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Mars: The Living Planet Hardcover – Jul 23 1997

3.9 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Frog Books; First 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 17 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,777,878 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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 biological activity on Mars, but this evidence was misinterpreted or intentionally suppessed.DiGregorio's book tells the story of Gilbert Levin, Pricipal Investigator of the Labeled Release (LR) experiments aboard the two Viking probes that landed on Mars a generation ago. On both landings, the LR raised eyebrows when it "fed" carbon 14-laced nutrients to samles of Martian soil: unaltered soil quickly gave off carbon dioxide containing the radioactive tracer, whle a "sterilized (heated) sample did not.The nine LR results have been widely attributed to still-unidentified oxidants, but Levin and LR coinvestigator Patricia Ann Straat still maintain that microorganisms of some kind had metabolized the labeled food. While sounding at times like a conspiracy tract, DiGregorio's thoroughly documented narrative challenges Levin's critics to pen a popular level rebuttal".--Review by Joshua Roth
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Format: Hardcover
Barry DiGregorio's new book about the discovery of microbial life on the surface of Mars only has re-inforced what I have suspected all along --that if NASA ever did find life on the other planets they would contain the information to themselves fearing funding cuts by those that would protest "the truth about nature" because it interfers with their religious cosmologies. Former NASA scientist Gilbert Levin presents a good argument (Levin guest writes chapter 9) and gives readers an inside look at what it is like to work as a NASA exobiologist and the political obstacles he has had to endure. All in all, Mars The Living Planet is one of the best books on Mars I have ever read (and I have read most of them) and highly recomended it to anyone that is curious about how NASA conducts its research in this area. Though the search for life is one of NASA's top three stated goals for Mars, DiGregorio points out that no microbiologists are being included on any of the NASA science teams and that biological testing experiments are being rejected by the agency. --John Miller, Amherst, N
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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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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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