LETTERS: Funding for science found on Mars?

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The Independent Online
Sir: If confirmed, the findings by Nasa, reporting fossilised life in the Martian meteorite, would provide evidence for what most biologists expect; that life is probably widespread in the Universe and may well have arisen wherever the conditions are suitable. It will be more interesting if the morphology and detailed biochemistry of alien organisms resembles those found on Earth. In that case we shall have to take both God and Wickramasinghe seriously.

On the other hand, the widespread assumption that evolution inevitably culminates in "intelligent" life forms, is based on a misunderstanding of Darwinian principles. Evolution has no direction. The only criterion is success in the generation game. Human self-awareness and ability to communicate arose very recently after billions of years of successful "unintelligent" life. In the long run it may not turn out to be a very advantageous trait, and our species may be a short-term aberration, eventually leaving the planet to more benign life forms. While we may be fairly confident that life exists elsewhere in the Universe, the likelihood of finding beings with communication skills is much more remote.

L H JONES

Felmersham,

Bedfordshire

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