Man-made microfossils cast doubt on Mars life, reported in New Scientist 22 Nov 2003, p14. Juan Manuel Garcia-Ruiz of the University of Granada, Spain studies crystal growth and found that crystals grown in gels formed microscopic worm-like structures similar to objects claimed to be fossilised bacteria, including the structures found in a rock from Mars named ALH84001. A colleague of Garcia-Ruiz followed up his work by bathing the crystals in simple organic molecules and gently heating them. When studied under laser light the treated crystals looked even more like the remains of living organisms, but they were purely the result of chemical and physical process nothing biological.

Editorial Comment: Keep this study in mind when results come back from the exploration robots currently digging up rocks on Mars. (Ref. crystals, microfossils, Mars)