His name is Gilbert Levin, now 69. And when he was 26, he was the main explorer of the Martian surface, at least in the USA.
Gilbert Levin was not initially interested in any planets other than his own. He received his degree in environmental engineering, worked in the Department of Health and was involved in air pollution control.
Once, he invented a unique method to check water, food, and in general everything for the presence of harmful microbes – a radioisotope method: you need to put some radioactive compounds in the tested environment and see what happens. If the desired bacteria are present, then they will eat these compounds and emit radioactive gas, which will certainly be fixed.
This know-how turned out to be cosmic. The fact is that it allows you to search not only for certain pathogenic microbes, but also for microbes in general. NASA was very interested and invited the young scientist to their place. They said that there is an idea to check for sterility on Mars.
Later on, the talented engineer prepared the famous “Vikings” for solving the problem of the century. The first device – Viking 1 – landed on the Red Planet on July 20, 1976. Viking 2 followed on September 3 of the same year.
They were in different places: one on the plain of Chris, this is the western hemisphere, and the second – already on the plain of Utopia, much to the right and to the north.
Both conducted an experiment by Dr. Levin: they put on the Martian soil, so to speak, food for potential bacteria – organic matter labeled with the natural radioactive isotope carbon-14. That is, if there is someone there, he will definitely swallow the bait and metabolism will begin.
The first Viking slipped “food” into a sunlit place, the second – in the shade, under a stone. Such manipulations were carried out several times. The results were…positive, in both places. Four of the first six tests showed that the metabolism has gone.
But the sensation did not last. A week later (and its very interesting): both one and the other “Viking” again cast the same rod – and nothing. Therefore, the scientific community shrugged their shoulders and said: well, this was probably some kind of chemical process, not biological, in two different places. The project was closed and decided not to return to it
Twenty years pass. By that time, Mars Pathfinder had visited Mars, and it showed that the climate on the Red Planet was once much better, warmer and more humid. Meanwhile, on earth, they found “black smokers” – hydrothermal springs around craters, in which microorganisms feel great in completely unthinkable conditions.
Levin, in collaboration with another researcher – Barry Digregorio – publishes the book “Mars: the Living Planet“. Scientists insist that all possible chemical options are actually not so convincing. The world again greeted it with disbelief.
A few years later, Opportunity arrives on Mars and sends, for example, this picture. Please note – this is still not some paranormal site with fake stories, this is the official Mars Exploration rovers site with the NASA logo, and nasa.gov appears in the address bar.
2004 year. Sol 182. This means the 182nd day of the rover’s work on the surface.
A similar apparatus was captured in another “sol”. The media compared these balls to mushrooms with raincoats, but NASA preferred berries, namely blueberries, only for a memorable association, because in fact, as they say in the space agency, this crop consists of a mineral called hematite, a type of iron ore.
These loose balls, rich in hematite, about the size of an airgun bullet, are embedded in the Martian rock like blueberries in a muffin and are eroded over time.
Well, okay, what about this for example? This is already Curiosity and 2016. Is this also some kind of hematite? Or did the rover have a screw unscrewed?
It is also worth recalling , perhaps, about the Martian blotches, very similar to terrestrial stromatolites – these are the kind of structures that cyanobacteria build.
Gilbert Levin, Principal Investigator of the Viking Program
In short, we have: positive results of a widely used microbiological test, confirmation by the results of control studies, coincidence of results in two Viking landing sites, failure to find a non-biological explanation
More than forty years have passed since the time of the Vikings. Life on Earth goes on as usual – ordinary people look at mushrooms and screws with curiosity, if not with horror, well-informed skeptics do their job. They swear. Refute. Just not less, the well-informed Gilbert Levin throws a very simple challenge: prove that there is no life on Mars.
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