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Did Life on Earth begin on Mars? Scientists says maybe.





wallarookiller
In a study by Professor Steven Benner, a geochemist he determined that there is a high possibility that the beginning of life as we know it actually started on Mars and then through either impacts or volcanic eruptions got sent here to start the world.

Pretty interesting theory even though we've yet to find any evidence of life on Mars.

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/aug/29/life-earth-originated-mars
Bikerman
Well, a quick sanity/professional check reveals that Benner is a proper scientist and something of a published expert in this field - so he definitely walks the walk as well as talking the talk, to judge from his professional and publications records.
kelseymh
A write-up from the Science magazine news section provides a bit more detail.

The argument appears to be that, just after the Heavy Late Bombardment, the Martian environment would have been less likely to break down prebiotic systems, because of less oxygenating chemistry, and less prevalent free water. I don't know enough planetary chemistry to evaluate how likely this is, but it seems at least plausible.

I find the follow-on argument, that this means terrestrial life could have originated on Mars, to be rather a stretch.
Bikerman
Yes, that did strike me as really taking the ball and running hard Smile Still, the chap seems well qualified and his publication record seems cosher (I can't do a full check from this machine - doesn't have full academic access via my normal portal).
tonberry
NASA is sort of in and out when it comes to life on Mars. It could start there and then move here, but the more probably theory among scientsts is that it began "independently" and the conditions on Earth enabled it to develop further while the conditions on Mars didn't.

If you want to read more about it, check 'panspermia'. It is a fascinating scientific theory that life (in theo form of RNA or DNA) can travel through space on meteorites and when it hits some planet that has the necessary ingredients for life to happen, voila! Here we come! Certainly one of the more picturesque theories in science and although not the most probable one, it still is very much possible.
kelseymh
tonberry wrote:
If you want to read more about it, check 'panspermia'. It is a fascinating scientific theory that life (in theo form of RNA or DNA) can travel through space on meteorites and when it hits some planet that has the necessary ingredients for life to happen, voila! Here we come! Certainly one of the more picturesque theories in science and although not the most probable one, it still is very much possible.


I've never been particularly happy with the panspermia hypothesis. It doesn't actually adress the "origin of life" (abiogenesis) question. All it does is push the question backward in time, and make it more or less untestable (and therefore not very scientific)
tonberry
You are right, but 'scientific' also always needs to mean 'true' and when an understanding slips out of our hands, science needs the courage to admit it. I'm not saying that such a thing happens with panspermia, like I said: not the most probable theory.
kelseymh
tonberry wrote:
You are right, but 'scientific' also always needs to mean 'true' and when an understanding slips out of our hands, science needs the courage to admit it. I'm not saying that such a thing happens with panspermia, like I said: not the most probable theory.


Scientific does not "always need to mean 'true'". It needs to mean testable and falsifiable. Panspermia is a potentially testable hypothesis for the development of life on Earth, but it is explicitly not a testable hypothesis for abiogenesis (the initial evolution of life from non-living chemical precursors).
Ankhanu
kelseymh wrote:
tonberry wrote:
You are right, but 'scientific' also always needs to mean 'true' and when an understanding slips out of our hands, science needs the courage to admit it. I'm not saying that such a thing happens with panspermia, like I said: not the most probable theory.


Scientific does not "always need to mean 'true'". It needs to mean testable and falsifiable. Panspermia is a potentially testable hypothesis for the development of life on Earth, but it is explicitly not a testable hypothesis for abiogenesis (the initial evolution of life from non-living chemical precursors).

Though there are versions of panspermia that suggest that precursor compounds came to Earth, rather than precursor life... still abiogenetic, just changes the location of where the compounds synthesized from here on Earth to carbon compounds subjected to UV in space.

I'm also not a fan of the panspermia hypotheses, but, gotta be open to data, I suppose.
tonberry
kelseymh wrote:
Panspermia is a potentially testable hypothesis for the development of life on Earth, but it is explicitly not a testable hypothesis for abiogenesis (the initial evolution of life from non-living chemical precursors).


Just because something turns out to understand doesn't mean we need to look for the closest easy answer. That's what religions were for Smile No theory needs to be discredited just because it poses problems that other theories don't. It is just naturally set at the end of the probability table and then gets brought forward as more probable theories are proven false.

Most of astronomy in general is explicitly not testable since it runs on an awful lot of assumptions, but it is considered a division of science. String theory is just a brave set of numbers and is so far untestable, but since it uses scientific methods to seek truth, it is still considered a scientific theory.
kelseymh
tonberry wrote:
kelseymh wrote:
Panspermia is a potentially testable hypothesis for the development of life on Earth, but it is explicitly not a testable hypothesis for abiogenesis (the initial evolution of life from non-living chemical precursors).


Just because something turns out to understand doesn't mean we need to look for the closest easy answer. That's what religions were for Smile No theory needs to be discredited just because it poses problems that other theories don't. It is just naturally set at the end of the probability table and then gets brought forward as more probable theories are proven false.

Most of astronomy in general is explicitly not testable since it runs on an awful lot of assumptions, but it is considered a division of science. String theory is just a brave set of numbers and is so far untestable, but since it uses scientific methods to seek truth, it is still considered a scientific theory.


Most of astronomy is most certainly testable! It's based on observation, generalizing from observation produces predictions for new phenomena which should be observed, and which are then sought out either for confirmation or for refutation.

String theory is mostly mathematics. It certainly makes "in principle" testable predictions, and it is certainly falsifiable, which is the proper definition of science. Whether those predictions can be tested today is a question of sufficient technology.
Agil1ty
wallarookiller wrote:
In a study by Professor Steven Benner, a geochemist he determined that there is a high possibility that the beginning of life as we know it actually started on Mars and then through either impacts or volcanic eruptions got sent here to start the world.

Pretty interesting theory even though we've yet to find any evidence of life on Mars.

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/aug/29/life-earth-originated-mars



Could be, who knows.. it might have started with giant viruses.
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