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Claim of extraterrestrial life not necessarily credible

by Kelly MacNeil on March 7, 2011

One of the top-trending topics on March 7 is the claim by a NASA scientist, Richard Hoover, that there are meteorites containing evidence of extraterrestrial life.

The Guardian reports that Hoover's new claims, published in the Journal of Cosmology, center on microscopic fossils that look like cyanobacteria found in the meteorites.

Hoover further claims that these fossils could not be derived from Earth after the meteorite landed, because they do not contain nitrogen – a crucial element of life on Earth.

"[These fossils are] the remains of extraterrestrial life forms that grew on the parent bodies of the meteorites when liquid water was present, long before the meteorites entered the Earth's atmosphere," says Hoover, according to the Guardian.

However, despite Hoover's title as a NASA astrobiologist at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama, Time Magazine has compiled sources who do not view Hoover's new claims as credible at all. The validity of the journal in which Hoover's claims are made is under attack.

"[The Journal of Cosmology] is 'the ginned-up website of a small group of crank academics,'" according to biologist P.Z. Myers, in Time.

"I get e-mails from them regularly, maybe once every month or two. They always sound extremely nutty …so much so that I have never been tempted to investigate more closely," said a senior astrophysicist, unnamed in the news source.

The Huffington Post reported on Hoover's claims, tying his paper to a theory known as "panspermia."

The theory of panspermia suggests that life began on earth through the transmission of extraterrestrial life to earth, via meteorites.

According to Scientific American, "panspermia theories merely push the problem of life's origin into outer space," reports the Huffington Post. 

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