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No. 116: Mar-Apr 1998

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Microscopic Life On Mars?

The worm-like structures present in that (supposed) Martian meteorite ALH 84001 superficially resemble miniature bacteria. On this basis NASA loudly proclaimed that they might be the fossils of primitive Martian life forms. (SF#108, #110)

Some scientists were suspicious of this claim. J.P. Bradley et al, in a recent letter to Nature, declared the putative fossils to be only the fractured surfaces of lifeless crystals. Responding, K. Thomas-Keprta insisted that her group was not so stupid that it would mistake crystals for fossils! Her group, too, had noticed the crystals. The claimed fossils are much larger and more numerous than the crystals. To settle the matter, Thomas-Keprta and associates plan to dissect the suspect structures.

Stay tuned to this newsletter!

(Bradley, J.P., et al; "No Nanofossils in Martian Meteorite," Nature, 390:454, 1997. Also: Kerr, Richard A.; "Putative Martian Microbes Called Microscopy Artifacts," Science, 278:1706, 1997.)

From Science Frontiers #116, MAR-APR 1998. 1998-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987