Since the boom in space technology about 30 years ago, man has found the method for expanding his existence beyond the many once thought “unbreakable barriers. ” Together with this development in space technology came a large quantity of information and discoveries of the compounds of the universe, and scientific questions seemed to jump out in equal number. The question that captures the eye of the media today causing a bitter controversy is probably the most easy to understand, considering the complex astronomy jargon.
Is life possible on Mars? The fact is we still don’t know. Some of the early arguments we now know to be almost certainly erroneous, but even the most recent pieces of evidence do not unambiguously demonstrate the existence of life on Mars. ” ( Sagan and Shklovskii 273) Some scientist believe man should look up in the sky searching for new habitats for future generations, since human kind today seems to be going backwards in many aspects of the earth’s ecology. The first attempt would be to study the moon; the second, our neighbor planet.
Unfortunately, our actual technology slightly provides strong, useful information about the red planet ecause of the vast distance between us. While people such as Steven Spielberg and George Lucas try to convince us with hundred million dollar movies that we are not alone, engineers and geologists like from the NASA-Stanford University team pursue, based on true evidence, the idea of possible life on Mars. However, the burden of proof is sometimes too heavy even based on real evidence.
The tough debate started on August 1996, when scientists from the NASA-SU team announced that a meteorite found on the Antartica contained evidence of past life on the red planet. They upported their conclusion on the basis of organic molecules, carbonates, and minerals found inside the rock, which are basic components of living things. This announcement astonished the world, but not the critics who skeptically stated opposite explanations for each of the components discovered.
The main discussion focused by critics like Allan Treiman arguing that “This scientist have lowered the standards of evidence rather than raised them, which is what you would expect for a claim this extraordinary. ” (qtd. in Begley and Rogers 58) The problem raises when it is proved that those kinds of minerals and rganic molecules found in the meteorite, which fell from Mars about 13,000 years ago, can also be formed during nonbiological reactions such as very high temperatures.
For us, the common magazine readers, it is difficult to deal with these two positions: the final acceptance of extraterrestrial life, which is the strong motivation of the NASA-SU team, or the final submission to the fact that we stand as the only life form here and everywhere. This assumption is kind of complicated as well considering the enormous size of the Solar System; moreover, e know that our System resembles a grain of sand in the unimaginable vastness of the universe.
I strongly believe in the scientific method, the experiment conducted to reach the solution to a problem using true information, gathered and analyzed in an objective way to minimize the possibility of error or bias. I like to see irrefutable proof on the table, not just to hear them strong from highly renowned people. Scientists have made numerous mistakes in the past, and will continue to do so even though our technology is becoming more accurate year by year. I find some weaknesses in certain points cited by planetary geologist David McKay.
He admits that “The evidence is somewhat circumstantial, but there is enough to support the hypothesis of ancient life on Mars. ” (qtd. In Begley and Roberts 57) Enough to support the hypothesis, but not the thesis, I would say. The debate continues today and new information will be revealed to the world next April at Houston’s Johnson Space Center, when the Mars workshop will be open. The media will have to wait until then just to put the story in the eye of the hurricane, again.