Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Report: Meteorite Contains Fossil Alga

This looks to be a huge story, the first evidence of extraterrestrial life, if it holds up. I would remind readers that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence“. This needs to be confirmed by others in the science community before it can be taken seriously.

This is from a recent meteorite find in December 2012. A large fire ball was seen by a large number of people in Sri Lanka on December 29th 2012, during that episode a large meteorite disintegrated and fell to Earth in the village of Araganwila which is few miles away from the city of Polonnaruwa.

Look at what the electron microscope shows of a sample purported to be from the meteorite:
Yep, that's a diatom all right, I've counted thousands of them, and I don't doubt that a good algal taxonomist could identify it to genus and species, especially if it's a modern one.  Contamination from when it landed?
“Contamination is excluded by the circumstance that the elemental abundances within the structures match closely with those of the surrounding matrix.“
You can prove that a sample is contaminated, but you can't prove that one isn't.  Contamination is very important in my line of work, and the question is not whether a sample is contaminated, it how badly it is contaminated.  One diatom in a meteorite is a trivial fraction.  Remember Fritz's first law of science:  Half of science in the media is wrong, and the other half is exaggerated.

1 comment:

  1. when heard this story before...

    As soon as word of the paper was announced, some scientists were reluctant to give it credence based on the Journal of Cosmology's reputation.

    "It isn't a real science journal at all, but is the ginned-up website of a small group of crank academics obsessed with the idea of that life originated in outer space and simply rained down on Earth," P.Z. Myers