back to article Life on Mars found – in 1976

The USA’s Viking mission found life on Mars, says a new paper that has re-analysed data collected by the two probes. Complexity Analysis of the Viking Labeled Release Experiments (PDF), published yesterday in the International Journal of Aeronautic and Space Sciences, asserts that a test designed to detect microbial life did …


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  1. Rentaguru

    darned unfortunate

    That it's gone extinct in the years since .... such a bugger we missed life on Mars by a mere 34 years plus however long it's going to take us to actually get boots on the ground.

    1. Shakje

      Re: darned unfortunate

      Maybe we gave it a cold?

      1. rciafardone

        Re: darned unfortunate

        +10 points on your nerd credential for the Verne reference.

  2. Muckminded


    Soil heated...check

    Chemicals detected...check

    Pseudoanalytical bullshit meter pegged...priceless

  3. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

    Isn't life a physical process?

    The presence of pink noise is not a proof of life. Many physical processes (including life, in my book at least) produce forms of pink noise. If a white noise random source is effectively filtered by some damping process you will typically get similar effects.

    If they were really sure of their results, would they not submit this to Nature or Science? I will read the article more carefully, but I have my doubts.

    1. Eddie Edwards
      Thumb Up

      Re: Isn't life a physical process?

      All physical processes produce pink noise, in fact - perfectly flat all-spectrum white noise doesn't exist. Presumably this is some specific shape of pink noise that requires life to produce. I didn't read the paper yet.

      Still, the results of the original experiment have perhaps been unfairly discredited. The device gave a positive result as designed - it detected life on Mars. It's only because the other two failed that the announcement was made that no life was detected on Mars. It's good that they're going back to try to get more data from the original signals; maybe they can finally resolve it one way or another.

      1. Wombling_Free

        Re: Isn't life a physical process?

        I thought life produced the Brown Noise, not pink noise.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The Martians are thankful for the taste of chicken soup, and now think humans taste like chicken soup. But the chances of anything coming from Mars are a Million to one, he said.

    1. Frederic Bloggs

      Re: Tasty

      And as any fule kno, million to one shots come up nine time out of ten.

    2. Keep Refrigerated

      Re: Tasty

      But still they come!

  5. jai

    No one would have believed, in the last years of the 20th Century...

    I've just started playing the War of the Worlds game on my iPhone again, so this piece of news is extremely good timing :)


  6. Rustident Spaceniak

    That's actually the second time...

    First they confirmed the finding of organic substances, also by Viking, in 2011. Now this. Get your feet measured, rentaguru, you'll be wanting those mars boots soon.

  7. Crisp

    Is it too soon to launch a preemptive strike?

    Stop them now! Before they become multi-cellular!

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Is it too soon to launch a preemptive strike?

      Nope. "All options are on the table". Congress has already passed a secret act to "finance and support freedom-loving earthbound microbes in the fight for interplanetary democracy". I hear they will be on an outbound CIA lander soon.

    2. Toastan Buttar

      Re: Is it too soon to launch a preemptive strike?

      Perhaps, instead of chicken soup, we could send them a Pot Noodle.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Is it too soon to launch a preemptive strike?

        Send them a pot noodle? That would be just cause for them declaring war!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is it too soon to launch a preemptive strike?

      But then we better nuke 'm from orbit, since it is the only way to be sure.

  8. Ageless Stranger

    Thanks El Reg!

    I now have a David Bowie ear worm, you have ruined my weekend

    1. Goldmember
      Thumb Up

      Re: Thanks El Reg!

      "Take a look at the law man, beating up the wrong guy, oh man, wonder if he'll ever know, he's in the best-selling show-oh-oh-ow..."

      Me too, it would seem

  9. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    This is the voice of the Mysterons

    All your rover are belong to us.

    Good bye, Curiosity...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    sta·tis·tics (st -t s t ks). n. 1. The art of misrepresenting carefully collected scientific data in order to support a predetermined conclusion.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Or to mangle some dead dude's quote

      There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistical analysis.

      It does smack a bit of wanting to find a particular answer and finding a way to arrive at that answer. You could probably apply the same techniques to stock market data and prove the LSE is sentient.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: Or to mangle some dead dude's quote

        Oh, I think you will find that that system/the stock market system is brain dead and relies for artificial survival on dodgy quants and mickey mouse, pie in the sky algorithms which are divorced from any physical reality….. which is why they are collapsing in uncovered ponzi trading scandals and wanton malpractices, Arkasha. Those masters of the universe who were touted as being in control of everything …… well, they have been proven to be cheap fraudsters and snake oil salesmen of the first degree.

        And can you imagine the breadth of all the tools who were fooled by them, proving beyond shadow of any doubt, that intelligence in wider fields and attendant systems is also missing to a crippling degree.

        All of which does make IT a very fertile ground for stealthy zeroday vulnerability exploitation by smarter beings with Super IntelAIgent Systems of Creative Communication.

        And it is a proven and indisputeable fact that even whenever the evidence is presented in simple writing before ones very eyes, does the more primitive human brain fail to register the significance of the ESPecially provided in plain text information/instruction/edutainment/knowledge/intelligence, and thus is Man overtaken and taken over by Future Events and Foreign Entities which are surely clearly alien to them.

        Isn't that correct, El Reg?

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Or to mangle some dead dude's quote

          Re: amanfrommars 1

          Arthur C Clarke's 1961 "Dial F For Frankenstein", about the world wide network of telephone exchanges achieving conciousness.

          Alfred Bester's 1975 novel The Computer Connection, A.K.A. Extro. Same sorta thing, but with computer networks. And time travel and immortals, bizarrely.

          William Gibson's Neuromancer. Ditto. But with Rastafarians in space (to keep the Babylon away from their hydroponics)

          Ghost in the Shell, feature-length anime. Ditto. But with walking tanks and invisibility cloaks.

          Iain M Bank's Feersum Enjinn, though the construct appears designed, rather than emergent. Contains steam locomotives and talking ants.

      2. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Or to mangle some dead dude's quote

        Mangled Disraeli Gears

  11. Anonymous Coward 101

    Or to sum up...

    ..."blah blah blah".

    I am reminded of the complaint against parapsychologists: they never design simple experiments that will conclusively prove the existence of mind reading or whatever. It is always intentionally overcomplicated experiments that leave open other interpretations.

    On the side of alien life on Mars, we have this waffle. On the other hand, we have the fact that there is no other evidence of life on Mars whatsoever.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Or to sum up...

      Nah! Did you miss the recent photos of the old caved-in tunnels where they lived before they started up life over here?

  12. Winkypop Silver badge

    There's lIfe on Mars!?

    And what did we do?

    We sent a Viking as a representative!

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: There's lIfe on Mars!?

      <blockquote>There's lIfe on Mars!?

      And what did we do?

      We sent a Viking as a representative! .... Winkypop Posted Friday 13th April 2012 08:54 GMT </blockquote>

      And with a virtually full set of danegeld instructions too*, to facilitate and ameliorate quite radical change in exchanges that require no troubles that cannot be handled by any regular and conventional means and traditional memes, was it in one sense a most expensive folly and/or in another sense, a most welcome extraterrestrial union/fleeting liaison, with far-reaching out of this world consequences/possibilities/opportunities, which you cannot say have not been diligently El Registered in preparation for AI and a quantum leap advance with fabulous revelations about the true nature of virtual reality with IT and media programs supporting and realising its myriad metadatamorphs ...... Global Picture Shows.

      * .... .... Trick or Treat?

    2. Christoph

      Re: There's lIfe on Mars!?

      And now we're sending them a machine with a Heat Ray

  13. AceRimmer1980
    IT Angle

    Martian Mining Corp.

    The chicken soup machines would seem to be much more reliable than those of the Jupiter Mining Corp.

    1. Colin Brett


      But I thought the Soup Dragon was on that little asteroid with bin lids covering the craters?

      No Clangers icon, so I'll have to use the alien.


  14. Hooksie

    My memory is hazy but...

    As far as I remember from some documentary (BBC The Planets series, REALLY good) they ran various experiments and were able to show that the reactions were not biological in nature. Now some group 're-analyse' the data and come to a different conclusion backed up by a load of waffle? Colour me unimpressed.

    I have no doubt though that life of some form or other did exist on Mars millions of years ago and it is perfectly possible that some microbial life still exists (extremeophiles sp?) but we genuinely won't know that for sure until a human geologist goes there and looks.

    1. Snot Rot
      Thumb Up

      Re: My memory is hazy but...

      Upvoted for mention of 'The Planets'. Brilliant series, 1999 I believe. I got the double VHS of it after watching it on telly. Its great (probably a bit out of date by now though). Go and watch it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: My memory is hazy but...

      I have a similar hazy memory of a Horizon (I think) sometime in the 80's, where the guy who designed at least one of those experiments on Viking stated they were mostly useless: the sample size was tiny, only touched the surface and assumed that all life was similar to that found here on the surface of earth.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: My memory is hazy but...

        Heck, it was only made unavailable a couple of days ago, but the BBC Horizon Guide to Mars (a clip show assembled from Horizon Mars episodes of the decades) was on iPlayer last week. Probably on a well known video site, if your scruples will allow you to watch it.

        Whilst you're there, check out "To Mars by A Bomb", a BBC doc about the Orion Project (or even better, buy the book). What happens when you take some ex-Manhattan Project physicists and a former Czech resistance fighter come plastic-explosives expert, with a view to blasting a sodding big ship into orbit by dropping nuclear bombs behind it - at a rate of four every second. Freeman Dyson concludes that public perception of mad scientists might have grain of truth.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's the betting

    there is a plan to give them free housing and benefits as soon as they touch down anywhere in the UK?

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: What's the betting

      The Daily Mail is that way -->

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: What's the betting

      Not in the U.K, but in District 9 of Johannesburg

  16. Christoph

    You can prove anything if you try hard enough

    If you have a reasonably complex set of data and keep re-analysing it and re-testing it until you get the result you are looking for, then eventually you will get the result you are looking for.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Compulsory reading for all brain scientists.

        Every single one of them should be forced to read that paper and then do an exam to prove they've really actually understood it, or we should take away their scienceing licenses!

  17. Sceptic Tank Silver badge

    Wait a minute!

    So these microbes made it to Mars while LOHAN is still stuck on the launchpad. Tsk, tsk, tsk. Disappointing.

    I personally think we can save us some money by waiting for aliens to visit us instead of us visiting them (like the Martians are doing it now). That way we can confirm the existence of ET's without leaving the comfort of our armchairs.

  18. NoneSuch Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    "This Reg writer welcomes our new Microbial Martian Overlords and would like to remind them the whole staff could be useful rounding up others to toil in their underground sugar caves."


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I have a small hairy dog here who's volunteered to go first.

      He looks a bit like a Skye terrier, and I think he said his name was Doug, or something like that...

  19. Some Beggar

    *adjust sceptic helmet*

    I'm sure there is a perfectly good reason why research with such profound and exciting implications was published in a small Korean journal and not splashed across the front page of Nature ...

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Of course their is a reason

      There is no point putting this in the shop window until senators are considering NASA's next budget.

  20. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    They haven't found life on Mars

    They have found evidence that there may be life on Mars. This is akin to the difference between finding an elephant and finding something that looks for all the world like elephant footprints.

    Personally, I think it is plausible and possibly likely that there is residual bacterial life on Mars. Given that chunks get blasted off both Mars and Earth by meteoritic impacts and land on the other (cf. martian meteorites found in the Antarctic), and that certain microbes can survive hard vacuum and/or radiation, it seems quite feasible that microbes from Earth could have, at some point, been transferred naturally to Mars and survived. I doubt that they would thrive so well, but they could tick over. Life fills every niche on this planet, if it could reach it, and there is a niche for it, it will be there on Mars too, and indeed, other places in the solar system. The key points are, of course, the niche and the means of reaching it.

    1. Charlie van Becelaere

      Re: They haven't found life on Mars

      "... finding something that looks for all the world like elephant footprints."

      Perhaps better would be " ... finding something that looks vaguely like what elephant footprints are thought to resemble."

      Ignoring my nit, "Well done, sir."

  21. xeroks


    Is this how the handy "Enhance" feature applied to digital photos in detective tv series works? I always wondered.


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