NASA has reacted to claims that alien bacteria has been discovered in a space rock after the discovery was announced earlier this week. Perhaps not wishing to get caught up in the ensuing controversy that will no doubt be unleashed from the paper after believers and skeptics alike descend on the paper, NASA has announced it cannot stand behind discoveries made and published without proper peer review. However, many believers are reacting by saying the paper saw an unprecedented level of review just before is findings were published.
It all started on March 5th when NASA scientist Richard Hoover told his story of studying meteorites that had been dropped from space and discovered something unusual hiding in one particular rock. Stating he may have found the answer to the age old question, “Are we alone in the Universe,” Hoover took a sample from within a rare form of meteorite and discovered evidence of fossilized life within. Of course knowing the controversy that would ensue, Hoover stated he would have to review the claim carefully and submit only hard science in response. Finally submitting his report in the Journal of Cosmology after years of study, he approached Fox News for an interview and the rest is history. The article was bashed in much of the mainstream press as an overenthusiastic and ultimately unscientific work that promoted the idea of panspermia (the seeding of planets by space-born life distributed throughout the universe).
And now it would seem NASA has hopped the bandwagon by itself denouncing the research as scientifically invalid (albeit tentatively) and said it cannot stand behind the work until a proper peer review has taken place. And what began as a peer review has been compared by some to a witch hunt.
Of course the Journal of Cosmology’s review process is infamous for being relaxed when compared to other journals like Nature. The journal requires only two recognized experts for a piece to be published. However, in some cases there can be more than two reviewers to examine a case. So is this the end of Hoover’s study? Not so fast say some experts.
After the discovery of ALH 840001 many scientists declared the discovery bunk after the object was examined under laboratory conditions. But a new study in 2010 rekindled the flames that life may have been discovered from elsewhere in the universe. The ultimate findings were considered inconclusive, but have not – as the mainstream media inexplicably suggests- been debunked completely. In the end, we will likely be hearing about and from Hoover in the future as this study is examined once again.
In the mean time we can only speculate on the presence of extraterrestrial life in our universe. In the past year the picture has become ever clearer that the possibility of life elsewhere in our universe is far more likely than we once thought. But that final proof may be a hard won battle.