NPR : News

Filed Under:

Are We Martians? Scientist Says We Just Might Be

As Adam Frank has said over on the 13.7 blog, "Earth and Mars have been swapping spit (astrobiologically speaking) for eons ... [and] it is entirely possible we were Earth's first alien invasion."

Thursday at a conference in Italy, chemist Steven Benner from the Westheimer Institute of Science and Technology in Gainesville, Fla., offered what he believes is evidence that in fact, "we are actually all Martians; that life started on Mars and came to Earth on a rock."

There's an abstract describing his research posted here. The BBC sums up the key points this way:

"Scientists have long wondered how atoms first came together to make up the three crucial molecular components of living organisms: RNA, DNA and proteins. ...

"Simply adding energy such as heat or light to the more basic organic molecules in the 'soup' does not generate RNA. Instead, it generates tar. RNA needs to be coaxed into shape by 'templating' atoms at the crystalline surfaces of minerals.

"The minerals most effective at templating RNA would have dissolved in the oceans of the early Earth, but would have been more abundant on Mars, according to Prof Benner.

"This could suggest that life started on the Red Planet before being transported to Earth on meteorites, argues Benner."

Benner, Space.com adds, thinks it's "lucky that we ended up here nevertheless, as certainly Earth has been the better of the two planets for sustaining life."

By the way, just how do Earth and Mars swap spit, as Adam puts it?

Back in March on Science Friday, Arizona State University cosmochemist Meenakshi Wadhwa was asked how rocks would get from there to here. "Large impacts ... are hitting Mars ... certainly in the past," she said. "And so there was a large impact on Mars sometime in the past and it ejected these pieces from Mars," which made their way through space to Earth.

What's more, she said, there could be pieces of other planets here on Earth.

So maybe we have a little Venusian in us too?

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

'Baskets' Takes Zach Galifianakis From French Clown School To The Rodeo Ring

The comic, who plays a rodeo clown in his new FX comedy series, says he is "not creeped out by clowns." Galifianakis is also the creator of the Emmy Award-winning web comedy series Between Two Ferns.
NPR

The Shocking Truth About America's Ethanol Law: It Doesn't Matter (For Now)

Ted Cruz doesn't like the law that requires the use of ethanol in gasoline. So what would happen if it was abolished? The surprising answer: not much, probably.
NPR

Chris Christie To Drop Out Of Republican Race For President

The New Jersey governor may simply have missed his window by declining to run in 2012. Christie threw everything at getting traction in Iowa and New Hampshire but fell short in both.
NPR

Twitter Tries A New Kind Of Timeline By Predicting What May Interest You

Twitter has struggled to attract new users. Its latest effort at rejuvenation is a new kind of timeline that predicts which older posts you might not want to miss and displays them on top.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.