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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) NASA's Curiosity Rover Finds Complex Organic Matter on Mars (Read 668 times)
JohnnyBgood
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Re: NASA's Curiosity Rover Finds Complex Organic Matter on Mars
Reply #20 - Jun 9th, 2018 at 11:41am
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Semi-Omnipotent wrote on Jun 7th, 2018 at 2:07pm:
Nasa’s veteran Curiosity rover has found complex organic matter buried and preserved in ancient sediments that formed a vast lake bed on Mars more than 3bn years ago.

The discovery is the most compelling evidence yet that long before the planet became the parched world it is today, Martian lakes were a rich soup of carbon-based compounds that are necessary for life, at least as we know it.


“While we don’t know the source of the material, the amazing consistency of the results makes me think we have a slam-dunk signal for organics on Mars,” Eigenbrode added. “It is not telling us that life was there, but it is saying that everything organisms really needed to live in that kind of environment, all of that was there.”

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Just looking at the land scape shows you life was extremely likely at one time. Maybe not intelligent like us, but maybe some type of reptiles plants, and sea life.
  

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Rabbit_Reborn
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Re: NASA's Curiosity Rover Finds Complex Organic Matter on Mars
Reply #21 - Jun 9th, 2018 at 3:17pm
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forgotten centrist wrote on Jun 8th, 2018 at 10:56pm:
The Fermi Paradox overlooks some important qualifications that are present here on Earth, which might be quite rare elsewhere.

Earth had a collision with another planetary body, which did two remarkable things.  It kicked up enough matter to eventually condense into our moon, which is very large for a rocky planet like ours.  And it set up conditions such that most of the iron from that collision sank to Earth's core, forming a spinning dynamo for a global magnetic field.

The moon protects us from a lot of collisions (with asteroids and comets) by complicating our orbital dynamics.  In essence, we are a binary planet.  The center of gravity is then based on our combined masses, not just Earth's.  That's what sets up the LaGrange points - areas of orbital stability between Earth and the moon.

The iron core protects us from all kinds of radiation, the ablative effects of solar wind, etc.

Mind you, the conditions for life aren't "perfect" - that one asteroid did kill the dinosaurs.  But then again, that was the act of chaos that set the stage for the rise of the mammals.  So you want a little chaos, but not so much that all life gets extinguished.

Then there are a few biological events that really shook things up.  One was when cyanobacteria nearly poisoned all life out of the planet by farting out oxygen.  Luckily, some life adapted to this new pollutant, and it turned out to support a much more energetic set of biological processes.

Another was the mind-boggling stroke of lightning when one life form (possibly a virus) colonized another, and collaborated rather than killed it.  The result was our complex cells, which have DNA in the nucleus AND separately in the mitochondria. 

This enabled cell specialization far beyond what bacteria had been capable of.  It also led directly to the dominance of male-female sexual reproduction, which has had an enormous stabilizing effect on evolutionary adaptation.

So, it's possible that the full set of Earth qualities is actually quite rare:
- rocky planet
- stable local stellar environment (no nearby supernovae)
- sufficient water in liquid form
- sufficient heat
- sufficient organic molecules
- binary planetary system (big moon)
- spinning iron core
- big collisions are rare (but not impossible)
- certain stunningly advantageous biological events happen

Thanks for this. Really interesting.

There was a RadioLab Podcast episode concerning the bolded part above, and how the theories of that inhabitation and collaboration of one life form into another allowed the transition to much more complex organisms.

Mind blowing.

And the chances of that happening? Unfathomably small, as the scientist on that episode related. In my dull and slow mind, I liken it to an alligator today swallowing a squirrel, the squirrel merging with the inner workings of the alligator's brain, and then the new squirregator designing and building a lightsaber.
  

Wadsworth wrote on Jun 11th, 2018 at 3:40pm:
You are awfully concerned about who gets to live.  Why is it so important to you?
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Re: NASA's Curiosity Rover Finds Complex Organic Matter on Mars
Reply #22 - Jun 9th, 2018 at 3:18pm
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JohnnyBgood wrote on Jun 9th, 2018 at 11:41am:
Just looking at the land scape shows you life was extremely likely at one time. Maybe not intelligent like us, but maybe some type of reptiles plants, and sea life.

The landscape does absolutely nothing to tell you that there were reptile-like creatures on Mars.
  

Wadsworth wrote on Jun 11th, 2018 at 3:40pm:
You are awfully concerned about who gets to live.  Why is it so important to you?
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Semi-Omnipotent
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Re: NASA's Curiosity Rover Finds Complex Organic Matter on Mars
Reply #23 - Jun 9th, 2018 at 3:56pm
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Rabbit_Reborn wrote on Jun 9th, 2018 at 3:18pm:
The landscape does absolutely nothing to tell you that there were reptile-like creatures on Mars.


Come on.. It looks just like the planet where the Gorn hung out..


  
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Re: NASA's Curiosity Rover Finds Complex Organic Matter on Mars
Reply #24 - Jun 9th, 2018 at 3:57pm
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Semi-Omnipotent wrote on Jun 9th, 2018 at 3:56pm:
Come on.. It looks just like the planet where the Gorn hung out..


https://b-i.forbesimg.com/michaelpeck/files/2013/03/StarTrek-Gorn.jpg

That picture's from the Rover??!?!?!
  

Wadsworth wrote on Jun 11th, 2018 at 3:40pm:
You are awfully concerned about who gets to live.  Why is it so important to you?
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Re: NASA's Curiosity Rover Finds Complex Organic Matter on Mars
Reply #25 - Jun 9th, 2018 at 4:01pm
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Rabbit_Reborn wrote on Jun 9th, 2018 at 3:57pm:
That picture's from the Rover??!?!?!


Mid 1960's Star Trek episode. I remember it well. Captaini Kirk had one of his many life-or-death battles with the evil alien lizard man. I think Kirk survived by making gun powder from raw materials he found on the planet: carbon, sulfur, and nitrogen. Then he shoved them into a tube he inexplicably found just laying around and used diamonds just as inexplicably littering the surface as cannonballs. LOL.

Poor Gorn. He had no chance against Star Trek's stoned writers.

  

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Re: NASA's Curiosity Rover Finds Complex Organic Matter on Mars
Reply #26 - Jun 9th, 2018 at 4:10pm
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Ulysses wrote on Jun 9th, 2018 at 4:01pm:
Mid 1960's Star Trek episode. I remember it well. Captaini Kirk had one of his many life-or-death battles with the evil alien lizard man. I think Kirk survived by making gun powder from raw materials he found on the planet: carbon, sulfur, and nitrogen. Then he shoved them into a tube he inexplicably found just laying around and used diamonds just as inexplicably littering the surface as cannonballs. LOL.

Poor Gorn. He had no chance against Star Trek's stoned writers.


I remember it as well, though from watching re-runs as a kid. Even in the 80s I thought this was awesome, but it's stunning how bad it is. Truly awful.

My favorite part is about 1:20, when Kirk struggles to pick up a rock to throw at Gorn. I mean, Shatner really plays it up that he's struggling with that rock. Then he slowly lifts it above his head and chucks a 40 yard line drive at Gorn.

Gorn does something similar not long after with a much bigger rock. It's even more cartoonish how slowly he lifts it up, but then tosses it dozens of feet into the air.

I love it.

  

Wadsworth wrote on Jun 11th, 2018 at 3:40pm:
You are awfully concerned about who gets to live.  Why is it so important to you?
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Re: NASA's Curiosity Rover Finds Complex Organic Matter on Mars
Reply #27 - Jun 9th, 2018 at 11:22pm
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It didn't look all that fake on a 13" B&W TV...

Just mostly fake.

Never did understand why Gorn didn't just bite Kirk's head off.
  

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Re: NASA's Curiosity Rover Finds Complex Organic Matter on Mars
Reply #28 - Jun 10th, 2018 at 12:02am
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Rabbit_Reborn wrote on Jun 9th, 2018 at 3:17pm:
Thanks for this. Really interesting.

There was a RadioLab Podcast episode concerning the bolded part above, and how the theories of that inhabitation and collaboration of one life form into another allowed the transition to much more complex organisms.

Mind blowing.

And the chances of that happening? Unfathomably small, as the scientist on that episode related. In my dull and slow mind, I liken it to an alligator today swallowing a squirrel, the squirrel merging with the inner workings of the alligator's brain, and then the new squirregator designing and building a lightsaber.


Mind blowing indeed.  There might be life circling every star out there, still lodged in the single-cell soup stage.

Even complex life can get stuck.  Even with evolution.  The dinosaurs dominated this planet for some 130m years -- orders of magnitude longer than humans have -- but they never achieved the self-awareness necessary for some Fermi-esque outreach to the stars.

Maybe there are other planets with a similarly incredible chain of events that led to complex life.  But maybe intelligence is vanishingly rare.

One other point.  The universe is relatively young, when you're talking about the heavy elements needed to form rocky planets.  All the early stars were pure hydrogen, slowly converting to helium.  There were only trace amounts of anything heavier than lithium.  It took a generation of those stars to go nova in order to form and cast out heavier elements.

It seems possible that we had to go through 2 generations of stars going nova before those elements were common enough to make rocky planets common.  Given that our solar system is one-third as old as the universe, maybe we're part of the first generation of planets that even has a CHANCE at sustaining life, and we humans are the first life forms to achieve self-awareness.

Maybe life is common now, in the milky way, but thanks to our particularly good local conditions, we're the first to wake up.
  

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Re: NASA's Curiosity Rover Finds Complex Organic Matter on Mars
Reply #29 - Jun 10th, 2018 at 2:22am
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Semi-Omnipotent wrote on Jun 9th, 2018 at 3:56pm:
Come on.. It looks just like the planet where the Gorn hung out..


https://b-i.forbesimg.com/michaelpeck/files/2013/03/StarTrek-Gorn.jpg

Whoa. Michelle lost some weight.
  


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