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Scientists Strengthen Prospects For Life On Mars

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  • Bobbie Felder
    From: UFO UpDates - Toronto Subject: UpDate: Scientists Strengthen Prospects For Life On Mars Date: Fri, 04 Aug 2000 20:54:17 -0600
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 5, 2000
      From: UFO UpDates - Toronto <updates@...>
      Subject: UpDate: Scientists Strengthen Prospects For Life On Mars

      Date: Fri, 04 Aug 2000 20:54:17 -0600
      From: Lan Fleming <apollo18@...>
      Subject: Scientists Strengthen Prospects For Life On Mars
      To: updates@...

      Below is the latest press release from Dr. Gil Levin, who for
      years has been defending his claim that his Labeled Release
      experiment on the Viking Mars landers discovered life despite
      NASA proclamations to the contrary. What's interesting about
      this release is not only that there is another scientist
      involved with Viking backing up some of Levin's arguments, but
      that his press release was actually released at all -- and by
      JPL's Public Information guy, Ron Baalke, no less. I had assumed
      that Levin's press release wouldn't get any farther than his own
      web page, and JPL is the organization I'd least expect to see
      this coming from. Maybe there's been a shift in the political
      winds in Pasadena.


      From: Ron Baalke <baalke@...>
      Subject: New Information Supports Claim Viking Discovered Life in 1976
      To: astro-l@... (Astronomy List)
      Date: Wed, 2 Aug 2000 08:10:33 -0700 (PDT)

      Biospherics Incorporated
      Beltsville, Maryland

      Media Contact:
      Mark Hopkinson, 561-750-9800 x14
      Email: mhopkinson@...

      Science Contact:
      Gilbert V. Levin, Ph.D.
      619-234-1500 (8/1-8/3), 301-419-3900 (after 8/4)
      Email: gillevin@...

      FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 1st, 2000


      New Information Supports Claim Viking Discovered Life in 1976

      SAN DIEGO, CA -- On the heels of NASA's decision to land new
      rovers on Mars, the debate over the existence of life on the red
      planet is heating up. Dr. Gilbert V. Levin, a chief proponent,
      today advanced his claim to finding living microorganisms on the
      elusive planet 25 years ago. Dr. Levin, one of a trio of
      scientists, including himself and another who participated in
      NASA's Viking Mission, was presenting a paper at the Annual
      Meeting of the International Society for Optical Engineering
      refuting the mainstay arguments against life on Mars. He
      contends that those arguments -- the presumed absence of organic
      matter and of liquid water -- are no longer tenable.

      Levin, senior author of the paper and President of Biospherics
      Incorporated (NASDAQ/BINC), Beltsville, Maryland, was
      Experimenter on the Viking Labeled Release (LR) life detection
      instrument that landed on Mars in 1976. His tests produced
      evidence for life that sparked a continuing controversy. The
      consensus of interested scientists has been that the Viking LR
      results on Mars, though positive, were chemical in origin and
      not biological. However, in a 1997 publication, following two
      decades of study, Levin finally concluded that Viking had,
      indeed, detected living microorganisms on Mars. Acknowledging
      that many scientists may remain unconvinced, he now proposes a
      new test to settle the issue once and for all, and urges that it
      be sent on the next lander mission to Mars.

      Co-author Dr. Arthur Lafleur, Assistant Director of MIT's
      Environmental Health Science Center, provided information that
      refutes the most often cited argument against the LR life
      detection experiment -- the lack of organic matter, the stuff of
      life, on Mars, as reported by the Viking organic analysis gas
      chromatograph mass-spectrometer (GCMS). Lafleur, who helped
      develop the Viking GCMS instrument, and a co-author of the
      original report of no organic matter on Mars, revealed
      unpublished results of pre-mission tests. They showed that the
      instrument sent to Mars could easily have missed biologically
      significant amounts of organic matter in the soil, as it had in
      a number of tests on Earth. Thus, the Mars GCMS results no
      longer can be considered proof that the LR failed to detect
      living microorganisms.

      [Note: the GCMS failure to detect organic compounds is usually
      cited as the conclusive evidence that Levin's experiment did not
      detect life. The support of Levin's position by one of the
      developers of the GCMS is therefore highly significant -- LF]

      Co-author Dr. Lawrence Kuznetz, University of California,
      Berkeley, Department of Planetary Sciences, has put to rest the
      second prevailing argument against the possibility of life on
      Mars, that the atmosphere of the planet is too thin to support
      the existence of life -- essential liquid water. Results of a
      laboratory study by a team of researchers led by Kuznetz showed
      that liquid water does exist under Martian environmental
      conditions. In addition, Kuznetz found results from 1960's tests
      of cooling systems of astronaut space suits showed that water
      exists in liquid form under atmospheric pressure as low as that
      on Mars. The findings lend credence to a model for Martian water
      published in 1998 by Levin and his son, Ron, a Ph.D. physicist
      at MIT Lincoln Laboratory. Based on Viking and Pathfinder data,
      the model predicted amounts of moisture in the Martian soil
      equal to that found to nourish microbial life in the sand dunes
      of Death Valley, California. Corroborated by the new NASA
      announcement of evidence for recent or current liquid water on
      Mars, these reports dispel the no-liquid-water issue against the
      Viking LR results.

      The authors support Levin's "chiral LR" experiment and propose
      that it be sent to Mars at the next opportunity. The experiment
      would apply the proven LR technology to test Martian soil for a
      unique characteristic found in all known forms of life, but not
      in chemical reactions. This characteristic is the biological
      preference for one of two possible configurations of certain
      organic molecules. The scientists state that the experiment can
      return an unambiguous answer to the major scientific question of
      life on Mars that would be acceptable to virtually all

      Dr. Levin was an Experimenter on NASA's Viking Mission to Mars,
      a Co-Investigator on NASA's Mariner 9 Mars mission, and was a
      Team Member of NASA's MOx instrument placed on the ill-fated
      Russian 1996 Mars Lander. He received NASA's Public Service
      Award "In recognition of his achievements in designing,
      perfecting, and conducting the Viking Labeled Release

      Since his Viking experience, Levin has led the biotechnology
      efforts at Biospherics, the publicly held Maryland Company he
      founded in 1967. His developments include a full-bulk,
      low-calorie sweetener, tagatose, soon to come on the market, and
      the safe-for-humans, environmentally friendly pesticide,
      FlyCrackerTM, introduced into the market this year. The Company
      also provides information services to government agencies and
      private industry.

      Certain statements contained herein are "forward looking"
      statements as defined in the Private Securities Litigation
      Reform Act of 1995. Because such statements include risks and
      uncertainties, actual results may differ from those expressed or
      implied. Factors that could cause actual results to differ
      materially from those expressed or implied include, but are not
      limited to, those discussed in filings by the Company with the
      Securities and Exchange Commission, including the filing on Form
      8-K made on March 3, 1999.

      Under its motto, "Technologies for Information and Health,"
      Biospherics' mission is to provide guidance and products to
      improve the quality of life. Biospherics offers biotechnology
      innovations, information technology solutions, and information
      center services.

      Biospherics Incorporated's Internet address is:
      http://www.biospherics.com .

      # # # # # #



      New Information Counters Long-Held Opposition

      The 1976 Viking Mission LR results met all the pre-mission
      criteria established for the experiment by NASA and its
      scientific review committees for proof of life on Mars. However,
      the failure of the GCMS to find organic matter in the Martian
      surface material led to caution. Accordingly, Levin did not
      claim the LR experiment had detected life, but merely stated
      that the results were consistent with biology. Other scientists
      stated that, without organic matter, there could be no life.

      They quickly advanced theories attributing the LR response to
      the putative presence in the soil of the strong oxidant,
      hydrogen peroxide, or its derivatives. It was also contended
      that liquid water could not exist on the surface of Mars,
      because of the low atmospheric pressure, in itself precluding
      any possibility of life. Levin spent considerable time over the
      20 years following Viking poring over the issue of life on Mars,
      including three years of laboratory efforts vainly seeking a
      non-biological explanation of the Mars LR results. Over the
      years since Viking, he followed relevant discoveries such as:
      the finding of life in many extreme environments on Earth,
      evidence of microbial fossils in meteorites from Mars (with NASA
      now explaining that the Viking GCMS may not have been sensitive
      enough to detect the small amount of organic matter constituting
      such organisms), the physics of water on Mars, and other
      physical, chemical and biological findings impinging on the Mars
      life issue. His continuing analysis finally reached a point
      where, in 1997, Levin published a paper in which he concluded
      that his Viking experiment had indeed detected living
      microorganisms in the soil of Mars.

      Despite the fact that the 1997 paper cited recently published
      work by NASA scientists disproving the presence of hydrogen
      peroxide on Mars, and made a strong case by Levin confirming
      NASA's suggestion that the Viking GCMS may overlooked organic
      matter on Mars, considerable criticism was evoked. It now
      concentrated on the liquid water issue as the principal
      remaining argument against the LR results. In 1998, Levin and
      his physicist son, Ron, published a paper outlining a model for
      the existence of liquid water on Mars. They claimed that
      atmospheric physics and thermal conditions on Mars provided
      moisture to the top layer of soil in amounts sufficient to
      sustain life.

      Dr. Lafleur read Levin's papers on the Viking LR experiment and,
      impressed by them, in 1999 contacted Levin to tell him of
      unpublished problems that he found as an engineer in developing
      the Viking GCMS at MIT. He thought the GCMS results might be
      explained without impairing the LR results. Dr. Kuznetz,
      teaching planetary science at UC Berkeley, invited Levin to give
      a talk about his Viking experiment. Intrigued with the liquid
      water issue, Kuznetz searched and found evidence for liquid
      water existing under low-pressure conditions during tests made
      on cooling systems developed for astronaut space suits. He then
      undertook laboratory experiments proving that liquid water
      exists under Martian pressure and temperature. While the present
      paper was in preparation, NASA announced the finding of strong
      evidence for current-era liquid water on Mars, confirming the
      theory and the experimental data reported by the Levins and

      Levin now believes that the biosphere will soon be acknowledged
      to include Mars. He thinks that, in a few years, people will
      wonder at the difficulty that delayed acceptance of the
      discovery of life on Mars in the face of the accumulating facts.
      All the links necessary for life on Mars have been forged:
      terrestrial microorganisms can live under Martian conditions;
      there is liquid water available to microorganisms on Mars;
      contrary to the GCMS results, organic matter seems certain to be
      on Mars (photo-chemically synthesized from the atmospheric gases
      and also deposited by meteorites); Earth and Mars have traded
      materials that could readily have contained bacteria; bacteria
      can be preserved for up to millions of years under the vacuum
      and low temperature of space travel; bacteria transported in
      meteorites can survive entry temperatures into the Mars or Earth
      atmospheres and the thermal and mechanical shock of landing; and
      freeze-dried bacteria are known to establish full metabolism
      very shortly upon entering a favorable environment. These facts
      relieve scientists from the difficulty of accepting separate
      origins of life on Mars and Earth, an extremely unlikely
      happenstance. Now, it is possible that life on either planet may
      have come from the other -- or from a third source.

      Levin believes that NASA's one billion dollar Viking Mission to
      find life on Mars was successful, and that the answer has been
      staring scientists in the face for nearly a quarter of a
      century. The simple, relatively low-cost and easiest way to
      finally settle the issue is to send the chiral LR experiment on
      the next Mars mission.

      NOTE: Additional info is available at


      Bobbie "Jilain" Felder
      --->backwoods of Mississippi
      --->planet Earth
      --->somewhere in the cosmos

      ICQ #7524076
      ~~~Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
      Life is but an empty dream!
      For the soul is dead that slumbers
      And things are not what they seem~~~
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