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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Alien skeptics attack!

by John MacBeath Watkins


Well, it was bound to happen.  Those perpetually skeptical scientists are raining on the aliens' parade.

Some say the journal that published the paper by Astrobiologist Richard Hoover of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., is indeed peer reviewed, but not impressively peer reviewed.  After all, I suppose it does matter who the peers are. Lord Blatheringstoke may be a peer of the realm, but does his opinion matter? (In this case, I'm able to answer my own question. No, he is imaginary, therefore has no opinions of his own.)

Hoover argues that the objects he photographs in some cases look like the microbes we know, therefore, since they were found inside a meteorite that came from space, they must have lived somewhere other than earth.

Now, the obvious argument against this is that the above alien also looks like an eroded vitamin tablet, but I suppose this is not the one scientists jealous of their reputations are eager to make.

Astronomer Seth Shostak of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute in Mountain View, Calif., for example, says that while the pictures are "suggestive," they don't amount to proof.

P.Z. Myers, a biologist at the University of Minnesota, Morris, is less polite, calling the online peer-reviewed journal in which Hoover's claims were published "A ginned-up website for "crank academics."

Ouch.

The full story is here.

Of course, our moon was formed, according to one theory, when another large object smaller than the earth hit our planet and some of the debris coalesced into what would someday become the inspiration for an entire genre of love songs.

So there are plenty of bits of earth out there, although I don't know if there was microbial life on earth at the time. I'm feeling old, but not that old.

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