It’s worth noting that we haven’t established that there are even fossil bacteria on Mars. But we are starting to hear more than ever that there are intelligent aliens out there, most recently from Ars Technica and Scientific American. Fundamentally, we have found nothing since the Sixties that truly suggests extraterrestrial civilizations. Nothing. If they want to keep looking, fine. Nobody’s stopping them. But spare us the dramatics.
There are many total mysteries out there. We need more to go on than mere mystery to take aliens seriously. One remembers the astronomer who convinced himself recently that space detritus Oumuamua was an extraterrestrial light sail and accused the rest of us of being too dumb to see that.
Paul Price and Gary Bates: These same scientists looking for coded information signals would never admit that such signals have already been found right here on Earth, encoded in the DNA of life!
In the real world, we are hoping to find fossil bacteria on Mars. There may or may not be fossil bacteria on Mars but the search feels more like science.
In that case, they can’t be smarter than us, can they?
As we’ve said here before, it is a reasonable idea. If only we could find a fossil bacterium on Mars.
Science is about discoveries, not speculative games. Forbes’s Siegel seems to agree. Hey, deal, guys: Find us fossil bacteria on Mars and we’ll think it’s science. Talk about space aliens and …
It’s all malarkey. In the real world, it would be awfully nice to find fossil bacteria on Mars. When that seems to be taking some time, we hear about 36 alien civs. That’s because there’ll always be a market for We Are Not Alone. The thing is, it used to be called religion, not science. And it still IS religion, not science.
At Air & Space: “There aren’t many organic silicon compounds to begin with, and silicon-based life in water, or on an oxygen-rich planet, would be all but impossible as any free silicon would react quickly and furiously to form silicate rock. And that’s pretty much the end of the story.”
Overcoming so many hurdles for so many life forms would surely require intelligence:
Cepelewicz: They’ve also found evidence that those microbes persist by getting energy from an abiotic process called radiolysis, during which radiation released by the rocks reacts with water in the system to release hydrogen, which the cells can then use in various forms as fuel.
Sheldon: The point is that we don’t expect to find nitrate and ammonia in the soil of Mars, not unless some nitrogen fixing bacteria put it there recently, because over time it will all come out of the soil as N2 gas. Claiming that the process goes the other way, from N2 in atmosphere to nitrates in soils, goes backwards, from high entropy to low entropy.
Standish: If the nitrogen cycle isn’t established within a certain time, nitrogen will be removed from the atmosphere and the surface will become rich in nitrate (bad) or, in a reducing atmosphere, ammonia (really bad). The bottom line is that there are speculations that probably get around this, but it is one more needle that has to be threaded for chemical evolution to produce the first life, or a problem for the first life to quickly take care of.
But remember, the space aliens are invented gods. If we don’t locate them here, we can locate them somewhere else.
We didn’t think our gentle readers credited those suggestions but for the record, here’s an explanation.