Molten Salt Reactors

Someone recently posted a comment to an article I had posted about a particular nuclear battery being so much bunk asking why I hadn’t mentioned nuclear salt reactors.

This is an interesting technology that properly configured has the potential to make nuclear power viable in the long term without so many of the problems present in pressurized and boiling water reactors.

There are four major problems with the nuclear industry as it exists.

  1. Conventional pressurized water and boiling water reactors are prone to meltdown and the release and widespread dispersion of radioactive materials.
  2. Fissile materials, especially plutonium 239, can readily be diverted from the fuel cycle of conventional reactors which breed an amount of Pu-239 from the absorption of a neutron by U-238.
  3. Because processing is done off-site, there exists the possibility of diversion of radioactive materials to terrorist uses such as dirty bombs.
  4. The radioactive waste produced by conventional reactors is a 100,000 year problem.  No civilization exists for long enough to contain that, nor is any repository technology sufficient.

Molten salt reactors address the first problem by having a plug in the bottom of the reactor that melts when temperatures exceed a safe threshold allowing the fuel to drain into a tank that is sufficiently large that the fuel disperses to the point where the chain reaction can’t be sustained, the molten salts solidify, and the radioactive elements are contained.

There is also an inherent safety factor in that molten salt reactors operate with a negative temperature coefficient and there are actually two factors that contribute to this.  First is that the thermal expansion of the salts takes the fissile nuclei farther apart from each other reducing reaction rates.  The other thing that contributes to a reduction in reaction rates is Doppler shifting of the neutron energies due to the thermal motions broadening the neutron energy spectrum.  Only neutrons of the right energy are efficiently absorbed maintaining the chain reaction.

Unlike pressurized water reactors that have to be constantly maintained at the right reaction rates with the use of neutron absorbing control rods, these reactors have a negative temperature coefficient, that is to say as the temperature increases the reaction rate naturally decreases, that tends to stabilize them.

Molten salt reactors can be operated using fuels such as thorium (actually uranium-233 bread from thorium) or the transuranics (transuranics can only make up a fraction of the fuel because of neutron budget issues) from the waste of conventional reactors producing a mix of isotopes not suitable for the production of bombs.

On-site reprocessing eliminates the need to transport high-level waste and the potential for terrorist diversions or accidents in the process of transporting those wastes.

Because molten-salt reactors are capable of burning transuranics, they leave only the much shorter term fission products as wastes, turning a 100,000 year problem into a couple of hundred year problem, and even there, there are only a couple of long-lived isotopes which could be destroyed in an accelerator turning even that couple hundred year problem into a couple decade problem.

Conventional boiling water reactors effectively extract less than .7% of the Uranium fuels energy potential, molten-salt reactor systems can extract up to 98%, and they can use thorium fuel cycles which have little proliferation potential and thorium is about 4x as plentiful as uranium in the Earth’s crust.

The original Oak Ridge design used graphite as a moderator and that was bad because hot graphite exposed to air equals Chernobyl.  Newer designs have eliminated the need for graphite in their design.

All in all, I believe this is a technology that could make nuclear not only viable for the long term but would allow us to clean up some of the mess we’ve created with existing reactors.

Neutrino Causing Nuclear Reactions?

I’ve been a fan of Richard Feynman in that he is one of the few mainstream scientists that actually insisted that theories be consistent with the data, but also because he seemed so capable of thinking a problem through.  Recently, I’ve been giving thought to his method of diagramming nuclear reactions, and one aspect of those diagrams is that they’re all reversible, and so are the reactions they represent.

This got me thinking about the role that neutrinos often play in nuclear reactions.  If you fuse four hydrogen nuclei together (protons) to create a helium atom, two of these have to become neutrons in the process.  Anytime protons convert to neutrons or the opposite, neutrinos are involved.  In these reactions they are given off.  But Feynman also suggests that these reactions can be played backwards, and in that case you’d have to have neutrinos coming into the reaction not leaving.  That lead me to think that neutrinos must be capable of causing a nuclear reactions that wouldn’t otherwise happen.  At first I wanted to say neutrino catalyzed reactions, but that really wouldn’t be correct because in this case they are consumed.

Never the less, we’ve been going through a period of anomalous activity in the solar system, not only is the Earth heating up, but so is Mars and every other planet that we can measure the temperature.  The Earth is not only heating up on the surface, but there is evidence that things deep below are in flux as well.  The rate that the magnetic field is wandering has increased dramatically over the last hundred years.  There was a year a couple of decades ago where we had a serious of deep Earthquakes around the globe that exceeded the statistical norm for Earthquakes at depth by about a factor of ten.  This, by the way, seems to have recently been expunged from the record and I have to wonder why.  Anyway, the point is things are happening on this planet as well as others and our Sun, all at the same time, with no obvious connection.

I find myself wondering if neutrinos, even though the react with ordinary matter very little, might be responsible for increasing heat in planetary bodies by allowing nuclear reactions to happen that require them as one of the reactants, and if such nuclear systems might have a greater cross-section to neutrinos than ordinary matter making them a possible avenue to a more efficient and possibly selective neutrino detector.

The Explicate, Implicate, and Super-Implicate Order

There are a number of physicists who lately have been championing a new view of reality that not only attempts to accommodate things on the large scale as described by general relativity, and things on the very small scale as described by quantum physics, but also attempts to accommodate less tangible things like consciousness, thought, even spirit.

I am most intrigued by Jack Sarfatti and some of the things he has had to say about the explicate order, that which we can see, touch, taste, the implicate, that which underlies it on the smallest scale, things that exist at the quantum level, and now what he is labeling as the super-implicate, the realm of thought and consciousness.

He has a mathematical model for all of this, unfortunately, math is not my strong suite and I don’t pretend to understand his model, nor most of the math involved in quantum physics. I never made it past my first quarter of calculus and have forgotten most of that.  Today I have to strain to do simple algebraic manipulations.  As a consequence, I can’t offer any comment or criticisms of his mathematical model.

It’s not the math or the mathematical proofs I am interested in, it’s the ideas and the experimental proofs, and their applications, and what they mean to our lives.  While Jack Sarfatti is primarily building on ideas of David Bohm, some of the ramifications of his theory, that it’s possible for the future to influence the past, in something he refers to as retro-closed causality loops, resonates with some of my own experiences.

The idea of closed retro-causality loops also resonates with something I thought of when I heard Richard Feynman state that anti-matter is equivalent to matter moving backwards in time.

The idea that it might not be equivalent but actually “IS” matter going backwards in time opened up a whole bizarre scenario in my mind where I imagined that there might actually be very few particles in the whole universe, that actually a particles ability to go backwards and forwards in time might in fact make one particle look like an infinite number of particles, A single particle being “recycled” as it switches directions.

When I heard Feynman make the statement that anti-matter is equivalent to matter traveling backwards in time, I though, “what if it IS matter traveling backwards in time? ” That lead me to think of how a particle could reverse it’s time-direction.  Which lead me to think about particle annihilation. When a positron meets an electron, when any matter particle meets it’s anti-particle, they annihilate one another and two photons of the energy necessary to carry away their mass, result, traveling in opposite directions.

Our consciousness travels forward through time, from the past, to the future, owing to the biological nature of our brains. That places a bias in us that makes us want to see the entire universe that way, as traveling from the past to the future.  If we step outside of that frame of mind, and view time as another dimension in which things exist, then the whole perception on the real nature of the universe changes.  We can stop thinking about when things began and when they will end, and start thinking about how they exist and are shaped in space-time.

Looking at it from this perspective, the whole “traveling in time” thing goes away, instead particles take on a shape in space-time that is not linear, but instead a zigzag line that reflects in time from events involving a photon. A particle becomes a line in space-time shaped a certain way. Where it interacts with a photon a certain way.

A particle, via these interactions with a photon or photons (I’m thinking “a” photon is reversing in time also even though from their perspective they’re not traveling through it), this particle is then reflected back in time, it’s not “annihilating” with it’s anti-particle, it’s reversing time and it IS it’s anti-particle and somehow there is the energy involved in it interacting as the photon, and from our traveling through time perspective that mass is being released as energy, but through an outside time perspective it’s all the same thing, and one particle and one photon can, through this interaction, appear to be many.

We see it as two photons emerging because our consciousness is moving forward in time, sees the photon which is really coming to the even from the future as leaving the event because our own time motion.  We also see the same photon leaving the event into the future; so to us, it looks like two photons leaving the event in opposite directions, actually it’s the same photon.

I am not even sure that the particle and photon are separate entities, that they aren’t in fact different aspects of the same thing seen from different perspectives. What is clear is that the universe is connected through space and time and that physical mechanisms exist for information to travel from the future to the past.

Let’s take a hypothetical example.  Let’s hypothesize that these “greys”, little humanoid beings hypothesized to be aliens, that crashed at Roswell New Mexico, aren’t really alien at all.  They are in fact us from the future so distant that the Earth is becoming inhospitable to life.  The sun has reddened and expanded, the oceans are evaporating and much hydrogen is being lost into space so water is becoming increasingly scarce.  Photosynthesis has evolved to work with more stages using the now more plentiful infrared photons but it is becoming increasingly less efficient.  We too have adapted.  Food shortages have favored a smaller more energy efficient body.  Since most light is now in the near infrared and there is very little ultraviolet or blue, or pigments have evolved to be selective in the infrared spectrum, in the former visible spectrum we now appear “grey”.  Our eyes have evolved to take in more light and see in the infrared.

Between food shortages, water shortages, and a planet that is becoming too hot for us, we decide that we’ve got to bail, but where to go to continue our race?  Well, it turns out we’ve got a better grasp on time travel in the distant future than in space, so we decide to go back to a time when conditions were more hospitable.  And, because our existence returning to the past was not part of our own real ancestors experience, by doing so, we’re creating a new timeline, a new universe, which was the same as our universe up to the event of our arriving in the past and altering it.  This is an example of a non-closed retro-causality event.

If, on the other hand, if our history had included our future selves having come back into our own past, then doing so would not change the past, as it was already part of our own history, and in this case another timeline would not be created, and this would be an example of a closed retro-causality loop.

I have a personal example of where information seemingly from the future went back into the past that ultimately resulted in the future unfolding the way it did.  Actually, I have several, one was positive, one was extremely negative.  When I was younger, I frequently had dreams that were little snippets of the future.  Seldom lasting more than a few seconds, the longest perhaps a couple of minutes.  I could tell them from ordinary dreams because in ordinary dreams there are always logical incongruities.  If I stop and think about a particular point in time and ask myself how I got there, in ordinary dreams I can’t tell, I just got magically from one scene to another, objects morph from one thing to another.  But in these time snippet dreams, they are logically coherent, things don’t morph.

Near the time when I first started a BBS, back in 1982, I frequently had dreams of being in front of the computer and seeing full color full motion video and audio.  The computer back had only 16 lines of 64 text characters, a single font, only big black or white (no shades of grey even) block graphics, and too slow to come close to full motion video.  I also had dreams where I could connect to other computers from that computer.  At the time, no Internet, only store-and-forward networks and they were in their infancy.  It would be a decade before the Internet would become available to the public, and another decade before anything close to full motion video was practical, and it is only really now when the performance is good enough for full-motion full screen high resolution video and audio to be practical over the Internet.

These visions got me thinking about how it could become reality and I contributed to the unfolding of that reality in a number of ways over time.  Because this information was part of the reality unfolding as it did, from my perspective, it is a closed loop.  And therein lies an interesting point, whether it is closed or open is a matter of perspective.  Presumably, another slightly different reality would have unfolded if I had not seen those snippets of the future, and so if I could have experienced that reality, this would not seem closed.

Like anything interesting it’s confusing and boggling but fun to think about.  I wonder if our future selves won’t find ways to intentionally transmit information back in time and thus alter what our future would have been in hopefully positive ways.  I also wonder if some of the information being received various people on the Internet, those who claim to be channeling, or in contact with the Pleiades, or remote viewing, or natural psychics, I wonder if at least a small percentage of them might be getting real information sent back somehow from the future.  If I actually understood the math behind Jack Sarfattis’ theory, then I might be able to come up with some form of actual test but I don’t so I’ll have to leave it up to others.

Which brings me to another idea involved, and that is that the super-implicate order, which is an area of thought and consciousness influences the implicate order of quantum events, which in turn can effect the explicit order.  I’ve heard of some experimental evidence to support this.  There seems to be some evidence that the way this happens is by influence probabilities.  God does indeed play with dice but they’re loaded dice.  I’ve hard of experiments involving Quincunx probability machines. If you’ve ever been to the mathematics room at the Seattle Science Center (if it even still exists, they’ve gutted so much of it) they have (or had) one of these.

Basically, you drop balls in the top (or in the original incarnation, beans) and they hit a peg and have a 50-50 chance of bouncing to the left or right, where they will then hit another peg, again with a 50-50 probability of going either way, and they go through a whole series of these pegs and then at the bottom there are vertical columns they fall into.  The resulting level in each column forms a curve that approximates the normal bell distribution curve.

The experiments I’ve heard of involve having an individual attempt to influence the results by willing a particular outcome, and I’ve heard they’ve had some successes, some individuals being much more capable than others.  And as interesting as that is, it gets even more interesting.  There is computer software that you can get where you attempt to influence a random number generator.  The program divides the screen into two halves, one has a black-and-white image, the other a screen of random noise that is updated by random noise generated by the computers random number generator.  By thought alone, you attempt to form the random noise into the same image.  I haven’t personally seen this software but I’m told some people are good at it, some people incapable, and others in-between.

The random number generators in your typical home PC are not random, they are pseudo-random numbers generated from a seed using a mathematical algorithm.  For a given seed, the resulting sequence of numbers is completely predictable.  The seed itself is usually generated from an entropy source that might include time, keystrokes, and Ethernet packets.  The implication is that the only way you could cause the program to generate the correct random numbers is to somehow generate the correct seed value.  There is just no way one could consciously do that, yet by intent, some people seem to be able to.

While Jack Sarfatti mentions the closed causality loop, and indeed even suggests that the universe creates itself by sending information from the future back into the past (keep in mind that “creates” is a human through time perspective, an out of time perspective might say the universe shape is related in the dimension of time with the future affecting the past), there is another loop I can see and that is in the order of things.  Our consciousness is affected by the state of our brains, a physical piece of hardware out in the explicit order of things, that consciousness, which is part of the super-implicate order, can then effect the implicate order, which can come to affect our physical brains in the explicate order, there is another sort of causality loop.

What this all means to me is that the universe is a lot more malleable than most people realize, and that our interaction with the universe isn’t simple cause and effect, it’s a lot more holistic and intertwined. It’s not just what we do that affects the universe and other people, even what we think and feel and believe can affect the universe and those around us.  It’s a whole new level of personal power and responsibility.

There is no reason consciousness had to evolve if it wasn’t fundamental, animals could simply be state machines that evolve to respond in the way that is best suited to promoting their survival and propagation, they need not be aware of self or conscious in the sense of having an experiential self.  Indeed, I am convinced that some people I interact with are not conscious but that’s another topic entirely.  The point I’m trying to make here is that it would seem consciousness is fundamental, what we would call God, is fundamental, because it is what brings the implicate order into existence and structures it as it is, and somehow are consciousness is part of that.  I suspect we are neither as separate from the creator, or each other, as most of us believe.  In this sense, I believe the new-age folks are on to something even if they don’t understand it.

Thorium Plasma Battery – Bunk

I’m always interested in new technology but every once in a while something so obviously bogus hits the net that it clogs the channels of interesting stuff with rubbish, such is the current line of crap surrounding thorium plasma batteries.

The line is that someone spent twelve years developing these nuclear batteries which supposedly last five to ten to twenty to thousands of years depending upon which version you read, and then the DOD sucked it up.  Anywhere from two to half a dozen people bit the dust to cover it up.

No where in any of these postings is there an actual explanation of how these batteries are supposed to work, although there is some cross pollination between them and the so called element 115 space craft Bob Lazar talks about and also between the very real radioisotope thermal electric generators that work by using thermocouples to convert the heat from the radio-active decay of plutonium 238 (and they are experimenting with a few other isotopes) into electricity. These batteries are touted as green because they supposedly use thorium and the articles say they emit the same radiation as a cell phone.

There is so much wrong with the information given I can’t believe a conspiracy theory has actually sprung up around this.  First, thorium is a fertile material like uranium 238, and it is radioactive, although with a half-life of 14 billion years, thorium-232 is not highly radioactive.  By contrast Uranium 238 has a half-life of 4.5 billion years and therefore is slightly more radioactive but not by much.  Uranium 238 is what is referred to as “depleted” uranium, after the small percentage (approximately .7%) of U-235 is removed.

The type of radiation emitted by thorium 232 and uranium-238 is the same, both are alpha emitters.  Some of the daughter elements are beta emitters and have very short half-lives. Both uranium-238 and thorium-232 can absorb a slow neutron to become a fissile isotope and thus be used as nuclear fuel.  Neither are “green” in any common sense of the word.  Thorium is very difficult to make weapons grade material from so it is somewhat preferred as a fuel from an anti-proliferation standpoint.  The type of radiation emitted is entirely different than a cell-phone.  Cell phones emit radio frequency electromagnetic waves, non-ionizing radiation.  Thorium and uranium both emit ionizing alpha particles that can damage DNA and cause cancer.  Being in a plasma state would not diminish the radioactivity of thorium.

If such a thing as a plasma thorium battery exists, which I seriously doubt, there would be nothing green or safe about it.  If anyone knows the theoretical method of operation of these batteries I’d love to hear it though I suspect it will be just as looney as the rest of the claims surrounding it.

Second “Law” Of Thermal Dynamics

One thing that all free energy, perpetual motion, and energy from the ether or zero point energy schemes have in common is that they all break the second law of thermal dynamics and are generally therefore considered impossible.

But there is growing evidence that the second law of thermal dynamics is more like a general rule than a law and can be broken under certain circumstances, which often seem to involve small systems over short periods of time, or biological systems.

This article from Physics World describes one experimental system in which entropy is consumed rather than produced.  There are examples of biological systems that seem to defy the second law of thermal dynamics, and there are experimental chips containing arrays of nano-diodes that take background radiant heat energy which at room temperatures falls in the terahertz regions, rectify it and produce small amounts of electricity, these chips defy the second law of thermal dynamics creating order from disorder.

Some say that these examples really do not defy the second law of thermal dynamics because the Earth isn’t a closed system, and it is possible the universe may not be a closed system, it may in fact be infinite, and if this is the case, then what limitations does the second law of thermal dynamics really impose on human activities?

Clearly the universe has some degree of order, and unless the laws of physics changed since it’s creation, the universe must be infinite.  We don’t live long enough to observe the universe as a whole winding down, we can only look at things and assume they are in various states and in the process of winding down.

I see evidence much to the contrary.  What I see when I look at the universe, is a universe that is likely teaming with life, and life appears to seek to add order, and life appears to be expanding and increasing.  As intelligent species throughout the universe continue to expand and to improve their technology and expand their ability to willfully change their environment, I think this points to the possibility of quite a different picture than a heat death in our distant future.  It also points to the possibility for our own technology developing down quite a different line than simply consuming greater and greater amounts of energy and creating greater and greater quantities of waste.


I’d like to know the details of the machine referred to in this article.  It refers to using an electromagnetic field to contort space-time, enough to change the observed speed of an electric fan.

Often I hear people ask the question, if time travel is possible, where are the time travel tourists?  It may be possible but risky and expensive, keeping it out of the realm of tourism, but perhaps not out of the realm of more practical applications like the solution to where do you go when you’re sun is running low on fuel, expanding, and cooking your home world.  To another solar system perhaps, or perhaps into the past.

I think that the greys maybe time travelers from the future escaping just such a scenario.  I’m assuming if you’re reading this you’re familiar with the net-lore surrounding the “greys”, usually accepted as “alien” beings from another star system coming here to make a hybrid race, to replace us.  The television series “V” really played that one up to the max.  I wish NetFlix carried it, would love to re-watch that series.

It makes a lot more sense to me if the aliens are time travelers from our distant future.  Think about it. Hominid creatures that evolved independently on another planet might be very similar to us functionally.  There are many examples on Earth where independent creatures arose that were very similar owing to their environmental niches being very similar.  But the likelihood of an independently evolved alien hominid being being genetically similar enough to us to create a hybrid is near zero.  Not only would the genetics be likely vastly different, but also the cellular machinery that interprets the genetics is probably quite different. Creating a hybrid with a distant ancestor?  That would seem a much more doable proposition.  The genetics would be similar enough to have a chance at a viable combination.  The cellular machinery would know how to correctly interpret the genetic material.

The reason the greys might be grey and have those big black eyes might be the same as the reason they would want to come back in time and create a hybrid.  Consider, if humanity does manage to get it’s collective shit together and manage this planet in a sustainable manner, well sustainable so long as the Sun holds out and civilization goes on, continues to advance technologically, and eventually develops time travel.  The sun is eating up it’s hydrogen, still billions of years from being out of hydrogen, none the less, it’s starting to expand and it’s peak output is now in the near infrared rather than visible range.

Suppose plant life adapted to this new spectral output by evolving something equivalent to chlorophyll which instead of working as a two-step process capturing a red and blue photon, instead used a three or four step process using near infrared photons.  No longer having much need for visible light the plants mostly reflect it non-selectively appearing shades of white or grey to our eyes, but having pigments that selectively absorb in the near infrared, appear colorful and vibrant to beings having vision in that region.  The Sun being overall dimmer in the visible region, almost no ultraviolet output, no need for pigments that provide protection in these areas.  So these greys over hundreds of millions of years adapt.  They develop skin without much in the way of pigments active in our visual spectrum.  They develop large eyes capable of taking in more light and focusing effectively at longer wavelengths.

They’ve adapted as far as they can.  Plant growth is dying off.  Two little light of sufficient energy to grow efficiently. Too much atmosphere has been lost into space, it is now at sea level what it is like at 14,000 feet now.  Little can grow under these conditions and an entire race must abandon ship that is the Earth in the distant future.  But where to go?  Suppose they’ve developed time travel that can move the masses efficiently, but interstellar travel is just not sufficiently developed to transfer an entire planets population.  So they decide to go back into the distant past, and it makes sense to go back as far as they can but to where there is some industrial infrastructure and population they can exploit to jump start the continuation of their civilization.

They have to undo adaptations that will no longer be appropriate.  They need eyes that see in the present day peak spectral output of the sun, what is visible spectrum to us.  They need skin with pigments that protect them from our present day Suns ultraviolet output.  They need to blend in so we don’t rebel and kill all of them upon arrival.  They do so by creating a hybrid race which preserves desired genetic traits from their own time and exploits desirable traits more suitably adapted to our time.

They don’t have to worry about messing up their own past, because the multiverse has created a new world in response to their arrival here.  You see, in their past, nobody came back from the future. We differ from their ancestors, and our history differs from their ancestors in this way.  By going back into the past, they have created an entirely different timeline.  Still, the genetics are the same and so the compatibility is there for creating a hybrid race.

For us, the natives to this time line this isn’t a good thing.  It’s rather like what happened to native Americans when the Europeans came to the North American continent, it was not good for the indigenous population.  They’ll exploit us to get the industrial capacity they need in place, and then when we’re no longer needed, we’ll be culled to make room for their own hybrid race.

None of this can happen unless time travel is possible in a practical sense.  Exploiting a wormhole or black hole, is probably not a practical option for achieving time travel because there are none convenient, even if it were possible for us to transverse one without being crushed in the process.  So that gets me back to, I’d really like to know if there is anything real to the above article.


This is an interesting little bit of something that showed up in the scoop mark left behind when they took a scoop of Martian soil with Curiosity.

One can only speculate on what that is.  A white mineral in the soil?  A piece of bone, or tooth, or shell?  NASA is only saying that they believe it is native to Mars and not something that fell off the craft.

Back from the Dead…

I started this blog on Google ate it and discontinued FTP Publishing.  They offered two replacements, neither of which worked because they’d require me to host on which would force me to change the location of my blog and leave me at the mercy of Google who could discontinue anytime they don’t approve of my content.  Not acceptable!

Now this is using WordPress on my own site.  The downside is that any videos I had didn’t make it across the import process.  So some cool stuff is gone.

Mars Surface Life on the Margins

Thirty two years ago, Viking landers conducted three experiments to test for life on the surface of Mars, the results were inconclusive.

The gas exchanger (GEX) experiment attempted to detect changes of the makeup of gases in a test tube indicative of biological experiments.

The labeled release (LR) experiment provided radioactively labeled nutrients for biological organisms and then detected gases emitted by these organisms.

The pyrolytic release (PR) experiment attempted to detect the uptake of radioactive carbon by cooking it out of potential organisms.

For these experiments there was also a control in which the soil was first precooked at 320F to sterilize it. If the sterilized control sample produced the same test results, non-biological activity must be responsible.

The GEX and PR experiments provided positive results, but the control experiment was also positive indicating some non-biological process was at work.

The LR experiment provided positive results for the non-sterilized sample but not for the sterilized sample. When the labeled nutrients were first injected there was a rapid release of labeled gas, but subsequent injections of nutrients caused an initial decrease followed by a slow rise. The decrease was unexpected causing the results to be interpreted as ambiguous.

It was believed that the experiments were the result of unusual soil chemistry involving super oxides and materials which could catalyze some of these results. The exact chemical reactions that could explain these results are unknown. There are life forms that utilize a mixture of water and hydrogen peroxide, H2O2 in their cellular fluids which could produce exactly the results seen in the Viking life experiments. On Earth the soil bacterium Acetobacter Peroxidans is such an example. This article on Mars Daily provides additional details.

The Phoenix lander did not find unusual soil chemistry. The soil it found would be friendly to life, so much so that they say you could grow asparagus in it (but not strawberries because it is somewhat alkaline).

In 2004, Methane and Ammonia were detected in the atmosphere of Mars. Because methane and ammonia are not stable in the Martian environment, something has to be replenishing it. Known mechanisms are either volcanism or biological processes. No active volcanoes have been detected on Mars. In 2005, Vittorio Formisano, chief scientists for the ESA Mars Express Planetary Fourier Spectrometer, found formaldehyde in the martian atmosphere at levels that he believes are too great to be explained by volcanic origin.

Rather than being omnipresent, life may exist in discrete niches on the surface of Mars where atmospheric pressure is unusually high allowing liquid water to exist during the warm season. The average atmospheric pressure is between 6-9 millibars depending upon the season but may approach 10 millibars in low lying locations.

At 10 millibars, the boiling point of water is 45F, so in the depths of some of the craters and trenches there is the potential for liquid water to exist for at least part of the Martian year. Phoenix also found a salt in the soil and this would extend the temperature window over which water may remain a liquid.

What the Phoenix lander failed to find in the Martian soil is fixed nitrogen and organic carbon compounds. On Earth, there are some bacteria capable of fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere and some which are capable of photosynthesis. The Martian atmosphere is only about 3% nitrogen but this may be sufficient for properly adapted microbes.

The argument is also made that high levels of UV light would sterilize the surface, however, bacteria present on the surface of equipment we left on the moon were found to be viable after being exposed to direct sunlight in the lunar environment for a year and since our moon is closer to the Sun than Mars and has no atmosphere at all, the UV levels reaching the surface are even higher than on Mars.

Bacteria in nuclear reactors have evolved that survive high levels of neutron and gamma radiation and have even evolved a form of melanin that can absorb and utilize energy present in gamma rays for the organisms energy needs.

It is not inconceivable that organisms on Mars may have evolved with pigments capable of protecting them from UV radiation and even utilize this energy for their own biological purposes.

Based upon this conjecture, I searched ESA photographs from Mars Express of locations below average terrain elevation, having the potential for liquid water, for anything which may be of biological origin and found items of interest.

Nepenthes Mensae

Mars Nepenthes Mensae

Note the dark coloration tends to diffuse out of a central area but does not correspond directly with geological objects, rather it tends to flow over everything but only below a certain critical depth.

Mamers Valles

Mars Mamers Valles

Here in Mamers Valles we see a similar discoloration, and again, it seems to flow out from the center rather than being blasted and splattered, with diffuse but fairly well defined borders.

Maunder Crater

Mars Maunder Crater

This sure looks like a colony of something. It has a strong resemblance the things grown on bread that I’ve left sitting too long in the cupboard. Nasa describes these features as Barchan dunes, but that doesn’t explain why they are so sharply contrasted in color to surrounding features. Gullies along the upper side of the trough in the center of the crater are believed to have been caused by liquid water.

Gusev Crater

Mars Gusav Crater

The hairs or filamentary structures present are interesting. I believe I heard someone from NASA suggest these were dust devil trails while totally neglecting to indicate why they only formed over the dark material and did not displace the lighter material in a similar manner. I suppose it could be argued that the darker material absorbed more sunlight and provided more heat for the formation of dust devils. The material has the appearance of something biological in nature even if dust devils distributed it.

Deuteronilus Mensae

Mars Deuteronilus Mensae

I have lightened this image considerably because in it’s original form the dark material was so dark that detail below it was obscured and you couldn’t see the apparent flow and variability in color and saturation. Note how the flow seems to be semi-radial outward from the center rather than linear as one might expect if this were simply wind blown dark material. This resembles more an organism arising at one spot and them propagating outward.

Noctis Labyrinthus

Mars Noctis Labyrinthus

The colors here suggest multiple colonies of different organisms with quite different pigments. The patterns of rocks to the lower right look like something in a flood plain where mud has washed up around them. The thickest deposits of pigmented material appears to center around a crack in the crust. Perhaps there are nutrients or organisms that were brought up from depths at this location. It’s impossible to eliminate some interesting non-biological chemistry here but it sure reminds me of some of the colorful bacterial colonies around Yellowstone hot springs. Those bacteria are thermophiles that are adapted to hot water but the patterns seem very similar.

Hebes Chasma

Mars Hebes Chasma

Hebes Chasma is extremely interesting anyway you want to look at it. There is no inflow or outflow, no surrounding debris field. Where did this chunk of crust go? The feature in the center also is raised. The presence of the central plateau is unique to this structure. This is about 8000 meters deep.

I believe there is a combination of mineral and biological processes responsible for the pigmentation in this structure. You can see some pigments follow geological structure very cleanly, but others appear to be a more diffuse substance overlying multiple structures.

The 8000 meter depth would allow for higher pressures which in turn would allow for water to remain liquid. The reflection off of the walls would tend to amplify heat and the dark pigments would also tend to capture more of the suns energy resulting in warmer temperatures conducive to liquid water.

Juventae Chasma

Mars Juventae Chasma

This looks more like a terraced Chinese rice field than something you would expect to find on Mars. The terraced walls suggests erosion of sedimentary rock, but for sedimentary rock to form on that scale would require huge amounts of water over a long period of time. Or maybe it’s an alien strip-mine.

What actually caught my interest is the green area near the bottom of the image. It bears a strong resemblance to the algae growth.

Crater Ice

Mars Crater Ice

And I’ll close with this image cropped from a frozen lake in a Martian crater. This is cropped from a much larger image to show a feature at the north end of the frozen lake where it appears to me to be partially thawed, and where it appears dark blue green colonies of something are growing at the borders. There also appears to be some lighter greenish colonies of something on or below the ice.

That’s my case for life on the surface of Mars.