Posted by: Rosebud | January 25, 2013

The hunt for life on Mars and Monty Python

From a “Voice of Russia” story on water and search for life on Mars:

“…These conditions are ideal for bacteria to appear, scientists say….”

Welcome to the rebirth of “Spontaneous Generation” theory, or so I thought to myself when I read the line above.  For fairness sake, here’s the whole paragraph:

Mars is smaller than the Earth, and the gravity power on Mars is three times weaker than on the Earth. Thus, scientists suppose that if underground waters have once existed on Mars, the soil layers that contained water were thicker and more clay-like than they were on the Earth. These conditions are ideal for bacteria to appear, scientists say. It is not ruled out that there is still water under the crater’s bottom and that bacteria still live there.

Spontaneous Generation, I recalled it as the scientific theory that life “sprung” from the right collection of inanimate (or animate) materials.  Mud and leaves produced frogs, dead animals produced maggots and flys, etc.  Through the rigorous application of the scientific method by Louis Pasteur and other scientists the “Theory of Spontaneous Generation” was relegated to the ash heap of history where it belonged. Why the public schools I attended bothered to teach Spontaneous Generation I’ll never know, but it did come in handy today.  Before making any smart remarks in the comments section I decided to confirm my memory on what “Spontaneous Generation” was.  A little wikipedia entry on the subject matter confirmed that I had at least gotten the name right, and it also had the following little gem.

Disproof of the traditional ideas of spontaneous generation is no longer controversial among professional biologists. Objections and doubts have been dispelled by studies and documentation of the life cycles of various life forms. However, the principles of the very different matter of the original abiogenesis on this planet — of living from non-living material — still are under investigation.[3][4]

This sounds like a Monty Python skit, I can hear the uptight British scientist with his shrill voice and accent: “We, of course have disproven that old superstition that life can arise from non-life! Ha! Silly it was! And we are now working hard on the cutting edge of science to show how life arises from non-life!”   

You can’t make this stuff up folks!!!



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