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An interesting astrobiology conference October 20, 2010

Posted by Simon in Uncategorized.
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Here’s an article from May of this year in the Washington Post that discusses the latest ALH84001 research. It’s reported from an astrobiology conference in Houston.

It’s notable for a few things:

1. It’s still David McKay and his group doing the ALH84001 research; they feel like they’ve made great progresss in rebutting their critics’ arguments but aren’t getting any recognition for it.

2. The article includes quotes from Mary Voytek, NASA’s Senior Scientist for Astrobiology (and therefore David Mckay’s boss, in some sense). She says McKay’s work has been crucial to astrobiology, but admits the field is not convinced by McKay’s research. This is the first comment about the controversy from a senior person at NASA that I’ve come across.

3.  The article discuss a proposal that any new findings on extraterrestrial life be treated with the same type of special process that SETI researchers have in place (from memory, this involves notifying governments, the UN, etc. before a public announcement is made). No doubt this was prompted in part by the fallout from the ALH84001 news conference!

In a fantastic piece of irony, Britain’s Sun newspaper reported a story from the same conference that NASA had found evidence for life on Mars, based on some findings from their rovers on the planet. They got the story all wrong – details here.

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