left biblioblography: Mars Madness–A Panspermic, Frivolous Lawsuit

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Mars Madness–A Panspermic, Frivolous Lawsuit

Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis

howlifeonearthreallybeganNecrophilia. Murder. Cannibalism. Sacrifice… and then we wonder why UFOs don’t just land and aliens don’t just say hello. - George Carlin

Let’s face it: it would be a neat alternative, that aliens laid the foundations of life on this planet. Some mysterious otherworldly being spreading alien seed on a lifeless orb, and watching it spring forward.

In fact, this very item tends to be a stock-in-trade for science fiction writers of today, not to mention some very popular science fiction shows and movies.

Alas poor Yorick, wouldn’t that be swell?

The proof has, sadly, not been forthcoming. Evidence is at zero. Rational consensus is that not only are we alone, we have been all along.

There are those of course, who disagree:

Alien Life Lawsuit: Rhawn Joseph Claims NASA Is Involved In A Cover Up Over Mars ‘Jelly Doughnut’ Rock

Scientist Rhawn Joseph has filed a lawsuit over what he alleges to be a conspiracy involving NASA, Mars and a mysterious rock.  Joseph claims the space agency refused to investigate what he deemed to be alien life on Mars, calling the conclusions reached by NASA as “little more than magical thinking.”

Joseph filed the lawsuit in the United States District Court, Northern District of California, reports Popular Science. Joseph, working as an astrobiologist, claims NASA has failed to investigate evidence of life on Mars. The astrobiologist discusses his working, published in the Journal of Cosmology, that concludes the “jelly doughnut” rock that suddenly appeared in front of the Opportunity rover is a “ a fully grown bowl-shaped organism resembling Apothecia.”

The abstract reads, “What appears to be spore-producing "paraphyses" can be observed on the structure, as is apparent upon magnification and which is typical of Apothecia. Apothecia are composite organisms, a mixture of fungus and cyanobacteria.” Joseph refutes NASA’s claims that the object is either a rock or piece of debris from a nearby impact.

Joseph is focusing on the “jelly doughnut” rock that was discussed during a public event for Opportunity’s 10th anniversary.  The Mars rover first photographed the outcrop on Sol 3528 and again 12 days later, Sol 3540. Despite not traveling over the area, Opportunity discovered a mysterious rock, dubbed “Pinnacle Island.”

Steve Squyres, lead scientist for the NASA Mars Exploration Rover mission, said at the time, “It just plain appeared at that spot and we haven’t driven over that spot.” During their initial analysis of the rock, the “jelly” part has a high concentration of magnesium, sulfur and manganese than other Martian rocks. For now, the team has yet to reach a definitive conclusion as to how the rock got there, they believe it may have been knocked over by Opportunity’s wheel as it was making a turn, but do they determine it is a rock and not a sign of Martian life.

While life on Mars would be a significant discovery, Joseph says NASA has refused to actually investigate the rock with all photographic evidence taken by Opportunity being of “low resolution” and “slightly out of focus.” Joseph says he discovered the evidence of a Martian organism after magnifying the images.

After comparing structural examples of apothecia, or “shield lichen,” with what was found on Mars, including the “paraphyses,” the “spore producing organs, he concludes the organism grew over the twelve days that Opportunity photographed the rock outcrop. “Typically, if deprived of moisture, Apothecia will quickly dry and dehydrate and then become quite brittle--exactly as depicted in the photos of the Martian ‘mystery" structure,’” states Joseph.

Despite this evidence, NASA has yet to acknowledge the Mars mystery rock is in fact evidence of life. Joseph’s lawsuit laws out his claims as well as detailing the ways he tried to contact NASA officials to research the rock. Joseph is not seeking damages but wants NASA to “take 100 high resolution close-up in-focus photos of the specimen identified in Sol 3540, at various angles, from all sides, and from above down into the "bowl" of the specimen, and under appropriate lighting conditions which minimize glare. Take a minimum of 24 microscopic in-focus images of the exterior, lip, walls, and interior of the specimen under appropriate lighting conditions. NASA, and the rover team, must make public and supply Petitioner with all high resolution photos and images of that specimen.”

As io9 points out, Joseph does not have the best reputation within the scientific community. The Journal of Cosmology tends to have some dubious articles and would not be considered as reputable as journals such as Nature or Science. The journal previously hosted a dubious "proof of alien life" article last year and has a history of publishing research that has been deemed "Way, way, way ridiculously oh-holy-wow-how-could-anyone-publish-this wrong."

So who is this Rhawn Joseph anyways? The Rational Wiki says this:

Rhawn Joseph is a neuropsychologist who worked at the Veterans' Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System in California.

He is involved with the Journal of Cosmology, and he advances eccentric views on the origin of life on Earth.

Joseph is the author of Astrobiology: The Origins of Life and the Death of Darwinism, published in 2001. In the book he writes that "Contrary to Darwinism ... the evidence now clearly indicates, that the evolution of life had been genetically predetermined and precoded..."

And he has co-authored a book titled NeuroTheology: Brain, Science, Spirituality, Religious Experience – the title alone is enough to make some of us cringe.

It’s simply New Age self-entitled self-validation for the weaker minds. We’re here, we’re alone, get the fuck over it. Say what? We’re not? Prove it.

As for Rhawn: he’s making a tempest out of a teapot before he even handles the teapot. Why isn’t NASA jumping on the bandwagon? Because they’re doing what real scientists should do – collating data and waiting for the Martian dust to settle.

Till the next post, then.

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