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deltaH
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[*] posted on 20-1-2015 at 10:13
Alien life discovered


http://news.sky.com/story/1143906/alien-bugs-discovered-in-e...



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Zyklon-A
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[*] posted on 20-1-2015 at 10:18


Interesting, not definitive proof, but very cool.
I'm guessing that the "life" is dead at this point. Did they do DNA tests? Are there any other papers on it yet?




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[*] posted on 20-1-2015 at 10:28


Agreed, what evidence suggests it's life?
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deltaH
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[*] posted on 20-1-2015 at 10:35


Quote: Originally posted by Zyklon-A  

I'm guessing that the "life" is dead at this point.


maybe...




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[*] posted on 20-1-2015 at 10:51


It's life Jim, but not as we know it?
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deltaH
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[*] posted on 20-1-2015 at 10:58


They look like remnants of the silica shells of diatoms, particularly the last image, no?

Here's a list of selected publications by Dr. Milton Wainwright taken from the Staff website of the University of Sheffield.

Selected Publications

***Wainwright, M., Al Harbi, S. and Wickramasinghe, N.C. (2006). How do microorganisms reach the stratosphere? International Journal of Astrobiology 5,13-15.

Shivaji, S.,Chaturvedi, P.,Kuresh,K.,Redy,C.B.S.,Wainwright M.et al. (2006). Bacillus aerius sp. nov. isolated from cryogenic tubes used for collecting air samples from high altitudes. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology 56,1465-1473.

Wainwright, M. (2008). Some highlights in the history of mycology-a personal journey. Fungal Biology Reviews, 7, 2297-102.

Wainwright, M., Leswd, A. and Alshammari,F. (2009). Bacteria in amber coal and clay in relation to lithopanspermia. International Journal of Astrobiology 8,141-143.

Wainwright, M. (2010).The overlooked link between non-virus microbes and cancer. Science Progress 93, 393-40.

Wainwright, M.(2002). Do fungi play a role in the aetiology of cancer? Reviews of Medical Microbiology 13, 1-6.

Wainwright,M. (2006). The potential role of non-virus microorganisms in cancer. Current Trends in Microbiology 2, 48-59.

Wainwright,M.(2011). Charles Darwin mycologist and refuter of his own myth. Fungi 4, 12-20.

Wainwright, M. (1991). Streptomycin: discovery and resultant controversy. Journal of the History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 13, 97-124.

Wainwright, M. and Swan, H.T. (1986). C.G. Paine and the earliest surviving clinical record of penicillin therapy. Medical History 30, 42-56.

---------------------------------
The abstract from *** above reads:

Quote:
Abstract
A number of studies have demonstrated that bacteria and fungi are present in the stratosphere. Since the tropopause is generally regarded as a barrier to the upward movement of particles it is difficult to see how such microorganisms can reach heights above 17 km. Volcanoes provide an obvious means by which this could be achieved, but these occur infrequently and any microorganisms entering the stratosphere from this source will rapidly fall out of the stratosphere. Here, we suggest mechanisms by which microorganisms might reach the stratosphere on a more regular basis; such mechanisms are, however, likely only to explain how micrometre to submicrometre particles could be elevated into the stratosphere. Intriguingly, clumps of bacteria of size in excess of 10 μm have been found in stratospheric samples. It is difficult to understand how such clumps could be ejected from the Earth to this height, suggesting that such bacterial masses may be incoming to Earth. We suggest that the stratospheric microflora is made up of two components: (a) a mixed population of bacteria and fungi derived from Earth, which can occasionally be cultured; and (b) a population made up of clumps of, viable but non-culturable, bacteria which are too large to have originated from Earth; these, we suggest, have arrived in the stratosphere from space. Finally, we speculate on the possibility that the transfer of bacteria from the Earth to the highly mutagenic stratosphere may have played a role in bacterial evolution.


[Edited on 20-1-2015 by deltaH]




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Fulmen
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[*] posted on 20-1-2015 at 11:42


"Since the tropopause is generally regarded as a barrier to the upward movement of particles it is difficult to see how such microorganisms can reach heights above 17 km"

Why is it regarded as a barrier? Why assume strange findings are alien rather than assume that there is an unknown mechanism for bringing terrestrial life to the stratosphere? And again, what evidence suggests that it is non-terrestrial life or life at all? Do they have any evidence other than that it looks like life? If it IS life, shouldn't it be possible to grow? Or at least show traces of complex organic molecules?
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[*] posted on 20-1-2015 at 12:05


Without a peer reviewed paper, an article means little. I asked some NASA scientists about this type of experiment before, and they were all very insistent that it is difficult to determine what organisms originated at what atmospheric altitudes.

To make the claim that the life is extraterrestrial rather than possibly carried from the 8-15km range (known to host life) seems premature.

http://www.livescience.com/26645-microbes-in-the-sky.html
http://www.pnas.org/content/110/7/2575
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Fulmen
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[*] posted on 20-1-2015 at 13:44


Exactly.
I noticed this part: "In particular, airborne microorganisms above the oceans remain essentially uncharacterized, as most work to date is restricted to samples taken near the Earth’s surface. "
So we've barely started gathering evidence, the last thing one should do is jump to improbable explanations.

"For some unknown reason, the proportion of microbes, relative to other particles like soil and dust, is higher at higher altitudes, Konstantinidis said. This could be because other particles are more likely to help water form ice crystals and clouds before falling out of the atmosphere as rain or snow, he [Kostas Konstantinidis] added."
What is more plausible? That terrestrial microbes has evolved to stay afloat for the longest time possible or that extraterrestrial life is raining down continuously. If we can find them it can't be a freak or rare occurrence.
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[*] posted on 20-1-2015 at 16:35


I'm not a biologist, but this guy is: http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/09/22/im-not-the...

And he doesn't think much of their results.




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[*] posted on 20-1-2015 at 21:59


Occam's razor and all that, but you know, it got me thinking about one thing... what if these diatom-like things are really extraterrestrial and diatoms on earth are in-fact also E-T in origin (although they would have had much time to evolve differences). How would we know?

With any sample brought from space, scientists would argue it is of terrestrial origin by some unknown mechanism. To be honest, unknown mechanism arguments border on 'faith'.

Perhaps DNA is extracted and then the argument might be that it is, therefor terrestrial, but then again, perhaps terrestrial life originated from these seeds and that's why we too are DNA based.

The only difference I could think of might be measured in extra terresrial life is that perhaps there might be a slight difference in isotopic ratios than life from earth, but would that be convincing? Even on earth there are slight differences in isotopic ratio's due to natural enrichment processes.

The sad thing is that short of alien life carrying a barcode from Ursula Minor giving contactable details... we just won't know.

But to be honest, I think it is more likely that alien life reaching earth would be diatom-like things than bipeds, for example.




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[*] posted on 21-1-2015 at 02:22


Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.

They did not present -any proof- that this is alien life.

Non-terrestrial isotope ratios?
DNA test? unusual sequences?
morphology compared with known terrestrial organisms?

just saying 'it is generally accepted that dust cannot be carried to this height' does not constitute extraordinary proof.





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[*] posted on 21-1-2015 at 03:00


Problem is that it seems that isotopic composition differences might not occur, for example in this paper, calcium isotopic distributions were found to be similar between extraterrestrial sources and terrestrial:

http://iopscience.iop.org/0004-637X/702/1/707

Quote:
The relative abundances of calcium isotopes in the mass range 40-44 were measured in primitive and differentiated meteorites and igneous rocks from Earth and Mars in search of non-mass-dependent variations that could provide clues about early solar system processes. Most bulk samples of planetary materials have calcium isotopic compositions identical with Earth's within the current resolution of about 0.01% in 40Ca/44Ca. Possible exceptions include carbonaceous chondrites, some ordinary chondrites, and two samples of calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions, which have small excesses of 40Ca. The samples with 40Ca excesses are also known to have 50Ti and 135Ba excesses and 142Nd and 144Sm deficits. Collectively these data from refractory elements suggest that the planetary embryos represented by chondrites preserve isotopic heterogeneity that reflects different nucleosynthetic sources. No late admixture from a single nucleosynthetic source can explain all observations. The results are most compatible with variable proportions of material derived from Type II supernovae. The initial calcium isotope compositions of Earth and Mars are indistinguishable and similar to the 40Ca abundance found in some chondrites and all differentiated meteorites studied. It appears that isotopic heterogeneity in calcium was still present at the completion of disk formation but was homogenized during planetary accretion.


While it would be convenient to find 'smoking gun' evidence, I still maintain that it is extremely unlikely that we would. There is always some kind of doubt one can construct to call into question any evidence.

The problem is, how do you disprove that these particles are extra-terrestrial when they might be similar to terrestrial?

Think about it, even if we send probes into space and collect microorganisms, people will still believe it came from earth.

Anyway, on a slightly more philosophic note. I was sitting out my balcony and marvelling at a landscape dotted by trees. These looked so much like coral formation that for one second, I felt like I was immersed in an ocean called the atmosphere... granted, a far lower density 'ocean', but an ocean nevertheless. Life on this ocean being less dense and concentrated at the surface. Then I marveled up to the stars and realised that space was just another ocean of extremely low density, dotted by islands of planets and I realised that it would not surprise me that here too, at extremely low density, could be floating microscopic life.

That would also mean that there is a very high likelihood that planets with life-forming elements and moderate temperatures are highly likely to contain life by seeding by these organisms.

I'll close this off with one final thought. If one is of the belief that these samples collected by balloon were indeed terrestrial, then it means that life could be ejected into space from other planets as well...

[Edited on 21-1-2015 by deltaH]




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[*] posted on 21-1-2015 at 05:21


Does it? While the stratosphere is way up there it is not outer space. Just as a balloon can reach the upper levels of the atmosphere but never leave I'd expect the same to be true for microbes and dust.
And while the idea of panspermia i sound it does not automatically mean that we can find evidence of that today. In order to have any chance of finding extraterrestrial life with a few random samplings like this it would have to rain down continuously in fairly large amounts. Just think of the volume of the atmosphere and the size of the samples...
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[*] posted on 21-1-2015 at 07:51


Ofcourse not. By what mechanism do you imagine they achieve escape velocity?

Quote:
While it would be convenient to find 'smoking gun' evidence, I still maintain that it is extremely unlikely that we would. There is always some kind of doubt one can construct to call into question any evidence.

The problem is, how do you disprove that these particles are extra-terrestrial when they might be similar to terrestrial?


Sure it is not easy to prove definitively (if that is even possible for any theory) but at least they should have done every conceivable experiment to test their hypothesis, actively trying to disprove it to see if it holds up to real tests, before drawing such a conclusion.




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[*] posted on 21-1-2015 at 12:03


Chandra Wickramasinghe (the current leading proponent) and company believe in panspermia, that life actually originated in space (comets, specifically) and life on planets was seeded from space. How this might actually work seems not to be of much concern to them.

A more plausible idea is that life might travel between planets, in particular life originating on Mars might have arrived on Earth. We have Martian meteorites, including a recently discovered sedimentary rock, so we know for a fact that surface material from Mars does arrive on Earth on a regular basis, having been ejected into space by large impacts. It has also been shown in simulations that material can be accelerated to escape velocity from Mars without being so severely stressed that it would necessarily have been sterilized (but the mean transport time to Earth is millions of years). If life ever existed on Mars, samples of it (not necessarily living samples) must have arrived here in the past. It is possible that large moons might have originated life, and these could be sources as well.

The notion of identifying microscopic objects as biological vs non-biological by appearance alone is a non-starter in legitimate science - especially when the classification criteria are "it looks like a life form to me" - i.e. no objective criteria.

There are long running controversies about nanobacteria, tiny objects that look like bacteria proposed as living things (and in a more credible biological context) which have been observed to replicate, interact with organic compounds, etc., but are now believed to be non-biological. This is an example of the difficulty in telling whether something is biological or not, even in more ordinary circumstances.

The quality of work these guys do is extremely poor. One recent Wickramasinghe claim is Polonnaruwa "meteorite" from Sri Lanka which he claims has diatoms from space. First the Polonnaruwa rock is not a meteorite, and "space diatoms" consist entirely of extant Earth taxa.

Any serious scientist would be embarrassed to submit this stuff for publication and indeed, they had to create their own journal (the Journal of Cosmology) to get it into print.
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[*] posted on 21-1-2015 at 14:39


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[*] posted on 21-1-2015 at 18:17


The actual paper in case anyone is interested: http://journalofcosmology.com/JOC22/milton_diatom.pdf

Quote:
conditions which avoided exposure of the stubs to contaminating dust

This guy's real funny. Who could help but believe such meticulous (nonexistent) detail?
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[*] posted on 21-1-2015 at 20:57
Moderator merge these two threads


http://www.sciencemadness.org/talk/viewthread.php?tid=11971



[Edited on 22-1-2015 by franklyn]
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deltaH
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[*] posted on 21-1-2015 at 21:18


Busted then. Thanks for everyone's input and I second franklyn's request (apologies for missing it).



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[*] posted on 24-1-2015 at 13:19


For some people, there is never enough 'proof'.

Now, with respect to my in-laws, I know they are aliens, little proof required:D.
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[*] posted on 24-1-2015 at 14:52


Then again, for some people there is never too little proof. Honestly, most people show more critical thinking buying a used car than they do when it comes to what they base their whole life on. I really do hope we do find alien life, but that doesn't mean I have to be gullible about the evidence.
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[*] posted on 29-1-2015 at 06:48


I would be so happy I we found alien life.



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[*] posted on 30-1-2015 at 16:07


Quote: Originally posted by Fulmen  
Then again, for some people there is never too little proof. Honestly, most people show more critical thinking buying a used car than they do when it comes to what they base their whole life on. I really do hope we do find alien life, but that doesn't mean I have to be gullible about the evidence.


Anti-vaxers come to mind.
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