Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Graveyard Shift II

There is an article that has been circulating for the last couple of days which I find worthy of comment. [Also, if you view the article, note the date and time that it was posted and compare that with this post. I wonder if EST is on the other side of the International Dateline from CST.] This article poses a theoretical framework for a type of (microbial) life that may exist on Mars. The article goes on to say that a life detecting experiment on board the Viking landers may have inadvertently killed this type of life. The form of life proposed is based on hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) instead of water (H20). This chemical difference purportedly allows cellular structures to exist in the sub-freezing temperatures on Mars without cracking and being destroyed. This type of life may also suck water vapor out of the Martian air.

The Viking landers had a scoop, of sorts, that retrieved a sample of soil and poured water onto it. As I understand it, this would have caused any (bacterial) life forms fashioned after Terrestrial life to release gases and cause a change of temperature in the experimental chamber. Neither of these occurrences were detected. Alas, this experiment would have drowned any hydrogen peroxide based life forms. If this form of life is only, presently, a theoretical proposition, and this is a brand new theory, and the scientific life-seeking experiments included on the Viking landers had no expectation of the existence of such a life form, then why did this article make the news?

Stop right there. Enter "my favorite nut case" : Richard C. Hoagland. Among his other claims to fame, Richard C. Hoagland was the science advisor to Walter Cronkite during the Apollo 11 moon landing. He presently serves as the (unpaid) science advisor to the Caost to Coast AM radio show hosted by George Noory. This radio show airs locally on KTOK, 1000 AM, at midnight CST. This radio show usually focuses on wacky stuff. Yet, as I saw from their website that Richard C. Hoagland was on during hour number one addressing this article, and I was up late, I tuned in and listened.

Now, Richard C. Hoagland's web site is The Enterprise Mission. It is full of unusual information that is questionable yet scientifically valid. One thing there (and you, dear reader, can verify this for yourself) is a theory of life on Mars based on research conducted in an extreme environment. The necessary qualifier for this theory to be valid is liquid water on Mars. Richard C. Hoagland then took official NASA [Never A Straight Answer] data to prove where aquifers are located on Mars. Lo and behold, NASA has announced the detection of liquid water on Mars...in just the last few days.

Hoagland goes deeper. He believes that there is evidence for fossilized life on Mars.
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Hoagland is not alone in this belief.

Hoagland goes further. Hoagland even believes that there is evidence for an entire civilization that once inhabited Mars.
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While Mr. Hoagland makes some far-fetched claims, NASA steadfastly refuses to adequately investigate these.

So, Richard C. Hoagland's opinion on the article in question is:

The CNN article is a psy-op to ease John Q. Ignorant...uh...er...I mean John Q. Public into believing that life might exist on Mars. His reasoning goes something like this:

"We, NASA, goofed with Viking, in that we did not have the information presented in said article for Viking's set of experiments. We simply did not have this information then. Now that we know better, we are willing to investigate this possibility on future space-probe missions to Mars. We are sorry. We promise to do better in the future."

As a footnote, Hoagland presented additional NASA Viking data that showed a temperature rise and a gaseous release in the Viking soil sample that activated on a 24.6 hour timetable, at sunrise, in accordance with the Martian day. He explained that this is indicative of a bacterial life form in existence on Mars that is eating breakfast...and that it probably only eats once a day.

Go figure...and trust your government.


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