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originally posted by: DexterRiley
a reply to: JadeStar
My greatest concern is that there seems, to me, to be an environment of conformity in most all sectors of the science community. While I would expect there to be some push-back on unique and radical theories, it is my perception that these theories are treated with such disdain that they are completely unable to gain any traction, no matter how much evidence is accumulated.
I think that some of this push-back also results in lack of funding for study of these alternative theories, which results in unnecessarily slow progress despite how promising they may be.
Yes, a discovery of this magnitude should be vigorously debated. To confirm extra-terrestrial life even in Mars distant past would fundamentally alter our perception of our place in the universe. There has been much discussion of the repercussions of the proof of such a theory. But, I am more hopeful that there will actually be a debate, rather than the summary dismissal of these theories as has occurred in the past.
Thank you for the feedback!
NASA Mars rover finds key evidence for lake at landing site
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - Billions of years ago, a lake once filled the 96-mile- (154-km) wide crater being explored by NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity, bolstering evidence that the planet most like Earth in the solar system was suitable for microbial life, scientists said on Monday.
The new findings combine more than two years of data collected by the rover since its sky-crane landing inside Gale Crater in August 2012.
Scientists discovered stacks of rocks containing water-deposited sediments inclined toward the crater’s center, which now sports a three-mile (5 km) mound called Mount Sharp. That would mean that Mount Sharp didn’t exist during a period of time roughly 3.5 billion years ago when the crater was filled with water, Curiosity researchers told reporters during a conference call.
"Finding the inclined strata was ... a complete surprise,” said lead scientist John Grotzinger, with the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
Shortly after landing, Curiosity found that Mars once had the chemical ingredients and the environmental conditions needed to support microbial life, fulfilling the primary goal of its mission.
“The size of the lake in Gale Crater and the length of time and series that water was showing up implies that there may have been sufficient time for life to get going and thrive,” said NASA's Mars Exploration Program scientist Michael Meyer.
Most of the scientists both at my school and elsewhere who I have interacted with have a diversity of ideas. They don't all march to the same drummer other than the scientific method.
You can name any discipline within astronomy and astrophysics or biology and I can find more than a few well respected scientist who are unconventional and often have unconventional ideas or lines of research.
That is actually encouraged because it is often from the margins where the greatest discoveries are made. As long as research is based upon sound methodology and subject to peer review then its fine.
Assumptions can often lead to missing something and accepting something before all the evidence is in can often lead to a false conclusion
In the end the only thing that matters is the truth.
So from the outside we might all appear to be this homogenous crowd there is a lot of debate within it which goes on in scientific journals most people seldom if ever read.
On an entertaining note, I urge you to try to get a copy of the film "Heaven, Earth and Joe Davis" for a fascinating look at one such scientist who is about as unconventional as we get.
That can often happen but it isn't hard to find other funding sources beyond the normal ones these days. There has been research money raised through Kickstarter for instance.
A good example of what happens when we become too wedded to an idea of what we think we'll find based on a sample size of 1 is a story famously told by the "king of the planet hunters" Geoffrey Marcy of the California exoplanet search which was based out of San Francisco State University....
Last spring, several Curiosity team members reported the detection of some simple organics that appeared to be Martian. The findings were not definitive, but NASA has scheduled a news conference Dec. 14 at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union with “new information” about the search for organics. “Our original interpretation — that there was a good chance the organics we were seeing are Martian — hasn’t changed,” said Daniel P. Glavin of the Goddard Spaceflight Center, an author of the earlier paper. “This interpretation will be expanded on at A.G.U.”