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Terrestrial Titanospirillum velox along-side its purportedly alien look-alike.  (Source: Riccardo Guerrero / Richard B. Hoover / Journal of Cosmology)

Another close-up of the possible "alien".  (Source: Riccardo Guerrero / Richard B. Hoover / Journal of Cosmology)
Astrobiologist shattered meteorite, reports finding fossilized microbe E.T.s inside

An astrobiologist working at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center outside Huntsville, Alabama has made an astounding claim.  In a recently published journal article, he claims to have discovered a preserved alien life form residing inside a meteor that journeyed through the vast black of space before impact our planet.

This extra-terrestrial may not be a bulbous-headed humanoid like in the movies, but it may offer up an answer to one of mankind's greatest inquiries -- are we alone in the universe?

The researcher, Dr. Richard B. Hoover [profile], had to go to extraordinary lengths to make his discovery.  He reasoned that if alien microbes were to hitch a ride on a meteorite, they would likely have to do so in a special meteor.  

Specifically, he zeroed in on the CI class of carbonaceous chrondite meteors.   These meteors are rich in water, amino acids, and other organic compounds -- seemingly a virtual pantry for a microorganism.  

Picking the most ideal type of CI meteorite -- CI1 optimized his chances, but narrowed his pool of available specimens.  In total only nine such meteorites are known to exist on Earth.

After going to great lengths to obtain one of these meteorites, he destroyed a piece of it, smashing it apart.  Using scanning-electron microscopes and field emissions electron-scanning microscopes he images the result dust and fragments and made the extraordinary discovery he was hoping for -- what appears to be a fossilized bacteria.

The identified specimen appears remarkably similar to the bacteria Titanospirillum velox, a sulfur-loving archaebacteria, which was discovered in 1999 mud samples from Spain.

The meteorite was reportedly broken under carefully controlled sterile conditions.  Now the only unknown is whether the meteorite could have somehow been contaminated.  The meteors were sterilely harvested in the frigid reaches of Antarctica immediately after their observed fall.  The fact that they were collected so quickly limits the possibility that indigenous microbes contaminated them.  The possibility of atmospheric contamination still remains, though.

Dr. Hoover believes that this is not a case of contamination.  He is convinced that he has become the first human to record a scientifically verifiable encounter with an alien being.  He states in a recent interview, "I interpret it as indicating that life is more broadly distributed than restricted strictly to the planet Earth. This field of study has just barely been touched -- because quite frankly, a great many scientist would say that this is impossible."

The discovery has been met with a great deal of skepticism, but also fascination.  Dr. Hoover writes in a note to the editor's note accompanying his study, "Given the controversial nature of his discovery, we have invited 100 experts and have issued a general invitation to over 5,000 scientists from the scientific community to review the paper and to offer their critical analysis. No other paper in the history of science has undergone such a thorough vetting, and never before in the history of science has the scientific community been given the opportunity to critically analyze an important research paper before it is published."

With the paper currently peer-reviewed and published [abstract] in the Journal of Cosmology, Dr. Hoover's discovery will face its next critical test, with the collected materials being examined by a second research team for verification and validation.

Dr. David Marais, an astrobiologist at NASA's AMES Research Center states, "It’s an extraordinary claim, and thus I’ll need extraordinary evidence."

Dr. Hoover is confident his discovery will be validated.  He comments, "A lot of times it takes a long time before scientists start changing their mind as to what is valid and what is not. I’m sure there will be many scientists that will be very skeptical and that’s OK."

"If someone can explain how it is possible to have a biological remain that has no nitrogen, or nitrogen below the detect ability limits that I have, in a time period as short as 150 years, then I would be very interested in hearing that. I’ve talked with many scientists about this and no one has been able to explain."

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Well this is typical...
By DanNeely on 3/7/2011 11:16:29 AM , Rating: 2
The story doesn't show up here until after it's already been torn apart because of bad paper quality and the fact that the journal not only looks unprofessional, but is known to have posted a lot of dubious material in the past.

It's ripped on bad astronomy, although I'm striking out on finding it again at the moment, earlier today I saw an even more scathing indictment of the article/journal it was published in. For years 100% of its content was written by a single author promoting Hoyle's discredited steady state theory, and panspermia hypothesis.

RE: Well this is typical...
By kingius on 3/7/2011 11:47:30 AM , Rating: 2
So because somebody might be wrong once, they are wrong about everything? Pull the other one. Do you take us for fools?

RE: Well this is typical...
By Motoman on 3/7/2011 12:01:42 PM , Rating: 2
...this isn't a case of someone being wrong once...and it's also not a case of innocent misunderstandings. The whole site is full of ridiculous, unsubstantiated, unscientific claims, and it is clear that the entire enterprise is dedicated to promoting pseudo-scientific ideas that don't merit publication anywhere else. The whole thing is bad theater.

RE: Well this is typical...
By DanNeely on 3/7/2011 12:04:16 PM , Rating: 2
The fact that most of what has came from the source is nonsense makes it more likely that what was published most recently is also nonsense. It's not definitive, a stopped clock is right twice a day afterall; but when something is published in a scientific equivalent of the national enquirer suspicion is the order of the day.

The fact that Dr Hoover has a long record of research but was unable to publish these results in a well respected journal is significant as well. Either they rejected his paper outright, or he felt it wasn't good enough to be published in a normal source and instead went somewhere that has a very low threshold of acceptance for anything that matches the owners innate bias.

Is it possible he's found something? Yes.
Is what/how he's presented his findings credible? NO.

RE: Well this is typical...
By kingius on 3/8/2011 10:54:32 AM , Rating: 2
There is another possibility too, one that you haven't considered. The scientific community may have tried to close ranks on him and his paper without actually reviewing it based upon his reputation and / or their own world views.

You don't have to look far (see, this comment thread) to see how some will attempt to paint anyone who holds a different point of view as being somehow mentally deficient or some kind of extremist.

If you recall the recent climate email scam over here in the UK, you might have seen how some scientists will cherry pick their data to support a theory and then obfuscate what those sources are so that they cannot be verified independently. So as not to go too far off topic I raise it to show how science is not always portraying the truth. Tie this in with the oft claimed 'extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof' (which coincidentally helps to serve to preserve the status quo from anything that might knock it) and you might be able to see that this is a possibility.

As a reader of new scientist myself, many things that do not fit into the established rigid lines of thought are labelled as pseudoscience and ridiculed in those pages, rather than tested for merit.

RE: Well this is typical...
By DanNeely on 3/8/2011 12:06:33 AM , Rating: 2
and found the other article I read this morning.

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