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Marc, good for you for posting a clear explanation of the issues with this work. I would also like to add our own (Natural History Museum, London) observations – we have also done some extensive investigation of Orgueil and Ivuna samples and you can actually see the sulphate (note correct spelling ;-)) filaments growing on the surface of a freshly split surface over the period of a few hours. I hope that the various media outlets that will no doubt pick up on this story see your blog!
So does sulphate have extra hydrogen in it? Get it? An extra H in there… Aw, nevermind. ;-)
There must be an especially reactive Mg-sulfide in the CIs (I’m saying Mg ’cause that is what turned up in the EDS spectra in that paper). It would be a fun challenge to identify the parent sulfide. Another fun thing may be to take a freshly fractured surface, let it grow for a half hour or so, jam it in a desiccator for a half hour, take it out and repeat this several times. I’d expect that you’d get little “pea pod”-looking filaments that would look like an actinomyces! Like this: (http://www.blm.gov/nstc/soil/bacteria/ Scroll down to the last image) We can play “build your own pseudo-biosignature”.
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