[meteorite-list] OCEANS ON MARS

From: Norbert Classen <trifid_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu, 14 Jun 2007 01:53:57 +0200
Message-ID: <000701c7ae16$1d0ec810$2002a8c0_at_lunatic>

Hi Rob, Mark, and All,

While I doubt that someone will be able to find/prove life on extrasolar
planets during the next ten years I'm personally convinced that life itself
is not that rare in the vastness that we tend to call "our" universe. Just
imagine the billions of galaxies, each bearing billions and billions of
stars, planets, moons, asteroids, comets with water and amino acids, sugar,
and all the stuff necessary to plant the seed of life on more than one
remote world that we tend to call "our" planet Earth. If the formation of
life is THAT improbable, how does it come that WE are here?

If you want a good read on this issue, try Christian de Duve's "Vital Dust:
Life as a Cosmic Imperative". No, de Duve's not one of those confused
dreamers, he's a renowned scientist and a Nobel prize winner... and his book
is a real blast. Maybe you will change your mind on what it takes to form
life in the first place, from a biochemical point of view.

Life rulez!

-----Urspr?ngliche Nachricht-----

>>I get more convinced as time passes, that we *will*
>>find either active or fossil life forms on Mars in my lifetime.
>Don't kid yourself Mark,
>Did you ever do that calculation in physics where you If not, it works out
that the chances are that you
>have to leave the box for something like 10^20 times
>longer than the universe has been around for to have a
>chance of it happening or something ridiculous like
>that. My point is that random chemical production of complex
>amino acids is one thing but DNA is quite the other
>and how it manages to develop from a molecule to
>sentience is off any scale.
Completely agree - but we're here to argue about it, right? So, given
the universe has a greater than zero chance of life emerging (which I
hope we can all agree on, even on metlist), it either happens in a tiny
fraction of potential cases, or we're unique. Since I specifically
mentioned Mars, I'd argue that the chances are somewhat higher than
(arbitrarily) 10^20, because we share a common environment. I'm not
positing panspermia (nor ruling it out); just noting the fact that we
have a stable single star, a habitable zone which extended further out
in geological time, and demonstrably a place where the right stuff
emerged to do it at least once. I think Mars is a hot bet, and getting
hotter by the year :)

>A group of British scientists predicted finding life
>on extrasolar planets in the next 10 years in the last
>week. How presumptious is this???
Probably pretty presumptious, I agree; but this species does tend to
get a little excitable on this topic. I offer myself as a type specimen
in evidence ;)

>You really have to believe that life will form wherever it can which is not
>same as life finding a way to hang on
Personally, I do believe that life will form, a lot of the time, in an
environment where the conditions are right. You're completely right in
about 'forming' vs 'hanging on' in a place where it's close to extant
life, like sulphur vents vs rainforests - but as I say above, narrow the
field of view. Maybe in our solar system, Mars is the sulphur vent to
our rainforest?

>I REALLY think it will be. (ohhh, geez, I hope proof isn't found next week)
I'll happily join you in humble pie and a decent pint if we ever get
proof either way :) Hell, I'll buy you a pint anyway and we can argue
till the cows come home 8)

Received on Wed 13 Jun 2007 07:53:57 PM PDT

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