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Mars: The Living Planet [Hardcover]

Barry Digregorio
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 23 1997 1883319587 978-1883319588 1st Edition
Claims of Martian life continue to spur scientific debate; this partisan account summarizes the arguments to date. 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. Dr. Levin and Dr. Straat, who designed and built one of the Viking experiments, contribute two chapters summarizing the current status of this fascinating debate.

The author's detailed research, as well as extensive interviews with Dr. Levin and others, highlights the intriguing evidence pointing to life on the Red Planet.

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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
3.9 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Follow the data...... Jan. 15 2004
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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5.0 out of 5 stars what is evidence? 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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By A Customer
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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2.0 out of 5 stars A stunning achievement not seen since the Bible Oct. 12 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Wow what a book.
Well children it was fun reading but hard to follow and bit hard to believe. Written by a believer who assumes you know everything the writers knows. It leaves one asking, huh?
Space stuff, Mars, bio-harzard, Nazis, evil scientists, Cabals at the highest levels of government. NASA as the apex of cruel information suppression. Conspiracy and lots and lots of words
Marty
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Barry DiGregorio presents evidence for life on Mars.
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. Read more
Published on Oct. 7 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars NASA's Plan Revealed
After reading "Mars: The Living Planet" one thing became quite clear, Dr. Gilbert Levin and co-experimenter, Dr. Read more
Published on Sept. 29 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars NASA's Plan Revealed
After reading "Mars: The Living Planet" one thing became quite clear, Dr. Gilbert Levin and co-experimenter, Dr. Read more
Published on Sept. 29 1999
2.0 out of 5 stars What a waste of my time !!!
Mr. Digregorio is a regular visitor at the MSNBC space chat page. Given his strongly-voiced, and often passionate concerns about our environment, and the potential threat posed by... Read more
Published on Sept. 13 1999
1.0 out of 5 stars Bad science fiction is better than this book
I read this book based upon the statements made on the dust jacket. Gosh was I disappointed. The author seems to think that NASA is engaged in some sort of immense, multi-decade... Read more
Published on Sept. 3 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars I REVIEWED IT! READ BELOW:
You included my review of Barry's book Mars: The Living Planet under the following ANONYMOUS listing (there are some comments following:
"A reader from SUNY Buffalo ,... Read more
Published on March 26 1999
1.0 out of 5 stars Slam job against NASA
I used to work for NASA and saw mention of this book in an editorial the author wrote for Space News. Based upon the credibility that Space News has I bought the book. Read more
Published on March 8 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars SKY & TELESCOPE MAGAZINE REVIEWS "MARS THE LIVING...
Review from Sky & Telescope magazine page 69 - April 1998:"Space writer Barry DiGregorio's tome centers on the notion that the Viking landers discovered evidence for... Read more
Published on Feb. 26 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars ...
The August 1997 NASA announcement of the discovery of possible fossilized bacteria in meteorite ALH 84001 of Martian origin grabbed the attention of millions of people across the... Read more
Published on Feb. 8 1999
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