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Venus results suggesting life downgraded

Surprise! Surprise! Further research and review of the recent results that said phosphine existed in Venus’s atmosphere — which for some immediately suggested the presence of life — has found that the phosphine probably doesn’t exist.

[A]lmost immediately, other astronomers began to criticize the results, with four independent studies pointing out questionable methods or failing to reproduce the results.

Now, after reanalyzing their data, the original proponents are downgrading their claims. Even the most favorable interpretation of their data now suggests phosphine levels are at least seven times lower than first reported, making it a much more tentative finding, the authors reported in a preprint posted on 17 November to arXiv.

Also, observations in other wavelengths detected no phosphine, even though it should have been there if the first study was correct. Furthermore, other scientists have noted that the spectrum features detected might not be caused by phosphine. The sulphur dioxide in Venus’s atmosphere could instead be their source.

Even if phosphine is eventually confirmed, that is not the discovery of life on Venus, as so many in the mainstream press claimed. As I noted when this result was first announced, phosphine isn’t life, it is merely a specific inanimate molecule. That on Earth it only exists in connection with life-processes means nothing. Venus is a very alien place, and there could be any number of inanimate chemical processes that we have no experience with or knowledge of that could produce it there. To claim its discovery suggests the existence of life, or even the possibility of life, is simply junk science.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • Lee Stevenson

    I’d be lying if I either said I was not disappointed, or was surprised by these findings. I agree with you Bob, in as much as science reporting leaves somthing to be desired these days. I don’t blame any scientists “bigging up” their findings, especially when the environment for securing funding is so hard, but it is the job of a journalist to dig into a subject a little… ( Although, let’s be honest…. Science is hardly the only area in the news subject to this problem).
    I still think the atmosphere of Venus is an interesting, and indeed fairly likely environment for life to be found. Those dark clouds are intriguing! But the false excitement and subsequent disappointment of this “discovery” will help the case for a Venus mission not at all.

  • Lee Stevenson

    LOL? Some context would be nice there Phil…. An average teenage Instagram comment does not make for a good discussion!

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