made public, Zare
may have become the Mars meteorites most
spokesperson: the enthusiastic scholar with the salt-and-pepper goatee who told
millions of television viewers, We may all be Martians.
Though the research in his lab provided a key piece of evidence, Zare does not claim
to be an expert on meteorites or Mars. And none of the nine scientists who
contributed to the work claims that their findings so far can offer iron-clad proof
that tiny micro-organisms thrived in cracks of rock on the Red Planet billions of
But to friends, his reaction to the possibility of that life is vintage Zare.
We now dont know how life began, and thats fascinating, Zare
told Jim Lehrer of
PBS NewsHour, in one of the TV appearances that brought on his new fame. If
primitive life did evolve on ancient Mars, it could have traveled on meteorites to
seed ancient Earth, he said. But if life evolved independently on
Mars, as well as
Earth, then it is likely to be ubiquitous in the universe.
Such a finding would change our understanding of our place in the cosmos, Zare says:
Its almost like the Copernican Revolution, when science overturned the
the sun and planets rotate around the Earth.
Given an audience, colleagues say, Zare cant resist sharing his delight in the
wonders of the natural world and throwing in a lesson about the value of
investing in basic research.
Zare told Congress that the Mars research was one of the most exciting and
activities I have had the privilege to be associated with, and noted that it
on a long line of basic work from other scientists, and on the American peoples
willingness to back that basic science.
Dick is totally immersed, obsessive, quivering, ebullient about science
hes the same about teaching, says friend and mentor Dudley Herschbach
54, MS 55).