- Hardcover: 392 pages
- Publisher: Frog Books (July 23, 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1883319587
- ISBN-13: 978-1883319588
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.6 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 17 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,937,110 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Mars: The Living Planet
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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.
The title Mars: the Living Planet does scant justice to the true content and importance of this excellent book.
Full review at:
icamsr.org/mtlp_review2.html --Chandra Wickramasinghe
Mars: The Living Planet by Barry E.DiGregorio is a fascinating, in-depth analysis of the life-detection experiments carried on board the Viking landers to the planet Mars...
icamsr.org/mtlp_review.html --Spectroscopy Magazine
Top customer reviews
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Barry E. Digregorio ( wrote 90% of the book), a chapter by Dr Gilbert V. Levin, and a chapter by 10 year helper Dr. Patricia Ann Straat have wrote a great book. The book reads well and is not bogged down with too much technical PHD terms.OK for the average layman and scientists to read.
I'm not saying the opinions and "facts" documented by the group are gospel but the book certainly opened my mind to the possibilities that life MAY have been found on Mars via the 2 Viking landings and "evidence" given by the Mars meteor ALH 84001 and another younger one found in Antarctica.
"Evidence" is given of the results of Dr Levin's LR data. Charts show there was indeed arising of the very slightly radioactive tracer gas that may have come from life processes but then a dropping off as more nutrient was was added. Did the gas go back into the soil? Organisms killed because of excess? Also there was a number of times it was not clear if they actually got a sample into the chamber for testing as there was glitches.
What I was impressed was the way Barry E. Digregorio systematically laid out a very good case for life on Mars but INMO there was NOT a definite answer either no life or life.
Also there is a good history about the "wolf trap" and Dr.Wolf Vishniac not being able to get his experiment on Viking after years of work with NASA and then having to go to Antarctica to try to prove the capabilities of the "Wolf trap" against a supposedly sterile Antarctic environment (NOT). Sadly Dr. Vishniac perished falling down a thousand foot gorge.
Also references to many other scientists including Carl Sagan. Also other Mars flights are shown and there results and disappointment failures. Much is said about possible underground water on Mars and fog and frost to sustain life. Also UV radiation and radiation from soil elements on Mars as it would effect life is mention as well as the low Mars atmospheric pressure and high CO2 content.
Also lots of controversy on the color of Mars sky. Why was it blue in the original image and why did the NASA administer force a technician to make it more red? Also it seems to me there was some blue green color on the rocks? Life? Was NASA trying to hide something to allow a future take home sample of Martian soil? Adjustment so the US flag on Viking was red and not purple? It was shown as dust particles settle down from the Martian atmosphere the sky color goes from slightly red, to salmon, to blue to purple. Again why did NASA fool around with the color and not leave it alone. Original image looked like Arizona sky and brownish rock to me...not red, and there was some blue green tint to some of the rocks. A diode color controlled system. INMO not the best but probably they best NASA could do at the time.
Much "evidence" and deep concern is written about the possible contamination of Mars without expensive sterilization methods and the Russians may have crashed non sterilized spacecraft into Mars already. The greater potential importance of not allowing a possible deadly organism from Mars to be brought back on Earth is shown and that testing should be on Mars, the Moon or the ISS. Unnecessary worry of an "Andromeda Strain" ? I don't know but INMO some precautions should be taken.
Also lots of information of oxidizers in the Martian soil and the search for hydrogen peroxide. Also shown was Digregorio's failed quest to have the Hubble telescope search for hydrogen peroxide in the Martian atmosphere.
I'm not saying I agree 100% with any of this but it does open ones mind to the possibilities and that life MAY have been found and NASA may have had an alternate reason to publicly say life was not found. If you are interested in the possibility of life on Mars you one it to yourself to try this book. Hear the other story and pros and cons about the possibility of Martian life. 5 stars
What makes me suspicious is this:
What if solid evidence for life elsewhere is uncovered? Do we, John and Jane Q. Public, get the story, straight? How do religious fundamentalists and various other kooks react to this news that their deity, or maybe his opposite, was busy elsewhere? What happens when it REALLY SINKS IN what this all means? (What it means is that the once-friendly and comforting night sky slowly becomes a wide-open doorway to the unknown, intelligent life elsewhere becomes a near certainty, curiosity may turn to fear and horror, etc. etc.). Well, they don't know until they make the announcement, do they, so why not sort-of make the announcement now and then to see what happens, maybe to acclimate folks to the idea.
This book and all the circumstances surrounding it are suspicious. What responsible scientist would announce that Martian life has been discovered in a meteorite fragment unless they were 100% certain? Why do we keep getting green lights that invariably switch to red or yellow? Why is eveidence for so many things almost always just barely out of reach?
This is an interesting book but I trust it about as far as I could throw it and not for the reasons many critics offer. I'm seeing too many books like this recently, books about controversial things by people with "credentials." If there isn't something a tad conspiratorial about it all then we've got some serious problem with our modern credential-ling process and that's scarier than finding out Mars has bugs.
Most recent customer reviews
Well children it was fun reading but hard to follow and bit hard to believe. Written by a believer who assumes you know everything the writers knows.Read more
"A reader from SUNY Buffalo ,...Read more