Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Mystery of Science Friction

Where are the microbes?
What is science friction?

We sometimes tend to forget how much scientists challenge one another, even causing friction from time to time, and we tend to forget how much that can help move science along.

In a more severe sense today's "science" even sometimes becomes tomorrow's "heresy" (see e.g. What Is Pseudo Science?, Heretics Deny The Dark Matter of Faith, Tyranny Of Dogma In Science, and State Crimes Against Democracy).

Yes, the status quo sometimes has more gravity and mass than "new stuff", more gravity and mass than the status quo should have, and hence the friction.

A recent example concerns the Earth - Mars interactions that occur in the form of Martian meteorites making their way to the Earth's surface.

Naturally the scientists want to examine those meteorites to determine what they are made of, but some of the scientists have taken a look inside for evidence of life, and have come up with friction generating results:
Richard Hoover has discovered evidence of microfossils similar to Cyanobacteria, in freshly fractured slices of the interior surfaces of the Alais, Ivuna, and Orgueil CI1 carbonaceous meteorites. Based on Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscopy (FESEM) and other measures, Richard Hoover has concluded they are indigenous to these meteors and are similar to trichomic cyanobacteria and other trichomic prokaryotes such as filamentous sulfur bacteria. He concludes these fossilized bacteria are not Earthly contaminants but are the fossilized remains of living organisms which lived in the parent bodies of these meteors, e.g. comets, moons, and other astral bodies.
(A Structure RE: The Corruption of Memes). Another discovery presents an interesting nexus between microbial life of that sort and things found on both Earth and Mars, which were nicknamed "blueberries" by scientists:
It was originally thought that those spheres of hematite here on Earth, and by extrapolation those on Mars, were chemically produced, not organically produced.

However, and to the contrary, new research of similar hematite spheres here on Earth has found that those here on Earth were formed by microbes:
Spherical iron-oxide concretions - dubbed "blueberries" - were first found on the Red Planet in 2004 by an earlier NASA robotic probe - Opportunity Rover - providing some of the first evidence for liquid water on Mars.

Earth-based analogues for these "blueberries" are found in the Jurassic Navajo Sandstone near the Colorado River, Utah, where the concretions range in size from small marbles to cannonballs and consist of a hard shell of iron oxide surrounding a softer sandy interior.

Previous theories suggested these concretions were formed by simple chemical reactions without the help of life. However, new UWA research shows clear evidence that microbes were essential in their formation.

This raises the possibility that Martian "blueberries" may not only reveal that water was present on Mars - but life too.
(Phys Org). This may also hold true for the new type of "blueberries" found in Endeavour Crater very recently, found also by the Opportunity Rover:
NASA's long-lived rover Opportunity has returned an image of the Martian surface that is puzzling researchers.

Spherical objects concentrated at an outcrop called Kirkwood on the western rim of Endeavour Crater differ in several ways from iron-rich spherules nicknamed "blueberries" the rover found at its landing site in early 2004.

"This is one of the most extraordinary pictures from the whole mission," said Opportunity's principal investigator, Steve Squyres of Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. "Kirkwood is chock full of a dense accumulation of these small spherical objects. Of course, we immediately thought of the blueberries, but this is something different. We never have seen such a dense accumulation of spherules in a rock outcrop on Mars."
(Mystery Spheres on Mars, NASA). The spherical objects at Endeavour are not of the same composition as those found in 2004 shortly after Opportunity landed.
(Cosmic Rosetta Stones?). So, we know that the spherical stones called "blueberries" were made by microbial activity here on Earth, not by purely chemical process as was once thought.

So, the possibility that their twins on Mars were likewise made by microbes is a plausible reality, especially since microbe fossils from ancient Mars have been found in meteorites here on Earth.

The theory that a planet near Mars exploded long ago, destroying the ecosystems of Mars (Weekend Rebel Science Excursion), together with the theory that a Dyson Grid malfunctioned to cause that explosion, creates yet more science friction (Exploded Planet Hypothesis).

The new Mars Rover Curiosity (Mars: Analyzing Layers of History) will hopefully take some of the friction out of the discussion, and add some more settled science to the discussion.

Isn't science friction fun?

No comments:

Post a Comment