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Glassthrower
Vendor - Galactic Stone & Ironworks
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Reged: 04/07/05

Loc: Oort Cloud 9
Re: Fossil found in meteorite new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5626025 - 01/16/13 11:19 AM

Every so often, somebody will claim to find evidence of extraterrestrial life in a meteorite. In every case, the findings were ruled out because the "proof" turned out to be terrestrial contamination.

Keep in mind, up until very recently, most museums and institutions did not observe any clean protocols in regards to storing and handling meteorites. Ideally, for research purposes, meteorite samples should be stored in an atmosphere of inert gas and should not be exposed or handled without using full protective protocols to avoid contamination. NASA's JSC does a fine job of this.

All old meteorites, including Orgueil and other meteorites from the 19th century or earlier, are hopelessly contaminated. They are essentially useless for research of the type being discussed here.

Times are changing, for the better though. The recent Sutter's Mill carbonaceous fall resulted in the recovery of fresh specimens by NASA-affiliated teams - many of these were recovered before rains and oxidation, and were handled and stored using clean protocols. These specimens have only minimal contamination and would be useful for studies involving the search for extra-terrestrial life.

At least one respected and experienced meteorite hunter recently visited Sri Lanka to investigate this alleged new fall. He was unable to locate a single genuine specimen of the meteorite, despite being offered hundreds of terrestrial rocks, slags, and imposters by locals. He has expertise in working with locals and coordinating searches. He also has an experienced eye. It was his determination that no meteorites have been recovered in Sri Lanka from this new fall (if a fall actually happened). And if a meteorite did fall in Sri Lanka during December 2012, any specimens recovered there would be hopelessly contaminated for research purposes.

Until the author's specimen is officially recognized by the Meteoritical Society, it is not a meteorite. It cannot be published in any reputable peer-reviewed journal until it has been approved by NonCom and published in the Meteoritical Bulletin. This would require that a type sample of the specimen be submitted to a reputable institution for analysis. Until this happens, the author has a common Earth rock and nothing more.


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TVG
member


Reged: 05/03/12

Re: Fossil found in meteorite new [Re: Kon Dealer]
      #5626078 - 01/16/13 12:03 PM

So comets are not able to sustain life on a small scale, even with close passes/orbits to stars like our sun, no matter how brief the pass? Or are you saying this particular life form can be dated to have been fossilized here on Earth before ejection, how can one tell the difference? This is all very fascinating and I am obviously new to this, so please try not to make my head explode.

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Jarad
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Reged: 04/28/03

Loc: Atlanta, GA
Re: Fossil found in meteorite new [Re: TVG]
      #5626246 - 01/16/13 01:54 PM

Comets are frozen, so they cannot support life as we know it. Life as we know it here on earth (which includes diatoms) requires liquid water, gaseous or aqueous O2 or CO2 (depending on whether it burns sugars or uses photosynthesis to make sugars), and for photosynthesis a decent amount of sunlight (more than is available out where comets spend their time).

If some form of life evolved on a comet that could live in frozen ice and gasses at temperatures near absolute zero, it would not be able to live on earth.

Jarad


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TVG
member


Reged: 05/03/12

Re: Fossil found in meteorite new [Re: Jarad]
      #5626268 - 01/16/13 02:07 PM

So a comet's mass is not sufficient enough to store the required heat for life or liquid water even if it has a short periodic orbit around our sun. Could life not exist within these constraints, even if it meant a period of hibernation? Perhaps when the comet's orbit increases or decreases its' distance from the sun, freezing and thawing would cause periods of thriving life or hibernation?

Todd


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Jarad
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Reged: 04/28/03

Loc: Atlanta, GA
Re: Fossil found in meteorite new [Re: TVG]
      #5626363 - 01/16/13 03:09 PM

The problem is that it doesn't thaw, it sublimates. Frozen water in a vacuum goes straight from ice to gas. The part of the comet that survives the close pass is the part that is made of rock and the ice that stayed frozen. There is never a point where there is liquid water environment on it for life as we know it (like diatoms) to live in.

Jarad


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llanitedave
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Reged: 09/26/05

Loc: Amargosa Valley, NV, USA
Re: Fossil found in meteorite new [Re: TVG]
      #5626472 - 01/16/13 04:04 PM

Quote:

So a comet's mass is not sufficient enough to store the required heat for life or liquid water even if it has a short periodic orbit around our sun. Could life not exist within these constraints, even if it meant a period of hibernation? Perhaps when the comet's orbit increases or decreases its' distance from the sun, freezing and thawing would cause periods of thriving life or hibernation?

Todd




There are two questions here:

1. "Could life exist under these conditions?"
2. "Could diatoms exist under these conditions?"

We don't even have to find a perfect answer to #1 in order to give a firm "NO" to #2.

And #2 is what the claim is consisting of. It's clearly bogus.


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Mike Casey

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Reged: 11/11/04

Loc: El Pueblo de Nuestra SeƱora l...
Re: Fossil found in meteorite new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5626772 - 01/16/13 06:42 PM

Red Rain of Kerala in 2001

More grist for the mill.

"The red rain analysed at the MRI in Colombo has been shown to contain red biological cells that show viability as well as motility. Preliminary studies from EDX analysis show that these cells are similar to the cells found in the red rain of Kerala that fell in 2001, cells that have not yet been identified with any known terrestrial organism (Louis and Kumar, 2006; Gangappa et al, 2010)." ~ FOSSIL DIATOMS IN A NEW CARBONACEOUS METEORITE

"In November 2001, commissioned by the Government of India's Department of Science & Technology, the Center for Earth Science Studies (CESS) and the Tropical Botanical Garden and Research Institute (TBGRI) issued a joint report which concluded that:[5][18] The color was found to be due to the presence of a large amount of spores of a lichen-forming alga belonging to the genus Trentepohlia. Field verification showed that the region had plenty of such lichens. Samples of lichen taken from Changanacherry area, when cultured in an algal growth medium, also showed the presence of the same species of algae. Both samples (from rainwater and from trees) produced the same kind of algae, indicating that the spores seen in the rainwater most probably came from local sources." ~ Wikipedia


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TVG
member


Reged: 05/03/12

Re: Fossil found in meteorite new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5626875 - 01/16/13 07:51 PM

Okay, thanks for the explanations everybody, but you sure know how to ruin a weekend. Here I was planning to go out with my rock hammer and metal detector to find fossils in meteorites.

Todd


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Glassthrower
Vendor - Galactic Stone & Ironworks
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Reged: 04/07/05

Loc: Oort Cloud 9
Re: Fossil found in meteorite new [Re: TVG]
      #5627189 - 01/16/13 10:46 PM

Well, there is always the possibility, albeit remote, that a fossil could be found in a meteorite. But it hasn't happened yet, or if it has, it has not been proven yet.

Meteorites hold a lot of secrets and they can teach us much about the conditions present during early solar system history. They also helped seed the infant Earth with water, amino acids, and volatile organic compounds. The Murchison meteorite is a good example that touches on this.

But this journal and paper are overly optimistic and a classic case of very intelligent people making fundamental errors in judgement. Just because something looks like fossil, doesn't make it fossil. What's more, just because something looks like a meteorite, doesn't mean it is.

Best regards,

MikeG

PS - we may have just had a new and legitimate meteorite fall in Colombia.


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Ian Robinson
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Reged: 01/29/09

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Re: Fossil found in meteorite new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5627344 - 01/17/13 01:48 AM

Not having read the paper, is there an isotope profile done to confirm non-terrestrial origin ?

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GlennLeDrew
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Re: Fossil found in meteorite new [Re: Ian Robinson]
      #5627411 - 01/17/13 03:39 AM

Immediately upon reading that this 'paper' appeared in the Journal of Cosmology, my first thought was, "What is this journal I'd never heard of?" My second question; "Why is a matter for planetary scientists published in a 'cosmology' journal?" This took all of two seconds, and my skepticism ruled out clicking the link.

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Ravenous
sage


Reged: 11/14/09

Loc: UK
Re: Fossil found in meteorite new [Re: GlennLeDrew]
      #5627427 - 01/17/13 04:31 AM

And third, the lead author of the paper itself is also one of the journal's senior staff. So I wonder which of his peers reviewed his paper first.

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Ravenous
sage


Reged: 11/14/09

Loc: UK
Re: Fossil found in meteorite new [Re: Ian Robinson]
      #5627430 - 01/17/13 04:38 AM

No, no isotope ratio analysis that I could find.

Also they seem to think it's from a comet simply because it fell (or something in the area was observed to fall) on around the same day of the year as an earlier fall...


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dickbill
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 09/30/08

Re: Fossil found in meteorite new [Re: Ravenous]
      #5627706 - 01/17/13 09:41 AM

I may be possible to have airborne water particles that carry microorganisms, after a tropical huricane for example, and when they meet a dust storm they aggregate until a big chunk form and falls back on the ground.
And we get plenty of these hurricanes and dust storms, they mentioned the possible reoccurence of the infamous dust bowl forming storm, not far from the tropical hurricanes from the Mexico golf. In asia, that's be the dust storm from australia maybe. Just an idea.


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Reflector
newbie


Reged: 11/03/09

Re: Fossil found in meteorite new [Re: dickbill]
      #5627899 - 01/17/13 11:34 AM

I have a problem with the concept of "fossilized diatoms".

One of the researchers' defenses against possible accusations of contamination is that the diatom structures had a chemical composition similar to the meteorite matrix. This would imply that the diatoms were associated with the piece of rock for ages and ages, and is therefore not a recent accidental contamination. Fair enough, but ...

As mentioned earlier in this thread, diatoms are microscopic algae encased in a pill-box shaped silica shell (the frustule). Now, silica (glass) is pretty darn stable. So much so, that it is a classic example of a material (calcite being another) that gives rise to "unaltered fossils". In contrast, materials like wood and bone frequently fossilize through a chemical replacement mechanism whereby the specimen basically turns into rock. This does not happen to diatoms, and so recently deceased diatoms will be chemically indistinguishable from long-dead or so-called "fossilized" diatoms. But this does not quite gel with the finding in the article:

Quote:

EDX studies on all the larger putative biological structures showed only minor differentials in elemental abundances between the structures themselves and the surrounding material, implying that the larger objects represent microfossils rather than living or recently living cells.




Just a thought.

Edited by Reflector (01/17/13 11:35 AM)


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Ira
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 08/22/10

Loc: Mitzpe Ramon, Israel
Re: Fossil found in meteorite new [Re: Reflector]
      #5628852 - 01/17/13 08:42 PM

Considering the probability alone (even if life did exist on every planet in our solar system), the chances are about the same as finding "Hamlet" written by a bunch of monkeys at typewriters, i.e., essentially zero.

/Ira


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llanitedave
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Reged: 09/26/05

Loc: Amargosa Valley, NV, USA
Re: Fossil found in meteorite new [Re: Reflector]
      #5629872 - 01/18/13 12:24 PM

Quote:

I have a problem with the concept of "fossilized diatoms".

One of the researchers' defenses against possible accusations of contamination is that the diatom structures had a chemical composition similar to the meteorite matrix. This would imply that the diatoms were associated with the piece of rock for ages and ages, and is therefore not a recent accidental contamination. Fair enough, but ...

As mentioned earlier in this thread, diatoms are microscopic algae encased in a pill-box shaped silica shell (the frustule). Now, silica (glass) is pretty darn stable. So much so, that it is a classic example of a material (calcite being another) that gives rise to "unaltered fossils". In contrast, materials like wood and bone frequently fossilize through a chemical replacement mechanism whereby the specimen basically turns into rock. This does not happen to diatoms, and so recently deceased diatoms will be chemically indistinguishable from long-dead or so-called "fossilized" diatoms. But this does not quite gel with the finding in the article:

Quote:

EDX studies on all the larger putative biological structures showed only minor differentials in elemental abundances between the structures themselves and the surrounding material, implying that the larger objects represent microfossils rather than living or recently living cells.




Just a thought.




It's a pretty poor comparison anyway, since the most likely fate for a dead diatom is to for its empty shell to be filled with material from its immediate surroundings. Most rock is mostly silica, so a silica shell isn't going to cause a blip in elemental abundances. And since the shell is hollow, and fills with local material, having similar elemental abundances is what you'd expect, just as much for recently dead as for fossilized diatoms -- which is just what you said!

Edited by llanitedave (01/18/13 12:27 PM)


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Joad
Wordsmith
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Reged: 03/22/05

Re: Fossil found in meteorite new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5630478 - 01/18/13 07:36 PM

What puzzles me is why reputable scientists should choose to publish their findings in this way, rather than submitting their paper to an impeccable journal. They should know perfectly well that the credibility of their claim can get obscured by the source of their publication, and that if what they have is the real deal the solid journals will publish it. All it takes is a little patience. I can only conclude that scientists have succumbed to the same publicity mania that everyone else has.

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llanitedave
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Reged: 09/26/05

Loc: Amargosa Valley, NV, USA
Re: Fossil found in meteorite [Re: Joad]
      #5630737 - 01/18/13 10:40 PM

Not everyone else. But there's always that 10%.

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Jason H.
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Reged: 11/23/07

Loc: Central Florida
Re: Fossil found in meteorite new [Re: Kon Dealer]
      #5642720 - 01/25/13 02:34 PM

Link to wikpedia article on Polonnaruwa Meteorite

See criticism too.

Jason H.


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