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Did meteorites bring life from Mars?

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#1 Ira

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Posted 29 August 2013 - 10:00 PM

Are we all really Martians? Panspermia gets new life with this hypothesis about the elements of life being brought to earth by rocks from Mars. I have my Martian meteorite. How about you? Now excuse me while I go have a chat with great-great-...-grandfather.

http://www.universet...claim-sparks...

/Ira

#2 Rick Woods

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 12:46 AM

Yup, I have mine, too! :D

We might be. It's an interesting idea; and Mars could certainly "blow chunks" to Earth more easily than the reverse, due to the lesser gravity.
Why the heck not?

#3 Qwickdraw

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 10:59 AM

So what brought life to mars?

#4 llanitedave

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 11:13 AM

So what brought life to mars?


Fred Hoyle.

#5 Rick Woods

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 01:25 PM

So what brought life to mars?


A meteorite from someplace else?

#6 Charlie B

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 05:53 PM

Fred Hoyle.



I thought it was Edger Rice Burroughs.

Charlie B

#7 GregLee1

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 06:12 PM

I think life spores floating through space is a pretty old idea, but I don't recall Edgar Rice Burroughs proposing that (though I did read the Mars series). I remember E. E. Smith writing about Arisian spores permeating the space of our galaxy, to explain why we are mostly good guys in this neighborhood.

#8 Rick Woods

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 08:06 PM

Except for the Eddorians in Washington...

#9 Charlie B

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 08:23 AM

You are correct. ERB only told how John Carter got to Mars. However, the first theory of Panspermia was by Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius (1903), according to the renowned source wikipedia, and was first proposed in the 5th century BC by Anaxagoras.

However, Panspermia does not explain how life started, but only how it gets disseminated.

Regards,

Charlie B

#10 Glassthrower

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 08:35 AM

The idea here is not that Martian meteorites contained some sort of biological spores or living material that brought life here.

Instead, Martian meteorites contained key chemical ingredients that allowed the formation of RNA, a critical stepping-stone on the way to the evolution of life. At the time, Earth lacked the right conditions and ingredients to form RNA, and it is theorized that the source of the missing ingredients could be Martian meteorites.

It is a tantalizing theory not without merit. But, the evidence is far from conclusive.

It's entirely possible though. We may have a simple shower of Mars rocks to thank for our existence. :)

Best regards,

MikeG

#11 Mister T

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 09:12 AM

It's entirely possible though. We may have a simple shower of Mars rocks to thank for our existence. :)


It's a good thing there were no guys like you , running around collecting them up and putting them in little boxes.

Life never would have had a chance!!

:poke: :question: :shrug: :jump:

#12 llanitedave

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 01:06 PM

The idea here is not that Martian meteorites contained some sort of biological spores or living material that brought life here.

Instead, Martian meteorites contained key chemical ingredients that allowed the formation of RNA, a critical stepping-stone on the way to the evolution of life. At the time, Earth lacked the right conditions and ingredients to form RNA, and it is theorized that the source of the missing ingredients could be Martian meteorites.

It is a tantalizing theory not without merit. But, the evidence is far from conclusive.

It's entirely possible though. We may have a simple shower of Mars rocks to thank for our existence. :)

Best regards,

MikeG


I'm not sure what merit it has. I've not seen any evidence that early Earth had any particular inability to support the synthesis of RNA, or that early Mars had any special ability to. If anything, early earth should have had access to pretty much any environmental condition that early Mars would have, plus others as well.

All we have on either side of that particular issue, so far as I know, are speculations. I'm pretty dubious about anyone who thinks he can turn those into assertions.

#13 Glassthrower

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 02:31 PM

Dave, supposedly the issue had something to do with Earth's lack of key elements to form RNA, namely Molybdenum and Boron which allegedly did not exist on Earth in the proper forms or amounts - at the time would RNA would have formed. If true, it sounds plausible - the ingredients had to come from somewhere, if they didn't originate here. However, I don't understand all of the science behind this and rely on those who have more expertise to separate the media hype from the real findings.

So, how much is the usual hype, and how much has merit?

#14 Glassthrower

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 02:33 PM

It's a good thing there were no guys like you , running around collecting them up and putting them in little boxes.

Life never would have had a chance!!


I better go check my supply of Martian meteorites - there might be something growing in there! Hopefully, it's not more advanced than me already.... :)

#15 Glassthrower

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 02:34 PM

When a reply uses "allegedly" and "supposedly" in close proximity to each other to support a point, that point is probably moot. :lol:

#16 llanitedave

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 03:27 PM

When a reply uses "allegedly" and "supposedly" in close proximity to each other to support a point, that point is probably moot. :lol:


Now THAT's a good point!

Yeah, I read the BBC article, and it IS interesting, but scientists have been positing templates for minerals other than molybdenum and boron for a long time. I haven't seen anything that suddenly claims those other template ideas are no longer credible.

The thing I have a problem with is the idea that just a very few molecules produced on Mars and transported to Earth could have been replicationally enhanced by processes that would have already had to be in prior existance on Earth! Unless the proposal is that the entire life form originated on Mars first, and then transferred to Earth -- where it found an environment capable of supporting it and letting it prosper...

There are some big self-contradictions inherent in the whole idea. One is that Earth would already have had to have an environment that was amenable to RNA-mediated protein synthesis, with every ingredient present except the RNA.This seems rather too convenient. But it's more sensible to posit that the protein and RNA factors evolved together to allow increasingly more efficient molecular replication.

Here's a recent publication from PLOS ONE discussing some of that early interaction.

Basically, isolated RNA sequences arriving on their own are unlikely to have been able to support any form of self-replication. It looks like that had to coopt AND be coopted by supporting proteins. This implies to me a long period of molecular interactions which would in my mind rule out some arbitrary arrival of a new ingredient at some random time and place.

Even if you take the "Mars First" hypothesis as credible, it's necessary that Earth's environments had already done nearly all the preparatory work for triggering the emergence of life. I don't think anyone has enough knowledge to assert that in spite of all the environmental, chemical, thermal, mineralogical, and textural diversity of early Earth, it lacked simply one single keystone that had to come from Mars -- about which we know even less.

#17 llanitedave

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 03:36 PM

And just to add -- I don't see why the early Earth could not have had deserts and borate evaporite minerals. Whether prior to or just after the impact that formed the Moon, the Earth should have had plenty of desert terrain. Water is thought to have accumulated on Earth relatively gradually.

#18 GregLee1

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 05:22 PM

Who cares? Are we interested in science, or do we want to help NASA to be more popular and get bigger budgets? I find it all rather sordid.

#19 Rick Woods

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 09:15 PM

Who cares? Are we interested in science, or do we want to help NASA to be more popular and get bigger budgets? I find it all rather sordid.


While I don't understand what that has to do with this thread (at all), I personally would answer the question with a "yes" and another "yes".

What exactly do you find sordid, Greg?

#20 GregLee1

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 09:31 PM

What exactly do you find sordid, Greg?

I'm not sure I can explain my reaction adequately. I think the brouhaha about life from Mars is just meant to appeal to people's interest in their roots. Where did I come from? What were my ancestors like? Now, suppose we do ultimately decide that our RNA did really require molybdenum from Martian meteorites, or something similar. Is this really going to satisfy this psychological need people have to understand their origins? No -- it's just a public relations farce. It's basically dishonest. I expect better from scientists.

#21 llanitedave

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 09:37 PM

I don't think scientists studying the origin of life are motivated to cater to yours or anyone else's psychological needs. It's not public relations, except on the part of the press doing the lay translation. It's serious work, conjecture and refutation in the Popperian sense.

While I provisionally disagree with the proposals put forward by Steven Benner and his team, not for one moment do I believe he's pulling a PR stunt. He's going where his own research interests and evidence lead him. I think he's wrong, but if he turns out to be right, then the evidence will accumulate in his favor.

#22 Ira

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 09:37 AM

Understanding the origins of life is a parallel endeavor to understanding the origins of the universe -cosmology - one of the nobelest endeavors of science.

/Ira

#23 Glassthrower

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 10:18 AM

I don't care if an old man in the sky dreamed us up, or if we evolved from a mud puddle on Neptune. The origins of life do interest me. But, I'll leave the wild conjecture up to the media. Media (online or otherwise) is about selling advertisements and writers will resort to hyperbole to generate interest or clicks. Some venues have a little more integrity than others, but all of them do it. It's science packaged for mass consumption and entertainment purposes.

Personally, it tends to aggravate me when the media distorts anything about meteorites, because it generates a lot of misinformation and headaches for those of us who work with meteorites on a daily basis.

Every time one of these articles comes out, I get a spike in unsolicited emails from scammers sending me blurry photos of misrepresented earth rocks, and hopeful newbies thinking their grandpa's prized river rock is a Martian meteorite worth a king's ransom.

Actually, I shouldn't complain too much. Every time one of these wild Martian stories hit the press wires, I get more visitors interested in learning about them and possibly buying them. :)

Even if you take the "Mars First" hypothesis as credible, it's necessary that Earth's environments had already done nearly all the preparatory work for triggering the emergence of life. I don't think anyone has enough knowledge to assert that in spite of all the environmental, chemical, thermal, mineralogical, and textural diversity of early Earth, it lacked simply one single keystone that had to come from Mars -- about which we know even less.


Good points Dave and I see what you were saying. For this theory to hold any water, it assumes the entire puzzle was already put together here on Earth, save that one goofy piece from Mars. Yeah, I don't see that either.

Best regards,

MikeG

#24 llanitedave

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 10:49 AM

There is one upside to the recent hypothesis. If it turns out that Mars was indeed capable of producing RNA (and that still does not in any way indicate that Earth was not), chances are it was capable of producing the other necessary organics as well, and it implies that life could have originated independently on both bodies. That's certainly something worth looking for.

If it did, and if there are traces still to be found, I'd be very interested to see what the genetic differences between Mars life and Earth life would have been. Did DNA appear subsequent to RNA on Mars as well? Do codons have the same patterns and the same bases on both planets? Did the C-G-A-T/U pattern exist on Mars as well as Earth? These questions are ultimately far more exciting to me, and have broader implications about what we can expect life to consist of and how it's likely to form elsewhere.

#25 GregLee1

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 11:38 AM

Understanding the origins of life is a parallel endeavor to understanding the origins of the universe -cosmology - one of the nobelest endeavors of science.

Yes, and if we can ever get our hands on truly extraterrestrial life to study, that will be a huge step for us. However, finding that one particular component of terrestrial life, long ago, came from Mars just seems a bit ho-hum. It would be like me discovering that my grandfather, who I had thought was born in Kentucky, was actually an immigrant from Germany. Sort of interesting, for me anyway, but not something that changes the world.






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