter, researcher and entrepreneur, is working to develop a machine that can sequence DNA found on Mars and then “beam” it back to earth. Venter’s goal is to send a “biological teleporter” to Mars, collect Martian DNA, and then recreate Martian life from it.
On a radio programme this week, a scientist, a geologist, talked about life on Mars. She claimed that nothing bigger than microbes could exist there because anything bigger would have been noticed/observed by us.
For example, when Captain Cook first arrived in the Antipodes, some of the natives within view of the shore simply did not see the ships.
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"The Labeled Release apparatus brought on the mission worked by scooping up Martian soil and mixing it with water containing nutrients and radioactive carbon atoms. If the soil contained microbes, the life forms would release gases as a result of metabolizing. That Labeled Release test did, in fact, support the theory that there was life on mars, but the other two tests did not."
However, alien life, even alien microbes could also be very dangerous to grow on Earth as there my not be any immunity anywhere to the life form. Perhaps one should at least initially restrict alien life to an off-world research station. The Moon? Mars?
Pantodragon, I notice you've made this exact same post on several other fora. In the future, please do not copy/paste content here that is also posted elsewhere on the web, as per our forum rules.-mod
You object to extending the principles of science to beyond the Earth, yet we have many reasons to believe this is a sound process and few if any reasons to doubt its efficacy. On that basis the environment of Mars seems to preclude macroscopic life forms.
Quote from: JP on 25/10/2012 15:50:47Pantodragon, I notice you've made this exact same post on several other fora. In the future, please do not copy/paste content here that is also posted elsewhere on the web, as per our forum rules.-modYes, I see that I didn't read the rules closely enough. Having said that, I have to comment on this rule: it is absurd. It is tantamount to saying that pantodragon (or anyone else) may not talk about the same subject, discuss the same issues, with different sets of friends unless she expresses herself in different words. What is the thinking behind this? At face value it seems as though Naked Scientists is inconveniencing its members to ensure that it has sole publication rights for whatever they produce - an iniquitous practice that will be familiar to all freelance magazine writers.
Quote from: Ophiolite on 25/10/2012 18:08:34You object to extending the principles of science to beyond the Earth, yet we have many reasons to believe this is a sound process and few if any reasons to doubt its efficacy. On that basis the environment of Mars seems to preclude macroscopic life forms.Without being specific about reasons, efficacy etc., I cannot deal with your specific objections. You talk talk with an air of great authority, but all I can say is you are wrong.
Science does not stand on such solid ground as it would have us believe. The air of authority with which science speaks disguises the insubstantiality, or even absence, of grounds on which it stands. There are issues raised on this thread upon which science talks complete bollocks with complete authority.
Firstly, the old evolution thing: survival of the fittest, the selfish gene, competition etc.. This is so blattantly, absurdly wrong that it beggars belief that people actually swallow it. Let’s just take one thing: competition leads to monoculture. Cooperation leads to diversity. This is very clear, unambiguous, unarguable. It is also clear that human society is tending toward monoculture. It is equally clear that the natural world has gone in the other direction, starting from relatively simple beginnings and evolving the huge, rich variety of life we see on our planet. Explanation: humans are competitive and fight for survival, while nature is cooperative.
Secondly, scientists are blithely extending the rules they have derived for life on earth out into the greater cosmos yet they clearly have not even understood what rules apply on earth. Nor have they understood the range of applicability and what justifies extrapolation of certain rules to systems and situations beyond their original home territory.
While we’re at it, let’s go right back to the beginning to the great big Bang with which modern science started: that we exist in, and are products of, a real material world (as opposed to, say, a virtual reality) and that that world is machine like i.e. is ordered by rules (as opposed to being ordered by, say, meaning). This is all unsubstantiated and puts science in the same compartment as religions i.e. it is based fundamentally on belief.
I can anticipate that there may be a reaction to my reply of the nature of: what are you doing on this site then if you think science is bollocks? Well, the situation is actually rather more complex than scientists understand. To me, science is just the latest big religion and I am interested in religions. Further, they all are true but you have to know where the truth lies, and it lies in the mythology. The textbooks of science contain the mythology of science just as surely as the Bible contains the mythology of the Judaic religions. These mythologies talk in the language of dreams and are interpretable in the same way as dreams and the truth they contain is the truth of what is going on in the minds of their creators.
If you choose to talk about the world being better today than ever before, if you try and justify science on grounds of its success, then you are making a fundamental error in logic, but one which people make all the time, especially those who are more concerned to be right than truthful. In case you don’t see the error, it goes like this: how do you know what the world would have been like without science? It might have been a lot better, it might have been a lot worse; you just don’t know.
BenV says: I think this oversimplifies the issue. No, I am not oversimplifying, you are overcomplicating.
Firstly, the old evolution thing: survival of the fittest, the selfish gene, competition etc.. This is so blattantly, absurdly wrong that it beggars belief that people actually swallow it. Let’s just take one thing: competition leads to monoculture. Cooperation leads to diversity. This is very clear, unambiguous, unarguable.
it seems to me that it is extremely disrespectful to disbelieve what individuals say.
This is clearly an oversimplification of the idea of evolution by natural selection. As I further went on to explain, competition does not lead to monoculture, and it is not the only driving force in evolution. You seem to dismiss the idea of evolution, but only after simplifying it into absurdity.
Perhaps you will take the time to address my question: Would you care to name a methodology which has been more effective, or even as effective, for acquiring knowledge about the world?
How has a technical discussion about life on Mars degenerated into fundamental Christian arguments about evolution?.
Okay, that's enough philosophy, please can we return to the topic in hand? We don't have a philosophy section of the forum, but I'm sure a new thread on the philosophy of science would fit in the General Science board, should you wish to start one.
I would like to respond to some of your comments, but will not do so in this thread about life on mars. So, I'm going to split this latest comment off into a new thread in the general science part of the forum. What title would you like me to give it?