Do you publish a story overheard at a private meeting—or: is there life on Mars?
Feb. 17, 2005
Some science stories don’t really matter. Like, what if string theory is wrong and the strings are more like beads. See? Life on Mars? Unless they invade (see the movie coming out soon), does it matter much? It could raise some interesting journalistic questions, however. Two NASA researchers were overheard at a private meeting at the Ames Research Center in Mt. View, CA, describing their research findings. They didn’t actually say they found life, only the methane signatures that there might be life, something like what you would see in terrestrial caves. They said they had submitted their research to Science magazine, the esteemed peer review journal, but it had not gone through the review process yet. A reporter for space.com heard about it and put the article on the web site. It went from there to the wire services and out. Then again, does it matter? The same day, space.com also reported that other scientists found evidence of extensive water there. Their research had been reviewed and would appear in next week’s Science.