Wednesday, 4 September 2013

I'am Of The Stars!

Only a few years ago, if you were to hypothesise that all heavier elements came from large explosions in the heart of stars, you'd have likely have been put away into some form of mental asylum. Its only been in the last ten years or so though that Science has begun to start catching up with the idea that our existence and the rest of the cosmos are intrinsically linked, in more and more startling ways.

Early Mars was a lot like Earth.

On my last blog I showed an interest in the discoveries happening on Mars with the Discovery rover that was dropped there last year. In a short space of time we have had some pretty startling discoveries regarding what Mars was like many years ago, and I am actually considering putting money down in a betting shop to say that we'll find evidence of life having once existed on Mars in the next few decades.
The reason for this should be obvious if you've been paying any attention to the scientific discoveries on Mars for the past few years. First and foremost is the knowledge that Mars was once much warmer back in the solar systems early years and a lot wetter with an active geology. This would have provided a thick atmosphere, and a warm and wet environment in which life can form and propagate. What is as important would have been the magnetosphere, which like on Earth shields life from harmful radiation.

Evidence of this period of Mars' history has recently been proven with the finding of ancient dried up riverbeds that contain rounded pebbles as well as clay which contains complex chemicals important to life's development.

Then, it was only last week that the news was released about how Mars' atmosphere was once comprised of a large proportion of oxygen. Now on Earth the oxygenating of our atmosphere has been believed to have been almost entirely the work of marine and basic plant life, although this BBC article goes into detail about how oxygen may have formed on Mars through different geological processes involving the breaking down of water and the loss of hydrogen over time due to the smaller gravitational influence on Mars as well as the greater radiation due to a less effective magnetosphere.

Nevertheless, this oxygen became embedded inside the rocks on Mars (hence its red 'oxide' colour) and combined with the chemicals left inside the clay which we have found, this still could have left a chance for life to have formed all those years ago.

What is interesting is the information that came out of NASA last year in November too, which at first implied that they had found something of real significance, and then appeared to play it down a few days later. This could have been simply a misunderstanding or incorrect data, but there is always the chance that they were warned off sharing news of proof of life if perhaps they deemed the world was not ready.

Other than that though there is still the possibility of proof of life from Mars. There is a chance that many meteorites found on Earth proven to have been ejected from Mars in asteroid collisions possibly have evidence of fossilised single-celled life-forms inside the rock. The argument is still on going but it begs deeper questions.

Image of what may be fossilised single celled life from Mars.
Mars formed and developed a warm and wet environment long before Earth had stopped being a raging ball of death and inferno, therefore it is conceivable that Martian life formed way before Earth even had a chance. Take this into consideration when looking at these Martian meteorites that have landed on Earth over the years and it doesn't take a great leap to hypothesise that perhaps all life on Earth was in fact seeded here from Mars. This would have to question our understanding not only on our own existence, but would challenge our understanding of exactly what determines 'extra-terrestrial', if indeed life is transported amongst different planetary objects on the back of travelling meteorites.

Lastly, there is the idea that life first began forming up to ten billion years ago, which would predate both Earth and Mars by double, and if true would once again make the idea of life on Mars having once existed that much more plausible. Whilst this does remain an unproven idea (it used Moore's Law usually used to explain the acceleration of technological development) there may be some credibility owed to it seeing as it was only last year that Scientists say they discovered basic sugar molecules floating around a young distant star, which is a basic building block of life.

Now recently, even the BBC has been writing on the possibility of this being true, all with some hilarious comments being left by fundamentalist Christians who seem to be unable to comprehend the massive time scales being considered here.

The idea of panspermia it seems, or at least some aspects of it, has an increasing amount of credibility, and in that case, life on Mars really doesn't seem all that far-fetched after all and in fact I have a huge suspicion that they've found something on the red planet that they don't want to release all the facts about straight away.

In other news linking our home with the rest of the Solar System and beyond, the Daily Mail has this week released a story talking about how Human Civilization may have been sparked by our social adaptations in the aftermath of a meteorite which supposedly hit Quebec almost 13,000 years ago. Whilst this may explain the mass extinctions of large Mammals such as Mammoth, it doesn't really explain how agriculture would have been successful for primitive societies with a dusty atmosphere and low temperatures.

Had the meteorite have landed at around that time though it would certainly be around the time of the first civilizations such as the monuments of Gobekli Tepe (built around 12,000 years ago) which is now more or less considered to be the most puzzling yet important finds of human history.

Then again that asteroid may well have been a massive out of control spaceship from another world who's inhabitants decided to bestow to mankind technologies and knowledge of agriculture!