Was Alien Bacteria Discovered In Meteorites?

03.08.11 7 years ago 3 Comments

This weekend, Richard Hoover, a NASA astrobiologist, released an website (not a print journal) which PZ Myers calls “the ginned-up website of a small group of crank academics obsessed with the idea of Hoyle and Wickramasinghe that life originated in outer space and simply rained down on Earth. It doesn’t exist in print, consists entirely of a crude and ugly website that looks like it was sucked through a wormhole from the 1990s, and publishes lots of empty noise with no substantial editorial restraint.”  Oh snap.  You done got told.

The Journal of Cosmology then went to Fox News with the exclusive (bad form for a purported scientific discovery), and Fox News printed it.  I’m not linking to that, but it was the top viewed article on their site for awhile.  The claims made have since been rightly met with skepticism.  The things he calls fossilized microbes are patterns in the meteorite that could have been caused by many forces, most of them nonliving.  And the meteorite sample itself landed on Earth in 1806.  Everything about this is pinging my BS detector, and now it looks as if NASA themselves are making it clear they aren’t involved:

In an unusual step Monday, Paul Hertz, chief scientist of NASA’s science mission directorate, issued a statement saying, among other things, that “NASA cannot stand behind or support a scientific claim unless it has been peer-reviewed or thoroughly examined by other qualified experts… NASA was unaware of the recent submission of the paper to the Journal of Cosmology or of the paper’s subsequent publication.” [LATimes]

For more knives out reviews of the paper, check out Charlie Petit’s roundup.  Or just point at the nearest meteorite and say, “HA HA.”  It can’t hear you anyway.

[Sources: TDW, BadAstronomy, KSJ, Pharyngula]

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