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Mars: The Living Planet Hardcover – Jul 23 1997


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Frog Books; 1st Edition edition (July 23 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1883319587
  • ISBN-13: 978-1883319588
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 1.5 x 23.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 830 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #819,042 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Kirkus Reviews

Claims of Martian life continue to spur scientific debate; this partisan account summarizes the arguments to date. DiGregorio, who has written for Omni and Discover, makes it clear that he strongly believes Mars to be the home of (at the very least) bacterial life forms. When several experiments conducted by the 1976 Viking Mars Landers returned positive results regarding signs of life, NASA scientists dismissed them as false positives. According to DiGregorio, this was based on nothing more than a refusal to accept the possibility of life beyond Earth. To bolster this argument, he surveys the history of the idea that life might exist on other planets, invoking such names as Giordano Bruno and Galileo. As our understanding of both biology and astronomy grew, the notion that life is not unique to Earth took hold in the minds of many scientists. The recent rise of the new science of exobiology opened doors to an understanding of how life might have arisen on any planet with the right conditions. But when NASA dismissed the Viking experiments, the image of Mars as a dead planet became even more firmly established--despite what DiGregorio sees as strong evidence to the contrary. The discovery in 1996 of apparent fossil life in a meteorite believed to be a fragment of Martian rock brought the entire issue back to the fore, although many researchers now claim that the new evidence is still inconclusive. Levin and Straat, who designed and built one of the Viking experiments, contribute two chapters summarizing the current status of this fascinating debate. While he is clearly a true believer, DiGregorio has an excellent grasp of his material and presents technical information clearly. Unfortunately, his organization is somewhat disjointed and he often omits background information that the lay reader might need to follow his argument. (color and b&w photos, charts, graphs, not seen) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Format: Hardcover
Excellent, well researched book. The case is convincingly made that the Viking LR experiments did indeed detect life in 1976. During the intervening years, mainstream science has dismissed these results as a hypothetical(and never explained/ replicated!)exotic chemical reaction. New data distilled from the original Viking records have even revealed a circadian rythym(independent of thermal effects)to the LR's measured results. Rather than recite a long list of pertinent facts however, let me say this: follow the data. Ignore, discard and reject input from people(even the experts!) who clearly, for whatever reason will not publicly face the facts revealed by the data. If Mars and the possibility of exobiology interests you at all, do your homework, search out the facts..... you will eventually discover a very noticeable..er, dichotomy(to put it politely) between what data is coming in - and the interpreted results anounced by NASA. Why this is - I do not know. It is not conspiracy theorizing to see the obvious; hopefully this book will spur more people to ask hard questions - and at least, eventually settle this debate at some point in time - once and for all.
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By Eric Brown on July 1 2003
Format: Hardcover
Reading this book took me back over the years to the 1976 viking lander life detection experiments. I have a doctorate in cell biology and have worked extensively with cells in culture. Thus, the label release experiments seemed pretty indicative of metabolism in the martian soil sample, hence life. The fact that the uptake of labeled nutrients was prevented if the soil was pre-heated (steralization) was also consistent with life which could be destroyed by heat. These results seemed to be pretty strong indicators of some sort of microbiol presence in the soil. At this point everyone seemed excited. Then came the gas chromatography which failed to detect organic material. The conclusion was immediately reached that the martian soiled contain no life but had an "interesting chemistry". Howver, what we had was conflicting results which usually calls for further experimentation rather than dismissing one set of data out of hand.
Thus I was delighted to see Digregorio et al's book on the library shelves. The authors argue convincingly that the label release experiments were properly done and also points out potential problems with the chromatography experiments which should have been examined more closely. He also discusses other intrigueing observations, such as the presence of green hues on the martian rocks suggesting photosynthetic organisms. Perhaps one of his most telling arguments concerns the use of the word "evidence." Evidence is a set of one one or more observations which support a given hypothesis. Certainly the label release experiments would fall into the category of evidence for life. Furthermore, no one seems to have shown that the experiments leading to these results were flawed.
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Format: Hardcover
I recently went in person to the largest bookstore in my state,went item by item though the towering shelves of books on astrononyand space, and simply could not find a more worthwhile book on space than Barry DiGregorio's. The amount of detailed and painstakingly compiled information it contains makes even the most highly-touted popular works on space pale by comparison.
More importantly, this book isn't mere space trivia. This is an amazingly clear and thorough look into what will ever remain a major historical even in human history, but even more importantly, this is a rare in-depth look at the background behind one of the most pressing issues of our time.
While Barry's detractors (and there are many, frequently being self-professed "debunkers" lurking the internet, ready to denounce anything and everything, even the works of Nobel nominees whose discoveries weren't part of these detractors' own dated eductions) are demonstrably willing to subject him to the same "pariah process" that has somehow gotten Dr. Levin branded with the "has-been" nonsense that no one who played a participatory role in our historic space exploration would be subjected to had they not embraced ideas that do not conform to the emasculated tastes of their detractors. (For perspective here, imagine the audacity of levelling this same slur of "has-been" at our astronauts simply because they have not flow a mission in decades! They have been, and rightly remain, heroes. The targeting of Levin for this kind of treatment should be a warning sign in itself.)
Disturbingly, what DiGregorio's detractors stand to "gain" is to help obscure the folly of a planned frightening and reckless return of potentially living and potentially virulent material from Mars.
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Format: Hardcover
In this book DiGregorio admirably discusses evidence for the conclusion that the Viking missions did in fact discover life on Mars. This is the view of Drs. Gilbert Levin and Patricia Ann Straat, who developed one of the instruments, the Labeled Release experiment, that flew on Viking. The book presents very exciting up to date information on exotic organisms, extremophiles, that might be found on other planets. NASA itself is investigating such possibilities with its Astrobiology program. Finally, the book argues that since some experiments on Viking gave very definite life signs, missions such as Mars Sample Return should not be undertaken until the issue is resolved conclusively.
For the last twenty years, Dr. Levin has consistently argued that no non-biological explanation faithfully reproduces the results seen in his experiment. Dr. Levin has shown great insight in regards to the life on Mars issue. As discussed in DiGregorio's book, he suggested to the imaging team that there were other colors on Mars than just dull browns and reds. This was verified by members of the Viking imaging team who confirmed there were blue and green patches on rocks that changed seasonally. Levin argued that the dry conditions and (apparent) low organic content in the Mars soil did not preclude the existence of life. Since the Viking missions, it has been confirmed that certain organisms can live within igneous rock surving on non-organic chemicals for nutrients and on water that trickles through cracks in the rock. Levin argued in a paper on liquid water on Mars that a widely cited paper concluding that liquid water could not exist on the Martian surface was based on a faulty assumption that water vapor was evenly distributed through the Martian atmospheric column.
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