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Talk:Simple animals could live in Martian brines: Wikinews interviews planetary scientist Vlada Stamenković


Stub - anyone got time to help get it into shape?Edit

I've just made a start on this. It's a major breaking news story in astrobiology. The first paragraph describes some of the background, and I can add the needed cites if we decide to include it. The thing is most of the articles do not explain the background properly. They give the impression that this makes life on Mars possible. That's not right. The real story is that it makes aerobic life on Mars possible. Even without oxygen - these salty brines if they exist support anaerobic life such as blue-green algae and haloarchaea. There is a possibility that the Martian surface could even support lichens that use only night time humidity in partial shade, possibly, according to experiments in DLR. None of those need oxygen, the lichen provides its own oxygen, and the blue-green algae and the haloarchaea produce oxygen as a waste product and are capable of forming single species ecosystems with just themselves and no other lifeforms in it.

So, I think we need to mention that at some point. Although many of the articles have this confusion especially in the titles, some of the articles do make it clear that this is about aerobic life not life as such, including the press release, the paper itself, and the National Geographic article. But they don't give the background at all, even those. The press release just takes it for granted that the readers know this. I think that many readers won't know it though and it should be mentioned. The Scientific American article, though good in other ways, is unclear on this point and could easily give an impression that life on Mars is only possible if there is oxygen in the brines, which is not correct.

I haven't yet gone into the details of what they did and how they did it. But the cites explain it. I don't have much time to work on this today and if anyone wants to have a go at putting it into shape it's much appreciated, I can supply the cites for the first para if the decision is made to include that material in some form. @Darkfrog24: do you have time to help get this into shape as a news article? Or anyone else? Robertinventor (talk) 16:53, 23 October 2018 (UTC)

Robertinventor: for your reference, not abandoning the story within the first two days is a great way to help its publication. (Darkfrog24 is a remarkably terrible example for this principle.) --Gryllida (chat) 23:30, 23 October 2018 (UTC)
Sadly I can't commit to work on it tonight. But probably tomorrow if nothing urgent comes up. I am however fine with answering a few questions tonight on the talk page. I have other commitments this evening. Robertinventor (talk) 00:04, 24 October 2018 (UTC)
Thanks for this and for the answers below. I have a strong language barrier here. If I can add anything of this into the story then I will. Gryllida (chat) 00:21, 24 October 2018 (UTC)
Oh sorry about that. I will add a short summary answer. That may help. Robertinventor (talk) 02:57, 24 October 2018 (UTC)
Here it is, do say if you have any questions: #Short summary Robertinventor (talk) 03:08, 24 October 2018 (UTC)
Thanks Robertinventor. I can read long passages. I meant I do not know some of the words. At the moment I still do not have sufficient amount of focus to look them up. This is terrible and I am meant to do this with a dedication for finding out exactly what happened. :-/ The short summary helps with this partially and is really appreciated.
This -- the inability to have the space, time, and energy for focusing for more than 5 minutes (and this task would probably need about 15 minutes) -- seems to occur to me rather frequently, alas, which is why I like it when the original author is available for implementing the suggested changes. If anyone has tips about how to best overcome this state, I would be glad to know -- it would be a great help for my writing as well as reviewing. --Gryllida (chat) 05:24, 24 October 2018 (UTC)
Is it ADHD? Have you tried asking a health professional for advice? Whether or not you go for any of the treatments they suggest, it may be useful just for diagnosis and to find help forums for others in a similar situation, who may have tips. In this case anyway - why not ask me what the word means and have a dialog? Glad the summary helps. I am absolutely fine with being asked lots of questions, about something I said. And when it is technical then often asking questions is better than looking it up as there is some misleading material on the internet on some of these topics. This is a topic only a decade old and a fair bit of what you find in a google search is based on research that is now out of date. I didn't have much time yesterday but I should be able to work on it some today. I do understand that when it is a news story one wants to finish it quickly if one can, just the timing was a bit unfortunate for me yesterday. I help people who are scared of stories about the world ending or similar such things, and there was a big panic for some of the people I help. Thr stories that scare them often seem silly to most people, but they are terrified, sometimes to the point of suicide, and I needed to do a debunk for them. Much though I'm interested in this breaking news story, for me their needs had priority. Robertinventor (talk) 09:48, 24 October 2018 (UTC)
(I have made several changes, but haven't discussed the problem of being able to sit down and focus on each day. I guess this may need to be one of the next changes to make.)
Thanks for encouraging me to ask more questions. Here are a couple about the words:
  1. I found what 'linea' means - seems like 'lines'. Still not fully sure on that point.
  2. Still I seem to have trouble with the word 'brine'. It is like a salty solution. If it is salt in water, why do we need to make more water? Is oxygen not able to dissolve in the brine itself?
There are a couple questions at the end in the proposed version which I wrote as a combination of the then-current version of the article, and your generous answers here at this talk page. --Gryllida (chat) 23:24, 24 October 2018 (UTC)

@Gryllida: your comment about me is not civil. Darkfrog24 (talk) 22:44, 24 October 2018 (UTC)

Hey I agree it needs the 'is' to be replaced with 'has been' to make it more clear. I am sure it is something that can be improved in the future. :) --Gryllida (chat) 00:15, 25 October 2018 (UTC)

@Gryllida: Yes Lineae just means lines. They could call them "Recurring slope lines" or "Recurring slope streaks" but they tend to use latin names and so call them "Recurring slope lineae". Same thing really. Any long thin eature. A term in planetary geology. See Wikipedia:Linea.

Brine is just another word for a solution of salt in water. Sea water is a familar example of brine. Normally we think of it as being sodium chloride mixed with some other chlorides like potassium chloride on Earth. But there are sulfate lakes here and those are brines too. And generally any salt - which means the result of neutralizing an acid (e.g. hydrochloric acid) with a base (e.g. sodium hydroxide, also known as caustic soda). That mixture gives you table salt. If the acid is sulfuric acid you get sulfates and so on.

Brines on Mars are generally perchlorates but they can also be sulfates and chlorates. That's because the surface is super-oxygenated, everything is in a very high oxydation state (though dig down just a cm or so and you get less oxygenated material). The metal ion on Mars is most often magnesium or calcium, instead of sodium.

I am not sure of the rest of your question. Yes the idea is that the oxygen dissolves in the brine itself. Oh do you mean the salt on the ice?

The thing is that water is not stable on Mars. Fresh water can't exist except for a short period of time in the depths of e.g. the Hellas basin. That's because with the thin air it is close to its boiling point. If you climb to the top of Mount Everest the mountaineers find they can never make a decent cup of tea becasue the boiling point is much lower than it is here in the low pressure. Over most of Mars the water is already at boiling point as soon as it melts.

However salty water can be below its boiling point. But how can salty water form on Mars? And what stops it drying out -as it would still evaporate there, just more slowly.

If it is close enough to the surface for the ice to melt then wouldn't it just evaporate away in the heat of the sunlight? One way is if salt gets thrown on top of ice. That can make temporary droplets of liquid brines. Another way is by seeping down a slope hidden from the surface just beneath it, and so, doesn't dry out so easily. Then it is also possible that salt itself can take up water from the atmosphere. All these ideas are being explored and more, in Mars simulation experiments. But this paper is not about this research. It just accepts that such liquid brines could exist on Mars and there are various ideas of ways it could form. So, I don't think we should go into much detail here, just enough so the reader understands a bit of the background to the paper. The actual formation of the brines is earlier research. They take this as established, that such brines can form in theory. And there is good evidence that there may well be brines there, just not got as far as a a rover going up and testing it directly. But most scientists, the mainstream view, would be that there are at least some brines on Mars and the discussion has moved more to whether it is too salty or too cold for life, or uninhabitable for some other reasons - and about whether, if inhabitable, it is in fact inhabited.

Does this answer your question? Robertinventor (talk) 08:31, 25 October 2018 (UTC)

Additional CitesEdit

I thought I'd just give urls to some of the cites we can use for more material, to add to the article as desired.

  • sponges in low oxygen cite This is one of the cites on the first page of the paper (accessible through free prefview on purchsse link). It shows that simple sponges can live in very low oxygen conditions, with smaller sponges, not surprisingly, able to tolerate lower oxygen levels. This is the basis for their suggestion that simple animals might just possibly be able to survive on present day Mars.
  • NASA science goals citeHamilton, V.E., Rafkin, S., Withers, P., Ruff, S., Yingst, R.A., Whitley, R., Center, J.S., Beaty, D.W., Diniega, S., Hays, L. and Zurek, R., Mars Science Goals, Objectives, Investigations, and Priorities: 2015 Version. - NASA's science goals

Goal I: determine if Mars ever supported life
  • Objective A: determine if environments having high potential for prior habitability and preservation of biosignatures contain evidence of past life.
  • Objective B: determine if environments with high potential for current habitability and expression of biosignatures contain evidence of extant life
  • Nilton Renno citeLiquid Water from Ice and Salt on Mars, Aaron L. Gronstal -Astrobiology Magazine (NASA), Jul 3, 2014 - about the salt-ice droplets. It's like historical background. I don't know if the author's research applies to these droplets, i.e. whether they could be oxygen rich too. They are salty and cold for sure. But the press release doesn't mention them.

Note, some of the news stories speculate about oxygen in the recent discovery of a possible lake beneath the polar caps. However that would be cut off from the surface atmosphere. Unless the paper itself discusses them, or some authoritative source, this should be regarded as speculation at this stage. Lake Vostock in Antarctica is very oxygen rich, but that's through Earth's atmosphere in bubbles carried down into the lake over millions of years. It's not direct dissolving of the air in the lake, as it is not exposed to the atmosphere, so would seem to need more research to see if it applies. Not sure if we should mention this. Robertinventor (talk) 17:11, 23 October 2018 (UTC)

Posting a "more sources if we need 'em" list to the talk page is a great idea, Robert. That way any co-authors can have access to them but the reviewers don't have to read through sources that didn't get used. Darkfrog24 (talk) 18:11, 23 October 2018 (UTC)
Great, I'll do that in future then. And just to say - if I get tiem to work on this some more I'm planning to buy 48 hour access to the paper and can go through and take notes and quotes from it. I know we can't use the paper itself on Wikinews as the source for material if it is behind a paywall, but it could be useful for an extra check of the sources we can use. E.g. if it mentions the subglacial lakes at the poles, then that would mean it is okay to use the sources that discuss that idea too. Because the sources we can use are not always clear about how much comes from the paper, from interviews, or are just speculation by the auhtor of the article itself. Robertinventor (talk) 20:37, 23 October 2018 (UTC)

second paragraphEdit

@Robertinventor: Interesting. I have several concerns about this paragraph:

"The surface of Mars, though drier and colder than any Earth desert and with a near-vacuum for an atmosphere, may not be totally uninhabitable. Life as we know it needs water to be present in some form, and one way this can happen is through salty brines based on perchlorates instead of chlorides. When these are placed on top of ice, then liquid water forms within minutes in simulated Martian conditions, which may explain droplet like structures that appeared on the legs of Phoenix [Nilton Renno cite]. Salty water may also be present in the recurrent slope lineae which extend down steep slopes through spring, broaden in summer and fade away in winter. Objective B of NASA's first science goal was to "determine if environments with high potential for current habitability and expression of biosignatures contain evidence of extant life" [NASA science goals cite]. "
  1. It seems too long.
  2. It is background so it may need to be placed at the end (WN:IP).
  3. Some of this is speculation, for example "The surface of Mars ... may not be totally uninhabitable" (the first sentence). Speculations may not be included. Instead we could perhaps write "The researchers found, for the first time, livable conditions on the surface of Mars". This to me seems more like a fact than a speculation.

This could possibly go on as

"In simulated Mars conditions the researchers showed water could form within minutes in salty brines based on perchlorates instead of chlorides. (here add a note about why everyone thinks of chlorides in the first place) This showed, for the first time, possible mechanism for livable conditions on the surface of Mars. The researchers suggested this could explain droplet-like structures on the legs of Phoenix (we need to explain here what it is and when this was found). "
"Salty water may also be present in the recurrent slope lineae which extend down steep slopes through spring, broaden in summer and fade away in winter, the study suggested." (this is not clear to me, I suggest to have it in a separate paragraph and add several clues for the reader to understand. I do not know what is "lineae" currently)
"Objective B of NASA's first science goal was to "determine if environments with high potential for current habitability and expression of biosignatures contain evidence of extant life" (when was this, when did the project start and end)""

I think this would make it more clear for the reader this way and emphasize that these things are findings from the study, and how they were established.

--Gryllida (chat) 22:32, 23 October 2018 (UTC)

Short summaryEdit

  • #Paragraph as background information - yes it is background. It can go at the end if that is what we do. That paragraph is expanding on a short paragraph in the original paper. None of it is new research. It is background that the authors of the paper take for granted, but that readers of the news item probably won't know.
  • #No direct evidence of brines but strong indirect evidence for it as a hypothesis to test We don't have any direct observations of brines on Mars. But that is because it is hard to send missions there. Half of all spacecraft crash on Mars. Also the ones we sent so far are not adequately sterilized. There may be flowing water close to Curiosity but it is too risky to send it there to investigate as it may infect it with Earth life.
  • #The Recurring Slope Lineae "Lineae" refers to the shape of the features. I include an animated gif of them so you can see what they look like.
  • #NASA science objective - on-going It has been NASA's objective at least since 2015 to look for these potential habitats and to look to see if there are traces of present day life in them. I am not sure when this first became their objective. After 2008, before 2015. It is ongoing - this is still one of their top objectives.

Any questions do say! Robertinventor (talk) 03:05, 24 October 2018 (UTC)

Paragraph as background informationEdit

@Gryllida: Okay first, that entire paragraph is backgrond information. None of that is new from this study. This study is just about oxygen in the brines, not about the brines as such. But the study does cite some of the earlier work as motivation. This is from the first page of the paper, which you can read if you click on the buy link which shows a free preview:

"Aqueous environments, in the form of brines, can exist today at, and especially below, the surface. despipte the thin atmosphere and overall cold climate. Recent evidence suggests hydrated magnesium (Mg) and calcium (Ca) salts at various locations on the Martian surface and shallow subsurface which indicate the existence of Mg(ClO4)2 -Ca(ClO4)2 -H2O brines, and which could in some cases be associated with flow sturctures such as the modern recurring slope lineae."

So, that paragraph is basically expanding on that statement, as covered in several of the articles about the paper, but giving a little more background information to readers who have never heard of the recurring slope linae or the idea of these brines at all. Robertinventor (talk) 23:58, 23 October 2018 (UTC)

No direct evidence of brines but strong indirect evidence for it as a hypothesis to testEdit

So far we have no direct evidence from Mars of liquid water there. We have many indirect lines that suggest it. This research is about whether these brines if they exist would have oxygen in them.
However I wouldn't call it speculation. It's more, a scientific hypothesis that needs to be tested. It is like running an article about the search for dark matter, or the search for graviational waves before they were discovered. Or about proton decay, or the search for supersymmetry in the LHC data. The evidence for liquid brines on Mars is indirect, but it is strong enough to be significant and it is one of the top aims for the Mars exploration programs of all the space nations with an interest in Mars to find out more about them, about whether they exist, and whether there is life in them, if they do exist. This is what makes this a major news story.
We only have those droplets on the Phoenix leg by way of direct observation. Sadly, it had no way for its instruments to access its own legs to analyse them, and at first there was a lot of skepticism about whether they were water. I think the mainstream consensus now would be that they probably were, they behaved like liquid drops and there is nothing else except salty brines that could do that on Mars, but we don't have direct evidence.
So, all the evidence is all indirect, and from orbital images mostly (though there is also strong indirect evidence from Curiosity of very cold thin layers of brine a few centimeters below the sand dunes it drives over). You can't see a thin layer of brine a couple of centimeters below the surface from an orbital image, nor can you see a droplet of salty brines a few mms in diameter. The highest resolution images are 30 cms per pixel, and the brines, if present, are obscured by overlying layers of ice, salt, or dust. And the tools for spectroscopic analysis from orbit have much lower resolution so they can't even localize down to individual streaks in the RSL's. Also sadly, the RSL's can only be photographed close up during early afternoon, just because of the particular orbit of the satellite phtoographing them which comes close to the sunny side of Mars in the local early afternnoon (a "sun synchronous" orbit), and the brines are most active, if they exist, in the early morning when it is cooler. It would need a new satellite in a different orbit to observe them at the optimal time of day for observation. Robertinventor (talk) 23:58, 23 October 2018 (UTC)

The Recurring Slope LineaeEdit

Lineae just refers to their linear shape. You can see a photograph of one of them in the Scientific American article, indeed, it would be good to use an image of them for this article too, here is an image from Wikimedia commons which we could use. If we do, I recommend putting it first on the page, so that it is the image that gets selectred as the preview thumbnail when shared in social media:


Those streaks aren't the water itself. They are dark patches on the surface, the brines if they exist flow below the surface. This is one of the top candidates for liquid brines on Mars. It is controversial. Some research in 2017 suggested most of what is going on there could be explained by dust flows[1]. But that is only side of an ongoing debate, other researchers argued the other way agains this idea, saying the seasonal nature of the streaks doesn't fit well with a dust based origin as there isn't any clear association with winds. It will probably take more observations from the ground and other satellite observations by satellites in different orbits and with other capabilities to resolve this.
The reason we don't know yet is because we have never sent rovers to look at them. It is not easy to get to Mars. Half the missions to the Mars surface have crashed. Also our current rovers on Mars are not sufficiently sterilized. There is a potential RSL site like this close to where Curiosity is driving right now, but they are not able to send it to look at it close up, because of the risk of introducing Earth microbes into the brines. This is a nature article about that news story [1]
All agree that there is water in some form present as well and there are papers arguing both ways about whether there could be enough for them to be habitable. It also depends on the temperatures and the salinity. And both of those are also impossible to know for sure from orbit. It is possible to measure temperatures from orbit but those measurements are very low resolution. And we just don't know enough about Mars surface conditions there to model it precisely with conviction. Robertinventor (talk) 23:58, 23 October 2018 (UTC)
  1. Mars contamination fear could divert Curiosity rover

NASA science objective - on-goingEdit

The NASA science objective is part of their first science goal for Mars exploration in their policy document "Mars Science Goals, Objectives, Investigations, and Priorities". I am not sure when this became their goal originally. It would be after 2008, since before then only a few minority view scientists speculated about present day habitats on or near the Mars surface - but before 2015 the date of that document and it is on-going and is their current goal. See #Additional Cites - we can add them in if it is agreed to include this paragraph.
Absolutely fine about putting it at the end or however the article is best structured. Hope this is enough background information to help, any questions do say! Robertinventor (talk) 23:58, 23 October 2018 (UTC)

Proposed versionEdit

In a study published yesterday in Nature Geosciences, scientists reported that, despite previous suppositions, the thin atmosphere of Mars may be able to support oxygen-dependent life ...just not human life. In cold Mars-like conditions in a laboratory, the researchers showed the possibility of water being created from perchlorates-based salty brines when they were placed on top of ice.

Warm Season Flows on Slope in Newton Crater (animated) showing the recurent slope lineae.

The water creation process involved the dissolution of oxygen in the brine, to levels sufficient for oxygen breathing micro organisms or sponges. According to the research findings suggestions for possible life on Mars included blue-green algae, molds, and lichens - lichens need oxygen but the algal component could provide oxygen for he fungal component.

The researchers suggested two places on Mars where the water formation could occur via the new discovered process -- the legs of Phoenix where water droplets were observed previously, and under the surface in the areas with recurent slope lineae where brines could possibly also exist. The lineae extended down steep slopes through spring, broadened in summer and faded away in winter.

"Our work is calling for a complete revision for how we think about the potential for life on Mars, and the work oxygen can do, implying that if life ever existed on Mars it might have been breathing oxygen," said NASA scientist and study co-author Vlada Stamenkovic. "We have the potential now to understand the current habitability."

The surface temperature of Mars is between -143C and 35C with -63C on average. Its atmosphere is composed of 95.97% carbon dioxide, 1.93% argon, 1.89% nitrogen, 0.146% oxygen, and 0.0557% carbon monoxide.

--Gryllida (chat) 18:59, 24 October 2018 (UTC)

This seems to have missed the piece aboutNASA science objective

and also I think the 'legs of Phoenix' needs to be explained more.

Possibly also more context about the brines somewhere closer to the end to clarify where they were found or where they could possibly exist in the case the existing text is not sufficiently clear. --Gryllida (chat) 19:01, 24 October 2018 (UTC)

I concur. "Legs of Phoenix" had me thinking "what?" Darkfrog24 (talk) 22:46, 24 October 2018 (UTC)
I should have some time to work on it this evening. I see that the background paragraph was confusing, will have to rewrite that. Adding dates may help. This is all past research and adding the date of the research will make it clear that it is from the past.
The algae, and lichens do not need any oxygen. They make oxygen, and were proposed many years ago. Again I can add dates for when they were proposed perhaps
There are many lifeforms on Earth that do not need oxygen. Blue-green algae are an example. Chroococcidopsis can manage just fine with no oxygen at all, no other forms of life either, just rock, carbon dioxide, a source of nitrogen and sunlight. They produce oxygen, but only as a waste product, it is of no value to them. Haloarchaea are another example of this, they similarly don't need any oxygen, and are capable of living in very salty brines. They differ from Chrooccidiopsis as they do not produce oxygen either. Researchers have known since 2008 that Mars potentially may have surface conditions for lifeforms like these. Lichens can manage without oxygen too, because the algal componennt makes oxygen for the fungal component.
What is new about this research is that they found that if the brines exist, they may be oxygen rich. Lifeforms that can use oxygen have more energy available to them than lifeforms that can't use it. That's why all animals are oxygen breathing. Most plants are too. Trees produce oxygen during photosynthesis but they also consume oxygen so that they can grow quickly, they make sugars which they combine with oxygen as a source of energy.
This research doesn't show that they provide enough oxygen for humans, because we breathe air. Not enough for fish either. There are only small amounts of oxygen in the brines. I can work it out as a percentage from their figures. But recent research showed that some simple sponges can get by with amazingly little oxygen. Again that is past research and I can give a date for that too.
These researchers showed that there may be enough oxygen at times on Mars, present day Mars, for simple animals like sponges. Very small sponges a few mm in size need less oxygen than big ones cms in size because they have more surface area per volume to absorb the oxygen. The present day Mars brines, if the brines exist, may have enough oxygen for tiny mm sized simple sponges to inhabit them - and - if sponges can, maybe other animals can too, those are the best analogues we have on Earth but Mars originated life, who knows what forms it would take. It is a very exciting development. Nobody thought that oxygen breathing animals were even remotely possible on Mars, even simple sponges.
Is this clearer? Any questions do ask. The articles about this research were not at all clear and even though our article is a bit late, I think it can stand out by being more accurate and complete than most of the ones out there. Even Scientific American and National Geographic, though they don't have any real mistakes as such, do not give a clear picture to a reader who doesn't already have most of the background needed to understand the research. I am able to follow it because I have a keen interest in this topic for many years and wrote an online book too with this as a major part of it. Robertinventor (talk) 23:37, 24 October 2018 (UTC)

Oh, that is a difference. New version:

In a study published yesterday in Nature Geosciences, scientists reported that, despite previous suppositions, the thin atmosphere of Mars may be able to support small amounts of oxygen-dependent life. In cold Mars-like conditions in a laboratory, the researchers showed the possibility of oxygen-rich water being created from perchlorates-based salty brines when they were placed on top of ice.

Warm Season Flows on Slope in Newton Crater (animated) showing the recurent slope lineae.

In the experiment, the researchers were able to observe oxygen levels in the brine reach levels sufficient for oxygen breathing micro-organisms or sponges. Thus for the first time the research offered a possible way how these oxygen-dependent organisms could exist on Mars.

The researchers suggested two places on Mars where the water formation could occur via the new discovered process -- the legs of Phoenix where water droplets were observed previously, and under the surface in the areas with recurent slope lineae where brines could possibly also exist. The lineae extended down steep slopes through spring, broadened in summer and faded away in winter.

"Our work is calling for a complete revision for how we think about the potential for life on Mars, and the work oxygen can do, implying that if life ever existed on Mars it might have been breathing oxygen," said NASA scientist and study co-author Vlada Stamenkovic. "We have the potential now to understand the current habitability."

According to the publication, the previous research findings had suggested possible life on Mars which does not need oxygen. This could be in the form of blue-green algae, molds, and lichens - lichens need oxygen but the algal component could provide oxygen for he fungal component.

The surface temperature of Mars is between -143C and 35C with -63C on average. Its atmosphere is composed of 95.97% carbon dioxide, 1.93% argon, 1.89% nitrogen, 0.146% oxygen, and 0.0557% carbon monoxide.


--Gryllida (chat) 00:22, 25 October 2018 (UTC)

That's better. But the research using perchlorates placed on the top of ice is earlier research also. I'm in the process of a rewrite of the article. I have separated out a separate background section at the end as you recommended which helps make it clear which is new research and which is previous research. Some of it is material the paper would not cover because any readers are expected to know about it already. They would not need to mention the NASA science goals, they would expect their readers to know this background. They only briefly mention previous research about brines on Mars. Again they expect readers to know this and they don't have a history section. It is not a review paper into research on modern Mars habitability. Words are at a premium and they will say only as much as is needed for an expert reader to put it into context. I am going to take a break. But will come back later, hopefully what I've done so far helps clear up some things. There ismore to do and I've added "To do" comments. And I haven't added cites to most of it.
An issue we may have here is that there is a lot of background information that the reader needs to have to understand the research, but sadly, most of the secondary articles, even Scientific American, do not cover this. I know from previous news stories here that we run into the issue that reviewers just don't have the time to read the cites if there are lots of them to back up what we say. It would be so much easier if we had earlier Wikinews stories about the Phoenix leg droplets, the RSL's, the DLR lichen story and so on, as we could just then refer to those which would already be vetted. I am not sure what to do about this, but I will just edit it for now presenting the information that I think a reader needs to understand the research. That way at least my co-authors know about it. After that we can decide whether it is okay to include it or whether, sadly, we have to delete it. If we have to delete most of it I'll put the complete article on my Science 2.0 blog and link to this as the source. Robertinventor (talk) 01:24, 25 October 2018 (UTC)
We can merge your draft into the article, I've already used some content from it, but there is a lot more needs to be said. As for the research itself, I have just a list of questions there to be filled out. I plan to buy the paper next, then I can read it properly, check what they actually did. Then I'll look for secondary news articles that summarize what they did accurately and then we can cite those and describe the reasearch. The press release is the best source probably for much of it but the National Geographic and Scientific American also expand on that a bit, and their extra material is probably based on the paper itself but they are not always clear about what comes from where and what is editorial speculation. Robertinventor (talk) 01:28, 25 October 2018 (UTC)
Just did a subdivision into sections of the background information section. I have urgent things to attend to piling up so have to take my break now, but will return hopefully soon to expand the remaining "todo" sections. As for the cites, I am thinking of it as a two stage process to add the cites once we have finalized the article. And - is it possible perhaps to have a separate "Soures for background information" section? That may help the reviewer perhaps. Robertinventor (talk) 01:48, 25 October 2018 (UTC)
Have now bought the article, 48 hour access, will read and take notes. Robertinventor (talk) 05:02, 25 October 2018 (UTC)

Article summaryEdit

This is based on reading the article itself, behind the paywall. I will include relevant quotes from it. There is a very interesting figure in it that shows their calculated O2 concentration levels over the surface of Mars. Sadly it doesn't seem to be shared publicly so I suppose we can't share it. I wonder why they didn't make it publicly visible?

This will be very long so I will put it in my user space. We can't use it for the article itself - unless we are permitted to use quotes from articles behind paywalls? But we can use it to inform our article and decide which of the other articles are describing the research consistent with the paper itself.

User:Robertinventor/O2 solubility in Martian near-surface environments and implications for aerobic life - notes

I will comment here again when the notes are finished. Robertinventor (talk) 05:57, 25 October 2018 (UTC)

@Darkfrog24: and @Gryllida: I have now finished my notes. You may be interested to take a look, but no obligation just if you are interested.

I will go back to the article tomorow and add a section about the research based on those notes - but only using material that is publicly available in e.g. Scientific American. So you won't need to read my notes to check what I say there. Sadly this may mean I have to miss out a few interesting points from the paper that don't seem to have been taken up by the secondary sources we are able to use.

Unless - is it permissible to use material behind paywalls if I give quotes from it sufficient to support the material? Robertinventor (talk) 07:19, 25 October 2018 (UTC)

Highlights from my notesEdit

Some highlights from my notes, many of them not mentioned in the articles about their research or in the press release:

  • The paper is theoretical and is based on a simplified general circulation model of the Mars atmosphere - it ignores distinctions of seasons and the day / night cycle. But takes account of topography and the axial tilt. They combine it with modeling of absorption of oxygen in the brines.
    • National Geographic: "They crafted a model that tests out this idea for six salts at concentrations high enough to keep the water liquid at temperatures from -208 degrees Fahrenheit to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The model also included the average Martian air pressure at various locations across the red planet" -
    • Press release: "First, they developed a chemical model describing how oxygen dissolves in salty water at temperatures below the freezing point of water. Second, they examined the global climate of Mars and how it has changed over the past 20 million years, during which time the tilt of the axis of the planet shifted, altering regional climates. The solubility and climate models together allowed the researchers to infer which regions on Mars are most capable of sustaining high oxygen solubilities, both today and in the planet's geologically recent past."
    • Scientific American: 'In their new study, Stamenkovic and his colleagues coupled a model of how oxygen dissolves in brines with a model of the Martian climate.'
  • 6.5% of the Mars surface, current Mars, would be able to support sponges with supercooling (a process that has been confirmed in experiments with brines mixed with regolith - the brines stay liquid right down to -133 C and colder brines can take up more oxygen). These would occur in aerobic oases above 67.5 degrees north latitude and below 72.5 degrees south latitude
    • The London Economic [2] He said places “with sufficient oxygen available for aerobic microbes to breathe” may be all over the Red Planet.'

      'He added: “Moreover, about 6.5 percent of the total Martian surface area could support far higher dissolved oxygen concentrations, enabling aerobic oases sufficient to sustain the respiration demands of more complex multicellular organisms such as sponges.”'
    • National Geographic: 'According to their results, hypothetical brines that are colder than the freezing point of pure water offer much more oxygen than what's needed for aerobic microbes to thrive. What's more, their best estimates with perchlorate salts suggest that the water would have enough oxygen to support more complex life like sponges. (Similarly, the under-ice waters of Jupiter's moon Europa may hold enough oxygen to support fish-size life.'

      'The team also calculated a “worst case” scenario, providing a little wiggle room for error in their model's calculated factors. Even then, the salty solutions all harbored enough oxygen to support basic microbial life.'

      '“We were absolutely flabbergasted,” Stamenković says of the team's initial reaction. “I went back to recalculate everything like five different times to make sure it's a real thing.”'
    • The Conversation: 'Mars has long been thought of as dry and barren – unable to harbour life. But research over the past few years indicates that there is most likely some briny water present there today, including a possible subsurface lake. This has led to new hopes that there could actually be life on the red planet after all, depending on what the conditions are like in the water.'

      'Now, a new study, published in Nature Geoscience, surprisingly shows that brine deposits below the surface of Mars, particularly near the poles, can contain molecular oxygen – which is crucial for life on Earth. This is exciting as it makes it even more likely that the planet could support microbial life or even simple animals like sponges.'
    • [3] 'Colder temperatures promote greater oxygen entry into brines. So, especially frigid pockets near the Martian poles could potentially be oxygen-rich enough to support complex multicellular organisms such as sponges, the researchers determined. Such "aerobic oases" may be common today above 67.5 degrees north latitude and below 72.5 degrees south latitude'
  • Some areas even would have oxygen levels the same as for modern Earth oceans
  • Mars has been tilted optimally for oxygen in the brines for the last 5 million years and will continue like that for at least another 10 million years.
    • "During that time, the highest oxygen solubilities have occurred within the past five million years" - Press release
  • When the axial tilt is more than 45 degrees (which happens with Mars occasionally, leading to equatorial ice sheets and ice free poles) then the levels of oxygen are not high enough for sponges.
  • For the last 20 million years there has always been enough oxygen for small sponges according to their models, if the brines are there
    • The Conversation: 'The team found that, at low-enough elevations (where the atmosphere is thickest) and at low-enough temperatures (where gases like oxygen have an easier time staying in a liquid solution), an unexpectedly high amount of oxygen could exist in the water—a value several orders of magnitude above the threshold needed for aerobic respiration in Earth's oceans today. Further, the locations of those regions have shifted as the tilt of Mars's axis has changed over the past 20 million years. During that time, the highest oxygen solubilities have occurred within the past five million years.'
  • Modern Mars would have more oxygen in its brines than early Earth did before the Great Oxygenation event
    • National Geographic: 'The concentrations now possible on Mars are even higher than what was likely present in Earth’s waters prior to 2.35 billion years ago, when microbes breathed oxygen into the atmosphere and Earthlings proliferated. And these concentrations of oxygen on Mars could have persisted for millions of years.'

      'Such briny solutions would be "really good soup for organisms to grow in,” says the University of Washington's Jodi Young, a biological oceanographer who was not involved in the study. On Earth, she explains, chilly oxygenated brines exist in the network of fissures in sea ice, where a diversity of life can be found.'
    • Scientific American: 'According to the research, Martian brines today could hold higher concentrations of oxygen than were present even on the early Earth—which prior to about 2.4 billion years ago harbored only trace amounts of the gas in its air.'
  • The oxygen in these brines may explain some weathering processes on Mars and even the methane seeps detected by Curiosity.
    • "In 2014, researchers were excited to discover manganese oxide on Mars' surface. Manganese is tough to oxidize, and unlike the oxidized iron that gives the rusty red planet its signature look, forming manganese oxide requires the presence of either oxygen or microbes, explains Kirsten Siebach, a planetary geologist at Rice University who was not involved in the work.'

      'Researchers have previously suggested that this compound points to an ancient Martian atmosphere flush with oxygen. But Stamenković and his colleagues thought there just might be another way'

      ....'And the dissolved oxygen in the water could have caused Mars’ manganese oxides to form even without an oxygen-flush atmosphere. “Our explanation doesn't need any special magic—it works on Mars today,” says Stamenković.'

      'Siebach praises the idea behind the research as clever, but she also cautions that similar concentrations of oxygen would need to have been present in the Martian atmosphere billions of years ago to create some of the ancient oxides seen today.'

      '“It's tricky to say how far back in time this would go,” she notes.'
    • Scientific American: 'Curiosity rover has identified rocks rich in the element manganese, which likely required significant oxygen to form. "Manganese deposition on Earth is really closely associated with life, both indirectly and directly," says Nina Lanza, a planetary geologist at Los Alamos National Research Laboratory in New Mexico. However, that does not mean Martian life created the manganese deposits; instead, it could simply be that Mars possessed much more atmospheric oxygen in the past than it does today—something supported by several other independent lines of evidence.'

      'An oxygen-rich ancient Mars, in turn, would necessitate a thicker atmosphere—possibly thick enough to have allowed oceans of water to accumulate on the surface. That is the Martian history most researchers currently embrace, based on a wealth of observations from multiple missions.'

      'But Stamenkovic says an ocean, an oxygen-rich atmosphere, or a warmer climate may not be required to create the deposits. It is also possible that the brines interacting with the rocks over millions of years could have formed manganese-rich rocks and could still create them today, eliminating the need for Mars to once have had Earth-like oceans and atmosphere. Lanza agrees that the manganese-rich rocks could have formed on an ocean-free Mars, but notes that further study is needed.'
  • They only studied processes for the top few cms of the Mars surface and oxygen mixing with water in those layers (below that, then the ground would be permanently frozen except at geological hot spots or subglacial lakes.
  • They do not speculate about subglacial lakes in the paper itself - but seems he discussed it elsewhere, maybe a press conference?
    • The Conversation mentions the subglacial lakes but doesn't say that they would be oxygen rich. Just in context of saying there is evidence for brines on Mars.
    • The London Economic[ 'Dr Stamenkovic said: “Our study focused on near-surface environments. Recent results have indicated the potential existence of calcium and magnesium perchlorate rich brines at a depth of 1.5km.'

      '“Our results imply the oxygen solubility in such a reservoir would be high, raising the possibility they could be rich in oxygen if the supply either from intermittent communication with the atmosphere or from the radiolysis of water is sufficiently large.”'

[Please feel free to edit this list to add sources outside of the paper or add new bullet points if there is something else significant we should mention]

Background information quotesEdit

Also for the background section, so we don't have to do so much by way of cites of earlier research, here are some useful quotes:

  • National Geographic: 'Of course, before getting too excited about modern Mars microbes, scientists first need to confirm whether pockets of liquid water actually exist on the planet today.'

    '“We go back and forth a lot as a scientific community on that,” Siebach says with a laugh. Any such puddles would be small and possibly only present during parts of the day or during certain seasons, she says.'

    'If scientists do identify potentially habitable environments, they also can't rush straight to them, she notes. The most oxygen-flush liquids would be present in the coldest water at the poles, where it's a challenge for even rovers to stay warm enough to function. And researchers will have to be methodical in preventing contamination of Mars with earthly microbes.'

    '“If we think that Earth life can survive in that brine, that's exactly when we have to be most careful about approaching it,” Siebach says. Still, the new work offers the tantalizing possibility that we may discover something alive on Mars in the near future.'

    '“On the Earth, oxygen was a big driver for evolution,” Stamenković says, so perhaps its presence on Mars could have given life a boost in an otherwise inhospitable place.'

    '“We have no clue," he says, "but it gives me hope to go and explore.”'
  • The Conversation:'The surface of Mars 3.8 billion to 4 billion years ago was much like the Earth’s and would therefore have had the right conditions for life. At that time, it had a thick atmosphere and flowing water on the surface, a global magnetic field and volcanism.'

    'Today, the surface is dry and cold – 5ºC to 10ºC by day and -100ºC to -120ºC at night. In fact, the atmospheric pressure now is less than 1% of the Earth’s, meaning that any flowing water would quickly evaporate into the atmosphere. But it can remain trapped below the surface. Volcanism is also dead and only small-scale crustal magnetic fields remain to protect it from harsh solar radiation in the southern hemisphere. It was for these reasons that current life on Mars was until very recently considered highly unlikely.'

    'The NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter also discovered seasonal features called “recurrent slope lineae” – streak-like patterns which may indicate briny water seeping to the surface. However there are alternative explanations. Some scientists suggest that these may also just be movements of sand. That said, rovers and landers have found substances including calcium and magnesium perchlorates near the suspected water seeps and at other locations on Mars – and these indicate the presence of brine.'
  • Scientific American has a long section about ideas about habitable brines. It quotes mainly the views of the more skeptical scientists on this matter, who think that brines are hard to form and that they are likely to be too cold and too salty and so, inhospitable to life. I'd say about half the scientists in this topic area are skeptical, half optimistic. It coveres the idea that alien biochemistry could have capabilities Earth life doesn't have but without given any specific examples of proposed alien biochemistries for Mars.

    'Instead, Rivera-Valentin says equatorial brines are more likely to form as subsurface water comes in contact with salt-rich minerals, rather than from salts interacting with atmospheric water vapor. According to Clifford, water-rock interactions throughout the planet are more likely to happen deep beneath the surface, where groundwater can dissolve the rocks around it while remaining isolated from the atmosphere for billions of years. "In the near-surface, it’s a little bit harder to anticipate what the composition of brines would be or how saturated they would be," Clifford says. Rivera-Valentin also expressed concern that the brines might be too salty for life. “The types of brines that would form on Mars would kill it,” he says. “Life as we know it on Earth would not be able to survive these brines—too salty and too cold.”'

    'Woodward Fischer, a geobiologist at the California Institute of Technology and a co-author on the paper, says that to find the salty limit of life, one would have to know something about the energy budget of a cell. “We barely know that in certain very specific instances of laboratory [microbes] on Earth, and we have no idea [about it] on any other planet,” he says. Fischer thinks scientists should avoid overly rigid constraints when it comes to imagining how alien, unearthly life might emerge and evolve.'

On planetary protection:

  • Scientific American: 'If in fact briny, biologically friendly oases dot the Red Planet, they paradoxically could be bad news for future life-hunting missions there, rendering wide swaths of the planet potentially habitable—and thus off-limits for in-situ exploration, based on current interpretations of international law. Planetary protection protocols require stringent decontamination methods for spacecraft that land near “special regions” deemed likely to hold the conditions necessary for life—namely, the presence of a usable energy source and of liquid water. These protocols seek to prevent the accidental extinction or contamination of possible Martian life by invading microorganisms from Earth, and are also meant to keep our own planet safe from any Martian bugs that might someday hitch a ride to Earth on future sample-return missions. Presumably, if the bulk of the Martian surface and subsurface were to suddenly be seen as a “special region,” exploration could still occur there via robots somehow completely purged of all potentially contaminating traces of Earthly biology.'

    'Such strict requirements would drive up the already high cost of Martian exploration, but Stamenkovic remains optimistic. “I think there's a sweet spot where we can be curious and we can be explorers and not mess things up,” he says. “We have to go for that.”'

[Please feel free to edit this list to add sources outside of the paper or add new bullet points if there is something else significant we should mention]

Details and quotes from the original paper here:

@Darkfrog24: and @Gryllida: So - what I think I'll do - these are all significant points from the article that I think would be good to include in the story. My plan is to go through the articles that we have in the list of sources and see if they mention them. If they do will come back here and put the name of the source next to the bullet point in that list. Then - any that we can find sources for outside of the original paper we can add. Any that are behind a paywall sadly we have to leave out, unless it is permitted to support such points with quotations from the paper. If anyone else would like to join in and see if you can find a few of them then great.

And do feel free to add new bullet points that you think should be mentioned, either from my notes from the paper, or the first page you can see with the free preview or from the other articles about it. E.g. quotes from the press release or whatever. Robertinventor (talk) 12:07, 25 October 2018 (UTC)

I can confidently say no on the paywalls. The point of the review process is for there to be multiple sets of eyes on the same source material. Even if we're dealing with a 100% honest article drafter just hitting copypaste, anyone's finger can slip. What if I was copypasting the article one paragraph at a time to avoid ads or pictures and I missed a paragraph in the middle? That could happen. Darkfrog24 (talk) 12:09, 25 October 2018 (UTC)
Oh, I can't copy the entire article. Just selected quotes or it is copyvio. E.g.
They find that 6.5% of the surface of present day Mars could have oxygen levels high enough for aerobic respiration by primitive sponges when they run the model with supercooled calcium and magnesium perchlorate brines[1]
If this is not permitted, and there are significant points that I can't include in the article, then I'll definitely do my own version in addition, as I think it is an exceptionally interesting paper for a topic that I'm interested in and there should be a publicly accessible article somewhere summarizing it better than the ones currently available. I'll do it anyway - I'll put my notes in my new astrobiology wiki which has a news section, and the article itself there and in my Science 2.0 blog. So anyway, I'll see which of those points we can include with this restriction. It's such a shame about paywalls. The authors themselves would not want tht. But if an article is published in a journal like Nature it costs many thousands of dollars to make it open access. Robertinventor (talk) 22:58, 25 October 2018 (UTC)
I've found most of the points in the sources for the article already. I'm going to search to see if I can find any additional sources discussing the paper for the few points not yet covered. National Geographic and The Conversation were especially useful, also Scientific American. Robertinventor (talk) 23:44, 25 October 2018 (UTC)
I've found a good quote to end it from

Both NASA and the European Space Agency (in partnership with Russia) aim to launch life-hunting rovers toward Mars in 2020. But both of those robots will be hunting for signs of past life. The last, and so far only, spacecraft to look for present-day Red Planet organisms on the Martian surface were NASA's twin Viking 1 and Viking 2 landers, which touched down in 1976. Stamenković would like for that to change, and he said he hopes the new study — which was published online today (Oct. 22) in the journal Nature Geoscience — provides a little momentum in that direction."There is still so much about the Martian habitability that we do not understand, and it's long overdue to send another mission that tackles the question of subsurface water and potential extant life on Mars, and looks for these signals,"

I'll add the cite. The 6.5% quote is given in a number of sources but sadly, not very reliable ones like Fox News[4] which is a direct copy of an article in the Sun which is an extremely unreliable Red Top tabloid in the UK - although this particular article is well researched and absolutely fine. I've added the least sensationalist source I could find to my highlights, but it probably needs to be left out. But is highly reliable in this topic area and they talked to the researchers directly so I will add them. It gives latitudes values instead of the 6.5%. That will do. The other bullet point I can't find a cite for is that current oxygen levels can be as high as 0.2 moles of oxygen per cubic meter which is the same as for Earth's oceans, in optimal locations. That will have to be left out.
I'm also going to add this, which was referred to by Fox News, we can't cite them but we can follow their example and cite this as highly relevant:
National Academy of Sciences report[

"The report emphasizes the need for NASA to ramp up efforts in developing mission-ready life detection technologies to advance the search for life. For studies of life on planets outside of this solar system, the agency should implement technologies in near-term ground- and space-based direct imaging missions that can suppress the light from stars. The specialized measurements, equipment, and analysis required to take full advantage of space missions include some that exist outside of traditional space science fields, highlighting the need for interdisciplinary, non-traditional cooperation and collaboration with organizations outside of NASA, the report says."

  1. Quote

    Moreover, for supercooled Ca- and Mg-perchlorate brines on Mars today, ~6.5% of the total Martian surface area could support far higher dissolved O2 concentrations—enabling aerobic oases at dissolved O2 concentrations higher than 2 × 10−3 mol m−3, sufficient to sustain the respiration demands of more complex multicellular organisms such as sponges (Figs. 2 and 3). Such aerobic oases are common today at latitudes poleward of about 67.5° and about − 72.5° (Fig. 3a).


"[{{{url}}} {{{title}}}]" —  {{{date}}}

Submit for review?Edit


  • I'd just leave 2-3 lines of all the pages of background information provided and remove everything else, it is too encyclopedic.
  • The 'how' appears to be partially missing, I am not sure how did the researchers establish the levels of oxygen which are quoted in the second paragraph.
  • Concerned about freshness, for an event that happened on the 22nd the latest publish date is 25th and this has already passed.
  • There is one way to restore freshness by means of an interview with the researchers, if you have a list of questions to ask them then it could be sent by email. Ideally to get the responses and add them to the story and review (then revise and re-review) by 29th the latest.

--Gryllida (chat) 00:17, 26 October 2018 (UTC)

Possible interview questionsEdit

  1. the experiment design - how was it done - what equipment was used - how long did it take, when did it happen, what was most time consuming
  2. photo of the laboratory
  3. photo of the researchers / their roles in the study
  4. what motivated the research
  5. so what -- how would the findings of oxygen-enabled life on Mars be useful to anyone, what is their application
  6. plans for future work (this can be stated in the paper but the answer given in an interview may be more complete)
  7. what is necessary for making direct field observations. whether it is planned to send a rover there sometime in the future
  8. whether the researchers are planning to give a talk about their findings at a conference in the near future

This is what comes to my mind as the first set of questions. Possibly a half of this is already answered in the paper...

--Gryllida (chat) 00:35, 26 October 2018 (UTC)

@Robertinventor: @Pi zero: Gryllida (chat) 00:36, 26 October 2018 (UTC)

Oh dear, I didn't know about a last published date. The 'how' is that they did a computer model of the Mars atmosphere and they combined it with a chemical model of how oxygen would dissolve in the brines and together they established the predicted oxygen levels in the brines at various locations on Mars. For the background information then we could just summarize the background information from the quotes in the background information sub-heading above. My plan was to gather notes and quotes first and then use that to write that section - the article doesn't have a 'how' yet. I am all ready to write that and to add the highlights points mentioned above ijn the highlights section. It can be quite short, an extra paragraph. I'll copy the background information to my user space before deleting it, so that I can use it elsewhere easily wihtout having to go into the history of this page.
  • Have you looked into possibities for the oxygen to get into the subglacial lakes at the poles? Could these potentially be highly oxygenated like lake Vostock?
  • The temperatures for the highest levels of oxygen are really low -133 C, so, is the idea that this oxygen would be retained when the brines warm up to more habitable temperatures during the day or seasonally? Or would the oxygen be lost as it warms up? Or - is the idea that it has to be some exotic biochemistry that works only at ultra low temperatures like Dirk Schulze-Makuch's life based on hydrogen peroxide and perchlorates internal to the cells as antifreeze?
  • How quickly would the oxygen get into the brines - did they investigate the timescale?
  • Could the brines that Nilton Renno and his teams simulated forming on salt / ice interfaces within minutes in Mars simulation conditions get oxygenated in the process of formation? If not, how long would it take for them to get oxygenated to levels sufficient for aerobic microbes?
  • Do you have any thoughts about how sponges could survive periods of time in the distant past when the Mars axial tilt exceeds 45 degrees, for instance, might there be subsurface oxygen rich oases in caves that recolonize the surface?
  • The article says that the highest levels of oxygen can be the same as for Earth's oceans, 0.2 moles per cubic meter. So, does your research suggest any potential for oases for more demanding life such as sea worms or even creatures with a backbone?
  • quote you as saying: "I am a big promoter of looking for current habitable environments, and we can do that by starting to explore if there is liquid water on Mars."

    'To that end, Stamenkovic is working to develop a new tool, no bigger than a shoe box, that could be used to find water on Mars and determine its salinity, no digging necessary.'
Can you say a bit about how this device would work. I can't find anything about it on the internet.
From your list I could also ask:
  • plans for future work (this can be stated in the paper but the answer given in an interview may be more complete) - the paper actually doesn't have anything on this particularly - good question. I would ask also more specifically
  • Do they have any plans to look at a more complex atmospheric model with seasonal and daily temperature and atmospheric pressure varaiations?
  • whether the researchers are planning to give a talk about their findings at a conference in the near future
I will see if I can find a contact address and send these questions. And if he replies I'll work on this article some more. If not, then I will copy it over to my astrobiology wiki and work on it there instead, it has a news section where I've already mentioned this research with a quote and I am thinking of dong a Wikinews style section on astrobiology [5] Robertinventor (talk) 01:00, 26 October 2018 (UTC)
I can also ask
  • photo of the researchers / their roles in the study
  • Are there any YouTube videos of a press conference or any radio interviews since the study that we can link to?
Robertinventor (talk) 01:03, 26 October 2018 (UTC)
Great questions they are a lot more specific than what I had previously, Robertinventor. The majority of the questions -- at least a half -- in my view need to be about the latest research finding not about background. Can this perhaps be added? Could perhaps the two lists be combined into one final list? Gryllida (chat) 01:14, 26 October 2018 (UTC)
Sorry I need to add; when requesting media it is best to ask them to fill in the email template c:Commons:Email templates otherwise we can not include it into the article. Gryllida (chat) 01:16, 26 October 2018 (UTC)
Two small remarks to inject here.
  • Original reporting (OR) has to be heavily documented, and this needs to be provided for when planning what will be done. With an email interview, typically, there would be detailed notes on the article talk page explaining the circumstances of the interview — what was done when and how, that sort of thing — and the emails themselves would be forwarded to scoop. I think the scoop email address is currently working (if not, we'd make arrangements for sending email directly to one or more reviewers). Scoop is "scoop at wikinewsie dot org".
  • To be clear, in general how much OR extends freshness depends on how significant the original material is, and, potentially, the whole context of the situation broadly. A small amount of original material might extend freshness by a few days, while a full-blown interview may sometimes —up to a point— be its own focal event.
--Pi zero (talk) 01:47, 26 October 2018 (UTC)

@Gryllida: Those questions are all about the latest research findings and not about background. The question about Nilton Renno's brines is about their current research as well. It is asking, "does your research mean the brines he studied would be oxygen rich".

I included all of the ones in your list that are not already answered in published material.

BTW another question would be

  • We'd like to use two of your figures in the article - Figure 3 (the map of variations in oxygen concentrations in potential brines) and Figure 4 (variation in oxygen concentration over past 20 million years and forwards 10 million years in the future). But they are behind a paywall. Is this publicly available under a suitable license, creative commons or similar? Or is there any publicly viewable article that has these figures that we can link to as a source?

On the release - I tested it out and it said to upload a file. So, do you mean he has to upload a file with the text of his answers to my questions? What specifically do I have to do to ask a researcher questions via email and get answers that can be published in WikiNews? I think there is a good chance he answers.

@Pi zero: Oh okay. Is it enough then to just ask him for permission to forward our correspondence to scoop, and for permission to publish the correspondence publicly for reference in WikiNews? That would be much easier than asking him to upload a file to Wikimedia Commons. I think the best thing would be to have the whole correspondence available for public reading here, and I'm happy to upload it to a page in my user space if we don't have some other way to do it. I am pretty sure he would be happy for it to be made public. Robertinventor (talk) 01:58, 26 October 2018 (UTC)

@Robertinventor: You'll want to take a look at Wikinews:Original reporting. We ask interviewees to reply; if it's by email, we'd expect an email reply; we don't ask them to upload to wikimedia projects. Some of the information in such emails is usually personal and not to be made publicly available, such as email addresses; that's why we use scoop. When contacting someone for this purpose, let them know up-front, in some words or other, that you're an independent reporter writing a piece you mean to submit to Wikinews (not camel case, btw). This can go past in a very small number of words, but it's important that they not misunderstand certain points: you don't represent the Wikimedia Foundation or Wikinews, the material is destined for Wikinews, and you can't guarantee it'll be published. We don't want to give people misimpressions; we want interviewees to come away from the experience with a positive impression about the whole experience, and thus about you and Wikinews. As I recall, you can see an unusually large amount of internal documentation on the talk page of this OR piece. --Pi zero (talk) 02:19, 26 October 2018 (UTC)
@Pi zero: Okay here is my draft email User:Robertinventor/Draft_email_on_o2_on_Mars. I now have his email address - it is included in the Nature article behind a paywall, an email at jpl. If it is okay I'll send it right away. Anything you spot that needs to be fixed or is it okay? Robertinventor (talk) 02:36, 26 October 2018 (UTC)
@Robertinventor: I have one thought I can offer. I'd really hope Gryllida would offer feedback, as Gryllida has extensive experience in the role of interviewer.
  • I would think it ought to be possible to get across the important points of those things I was saying we didn't want to be misunderstood about, with a lighter touch than that paragraph of explicit disclaimers. For example, on the talk page of that piece I linked above, I see the interviewer's first contact with one interviewee started with "I'm a UK-based journalist researching a feature on the new twin papers on genetic factors to bipolar disorder and schizophrenia." No big disclaimers.
--Pi zero (talk) 03:04, 26 October 2018 (UTC)
By email I usually introduce myself as 'Volunteer reporter for Wikinews' with a link to Wikinews:Mission statement. --Gryllida (chat) 03:28, 26 October 2018 (UTC)
@Robertinventor: The "I will need to make our correspondence publicly available for checking, and would do so on the collaboration page of the article, but of course all personal details such as email addresses will be redacted." part is incorrect. You are not required to make all communication publicly available. Instead it can be sent to scoop where it will be available for reviewers to examine. --Gryllida (chat) 03:13, 26 October 2018 (UTC)
@Robertinventor: Oh, forgot this point: there's no need for you to mention scoop in your email to the interviewee, but note that you've got the address of scoop wrong; it's not "", but "" (very different). --Pi zero (talk) 03:18, 26 October 2018 (UTC)

1) "I'm in the process of writing an article about your research for Wikinews." could be followed by one short sentence that says what Wikinews is, or a footnote to Wikinews:Mission statement

2) "I am required by Wikinews to say that I do not represent the Wikimedia foundation and am an independent reporter submitting an article to Wikinews. I can't guarantee it will be published there but I can guarantee publication on and on my Astrobiology wiki. I will need to make our correspondence publicly available for checking, and would do so on the collaboration page of the article, but of course all personal details such as email addresses will be redacted. I would also forward all our emails to scoop at for verification by the reviewers."

could maybe be replaced with

"I am required by Wikinews to say that I do not represent the Wikimedia foundation and am an independent reporter submitting an article to Wikinews. I can't guarantee it will be published there but I can guarantee publication on and on my Astrobiology wiki."

because it does not go public; and the fact that his conversation goes to scoop is probably not really important.

--Gryllida (chat) 03:37, 26 October 2018 (UTC)

I also wanted to add: we do not have to be so discouraging or alarming about the possibility that their story would not be published at Wikinews. I usually say that it will be submitted to the site, without engaging into a discussion about the review process. (An interview is by definition harder to "{{stale}}", leaving plenty of room (on the time axis) for improving the report.) --Gryllida (chat) 03:42, 26 October 2018 (UTC)

@Robertinventor: For the last few minutes I am watching this part being polished

"Note: it is our usual practice for email interviews to add a publicly viewable copy of relevant parts of our correspondence to the collaboration page on Wikinews for other collaborators to view. Any personal details such as email addresses would be redacted. I hope this is okay with you. An alternative is to forward all correspondence via email to the reviewer of the article. "
  • It is confusing. They may think that any (and all) communication that they send to you will be required become public -- not only their personal information such as email address but also any side remarks they make about how Wikinews works or how image upload works or anything else said during the correspondence. This is not necessarily the case. You are only required to publish the interview contents.
  • I instead say 'your replies to the questions of the interview would be included into the article verbatim' (if the story is intended to go out as an interview).
  • You may wish to put their communication to the talk page of the article if you two agree, however, it is not a 'usual practice' and it is not 'required'; you would need to say, for example,
"Note: we will add a publicly viewable copy of relevant parts of our correspondence to the collaboration page on Wikinews for other collaborators to view. Any personal details such as email addresses would be redacted. I hope this is okay with you. An alternative is to forward all correspondence via email to the reviewer of the article."

I am sorry for the confusion with this part. --Gryllida (chat) 04:12, 26 October 2018 (UTC)

@Gryllida: @Pi zero: Okay, how does it look now? Incorporated most of those suggestions: User:Robertinventor/Draft email on o2 on Mars and @Pi zero: okay - I expect him to okay publishing the correspondence here, so it sounds as if I don't need to do anything about the scoop email address, thanks for the correction in case it is needed, scoop at
Since I now have an email address I plan to just copy / paste it as rich text into the email so he will see it exactly as in that draft page.
With the email interview idea, I hadn't thought of that but it is an excellent suggestion and would encourage him to do more extensive answers too. I can certainly publish an email interview on my astrobiology blog. As to whether to do that here in that format or more as a conventional news article with the interview as source materials, then it would be a matter for us to discuss here I think after the interview, if he replies. But I can put the interview up in my astrobiology wiki and we can link to it as a source, if we don't include it here. Up to everyone else on that one when the time comes I think, I'm happy to do whatever seems best. I've asked him for permission to publish it as an email interview in my latest draft of the email. How is it? Ready to send or more work? Robertinventor (talk) 04:31, 26 October 2018 (UTC)
Have just moved the bit about a publicly viewable copy in the collaboration page to the end after my signature, looked better there. Robertinventor (talk) 04:48, 26 October 2018 (UTC)
To me this looks good to go. Possibly replace "Although I can't guarantee it will be published on Wikinews, I can guarantee publication on and on my Astrobiology wiki." with "I will also add the article to and to my Astrobiology wiki, where it does not require peer review and would be published immediately." Gryllida (chat) 05:51, 26 October 2018 (UTC)
@Gryllida: Thanks that's a good way of putting it, made that edit :). Robertinventor (talk) 06:34, 26 October 2018 (UTC)
Have now sent the email. Will let you know with a comment back here after any responce. Robertinventor (talk)
Thank you for creating these thoughtful questions and for sending the message, Robertinventor. Who did you send it to? --Gryllida (chat) 10:12, 26 October 2018 (UTC)

@Gryllida: Thanks also for your help with composing the letter. I've never done an email interview before or as a volunteer reporter for Wikinews, though I have often corresponded with academics I didn't know before via email. Sometimes they are friendly and send back long detailed replies, sometimes you never hear back. I sent it to Vlada Stamenković, the corresponding author of the Nature publication. I got his email address from the email option that you get near the top of the article if you purchase it. He should have got it during working hours on Friday, so before his weekend, but of course an academic often has a full timetable, many just can't answer all the emails sent to them, and I'd imagine especially so, immediately after a major paper like this, but perhaps it is long enough after the release for it to be a bit less hectic. I think he will find my questions interesting if he has the time to answer them. Robertinventor (talk) 16:09, 26 October 2018 (UTC)

Full article is available to read onlineEdit

It's a bit late if we don't hear back from the interview questions, but just to say, thath I have just discovered that Vlada has shared a link to the article with an access token from his website. Just go here Bibliography and click on the link he provides and you can read the entire article. So I can use those quotes and everything now if needs be for the very few points that are not mentioned in the other articles. Only two main ones really, the 6.5% area and that the highest levels of oxygen concentration their model predicts is 0.2 moles per cubic meter which they remark themselves is similar to Earth's oceans. I haven't heard back yet, but it is early days.Robertinventor (talk) 06:30, 27 October 2018 (UTC)

Have they replied? A follow-up reminder email could be appropriate. Gryllida (talk) 00:28, 2 November 2018 (UTC)
Yes they just have - I had the same thought early today and sent a follow up email,

"I should have said, if you want to answer just some of the questions, that's fine, I know I asked you rather a lot. And if you don't want to go through the procedures I have to go through for WikiNews, for any reason, then I can still do an article on my own Science 2.0 blog and in my own wiki and book"
and then I gave a shortened list of questions with the ones that I think we most need answer to.
Got a reply from Vlada apologizing for his late reply and saying he had so many media enquiries, and it's just that he hasn't found time to respond to them all and will find time later today and send his responses. I wrote back saying

"Oh that's great. I look forward to your responses when you have the time. There is no rush about it. Can well imagine it must be very hectic."
So he is going to reply, he said later today, however I said no rush about it, and will let you know what he says when he does. Robertinventor (talk) 05:40, 2 November 2018 (UTC)
Haven't heard back. May send another reminder. He is probably still rushed off his feet though. Only 3 days and that's including the weekend. Maybe wait to the end of this week or something. Don't want to nag. And will be a new story anyway if it is accepted it here. Robertinventor (talk) 21:57, 5 November 2018 (UTC)
Thanks Robertinventor, it's great that they replied. Please keep sending the reminders.
There is also the option of giving them a call if their phone number is public, with university staff this may be the case.
Ring them and say anything like from the list
  • It's Robert from Wikinews
  • I'm still keen on continuing the interview
  • Would you prefer to discuss it over the phone or by email?
  • What would be the best time to contact you?
  • May I make an appointment?
  • Is there anything I can do to help you with the interview?
I don't have experience with this. In Australia I have a mobile phone provider with unlimited calls to a number within the country so it does not cost me anything.
(This is a rather advanced option, I am not sure I would strongly recommend it unless you are confident in how to structure the conversation. I also don't know whether we can record it - I would like to do it to transcribe, but the legislation may require asking them for their permission first) Gryllida (talk) 00:59, 6 November 2018 (UTC)

Thanks for the suggestions @Gryllida:. I don't have the ability to record on my phone and I would have to pay international call charges so phone interviews are probably out for the near future. Unless it could be done via skype or something. Anyway, his email just says he didn't manage to respond to all the media requests because there were so many and ends "I will find time today and send you my responses.". He doesn't say any more than that but it sounds like he was okay responding to the questions.

I think the thing to do is to just send him a follow up email reminder, saying we are still interested if he has time to reply, and I'd attach a copy of the questions again. I'm not sure how long I should wait before doing that. I thought perhaps a week after, as in my reply to him I'd said I understand and no hurry from our part. He didn't actually say it is okay to publish it on Wikinews but I see no reason why he'd object. Perhaps do next draft with a space for his reply after each question and end with a question "Is it okay for us to publish this interview in full on Wiki news and elsewhere?" So he just needs to say "Yes" as a very easy response if he is pressed for time. Robertinventor (talk) 11:06, 6 November 2018 (UTC)

I.e. perhaps the main thing to do is to make what is required by way of responses very clear so it just takes a few minutes of his time to respond (unless some of the questions need him to stop and think a bit). Robertinventor (talk) 11:07, 6 November 2018 (UTC)

@Gryllida: @Darkfrog24: Just heard back from Vlada today with some interesting responses to my questions. I need to email back asking him to give explicit permission to publish his replies and with a couple more questions if he can be so kind then I will let you know his responses. Robertinventor (talk) 11:14, 8 November 2018 (UTC)

Congratulations Robretinventor. Do you need any help? Gryllida (talk) 20:34, 8 November 2018 (UTC)
I'm okay thanks. Just replied but replied with a technical question of how his TH2OR works and three extra questions. I sent an email that on reflection I thought was a bit long so immediately sent a second one starting:
"This may save a bit of time, shorter versions of the extra questions (with spaces for your replies). No hurry to reply. The first one is the main one that I need an answer to, to submit the story to WikiNews. Interested in replies to the others if you get time."
The first question was to get his permission to reproduce his answers which I don't have yet. The second was a simple technical question about how TH2OR works following up from his short description, asking if it used a particular technology - then I asked about his result about oxygen equivalent to Earth's oceans and about whether he thought oxygen could get into the deep subsurface subglacial lakes through ice, and into thin layaers of fresh water below clear ice melted by the solid state greenhouse effect - but I'd said only if he had time to answer them. He has given interesting answers to my questions so far. He said it had been a few crazy weeks which is why I said no hurry again. Robertinventor (talk) 20:46, 8 November 2018 (UTC)

Email interview with Vlada complete and permission granted to publish itEdit

@Gryllida: @Darkfrog24: @Pi zero: Heard back from Vlada again today. He answered all the additional questions and gave permission to publish the interview. It is here:

I am not sure how to proceed next. First, we could publish it as an interview "as is". How do we format it? And maybe some introduction and adding sources as for our news article? Do an updated version of our article as well, or together with it? What are your thoughts about how to proceed?

Whatever happens here I plan to put it up in my own astrobiology wiki and do an extended article covering all the material here and more on my Science 2.0 blog as well. I have the time available to work on this project this weekend. Robertinventor (talk) 17:54, 9 November 2018 (UTC)

I've realized you may need a bit of background information for some of the questions I asked Vlada. I have put some up here.

Do ask if you need any more background for the interview questions. Robertinventor (talk) 21:20, 9 November 2018 (UTC)

Also - what is the timescale? I assume the clock for a scoop starts today - when do we have to finish the story by to submit it? If agreed it does count as a "scoop"? Don't want to be caught out like last time. And - I'm in a situation where things can crop up where I suddenly don't have much spare time so don't want to leave finishing it to the last minute. Robertinventor (talk) 21:43, 9 November 2018 (UTC)

@Gryllida: @Darkfrog24: @Pi zero: Because of the short timescale for Wikinews stories, I thought I should start on this right away. I don't want to be in a situation where I have to finish it in a rush on Sunday evening in case I am not able to find the time then. Please be patient, it is work in progress. I will edit it from time to time today.

I thought what might work well is to interleave exposition of the paper using the given sources only, together with interview questions. I realized that the interview questions require background information not given in news sources that covered the original story, just because they did not ask him these questions. So, I may do a separate "Background information sources" section for e.g. Nilton Renno's salt/ ice droplets, the TDEM paper, Mars 94, and so on. Things that are no longer news, just information that anyone in the field would know. Robertinventor (talk) 12:39, 10 November 2018 (UTC)

I'm going through adding in the material needed for the background. I'll also add any material that's needed from my notes on the paper too now that the paper is accessible. I'll do it as I'd do it writing for my blog posts on Science 2.0, a science blogging site, and for sharing on Facebook groups mainly read by scientists in general, and astrobiologists. Naturally, my readers like my posts to go into a fair bit of technical detail.

Once it is done I'll give a list of what I think are the main points that it should cover, then we can see if it should be shorter. Hope that's a good way of proceeding. I hope to finish the longer version today then we can trim it down tomorrow. It would really help to have some idea of the timeline :). Robertinventor (talk) 17:05, 10 November 2018 (UTC)

  • You should be starting with a first paragraph that's short and that, by the end of its short span, says Wikinews (or, a Wikinews reporter, or the like) interviewed someone. That's the reason for the article to exist, so it should be said, and said early.
  • Use month-day rather than day-month. Avoid using {{quote}}; just put the direct quote between quotation marks ("...").
  • There appears to be a lot of quoting from copyrighted material here; that's not okay. Direct-quoting somebody based on their having been direct-quoted in a copyrighted source, is not quoting the source, it's just using the source, though if the quote was exclusively to that source we give them credit for the exclusive. But we don't quote the source.
--Pi zero (talk) 23:41, 10 November 2018 (UTC)


@Pi zero: Okay. The rest is straightforward (I think). But I'm not sure I understand you about quotes.

  • First - if Vlada is quoted by National Geographic and I quote exactly what he said, that's okay, if I understand you right.
  • Later I use a quote from National Geographic which is framed by some more text quoted from National Geographic - are you saying this is not okay? Anyway this was an easy fix, I've just removed all the text that is not a direct quote from him.
  • I have several quotes from the paper itself. Mostly in the last section "Technical details - guide to paper". I was under the impression this is okay by fair use, for news reporting. The main reason for doing it is that it's best to give what they say verbatim for technical material like this, and to help the reader find the place being referenced. The section works fine without the quotes if they need to be removed, if necessary replaced by a short paraphrase.

I have removed the largest quote from the paper from the main section. It is not an important one, reads just as well with a short paraphrase. This one:

"Aqueous environments, in the form of brines, can exist today at, and especially below, the surface. despipte the thin atmosphere and overall cold climate. Recent evidence suggests hydrated magnesium (Mg) and calcium (Ca) salts at various locations on the Martian surface and shallow subsurface which indicate the existence of Mg(ClO4)2 -Ca(ClO4)2 -H2O brines, and which could in some cases be associated with flow sturctures such as the modern recurring slope lineae."

The technical details section is one that I wanted to ask about - what are your thoughts on this? I do want to include it in my own version of the article. Options I can think of include putting it on my astrobiology wiki and linking to it there, or elsewhere here on Wikinews, or a collapsed section. Or if you think it is not needed I can just remove it from the Wikinews version of the article. The reason for including it is that the article is quite technical and I know some of my readers will want to read it and I found it took a while to understand its structure and basic points and that it would save others some time and make it easier to read.

How is the first paragraph now? I've put a fair bit of work into trying to get the basic idea over quickly. Sponges are in the title so I felt it wasn't necessary to repeat them right away in the first paragraph, let that come later, which saves a few words.

Also, what is the timeline for completing it? It is possible that some emergency turns up and I have to work on other things, because of something else I'm involved in that occasionally takes up a lot of time at unpredictable moments.

Yes, I can change all the quotes to a : and indent. Can we do that as one of the last things before submitting it? I find the way the quotes currently are set out from the rest of the text helps with proof reading and checking. It also means that when I copy it over into my own wiki, the quotations work there right away (it shows quotes in a somewhat lighter gray text for instance). It is an easy change to do after all. Robertinventor (talk) 00:42, 11 November 2018 (UTC)

@Robertinventor: Several points, in no particular order.
  • The principle on quotes is that we can't quote a source unless it becomes part of the news story. That ordinarily is about things like, for example, BBC: if BBC directly quotes a politician, we can directly quote the politician (giving BBC credit for an exclusive if it was one), but we can't quote BBC unless BBC becomes part of the story. If BBC makes a public apology for something, say, we can quote them on that, just as we could quote Microsoft if they made a public apology for something. There was a big news phone-hacking scandal in the UK a few years ago, and the news org involved issued statements which we could direct-quote. But when BBC is simply reporting the news, we can't avoid copyright/plagiary concerns to quote their new coverage by putting quotation marks around it. That means we can't quote the source text surrounding the direct-quote, just as we can't copy it without quotes. However, we can —up to a point— direct-quote a scientific paper that is part of the story. We shouldn't get carried away with it; try to minimize such practise.
  • My impression is that the concept here is supposed to be of an interview. But there are some things missing, for that:
  • There should be an {{original}} or {{interview}} template (I'm guessing {{interview}} would be more appropriate here) in the Sources section. The Sources section is supposed to completely document where information in the article came from, and if some of that information came from original reporting of some kind, it must be documented in the Sources section.
  • There should be a section on the talk page, probably called "Reporter's notes", that clearly states what you did in the way of original reporting and how it's documented (how did you conduct the OR, did you document some on-wiki and send some info to scoop or whatever).
  • The first paragraph should be a short paragraph that says there was an interview. It looks like you're trying to write a first paragraph containing background, and it's coming out quite long and not even saying anything about an interview having taken place. It should be possible to do what a first paragraph needs to do in a third or perhaps even a quarter of the amount of text in the current first paragraph; you can't get to that by compressing the existing text, you need to shunt some material into a later paragraph and get the first paragraph down to what is truly necessary for the first paragraph — getting to the point swiftly is characteristic of news writing.
  • It is not necessary, but is common, for the headline of an interview article to let the reader know it's an interview.
  • To be clear: the focal event is the publication of the interview. I've been worried about whether you're publishing this stuff elsewhere and what that implies about Wikinews publication since Wikinews doesn't republish stuff; and I gather (haven't looked yet) you've put a lot of interview transcript on-wiki; so clearly this ought to move along promptly; but don't panic over how many hours we have left to get this done. We need to move promptly, but as long as we're doing so, it's not going to turn into a pumpkin at midnight.
--Pi zero (talk) 02:09, 11 November 2018 (UTC)
Okay. That's a lot clearer now. So the date of release is the date of publication of our own article. That makes sense.
We don't need to worry about the entire interview transcript on my wiki. I made it NOINDEX so that search engines can't find it, and I put anote at the top saying it is not for sharing. It is much like this article here, which is available to public view but not meant for sharing. I haven't shared it with anyone yet either. The thing is I thought the raw transcript should be put up somewhere. User space here didn't seem right nor did a new article. But it sounds as if I should put it in the "Reporter's notes" section on this talk page. That's fine. I'll do that next. And I can just delete it from my wiki, it's an exact copy of what I'll put here. I may put a copy up there as well later on but don't want to "scoop" Wikinews.
How does the intro para. look now?
The article itself is pretty much in shape now as in it's got everything I wanted to mention, I'm now adding images, that's about done, and then need to check for repetition and see if more is needed by background sources. And do a read through of the whole thing and see if I notice anything else. Then you and the other editors can comment on it and see whether you want to publish the whole of it or part of it etc. Anyway I'll do my reporters notes next. Robertinventor (talk) 02:34, 11 November 2018 (UTC)
I've moved the email interview from my wiki to the #Reporter's notes section below and deleted it from my wiki. And added the {{interview}} template to the sources. Robertinventor (talk) 02:52, 11 November 2018 (UTC)
Glad to hear that we have time so long as we are moving forward and it now no longer exists anywhere else so you don't need to have concerns about that. I will have a go at the title next, to try to indicate it is an interview. Not sure if I should just move it. I think I'll suggest a title first here, and see what you think of it. Taking a break now, more later. Robertinventor (talk) 02:56, 11 November 2018 (UTC)
@Robertinventor: This first paragraph is a lot more effective than the earlier version. It does strike a very odd note to spell out that we're going to be interspersing our interview material with comments made elsewhere. Seems to me the only real need in that regard is to not promote a misimpression that this article contains only our exclusive material. That oughtn't be a problem unless we set it up to be. Two small/tentative thoughts: The first paragraph might work better if we present the research as the thing of most interest (first thing mentioned) and then say a Wikinews reporter talked to the researcher, rather than saying a Wikinews reporter talked to someone and then explaining what their research is. I'm wondering —and don't know the answer— whether the headline ought after all to be chosen to avoid playing up the exclusive-interview aspect; ticklish point that, as the interview-emphasizing form might work out just find as long as we keep the first paragraph sufficiently nonchalant about it.

Btw, about the final section. We do sometimes have section headings within an article, though we also often don't. However, this seems to me to be too... well, meta. The second-person pronoun shouldn't happen, and the fact that it fits naturally with the tone of the passage where it occurs is a symptom of a problem. Don't say why we're presenting information; we're a news site, presenting information is what we do; just present it. The section heading, supposing we have a section heading there (it is certainly a way to help the reader assimilate a change of tone), might be something simpler and less fourth-wall-ish, such as The paper. Drop the first paragraph (which is all meta). News writing show flow well but generally doesn't carry over pronouns or similar context between paragraphs, so start the next paragraph (becoming the first in the section) with more identification of the person than "they", and mention the paper within the first few words. --Pi zero (talk) 13:44, 11 November 2018 (UTC)

Okay that all makes sense, hopefully fixed now. I'll think a bit about the title. He has been interviewed by many people of course, but our report covers things not in any of the others that I know of, so in that sense it is somewhat exclusive. Not sure how to convey that in the title, will give it some thought. But maybe the new first para helps. Robertinventor (talk) 14:58, 11 November 2018 (UTC)
The term exclusive meaning, in a news context, that we, specifically, obtained it. The difference between reporting that someone said something to us, versus reporting that someone said something at a press conference; what they said could be minor, but that has no effect on whether it's an exclusive for us. --Pi zero (talk) 15:41, 11 November 2018 (UTC)

Original reporting notesEdit

The interview was carried out via email. I used the contact email address for the Nature paper. These are my questions and his answers:

Interview detailsEdit

 ((Wikinews )) Is it okay to publish your replies on WikiNews and elsewhere (such as my science blog or wiki)?

Vlada Stamenković: Yes.

 ((WN )) The temperatures for the highest levels of oxygen are really low -133 C, so, is the idea that this oxygen would be retained when the brines warm up to more habitable temperatures during the day or seasonally? Or would the oxygen be lost as it warms up? Or - is the idea that it has to be some exotic biochemistry that works only at ultra low temperatures like Dirk Schulze-Makuch's life based on hydrogen peroxide and perchlorates internal to the cells as antifreeze?

VS: The options are both: first, cool oxygen-rich environments do not need to be habitats. They could be reservoirs packed with a necessary nutrient that can be accessed from a deeper and warmer region. Second, the major reason for limiting life at low temperature is ice nucleation, which would not occur in the type of brines that we study.

 ((WN )) How quickly would the oxygen get into the brines - did you investigate the timescale?

VS: No, we did not yet study the dynamics. We first needed to show that the potential is there. We are now studying the timescales and processes.

 ((WN )) Could the brines that Nilton Renno and his teams simulated forming on salt / ice interfaces within minutes in Mars simulation conditions get oxygenated in the process of formation? If not, how long would it take for them to get oxygenated to levels sufficient for aerobic microbes? For instance could the Phoenix leg droplets have taken up enough oxygen for aerobic respiration by microbes?

VS: Just like the answer above. Dynamics is still to be explored. (But this is a really good question 😉).

 ((WN )) I notice from your figure 4 that there is enough oxygen for sponges only at tilts of about 45 degrees or less. Do you have any thoughts about how sponges could survive periods of time in the distant past when the Mars axial tilt exceeds 45 degrees, for instance, might there be subsurface oxygen rich oases in caves that recolonize the surface? Also what is the exact figure for the tilt at which oxygen levels sufficient for sponges become possible? (It looks like about 45 degrees from the figure but the paper doesn't seem to give a figure for this).

VS: 45 deg is approx. the correct degree. We were also tempted to speculate about this temporal driver but realized that we still know so little about the potential for life on Mars/principles of life that anything related to this question would be pure speculation, unfortunately.

 ((WN )) And I'd also like to know about your experiment you want to send to Mars to help with the search for these oxygenated brines

VS: We are now developing at “NASA/JPL-California Institute of Technology” a small tool, called TH2OR (Transmissive H2O Reconnaissance) that might one day fly with a yet-to-be-determined mission. It will use low frequency sounding techniques, capable of detecting groundwater at depths down to ideally a few km under the Martian surface, thanks to the high electric conductivity of only slightly salty water and Faraday’s law of induction. Most likely, such a small and affordable instrument could be placed stationary on the planet’s surface or be carried passively or actively on mobile surface assets; TH2OR might be also used in combination with existing orbiting assets to increase its sounding depth. Next to determining the depth of groundwater, we should also be able to estimate its salinity and indirectly its potential chemistry, which is critical information for astrobiology and ISRU (in situ resource utilization).

 ((WN )) and about whether there are any future plans for using a more detailed model with time variation dirunally or seasonally.

VS: Yes, we are now exploring the kinetics part and want to see what happens on shorter timescales.

 ((WN )) Does your TH2OR use TDEM like the Mars 94 mission - and will it use natural ULF sources such as solar wind, diurnal variations in ionosphere heating and lightning?

VS: The physical principle it uses is the same and this has been used for groundwater detection on the Earth for many decades; it’s Faraday’s law of induction in media that are electrically conducting (as slightly saline water is).
However, we will focus on creating our own signal as we do not know whether the EM fields needed for such measurements exist on Mars. However, we will also account for the possibility of already existing fields.

 ((WN )) Does your paper's value of up to , 0.2 moles of oxygen per cubic meter, the same as Earth's sea water mean that there could potentially be life on Mars as active as our sea worms or even fish?

VS: Mars is such a different place than the Earth and we still need to do so much more work before we can even start to speculate.

 ((WN )) Some news stories coupled your research with the subglacial lakes announcement earlier this year. Could the oxygen get through ice into layers of brines such as the possible subglacial lakes at a depth of 1.5 km?

VS: There are other ways to create oxygen. Radiolysis of water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen can liberate oxygen in the deep and that O2 could be dissolved in deep groundwater. The radiolytic power for this would come from radionuclides naturally contained in rocks, something we observe in diverse regions on Earth.

 ((WN )) Could it get into a layer of fresh water just 30 cms below clear ice melted by the solid state greenhouse effect, as in Mohmann's model (which forms subsurface liquid water at surface temperatures as low as -56 °C).

VS: See response above.

 ((WN )) I know that the story is no longer "in the news" but it wasn't covered in great detail and I think there may well be a fair bit of interest in an expanded article about it. It does rather strkingly extend the potential habitability of Mars.

VS: Our work really opens up new possibilities for the Martian habitability, and that’s why it’s so exciting!

@Pi zero: Is anything else needed? Robertinventor (talk) 02:45, 11 November 2018 (UTC)

Hey Robertinventor, sorry if I am jumping in - here is Example formatting Gryllida (talk) 07:11, 11 November 2018 (UTC)
Thanks @Gryllida: I wondered how to format it have done that above and will do it in the article itself. Robertinventor (talk) 11:49, 11 November 2018 (UTC)

Suggested titleEdit

@Gryllida: @Pi zero: @Darkfrog24: How about this for a new title?

"Wikinews interviews Vlada Stamenković about his research into cold salty brines on Mars that may have enough oxygen for simple sponges"

Also what is the policy about accented characters in titles in Wikinews? Do we use ć or c?

Robertinventor (talk) 12:34, 11 November 2018 (UTC)

@Robertinventor: Perhaps one could shorten by leaving off everything from "that" onward? The headline seems busy enough with out it, and it's running kind of long. "Wikinews interviews Vlada Stamenković about his research into cold salty brines on Mars". --Pi zero (talk) 12:55, 11 November 2018 (UTC)
@Robertinventor: Then again, there might be another consideration in strategy toward the headline, interacting with the first paragraph, which I'll comment on above. --Pi zero (talk) 13:04, 11 November 2018 (UTC)
@Pi zero: Okay, first it's great to discuss this. I spend a lot of time on titles for my blog posts, it's not unlike composing a short poem :).
So, the thing is that oxygen in the brines and the possibility it may even be enough for simple sponges is the main thing that is distinctive about his research. There are many news stories about brines on Mars, this is the first about oxygen in those brines.
Perhaps we can start with listing some key words that should be in the title. I think it should include the words "oxygen", "brines", "Mars" and "sponges". So that readers when they see it in Google search results, say, know immediately what it is about. Also for SEO. And it should probably contain "interview", "Wikinews" and the researcher's name.
Then another distinctive thing about his research is that oxygen levels are highest if the brines are cold. But that could be left out to reduce the word count, as the reader will discover that point as they read the article. The word salty is redundant, can we assume readers know that brines are salty? Here is a variation incorporating a few ideas, and a bit shorter:
"Wikinews interviews Vlada Stamenković about his model for oxygen rich brines on Mars, potentially enough for simple sponges" (124 characters, 18 words)
"Wikinews interviews Vlada Stamenković about his research into cold salty brines on Mars that may have enough oxygen for simple sponges" (135 characters, 21 words)
Robertinventor (talk) 14:23, 11 November 2018 (UTC)
Or, if we shouldn't assume reader knows what brines are, and I thought maybe "perhaps" is better than "potentially" which helps shortern the title:
"Wikinews interviews Vlada Stamenković about his model for oxygen rich salty water on Mars, perhaps enough for simple sponges" (125 characters, 19 words)
Robertinventor (talk) 14:29, 11 November 2018 (UTC)
Slight trimming, no need for "his" and it also suggests it is all his own work but it's a group of several researchers:
"Wikinews interviews Vlada Stamenković about model for oxygen rich salty water on Mars, perhaps enough for simple sponges" (121 characters, 18 words)
Robertinventor (talk) 15:03, 11 November 2018 (UTC)
One idea to make it a bit more nonchalent, makes the title a little longer:
"Wikinews interviews Vlada Stamenković to learn more about model for oxygen rich salty water on Mars, perhaps enough for simple sponges" (135 characters, 21 words)
Robertinventor (talk) 15:06, 11 November 2018 (UTC)
Short headline isn't measured only in characters or words. It needs to be conceptually/structurally simple as well. I can't help suspecting that your four keywords, in addition to the basic structure that list of four is taking for granted, may already be too many. Oxygen, brines, Mars, and sponges? Hm. I'm also concerned this is too much fuss over the headline; it should go faster than this. Fussing over details is a Wikipedian thing, we need to bypass it in news writing.

Just brainstorming on a different aproach, "Vlada Stamenković on Martian brine oxygenated enough to support simple sponges". A bit awkward and still feels kind of complicated... --Pi zero (talk) 19:12, 11 November 2018 (UTC)

Oh working on titles - I think it is worth spending a fair bit of time on it myself. I often brainstorm for a fair while on titles, because it works. And not easy I think.

In my Science 2.0 blog I can see the numbers of visitors and can edit the title after posting - and after posting an article, sometimes changing the title leads to a big boost of numbers - and it moves up to the number 1 spot on the side panel for the website. Sometimes someone links to my article using a new much better title and then I use that title for my original article. And I've noticed it on other sites. E.g. the BBC news site, often they change the title of a story after it has been posted. Other websites do too. One way you notice it, often the title shown in Google News differs from the one you see when you click through - because they have changed the title since it was first posted.

Perhaps we can drop one of those key words, will be a case of deciding which one to drop. Probably sponges. I like the word though as it rather vividly conveys the idea that it is a possibility of something a bit more complex than microbes.

And something to bear in mind is - where will the reader see the title? In Google news. Or other news feeds. So, the start of the title has to be good. Will truncate at about 62 chars so:

  • Wikinews interviews Vlada Stamenković to learn more about model for oxygen rich salty water on Mars, perhaps enough for simple sponges


  • Wikinews interviews Vlada Stamenković to learn more about ...



  • Vlada Stamenković on Martian brine oxygenated enough to support simple sponges


  • Vlada Stamenković on Martian brine oxygenated enough to ...


However - I think your title suggests he is the author of the article, have to make it clear it's an interview, not an article by him.

Maybe we can get some new ideas from the other titles used for this story. The problem is that the top ones are misleading. E.g. searching by the lead author's name to be title neutral as far as possible: Vlada Stamenković - Google search

The top story is the one from

  • Sponges from Mars? Study suggests water on the red planet could support life

but Google shows it as

  • Mars could have enough molecular oxygen to support life, and ...

That was probably their original title. Sadly both versions are misleading, suggests that what they found was that the water could support life when it actually was that it could support aerobic life. Most of the titles are misleading in the same way. The next few are:

  • Scientists one step closer to confirming life on Mars - Newstalk ZB-22 Oct 2018
  • Martian brines might sustain life, study finds - Cosmos-22 Oct 2018
  • Salty waters on Mars could host Earth-like life - In-Depth-National Geographic-22 Oct 2018
  • Mars likely to have enough oxygen to support life: study - Oct 2018

The top titles, the ones bolded and with images are all also misleading:

  • Mars could have enough molecular oxygen to support life - The Seattle Times-24 Oct 2018
  • Brine Pools Emerge as a New Place to Search for Life on Mars - Eos-29 Oct 2018- been top place to search at least since 2008
  • Oxygen could exist on Mars, claim researchers - Oct 2018 - already knew there was oxygen there including molecular
  • Planet Mars : the salt water could support life - The Koz Post (blog)-9 Nov 2018

If we look at the ones that are not misleading then the next is the first one:

  • Oxygen-Rich Liquid Water May Exist on Mars - In-Depth-Scientific American-22 Oct 2018

Several other on a similar theme:

  • Mars May Be Loaded With Dissolved Subsurface Oxygen - Forbes-24 Oct 2018
  • Life could thrive in oxygen-rich briny water on Mars - Astronomy Magazine-23 Oct 2018
  • Mars contains more oxygenated water than previously thought: Study - Oct 2018
  • Mars could have enough molecular oxygen to support life

I like the "oxygen-rich briny water". Also "sponges from Mars?" though it should really be "Sponges on Mars?". And "Brine pools" - though better probably as "Brine seeps".

How about something like this?

  • Sponges on Mars? Oxygen-rich briny seeps could support complex life - Wikinews interviews Vlada Stamenković to learn about his model

Robertinventor (talk) 00:36, 12 November 2018 (UTC)

For my last suggestion the full title is long, but that only matters once they click through, and it helps make it clear what it is about. In google news they see

  • Sponges on Mars? Oxygen-rich briny seeps could support complex ...

Robertinventor (talk) 00:41, 12 November 2018 (UTC)

@Pi zero: Or how about this? I think it may be the best so far, what do you think?

  • Sponges on Mars? We ask Stamenković about their oxygen-rich briny seeps model
  • Sponges on Mars? We ask Stamenković about their oxygen-rich ...

Robertinventor (talk) 01:09, 12 November 2018 (UTC)

Never first-person pronoun. Also can't refer to somebody by last-name-only, as if the reader were expected to know who that is.

This is making the headline way too hard. It is, and must be, a small thing. Yes, I'm aware that it's... what was that phrase brianmc used to use?... the sizzle that sells the steak. But it's necessary to choose and move on.

Btw, to be clear, we strongly prefer not to change a headline after publication. No endless fiddling with the headline post-publish; a news article is a snapshot in time. --Pi zero (talk) 11:54, 12 November 2018 (UTC)

That's okay I wasn't expecting to change the headline after publication. I didn't know you had a rule about two sentence headlines - I often use them for my own headlines and it's reasonably common in news stories, as for example in this time. I can change We to Wikinews. Didn't know about the rule about not referring to someone by their last name only. So let's have another go, I put it into this SEO search snippet tool[6] along with url and first para and it looked enticing to me, as a result that someone might click on:
  • Questions answered about Martian sponges in oxygenated briny seeps in Wikinews interview with Vlada Stamenković
Gets shortened to:
Questions answered about Martian sponges in oxygenated...
Vlada Stamenković and his team astonished astrobiologists with their new model, which raises the possibility of oxygen rich brines on Mars, with enough ...
I'm okay with that, are you, anything about it that needs fixing still? Robertinventor (talk) 12:51, 12 November 2018 (UTC)

Nearly there as far as writing itEdit

I've got everything in it now. Just going to do a final read through - read the entire article out loud which I find helps find errors and omissions / repetition, typos etc.

Then after that then it's a case of whether you want it "as is" on Wikinews or a shorter version. If you want it shortened I can have a go at shortening it to the main points.

Apart from that or any other final editorial decisions, it's close to ready from my side. I'd post it to my Science 2.0 blog in this form, after the final read through.

More soon. Robertinventor (talk) 00:45, 12 November 2018 (UTC)

@Pi zero: @Darkfrog24: @Gryllida: - done the final read through. As far as I'm concerned it is good to publish. However it is a lot to read and to review. I am happy to trim it to something shorter if that is preferred for Wikinews and publish the whole thing on Science 2.0 and my wiki where my readers would expect it. On the other hand, it is part of what makes it stand out, that it goes into the whole thing in more detail than any of the other sites, and hopefully in an interestingly readable way too. What do you think? Submit "as is", or trim?
As for the title, I suggest:
  • Sponges on Mars? We ask Stamenković about their oxygen-rich briny seeps model
Robertinventor (talk) 03:15, 12 November 2018 (UTC)
@Robertinventor: Imo this feels much too heavy on direct-quoting from the paper. I count five massive quotes from it. This is news, not an encyclopedia article. Re the headline: besides first-person and last-name-only (mentioned above), that's also two sentences. --Pi zero (talk) 12:05, 12 November 2018 (UTC)
A strategy that gets in various ideas briefly with a fairly shallow grammatical structure:
"Wikinews interviews Vlada Stamenković about oxygen-rich briny seeps on Mars, and supporting sponge-like life"
--Pi zero (talk) 12:15, 12 November 2018 (UTC)

It's okay but especially with his long name the only key word before the "fold" is oxygen-rich, doesn't mention Mars or sponges in the title. .

Wikinews interviews Vlada Stamenković about oxygen-rich ...
Vlada Stamenković and his team astonished astrobiologists with their new model, which raises the possibility of oxygen rich brines on Mars, with enough ...

I just came up with another solution above, see what you think:

  • Questions answered about Martian sponges in oxygen-rich briny seeps in Wikinews interview with Vlada Stamenković

Gets shortened to:

Questions answered about Martian sponges in oxygen-rich ...
Vlada Stamenković and his team astonished astrobiologists with their new model, which raises the possibility of oxygen rich brines on Mars, with enough ...

- hasn't got everything in the title but the snippet if they use the first para leads on into the reader in to the content of the article - the snippet can come from anywhere in the page but can often use the first para so that gives an idea. How is that now? Robertinventor (talk) 13:01, 12 November 2018 (UTC)

Okay to itallicize Wikinews in the title if that can be done here, won't make any difference to Google AFAIK, so case of whatever works well here. Robertinventor (talk)

The quotes from the paper are in the last technical section apart from one in the main article, I'm fine trimming them down, paraphrasing or shortening so will give a go at that. Robertinventor (talk) 13:05, 12 November 2018 (UTC)

Removed one of the quotes, shortened all except one of the rest, by trimming and paraphrasing, is it okay now? Robertinventor (talk) 13:17, 12 November 2018 (UTC)

Just changed oxygenated to oxygen-rich in my proposed title above Robertinventor (talk) 13:19, 12 November 2018 (UTC)

That form of inversion feels awkward; the word questions is an artificial introduction, and is the most prominent word in the construct.

Serious candidate for final choice: "Martian sponges in oxygen-rich briny seeps: Wikinews interviews Vlada Stamenković"

The headline doesn't actually get italics in it, but there's a magic word to make it to appear in italics when actually viewing the article. --Pi zero (talk) 14:24, 12 November 2018 (UTC)

Regarding the direct quotes, I see you've cut things down somewhat, but (a) I'd really like to see the quotes from the paper drastically cut back (can it go to zero?), and (b) any direct-quote from the paper should be inline surrounded by quotations marks, not offset in the style used for exclusive interview remarks. --Pi zero (talk) 14:46, 12 November 2018 (UTC)
Okay. Or:
  • "Martian sponges in oxygen-rich briny seeps: Interview of Vlada Stamenković by Wikinews"
Gets shortened to:
Martian sponges in oxygen-rich briny seeps: Interview of ...
Wikinews - 12 Nov 2018
Vlada Stamenković and his team astonished astrobiologists with their new model, which raises the possibility of oxygen rich brines on Mars, with enough ...
Okay, removed all the quotes from the paper, replaced by paraphrases. How does it look now? Robertinventor (talk) 15:35, 12 November 2018 (UTC)
@Robertinventor: Just a moment, while I rename the page. It looks much better. There's one italicized indented quote from a National Academy of Sciences report that we'll probably want to reformat as in-line. Who knows what problems may lurk, that an in-depth review will uncover; that's what in-depth review is for, after all. But it looks pretty much ready.

Regarding the headline, which I'm about to act on: Given the opportunity to use sentences rather than noun phrases, we should go for the one with the verb; headlines-should-be-sentences is a rule we bend only rarely. --Pi zero (talk) 16:16, 12 November 2018 (UTC)

Renamed. --Pi zero (talk) 16:18, 12 November 2018 (UTC)
Okay great. I will take a short break, and come back and do one more read through with a fresh eye on it as much as I can, in case I spot anything else to fix and then hit "Submit for review". Robertinventor (talk) 16:40, 12 November 2018 (UTC)

Title: Martian sponges in oxygen-rich briny seepsEdit

I didn't get a chance to read the whole thing, but the title makes it look like Vlada Stamenkovic et al. found such sponges, not that they found conditions that could have supported sponges or something similar. Maybe something more like "Martian brine may have had enough oxygen for simple life: Wikinews interv..." Darkfrog24 (talk) 23:27, 12 November 2018 (UTC)

@Darkfrog24: You are right, I agree totally, good to have another eye on it. It does suggest he found them, that there are Martian sponges. It started off as "Sponges on Mars?" with a ? and then as we worked on the title neither of us noticed the effect of leaving out the ?
Need to think some more. Robertinventor (talk) 23:32, 12 November 2018 (UTC)
"Simple" there could be confusing because "complex life" is often used to refer to single cell ilfe with a nucleus (eukaryotes) collectively with multicellular life (which is based on eukaryote cells)[7][8] so it should be something like "Simple complex life" but that's a bit of an oxymoron. Better, "simple animals" or "sponges". Also, it is present rather than past tense, they are saying that Martian brines right now may have enough oxygen for sponges. BTW though that preview tool cuts the title off mid word, in the actual Google results nowadays they truncate to whole words sadly. I think they maybe did it like that originally. I think we can leave out "enough" to shorten it while retaining the meaning, will just give this a go. Robertinventor (talk) 23:50, 12 November 2018 (UTC)
What is your proposal? --Pi zero (talk) 23:52, 12 November 2018 (UTC)
Not keen on the question mark, btw. --Pi zero (talk) 23:54, 12 November 2018 (UTC)

Working on it.

I got this first:

Martian brines may have oxygen for simple animals: Wikinews ...
Wikinews - 12 Nov 2018
Vlada Stamenković and his team astonished astrobiologists with their new model, which raises the possibility of oxygen rich brines on Mars, enough ...
Is there any way to shorten it enough to get "interviw" to the end of the title while reading naturally I wonder? I also wondered about using "ask" as a much shorter word than "interview". So ended up with:
Martian brines may have oxygen for sponges: Wikinews ask ...
Wikinews - 12 Nov 2018
Vlada Stamenković and his team astonished astrobiologists with their new model, which raises the possibility of oxygen rich brines on Mars, enough ...

Complete title might be:

Martian brines may have oxygen for sponges: Wikinews ask Vlada Stamenković to elaborate and describe his plans for the future

How does that seem, getting there perhaps? lpreview toolRobertinventor (talk) 00:05, 13 November 2018 (UTC)

Getting the "ask" into the line I think helps make it clear it is an interview - but on the other hand - I think the "simple animals" is better than "sponges" as when put like this as a statement rather than a question, then perhaps it slightly suggests they are only interested in the possibility of sponges on Mars rather than simple animals generally with sponges as an example?? Robertinventor (talk) 00:09, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
@Darkfrog24: so I just took your title and made those substitutions plus tried "ask" instead of "interview" Robertinventor (talk) 00:11, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
I think "sponges" is too specific for a title. The original commentator was just giving it as an example of what she meant by a simple animal, so why not "Martian brine may have had enough oxygen for simple animals: Wikinews interviews..."? Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:14, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
Keeping the second part very simple (interviews rather than asks stuff) seems desirable, rather than both parts being grammatically nontrivial. I'm not fond of a headline saying something may be true; perhaps
Martian brine and oxygen for simple animals: Wikinews inverviews Vlada Stamenković
--Pi zero (talk) 00:20, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
@Darkfrog24: it should be in present tense. And the thing is that Google truncates at around 62 characters and we are trying to optimize for google snippet previews in the search results - you can use the snippet preview tool here[9]. But Google no longer breaks off mid word. So has to truncate to the nearest word. So, removing the "had" as it is present tense, and rewriting a little to emphasize the present:
Perhaps Martian brine has enough oxygen for simple animals: ...
Wikinews - 12 Nov 2018
Vlada Stamenković and his team astonished astrobiologists with their new model, which raises the possibility of oxygen rich brines on Mars, enough ...
Could add a bit more to the title BTW optionally, helps make it clear once they click through that it goes beyond what the first news stories covered:
* Perhaps Martian brine has enough oxygen for simple animals: Wikinews interviews Vlada Stamenković to elaborate their model and describe future plans
Main thing is it doesn't make it clear it's an interview. Sponges is okay but it has to make it clear it is only an example as you say :). Robertinventor (talk) 00:32, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
@Pi zero: sorry - I posted reply to you mid edit, trying out your title next Robertinventor (talk) 00:33, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
Martian brine and oxygen for simple animals: Wikinews ...
Wikinews - 12 Nov 2018
Vlada Stamenković and his team astonished astrobiologists with their new model, which raises the possibility of oxygen rich brines on Mars, enough ...
sadly is just a bit too long to get in the "interviews"
In this case though - the story is that it may be true. For Mars astrobiology that it may be true is a big story - before nobody else thought it was possible at all. The main uncertainties would be with the dynamics - how long does it take for the oxygen to get into the brines? The brines go through day night and seasonal cycles with huge extremes, 75 C day / night variation during the first few sols of Curiosity for instance - and huge variations in atmospheric pressure too, which makes the kinetics especially demanding to model (BTW maybe I should briefly mention that, it's background to the question, why it's especially important as a question to ask about Mars). And then - they only know the composition of the salts exactly from a few spots on Mars. There is a lot of extrapolation going on, but it is still our beset guess at present and it is just the way it has to be at present when it costs billions of dollars to fly a new mission to Mars and half the missions to the surface crash. Robertinventor (talk) 00:42, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
(hundreds of millions or billions of dollars - $2.5 billion for Curiosity, a little short of $400 million for Pheonix). Robertinventor (talk) 00:45, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
In short I think it's best if it has "may" or something similar in the title because it isn't proof yet though it is very promising. And should be present tense. The idea that Mars had enough oxygen in the past for animals, billions of years ago, when the atmosphere was thicker, is not too surprising nowadays because of those manganese oxides -but that it has it enough right now was very surprising with such a thin atmosphere. Robertinventor (talk) 00:53, 13 November 2018 (UTC)

I've just done an edit to add a bit about the challenge of studying kinematics with such huge differences of temperature and pressure, and about how the surprsing thing is oxygen now rather than oxygen as such (that fits quite well in the section about the manganeze oxides which otherwise was a bit of a non sequitor, helps tie it together).

On title, this is my best so far try at incorporating your ideas so far @Darkfrog24: and @Pi zero::

  • Perhaps Martian brine has enough oxygen for simple animals: Wikinews interviews Vlada Stamenković to elaborate on their model and describe future plans

Truncated to

  • Perhaps Martian brine has enough oxygen for simple animals

I feel it is better to re-arrange with the "Perhaps" to emphasize present - come to think of it some of the headlines didn't emphasize the present tense of it. Those who haven't been following this particular story keenly could read them and think it is about past animal llife on Mars. Surprisingly they are saying that right now and for the last 5 million years it has been as oxygen rich probably as it has been for billions of years. Times of thicker atmosphere warm up the brines and so makes them less oxygen rich.

So that's my favourite so far, unless anyone here has some new ideas :). I don't think it is going to be especially useful to squeeze the title down to get "Wikinews" in unless you also get in "Interviews" and it is just a couple of characters too short for that in just about all our ideas. "Asks" did fit in but we thought it wasn't the best way to go. So that's my personal favourite right now, or some variation, pending new ideas :). Robertinventor (talk) 01:28, 13 November 2018 (UTC)

We're all clear that the headline has to be clear that the life isn't known to be there, but that doesn't change my point: never present as news the fact that something might be true; it's just not cricket. So the challenge is to not make it sound like life has been discovered on Mars and also not present a might-be as news. --Pi zero (talk) 02:14, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
Well - I don't know. Your two requiremnts seem almost to be contradictory. If you don't make it sound like life has been discovered then it has to be a "might-be". So, I think you must be talking in terms of a gray scale sliding emphasis rather than a binary "might be" / "is".
One way to make a might be sound very positive is the ? So "Sponges on Mars?" correctly shows the situation - the astrobiologists won't be thinking "Oh might it be, might it not be?" Well some will, being professionally skeptical, checking the calculations etc. But mainly I think it will be "Oh if there is oxygen on Mars what are the implications for life there?"
In that sense my "Perhaps" is too tentative... Can there be another way? This isn't it yet probably, it's the sort of thing I might use on my blog perhaps, but I have more informal titles there with fragmentary sentences and two sentences to a title etc - but may suggest some ideas - the idea is that it's like poetic expression of a broken thought for the first half of the title:
  • If Martian brines have oxygen for simple animals ...: Wikinews ask Vlada Stamenković to elaborate on their model and describe future plans
If Martian brines have oxygen for simple animals ... Wikinews ...
Wikinews - 12 Nov 2018
Vlada Stamenković and his team astonished astrobiologists with their new model, which raises the possibility of oxygen rich brines on Mars, enough ...
To be clear - I'm not suggesting this as a title for Wikinews as it doesn't seem to fit your approach and style for titles - though it's one that I might try running with - but putting it out here in case it suggests ideas. Robertinventor (talk) 02:33, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
There are ways to express indefiniteness without making the verb conditional. Words like "possible", "possibility", "capable", for some examples. --Pi zero (talk) 02:43, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
What's tricky about these words, of course, is that they lean toward the verbose side. --Pi zero (talk) 02:44, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
Okay, "can" instead of "may" I think is more clearly present tense and a bit more towards the definite side of indefinite. After sleeping on it, I think I may have got it :).
First, I found out that Googles previw seems now to have a maximum of 69 characters, not including the ..., e.g. - this is someone else's title and is one of the inaccurate ones, but it is the longest I found before the ...:
  • ' 'Mars could support alien life in brine under its surface, scientists reveal' [10]
truncated to:
  • ' 'Mars could support alien life in brine under its surface, scientists ...'
so that snippet tool is a little out of date and we have an extra 7 to play with:
  • Simple animals can live in Martian brines: Wikinews interviews Vlada Stamenković, who elaborates on their oxygen solubility model, and describes future plans
truncates to:
Simple animals can live in Martian brines: Wikinews interviews Vlada: ...
Wikinews - 12 Nov 2018
Vlada Stamenković and his team astonished astrobiologists with their new model, which raises the possibility of oxygen rich brines on Mars, enough ...
- though 'can' may lean a bit too much towards definiteness
I tried 'may' and it seemed to work, somehow, in the context, a bit more shaded towards definite somehow:
  • Simple animals may live in Martian brines: Wikinews interviews Vlada Stamenković, who elaborates on their oxygen solubility model, and describes future plans
truncates to:
Simple animals may live in Martian brines: Wikinews interviews Vlada: ...
Wikinews - 12 Nov 2018
Vlada Stamenković and his team astonished astrobiologists with their new model, which raises the possibility of oxygen rich brines on Mars, enough ...
What do you think? @Darkfrog24: @Gryllida: @Pi zero: Robertinventor (talk) 12:34, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
'May' also gives it just a bit of alliteration which seems to help in a title somehow. I try to get a bit in if I can. Robertinventor (talk) 12:37, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
What I think is, that I'm not successfully getting across the nature of the problem to be solved here. Verb can doesn't decisively eliminate the problem with may, and what's wanted is to decisively eliminate the problem rather than watering it down. I continue to worry that this is leaching energy from stuff that matters. I'm quite familiar with the desire to get details right, I've lived my whole life with it, and living with it for so long I've also learned its destructive power; this doesn't feel like progress, it feels like allowing a serious news article to be suffocated in a mire of trivia.
Martian brines able to support simple animals: Wikinews interviews Vlada Stamenković
--Pi zero (talk) 14:16, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
Well it is not totally true if you put it like that - that's the problem. Either you are accurate and say 'may' or 'can' or you are inaccurate and say 'able'. Because the scientific research doesn't actually prove those oxygen levels exist - it's a model, it's a good one but we don't even know for sure there are brines in the polar regions and they have to study the dynamics if they are there, how they behave during day - night and seasonal cycles and the final test would be direct confirmation of oxygen in the brines. I.e. the "may" is what the story is about and in this context it is a major breakthrough and definitely news worthy as we see from all the stories about it in the news. And - I don't really see why Wikinews has to strengthen 'may' to 'able' when the other news stories say 'could'. None of the titles in a search, say, for "Mars sponges" strengthen it to 'able' or similar - they are all qualified [11]
  • Sponges from Mars? Study suggests water on the ... - The Conversation'
  • Mars could be a great place to live—for sponges | Popular Scienc
  • Salty Water Under the Surface of Mars Could Have Enough Oxygen ...
  • Sponges from Mars? Study suggests water on the ... - Yahoo News UK
  • Salty water on Mars could host Earth-like life - National Geographic
  • Salty Martian Water Could Have Enough Oxygen to Support Life
  • Life On Mars: Red Planet Might Have Enough Oxygen For Microbes ...
Could, can, might, may, suggests is the story in this case.
It's no problem from my side, continuing to work on the article and I find working on a title stimulating not ennervating. It sometimes suggests new ways of doing the article and I've actually come up with a couple of improvements in the article during this discussion at least partly because of it. Robertinventor (talk) 14:29, 13 November 2018 (UTC)

My preference is for 'may'. I think 'can' is a little too strong.

  • Simple animals may live in Martian brines: Wikinews interviews Vlada Stamenković, who elaborates on their oxygen solubility model, and describes future plans

You can leave out the last part of the title if it is too long, though I like it because it helps explain what is distinctive about our story right way in the title.

  • Simple animals may live in Martian brines: Wikinews interviews Vlada Stamenković

truncates at 69 characters to

  • Simple animals may live in Martian brines: Wikinews interviews Vlada ...

Robertinventor (talk) 14:36, 13 November 2018 (UTC)


  • Sponges in Martian brines? Wikinews interviews Vlada Stamenković

which gets the whole title in without the ... if you were okay with a two sentence format, that's as definite as it can go I think.

  • Simple animals in Martian brines? Wikinews interviews Vlada Stamenković

that would also fit as a single line without the ... (they let the title go a bit longer if there is no trailing ...) Robertinventor (talk) 14:45, 13 November 2018 (UTC)

I feel you are taking something easy and demanding that it be made impossible by piling extraneous requirements on it; and I in turn, who should know better, am cooperating in walking into the trap. --Pi zero (talk) 15:37, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
Tell me, yes or no, whether this will do:
Simple animals may live in Martian brines: Wikinews interviews Vlada Stamenković
If it won't do, tell me succinctly why not. --Pi zero (talk) 15:40, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
Oh, nothing like that at all, I don't do things like that. Haven't piled anything on top, it is a requirement all along because of the nature of the research, that it is not established, it's a 'may' rather than 'able' as all those example titles I showed also support. In the last discussion I hadn't noticed that by removing the ? that we were suggesting it as established, as @Darkfrog24: correctly pointed out - so that was just a mistake on my part - not adding an extra requirement. Said the last title was okay just because I hadn't noticed.
Yes that's fine, go for it, I gave that title as one of my two options in my last comment. If you also accept it then we are good to go :). Robertinventor (talk) 16:25, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
Sorry for the confusion and not being clear in what I said. Robertinventor (talk) 16:28, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
Also just to say I have a bit more minor work to do on the article. I hadn't noticed until today that the sources auto link to a wikipedia page for the publisher. Need to add pubtarget lines for many of them. Done about half. When I finish that then I think it is ready for review. I've been working on it during this discussion. I've also added comments to the source text to help link paragraphs to sources. Robertinventor (talk) 16:32, 13 November 2018 (UTC)

In case for some reason that's not clear, the answer is "Yes, go for it". That title is absolutely fine. Robertinventor (talk) 17:01, 13 November 2018 (UTC)

@Robertinventor: In about two minutes I'm going to rename the article. Hopefully that won't create one or another kind of mess. --Pi zero (talk) 17:27, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
@Robertinventor:   Done. --Pi zero (talk) 17:32, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
@Pi zero: Great, looks good to me :). Robertinventor (talk) 17:50, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
Heh. I can see a flaw in it. But the only way to produce news is to try, commit, and move on. --Pi zero (talk) 17:54, 13 November 2018 (UTC)


Hi @Pi zero:, a minor issue - the pubtarget= doesn't work as I expected, it's for a page on Wikipedia. It's okay for ones that do have Wikipedia web pages. What do I do about ones that don't? E.g. "Annals of Geophysics" to take one example. Most of them don't have Wikipedia separate pages. I could just set pubtarget= to blank to make it red linked, is that the solution? I'll do that for now unless there is some other solution. Robertinventor (talk) 16:44, 13 November 2018 (UTC)

pubtarget is an exception (the exception, that I can think of) to our rule that we don't provide a wikilink without a target. If there's no Wikipedia target, we can allow it to point to where a Wikipedia article ought to be. In some cases we do some fancy footwork to make things come out as reasonably as possible, such as using pubtarget to avoid pointing to the wrong thing on Wikipedia even if there isn't a "right" thing there. Occasionally (though not usually with English-language pubishers) we may even send a wikilink to a page on a different-language project. --Pi zero (talk) 17:25, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
Oh okay, then I'll edit them to reasonably named Wikipedia pages. E.g. "Annals of Geophysics" Robertinventor (talk) 17:44, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
I have gone through it again and found some repetition, removed it, re-arranged a little. I feel it needs one more read through for structure / copy editing, then I'll hit review. One change I did is to move Vlada's photograph to the top of the page and I placed it before {{Space}} in the source code. Has no effect on the layout, but ensures it becomes the og:image when the page is saved which then makes it the default image for sharing on Facebook which makes a big difference on that platform. Robertinventor (talk) 19:42, 13 November 2018 (UTC)

Image attribution added (not required for images which are in public domain)Edit

--Gryllida (talk) 20:16, 13 November 2018 (UTC)

Thanks :). Didn't know you needed to do it, thought it was enough to click through and see it on Wikimedia commons, thanks for doing it Robertinventor (talk) 22:33, 13 November 2018 (UTC)

A few image notesEdit

I haven't read through the article in detail, but I looked at the images and have a few notes. I hope it's ok to do this.

I don't understand the recurrent slope linnae animation. What parts of the picture are the recurrent slope linnae? The pointy bits to the left? The pointy bits to the right? The light bits? The dark bits? Also, I assume this is on Mars but the caption should say so.

Some of the image captions lack clarity, like the "Western Scarp of Olympus Mons". It should say it's on Mars. Similarly, the "Unfortunately, the Phoenix lander wasn't equipped to analyze them in that location. " image: I know "this location" is the legs, but that's not clear. Also, I think there is some controversy around whether it was actually water there, so it would be better to attribute the statement that it is water, rather than state it in Wikinews' voice. Another unclear image is "Possible 20-km wide subglacial lake close to the Martian south pole. " which refers to a dark blue area that I can't see.

Some of the images seem unnecessary, like the World Ocean Atlas image of Earth. We're talking about Mars, so I don't think that an image of something on Earth is all that useful. Also the Windjana image - does it add to the understanding of the article or is it decorative? I'm not sure how much "decoration" is expected on an article like this but my initial thoughts are that it is unnecessary. Another such image is the "Chemical laptop" image, which isn't mentioned in the text (and the researchers it refers to are unclear). I do think all three of these images could be removed. Ca2james (talk) 20:50, 13 November 2018 (UTC)

  • recurrent slope linnae animation - the dark streaks that flow up and to the left. It's more obvious if you click through to Wikimedia commons. What I'll do here is do a clipped gif animation zoom in on the streaks to make them easier to see in a smaller thumbnail. I can label it as being on Mars, thought it was obvious from context. Same also for Olympus Mons. Do we really have to say on every image that it is on Mars? I can do that if needs be, I will give it a go.
  • With the Phoenix droplets there was controversy when they were first discovered back in 2008-9. But don't think there is any other theory for them now. I don't think we should attribute it to any individual - I think it would be hard to find anyone nowadays who doesn't think they are liquid brines, especially after Nilton Renno's team's experiment. It's the leading theory, as I say. Saying it is the leading theory doesn't put it in the voice of Wikinews. I will make it clear that it is the legs.
  • With the subglacial lake - the blue area is a bit small to see at that resolution, again I can do a clipped version for Wikimedia commons It is in the middle of the coloured patch at bottom middle
  • The World Ocean Atlas image of Earth is a map of O2 concentration. It is to show how the O2 concentration in surface sea water compared to the values possible for Mars. I will edit the caption to make it clearer
  • The Windjama image is the first discovery of manganese dioxides on Mars. This is discussed in the text right next to it. I will make this clearer.
  • The "Chemical laptop" is an example of an 'in situ' instrument we can send to Mars. I can add "such as the Chemical laptop" perhaps to the main text to make this clearer. There are many such, I just thought that showing an image of one would help the reader to give an idea of what sort of thing we are talking about. Without going so far as to do a list of them - at least a dozen or so different instruments at various stages, a couple already flight ready, and accepted for flight but descoped.
Thanks for your comments which improve the article. Robertinventor (talk) 21:49, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
@Ca2james: Hopefully all sorted out now, do you see anything else to fix? Robertinventor (talk) 22:34, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
The RSL text is clearer now that the caption says it's the dark streaks. I don't think that cropping the image really helps show what they are. I personally think the previous animation was better but the new one is fine.
The blue spot on subglacial lake is still really hard to find. Is this image absolutely necessary? If so, then maybe the description should say it's in the middle of the coloured bit, not just the lower middle part of the image. Also, "he" and "their" in the caption are unclear.
I do think it's important to say that these are images from Mars because those descriptions could refer to the moon or earth and so are ambiguous. And I still think the three images I identified as unnecessary are unnecessary and don't add to the article.
Finally, per the style guide, image captions should be complete sentences. The implications are that they should all end with a period/full stop. Ca2james (talk) 00:11, 14 November 2018 (UTC)

@Pi zero: I'm going to leave it a little longer before hitting "Review" in case anyone else comes up with something as there have been a fair few things to fix today, and since if I understand right we can afford a bit more leeway as there is no actual clock ticking, as the date of the scoop is date of publication. Probably hit review tomorrow. It is ready for review as far as I'm concerned but don't want to be editing it mid-review or have post review edits to do. Robertinventor (talk) 22:37, 13 November 2018 (UTC)

Apart of course from whatever fixes are needed as a result of the review itself. Robertinventor (talk) 22:38, 13 November 2018 (UTC)

@Ca2james: Glad the RSL text is sorted out. Okay whether it made them easier to spot or not, cropping shows a little more detail, especially, the broadening is easier to see. People may have different ideas about images, depending on how visually orientated they are. Some find it helps, or at least adds to the interest of the article, to see images of the things the text is talking about. They are all directly relevant to the text. Whether they should be included I think is a matter of individual judgement. Let's see what the reviewer says. Fixed the punctuation style issue. Anything else? Robertinventor (talk) 00:45, 14 November 2018 (UTC)

Oh, I cropped the subglacial lake iimage harder to make the blue area larger. I think want to include at least part of the south pole to give an idea of its location. Also edited the text to make it clearer. Robertinventor (talk) 00:47, 14 November 2018 (UTC)

The changes are better. Yes, the reviewer will provide feedback on whether the images are needed or not. Thanks! Ca2james (talk) 02:09, 14 November 2018 (UTC)


"Vlada Stamenković and his colleagues astonished astrobiologists with their new model" isn't accurate. The sources say that the study offers a surprising result but do not say that astrobiologists themselves are astonished, (not least because the sources are about the study itself, not the astrobiologists' reaction to it). It also reads as a bit like click-bait to me because "astonished" reads as sensationalist hyperbole. Perhaps "Vlada Stamenković and his colleagues developed a new model" would do? Ca2james (talk) 20:50, 13 November 2018 (UTC)

Astonished is an assertion of internal state that we cannot verify. --Pi zero (talk) 21:02, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
Oh okay. I wonder how else to introduce it. We do have Vlada's own reaction in the quote just below where he says
"We were absolutely flabbergasted. I went back to recalculate everything like five different times to make sure it's a real thing."
But we don't have a quote from astrobiologists and anyway as plural then it implies they all were astonished. Some would be skeptical, or have many other reactions. I want to convey that it is a really dramatic new result. I see what you mean here. Needs some thought. Do you have any alternative suggestions? I will think about it. Robertinventor (talk) 21:33, 13 November 2018 (UTC)
Tried out your suggestion "developed" - it works fine. Case of less is more I think, the title is already interesting enough, and a bit down the page we have "flabbergasted" don't really need an extra "astonished". Robertinventor (talk) 22:27, 13 November 2018 (UTC)

New section: 'Background information - why oxygen is so significant for multicellular life'Edit

On looking it over I felt this would help the reader - but it's optional background information. I'll include it when I republish this in my own blog. Thought I might as well include it here as well, and leave it to the reviewer to decide whether to include it or not in the published story. I'll add a comment to the source saying this. Robertinventor (talk) 17:49, 14 November 2018 (UTC)


As I understand the interview reply happened on November 9, the latest it can be published is within the week (by November 16th) and as it is really hard and long to review, it may be desirable to submit it for review as soon as practically possible.

However I think the interview by national geographic -- its date needs to be indicated and I am not sure it needs to be so close to the top, see here.

-Gryllida (talk) 22:46, 14 November 2018 (UTC)

@Gryllida: I've just submitted it for review just now, coincidentally at about the same time as your comment (spent a bit of time editing it in preview first). I asked if there was a date it had to be done by above and @Pi zero: at first thought I had published it on my wiki, but I said it was hidden from indexing and then removed it. After that I got the impression that the date of the scoop is the date of publication rather than the date of the interview itself.
But I may have misunderstood something. I can add the dates to the National Geographic and SA reviews. I put that one near the top because it fitted there. I am guessing that it is surely okay to do small changes such as fixes like that - so I will add the date right away. The reviewer can come in on whether it needs to be moved or something. Robertinventor (talk) 23:07, 14 November 2018 (UTC)
The 7-day cut-off is part of the standards for synthesis freshness. An interview may last longer (depending on circumstances, of course). However, I agree it's important to move along, especially since it is one of those really massive review tasks that happen quite rarely, and therefore needs maximal schedule maneuvering room for review. --Pi zero (talk) 23:19, 14 November 2018 (UTC)
@Gryllida: Okay, have swapped the first two quotes from VS around so the Wikinews one comes first was a simple enough change I thought. And have dated all the previous interviews all were oct 22 Robertinventor (talk) 23:23, 14 November 2018 (UTC)
@Pi zero: Okay thanks. I've hit "Review" so it is over to the reviewers now. All ready to go as far as I'm concerned. Will be interested to find out what a review turns up. Hopefully is worth it :). Thanks! Robertinventor (talk) 23:26, 14 November 2018 (UTC)

Format (to Robertinventor)Edit

I don't fully follow. After "We were absolutely flabbergasted. I went back to recalculate everything like five different times to make sure it's a real thing." the next paragraphs are not indented. Are they a part of the quote still, or not? --Gryllida (talk) 06:52, 16 November 2018 (UTC)]]

They are not part of the quote. They are editorial commentary.
Oh,I see, it's repetition. I didn't notice the repetition, it is a shorter version of the sentence
Yet the result of their modeling was clear, these minute traces of oxygen should be able to get into salty seeps of water on or near its surface, at levels high enough to support at least some forms of microbial life that require oxygen, and possibly higher life too, maybe even simple sponges.
I will just remove it. Robertinventor (talk) 09:02, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
Also, just now, I also noticed an error of voice later in the article. When describing the Catling et al research then I gave it in the voice of Wikinews, using "it seems" twice. Fixed that: edit summary:
/* Background information - why oxygen is so significant for multicellular life */ Changed "it seems it couldn't get very large" to "there is some earlier research that may suggest it couldn't get very large". Reason: this sentence is stating the opinion of the authors of that paper and shouldn't be in the voice of Wikinews.
Robertinventor (talk) 09:09, 16 November 2018 (UTC)

I am not sure editorial material is needed. In my experience it usually was a part of the question so that by the time the answer is presented, the reader already knows enough information to interpret it.

However, if the editorial commentary is needed, it needs to be somehow be formatted differently. Perhaps with a '(((WN)))' icon followed by '(editorial commentary)' followed by your text. I am not sure what is the best way to approach this: the topic is advanced, and the interview is advanced also. I would be glad someone else's input on this. Gryllida (talk) 23:56, 16 November 2018 (UTC)

Sorry, what do you mean by editorial commentary? Or do you mean by that all the article except the parts where I am actually asking him the interview questions?
If so then the questions I asked him were ones that assumed a lot of background that the average reader wouldn't have. For instance
 ((WN )) The temperatures for the highest levels of oxygen are really low -133 °C, so, is the idea that this oxygen would be retained when the brines warm up to more habitable temperatures during the day or seasonally? Or would the oxygen be lost as it warms up? Or - is the idea that it has to be some exotic biochemistry that works only at ultra low temperatures like Dirk Schulze-Makuch's life based on hydrogen peroxide and perchlorates internal to the cells as antifreeze?
VS: The options are both: first, cool oxygen-rich environments do not need to be habitats. They could be reservoirs packed with a necessary nutrient that can be accessed from a deeper and warmer region. Second, the major reason for limiting life at low temperature is ice nucleation, which would not occur in the type of brines that we study.
How much of that would the average reader understand if it was not introduced with the background material? They won't know about Dirk Schulze-Makuch's model, or the cold limit of life, or they ideas of geothermal heating, or the extreme temperature and humidity variations between the Martian day and night, or the imporance of oxygen for life.
It is like - the reader is missing nine tenths of the story and its significance if you don't explain these things, it seems to me.
Having said that - if the decision of Wikinews editors was that we don't need to explain these things, just leave the reader to guess things they don't know, to have a rough idea but not a clear idea of what it is all about - then - that would be what other journalists usually do. The distinctive thing about the way I write my articles is that I go into details such as this and that's what my readers value my writing for. It is possible that the detailed type of article I write - and this is by no means over detailed for me - I often go into a lot more detail than this - it may not be a good match for Wikinews. It's up to you really. If so I'll publish the whole article on my own wiki and blog and we can do a trimmed down version here. And can have some discussion of what sort of article you want on Wikinews and how to trim it down.
If it is more a matter of formatting, I think it would be confusing to lead every paragraph with a Wikinews icon, because they are not part of the actual interview itself. I did not show Vlada all that. All he saw was the bit that is marked with the Wikinews icon. The rest is background information that I didn't need to say to him because he of course knows it already. Robertinventor (talk) 00:38, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
We could even have a Wikinews article that is just the interview, with a brief introduction and only as much editorial content as is needed to explain the most basic ideas needed to understand each question - and then I can cite that interview in my longer article elsewhere and elaborate and explain what he was talking about and interleave it with things from other interviews as I did in my longer article here.
It is all up to you :). And a matter of what audience you are trying to attract and writing for, things like that. Robertinventor (talk) 00:42, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
I have three remarks to make here. Fwiw.
  • I haven't reviewed this article yet. I remark on that to point out that I'll only be making general remarks atm; things I say might not apply to the current article, and the current article might, for all I know, have major problems I should be mentioning but am not yet aware of.
  • Anything called "editorial commentary" sounds, on the face of it, like a violation of our neutrality policy. We'll see what I think of the reality when I study it in the article.
  • Our articles are written for an international audience. That does not mean "dumbing down" anything, but it does mean we should be explaining it clearly enough that an intelligent but not specifically informed reader can understand as much of it as they're inclined to read.
--Pi zero (talk) 01:05, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
Hi Robertinventor,
1) When the interview begins (at the first (((WN))) point), the reader assumes that any following content is a part of the interview.
Here is an example:
"(((WN))) Does your paper's value of up to 0.2 moles of oxygen per cubic meter, the same as Earth's sea water mean that there could potentially be life on Mars as active as our sea worms or even fish?
(((VS))): Mars is such a different place than the Earth and we still need to do so much more work before we can even start to speculate.
In their model, Oxygen gets into the brines at the poles so readily because they may reach extremely cold temperatures. These are far below the usual cold limit of life. It is not a hard limit because life gets slower and slower at lower temperatures to the point where individual microbes have lifetimes of millennia. Such life is hard to study, to see whether it is active and able to reproduce at those temperatures or dormant. But the usual limit cited is -20 °C. That's well above the lowest temperatures studied in the paper which go down to -133 °C.
Dirk Schulze-Makuch has proposed that Martian life might evolve an exotic metabolism with the perchlorates of Mars taking the place of the salts inside the cells of Earth life. This would have advantages on Mars, with the brines inside their own cells acting as an anti-freeze to protect them against extreme cold. Also with their salts being so hygroscopic, they may help them scavenge water from the atmosphere and their surroundings."
Which of these paragraphs were provided by VS and which ones were provided by you? If they were all by VS, they all ought to be intended in the same way. If some of them are in Wikinews's own voice, this needs to be indicated in some way (I do not know which).
2) "In their model, " at the beginning of a paragraph is unclear. In whose model? Gryllida (talk) 02:18, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
@Pi zero: That's okay I understand about neutrality. It is not an op-ed. I wrote from a neutral POV. All the text is paraphrased from various sources or summarizing material in the sources or is explaining things that are common knowledge for anyone familiar with Mars research, for instance, that fresh water is not stable anywhere on Mars except in places like the depths of the Hellas basin where it is close to boiling point.
Where it is saying something that is a point of view of a particular author - usually Vlada and his team - or else - Catling et al - I attribute it to the relevant author. Nothing there is expressing views attributable to me. I recently noticed that I made a mistake that the article said "it seems that" describing a view of Catling et al in the voice of Wikinews. It was just a slip and I fixed that. If there is anything else like that I've missed, it's a matter of rewriting it to make sure it is clear whose view I am paraphrasing or describing in whatever section it is. To assist with reviewing this I have added comments before many of the paragraphs to tell the reviewer where the material is taken from so they can look up the source I used and check it is summarized correctly.
@Pi zero: With my blog posts too, I write in a way that anyone that anyone should understand who has basic numeracy. For instance I never have mol / m^-3 except in direct quotes which are all removed. I say moles per cubic meter, write it out in full each time. I convert the numbers with 10 taken to negative powers to decimal points. I have converted the likely to be unfamiliar moles per cubic meter to milligrams per liter. I include a few more numbers perhaps than some articles do. But that's about it. Doesn't assume a high level of understanding of either maths or science. In practice I have many readers of my articles who are not especially scientifically literate and who enjoy them for my blog. They don't seem to be put off by the occasional numbers. Robertinventor (talk) 03:10, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
@Gryllida: Oh I understand now. That makes total sense. Okay fine I will add that - just to the first paragraph after each of VL's indented comments. That should do the trick. I will do that right away as a simple formatting thing and you can see what you make of it, thanks. Robertinventor (talk) 03:14, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
@Pi zero: and @Gryllida: I've done it as:  ((WN )) (background information):
Did it like that because (editorial comment) suggests it is an op-ed which it is not. How does that seem? Any better phrase than "Background information"? Robertinventor (talk) 03:28, 17 November 2018 (UTC)

Preliminary remarksEdit

Re the lede. Other than the word "voluntary" versus "volunteer" (which I fixed), it's contains pretty much all the facts, and does so briefly, but... lacks punch. As a general-audience reader knowing nothing about the article (which is the mindset to work from; so the lede stands on its own rather than depending on the headline), I start in, first I hit the word "model" and I'm not sure what sort of model it would be or what it would be a model of; and then I keep going for quite a bit of increasing grammatical and semantic complexity before finding out what the general subject is — when I finally hit the word "Mars", way at the end of the first clause. Recalling a quote from Arthur Brisbane, the first sentence should "hit [the] reader between the eyes". I'm going to have to think about what that calls for, here. As I say, the length is nicely under control, the information content is pretty much on target. --Pi zero (talk) 15:04, 19 November 2018 (UTC)

Overall, I see some stylistic difficulties. Need to study the whole more, before suggesting (or taking) action. There's something askew about the manner of presentation. With only a few very limited exceptions, we don't present things in an offset manner — such as indented block quotes, or tables, or bulleted lists — but instead integrate everything into running text. A very specific exception is made for interviews that are made up —entirely— of alternating question-and-answer. That question-and-answer style doesn't mix easily with other text, and we don't ever use the same style for quotes from elsehwere as that would be rather like block-quoting and additionally would come across as if we were not distinguishing between other's interviews and ours. There's also something alarmingly encyclopedic about those later sections. But I need to study it all more to figure what's really going on and what to —as I say— recommend or do. --Pi zero (talk) 15:58, 19 November 2018 (UTC)
@Pi zero: Okay thanks for your preliminary remarks and here are some preliminary responses: on the first para, how about our try out titles, the rejects. After all the whole idea of the title is to have some "punch". Using some ideas from the title rejects, we could try a first sentence something like
"Could there be sponges on Mars? Vlada Stamenković and his colleagues developed a new oxygen solubility model for Martian brines which left them 'flabbergasted' when it predicted oxygen levels high enough for complex life, even simple animals such as sponges. One of our volunteer reporters for Wikinews caught up with him in an email interview to find out more about their research and their future plans."
There the "flabbergasted" is a direct quote from them, so not speculating on an internal state. I think it may help add punch plus sponges are something concrete to engage people's interest because everyone knows what a sponge is, it's not an abstract idea. That may be helpful in a grounding way. How does that sound for the first para?
The extensive background information is just my style for such articles as you can tell if you look at my blog posts on Science 20 and my many answers on Quora. My readers like it. I will publish it in this form myself but you can remove as much of that as you like. There is a certain minimum amount would be needed to give the reader some context but I can help with that if you want some of the paragraphs or sections of it trimmed down.
The last section particularly Background information - why oxygen is so significant for multicellular life is absolutely fine to just remove. There is a source text comment saying it is optional. No impairment in understanding of the article, it expands on the earlier short para: The significance of oxygen is that it permits a more energy intensive metabolism and perhaps even true multicellular animal life such as simple sponges. Almost all complex multicellular life uses oxygen. for readers who may be interested in technical details.
As for formatting, whatever is best. I don't have strong views on formatting. Go with anything you think works so long as it doesn't confuse the reader in some way which I'd comment on based on content. Robertinventor (talk) 22:18, 19 November 2018 (UTC)
(Sorry it's taking me so long to get to this properly.)

I'll keep in mind the invitation to remove, but I suspect removal isn't what's needed here; we're not looking to do a poorer job of informing our readers. We want a smoothly flowing inverted pyramid, and there is room in such a structure for background (down near the bottom, as shown in that nifty image you'll find at the link — an image provided, interestingly enough, by the US Navy). So this is more likely to be a surgical tweak. --Pi zero (talk) 22:43, 19 November 2018 (UTC)

Oh okay interesting. I look forward to your other comments. And, that's okay. It is no problem of timing from my end. Whenever it's ready is fine. No pressure here to finish I can do my blog post at any time, the story is still topical as one of the top astrobiology stories of this year. Robertinventor (talk) 23:13, 19 November 2018 (UTC)

Scoop receivedEdit

Documentation has been received via scoop. The rule, always, on original reporting documentation is, provide more than needed; don't aim for sufficiency. Emails provided privately via scoop can contain details that would not be appropriate to share publicly (such as private email addresses, for example). --Pi zero (talk) 03:57, 26 November 2018 (UTC)

Review of revision 4447746 [Not ready]Edit

@Pi zero:

  • Attribution to Wikipedia - I have included the cite they use in the text comment now. I know Wikipedia is often unreliable but on this matter they used a reliable source. But do we then have to add all the cites for background information to the background information section even when it is commonly established knowledge that everyone accepts such as the composition of the Mars atmosphere? It might be in the paper as well.
  • I can fix rhetorical questions if needed, this is Wikinews style as I'm sure I've seen rhetorical questions in other news articles and didn't know it was a requirement here. I felt it made the article seem more lively. What is the issue with rhetorical questions?

say: >"So, why is their research about briny seeps rather than fresh water? "

-> "One might wonder why their research looks into briny seeps rather than fresh water."

Does that fix that issue?

  • I don't know what you mean about telling the reader what to believe. Can you give an example? I can't see anything that I say in the voice of Wikinews that is not widely established as the scientific view. I could say "However, scientific research shows that salty brines can be liquid at much lower temperatures" or whatever, go through qualifying all the things I say apparently in the voice of Wikinews with qualifications to make it clear that it is based on established scientific research. Or some other way to indicate this. Is this is what you are saying? It is sort of like "Paris is the capital of France", so uncontroversial that you don't need to say who is your source, the entire field is unanimous on these things. Wherever it is something where there is a possiblity of differences of view I say so.
  • I can also avoid bridging words. Again not sure why this is a requirement, can you say a bit more?
  • For pronouns, I can do that but do you mean whenever I start a para "They" that I should say "The researchers" or some such? It is a bit clumsy but I can do that if that is what is needed.
  • I have added a short sentence to the first para, "The details are described in their published paper in Nature."

It is easy to fix the indents, rhetorical question, and bridging words if that is all that is needed. The pronouns can be a bit clumsy but can do it. But I have no idea what you mean by telling the reader what to believe.

I'd like to publish this myself if it is not suiyable for Wikinews. Is it fixable in your view or should I just abandon it and publish it in my own wiki and blog? Robertinventor (talk) 15:50, 27 November 2018 (UTC)

I don't understand the bridging words. 'Yet' - a natural rephrasingn would be 'However' or 'Even with those low concentrations' or some such. There is a connection between the two sentences, a contrast, the oxygen levels in the atmosphere are low, yet the brines in their model have high levels of oxygen. It can be all one sentence, just change the . before 'yet' to a semicolon. Apart from that I don't see how to fix it. It just is a case of two sentences that are bridged together so if you separate them out into two sentences for easier reading, then you need bridging words. What am I missing? Robertinventor (talk) 15:59, 27 November 2018 (UTC)

I've done a much shortened version in my user space.

User:Robertinventor/short interview

It seems the best way to deal with a pervasive problem that I can't see for myself to make it as short as possible, so there is less to fix. Of the parts I have left out, the top priority part I would really like to add back in is to explain why they are looking at brines rather than fresh water. But it could be run without that. Perhaps we could use this as a starting point? Is this okay? If so then maybe we can add more in or just run it as is and I can comment linking to the longer version in the Astrobiology wiki in "have your say"? I have fixed all the issues you mention AFAIK, we could just swap this into the main article and then I put the current main article into my wiki when we are ready to publish. We can shorten it further if needed if this is still not suitable. Robertinventor (talk) 17:14, 27 November 2018 (UTC)

I have now copied it over to the article itself. For reference the version before shortening is here [12] (I will use in my own wiki). I think the simplest solution here is to trim and trim until there is little enough left so that you can easily point out the few remaining issues. The interview itself is presumably okay as it is VS himself talking and me just giving background info. So the main thing is just the lede, I think okay, and a bit of extra material to give the interview context that I left in but acn be shortened if necessary. The bit about planetary protection at the end is all based on the Scientific American article. I did not ask him about it in the interview as he had already given his response to SA and I had nothing extra I wanted to ask. Well, could have asked lots of things but wanted to keep the interview short. Robertinventor (talk) 17:41, 27 November 2018 (UTC)

Done some more shortening, I think with one exception, what is left is about the minimum necessary to give the context for the interview as I asked VS some questions that needed that much background just to get the reader up to date to what they were about. The manganese dioxides section is required or something as background on that. The bit on oxygen levels for worms and clams I think is needed to give context to my question after that. For bridge words, I have just removed them. The reader can make the contrast with the previous sentence and if you leave out the 'Yet' they can perhaps be relied on to notice it for themselves without a bridging word, that there is little oxygen in the atmosphere and by contrast a lot in the brines.

The one exception of a section that can be removed rather than just trimmed is the section on planetary protection. That is not essential for the interview as we didn't cover it, though I think it is an important matter that should be mentioned, one of the main points in the Scientific American article. I think it would be good to cover. But if this makes it more tricky to review, just remove it. Robertinventor (talk) 18:10, 27 November 2018 (UTC)

Re - bridging words and rhetorical questions. They are not neutral precisely because you are using them to connect concepts together in Wikinews' voice. Using them has the effect of teaching the reader, not reporting the story, and the goal on Wikinews is to report, not teach. Ca2james (talk) 18:21, 27 November 2018 (UTC)
@Ca2james: I can see they could be used like that but I wasn't using them in that way. That the oxygen levels in the atmosphere are low, yet the levels in the brines in the model are high is surely just neutrally describing their research and what was surprising about it? What is it about that that is non neutral? Anyway I have just removed the bridge words so it says first that the oxygen levels in the atmosphere are low, and then that the levels in the brines are high but does not explicitly suggest the reader compares the two ideas. Maybe that is okay now? Robertinventor (talk) 18:30, 27 November 2018 (UTC)
@Darkfrog24: I wonder if you can help here? I know you are much more familiar with Wikinews style and approach than me. Also you are really good at copy-editing to make the content shorter yet say the same things. I'm looking for a minimal article that gives enough context for the interview as likely to be easiest for review given that I am not familiar enough with Wikinews approach to things so to redo the whole article would be a lot of work for me and for others here too. I'd like to include the planetary protection section, only remining optional section, would like to explain why they expect nearly all the water to be salty there but it will simplify the article to leave it out as it takes a paragraph or two to explain that adequately, and most news stories didn't explain this. Robertinventor (talk) 18:31, 27 November 2018 (UTC)
*krakknuckle* Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:54, 27 November 2018 (UTC)
I can't tell how you mean things to come across; I can only comment on how they do come across. If the paper says that oxygen levels are low and brines in the model are high, say that the paper says it. If the authors say (or one of the sources says) that this result is surprising or unusual or different, say that that source says it's a surprising result. This one particular example is better, thanks. However, his teaching, non-reporting tone is problem throughout the paper. For example, this part "Indeed the paper suggests that in regions closer to the poles, concentrations could go even higher, right up to the levels typical of sea water on Earth, 0.2 moles per cubic meter (6.4 mg per liter). With their best case estimate and supercooling it could potentially go up all the way through to levels far higher than those in sea water, at two moles per cubic meter (64 mg per liter - a mole of oxygen is a little under 32 grams)." Indeed is a leading word because it implies that the following clause is unusual; if that's the case, find an attribution for it. That potentially also is a bit problematic: is that potential your idea or stated in the original paper or stated somewhere else?
I could pick out other things that read as non-neutrally to me but I am unfamiliar with the style guide for interviews. Pinging @Gryllida: for help; not only are they much more knowledgable about how to write for Wikinews than myself or Darkfrog24 (although Darkfrog24 does have good copyediting skills!), they may know of another editor on Wikinews who can help make sure the structure of this interview meets Wikinews requirements. Ca2james (talk) 20:07, 27 November 2018 (UTC)
For background text, neutrality is no different in OR than in synthesis. --Pi zero (talk) 20:28, 27 November 2018 (UTC)
For "bridging terms," I think they mean things like "clearly." Well wait a minute. Who thinks it's clear? The drafter? Someone else? They want you to say. Same with "it's not too surprising." That's what they probably mean when they say you're telling people what to think. These are natural terms that we use to round out the sharp corners of an article and make for a natural, speechlike feel, but Wikinews uses a terser style. They want people, especially people reading English as a subsequent language, to be take almost everything very literally.
Things like "One of the best current candidates for possibly habitable salty water on Mars.]]" They'll want you to drop in "According to NASA scientist Dr. Smartness, these are one of the best current candidates for possibly habitable salty water on Mars.]]"
The following areas struck me as not immediately relevant to this article: The paragraph about Makuch's findings. The picture of Olympus Mons and its caption. ...ooooh I see you put them in there so you could explain what you think Stamenković is talking about, fill in the blanks in what he's saying. Well I guess the question is should you? We don't have to pack all of this into one Wikinews article. Or you could contact him again and ask "Do you think any previous findings particularly XYX" or "where would such warmer environments be?" and see if he mentions Makuch or Mons.
The conclusion "which gives broader opportunities for oxygen-breathing life on other planets" should be attributed. Do you mean the paper says this?
Organization-wise, I see you giving a lot of background information before Stamenkovic talks. Let him talk and then provide what is absolutely necessary. Also, you don't need to organize the paper around which source said what. Darkfrog24 (talk) 20:36, 27 November 2018 (UTC)

I did an experiment. I cut a whole lot of content, mostly stuff where Wikinews pre-peats what Stamenkovic is about to say. Take a minute, reread the article, and see if I removed anything that we actually do need. Darkfrog24 (talk) 20:45, 27 November 2018 (UTC) ┌─────────────────────────────────┘

@Darkfrog24:Okay - well it depends on what the reader needs to know. For instance when I asked him:

"Or - is the idea that it has to be some exotic biochemistry that works only at ultra low temperatures like Dirk Schulze-Makuch's life based on hydrogen peroxide and perchlorates internal to the cells as antifreeze? "

Does the reader need to know what Dirk Schulze-Makuch's theory is? Maybe not. Similarly:

"Could the brines that Nilton Renno and his teams simulated forming on salt / ice interfaces within minutes in Mars simulation conditions get oxygenated in the process of formation? If not, how long would it take for them to get oxygenated to levels sufficient for aerobic microbes? For instance could the Phoenix leg droplets have taken up enough oxygen for aerobic respiration by microbes?"

Does the reader need to know about Nilton Renno's experiments or the Phoenix leg droplets? Or do we just dump them into the question without explaining it? Like - they would pick up that they are ways that droplets of brine can form on Mars just from the question. Maybe that is all they need??

I need to defer to the rest of you on this :). Robertinventor (talk) 21:26, 27 November 2018 (UTC)

I am happy to keep working with this shortened version. And I've fixed the other issues mentioned I think. With the Olympus Mons, yes that's what it is for about geological hot spots. But perhaps best left out, I'll remove it. Because to be really sure that's what he had in mind (though I am pretty sure it was or at least one possible way of it) then we'd need to ask him more questions. I'll keep it in my expanded version but I don't want anything that could block review because I can't explain why I have included it adequately enough because it is based on my own understanding of Mars astrobiology and there isn't any cite I could use to prove I've understood what VS had in mind. There are other ways there could be warmer water from below, e..g. from the deep hydrosphere, or surface warm water that somehow sinks down and gets below the colder water (that could perhaps be possible through the solid state greenhouse effect) - when I read his answer I briefly wondered if it could be either of those but I dismissed them as unlikely. Deep hydrosphere only likely to communicate via hot spots anyway, and the other idea is just a rather improbable set of circumstances that I don't remember reading anywhere, while there has been a lot of discussion of possible geothermal hot spots and warm caves.

The "broader opportunities for oxygen-breathing life on other planets" is from one of the sources, I can't remember which must have forgotten to attribute will find out. Robertinventor (talk) 21:36, 27 November 2018 (UTC)

So you saw one thing that the article didn't need and a couple that can go back in. It worked! Only diff is, I'd put the explanations after Stamenkovic talks. Darkfrog24 (talk) 21:39, 27 November 2018 (UTC)
On the broader, I have checked, it's the last sentence of the paper: "However, by sourcing O2 in a different way, Mars shows us this need not be the case, broadening our view of the opportunities for aerobes on other planetary bodies". Will just fix that to make it clearer. Robertinventor (talk) 21:41, 27 November 2018 (UTC)
Okay, as far as I know, I've fixed everything anyone has mentioned so far. Anything not fixed yet? @Darkfrog24: go ahead. If it reads better to you like that, then that's a good sign and I can then work with it and see if there is anything unclear when it is in final shape. Robertinventor (talk) 21:45, 27 November 2018 (UTC)
@Darkfrog24: is it better now? It seems to me that a lot is now not explained. Lots of new ideas like the exotic biochemistry, warm water from below, phoenix leg droplets, solid state greenhouse effect etc, all not explained? B
The main issue here is that they are things that I raised as questions in the interview from my own knowledge of Mars astrobiology. If this was, say, a Scientific American article, they would just say those things that I say in the article and wouldn't give any cites probably. But we can't do an article like that ourselves, well I don't think I can, here. I can in my own blog because then I'm talking with my own voice.
It is something to do with reporting rather than summary, all the things I want to say are easily verified, but I don't know how to do it here where you can't just sprinkle it with cites and there isn't any existing news report I can use as a cite because I did the interview myself. So seems we have to leave it out. But there may be some awkwardnesses as a result. Are there any gaps / questions where it doesn't seem clear or seems clumsy? Robertinventor (talk) 23:39, 27 November 2018 (UTC)
@Darkfrog24: I've done a bit more work on it now. It flows a bit better, can try again some more tomorrow, do feel free to try out any other ideas you think may help. That's me done here for today, need to come back to it and look at it afresh. At the moment it is like half a dozen times harder writing this article than one of my blog posts, because the Wikinews requirements are so unfamiliar to me. I'd have finished this article for my own blog in a couple of hours some evening. I must have spent the equivalent of several evenings, not sure how many, all on this one. But hopefully will get more used to it. Robertinventor (talk) 00:19, 28 November 2018 (UTC)

@Darkfrog24: had another read through. Trimmed it more, aim was to remove anything not essential for framing the interview, and fixed some minor things like wikitext issues. Main new thing, for all the image captions added more text if needed to make it clear how they relate directly to the model. Can you see anything else to remove? Can you see anything else that might cause issues with review? I'm thinking it may be about ready to submit review again, hopefully does better this time. Robertinventor (talk) 19:30, 28 November 2018 (UTC)

Ready for review againEdit

@Pi zero: - I've hit review again. I have done everything I can see to do and as far as I know we have fixed everything in your previous review. Also it is trimmed right down to only the essentials needed as background to the interview. Nothing else is included, have just removed anything that is not directly needed to support the interview. The hope is that this reduces the amount of text for you to review, so that if there are still things to fix, there are fewer of them, and so make it easier for us to produce a finished article. Thanks! Robertinventor (talk) 04:31, 29 November 2018 (UTC)

@Robertinventor: I can see the attraction of cutting ruthlessly, here; it reduces the number of things for you to try to get to the right style, and, as you say, it reduces the amount I have to review. At the same time, the interview does need to be comprehensible to readers so I understand your concerns over how much you're cutting. I'll take a look at this, hopefully tomorrow (after reviewing the India ComicCon article). If some removed material needs to be restored somehow, I'll get on the problem of how to help you through what needs doing, and we'll need to move on it ASAP, as even the freshness of an interview starts to fade after a while (and, due to review delays on this, it has been a while). --Pi zero (talk) 04:47, 29 November 2018 (UTC)
@Pi zero: Okay thanks, I look forward to your response. Just noticed one more section to remove, on the manganese dioxides, I somehow missed it before, it's not actually needed, just connected to the rest of the material. There is another advantage too, a shorter article is useful for a reader who wants to finish it quickly. It's now 2713 words including all the image captions, so about thirteen and a half minutes at an average reading speed of 200 wpm. Compare the previous version at 6182 or about 31 minutes at 200 wpm before (not including the sources in the word count). I do still plan to run the earlier version on my blog and wiki, simultaneously with Wikinews, perhaps with a bit more work on it. Robertinventor (talk) 05:47, 29 November 2018 (UTC)
@Robertinventor: I've just taken a quick look (though I try on principle to avoid ever apologizing for being a volunteer (like all Wikinewsies), I am frustrated my review schedule has been so dreadfully gummed up lately), and made a small tweak to the format. Unable to do a complete review atm, but overall the format looked pretty good; however, a couple of small remarks about the lede; I don't know for sure that these can't both be fixed by a reviewer during review, but:

It says he and his colleagues have developed "a new model"; this is, on the face of it, kind of meaningless: a new model of what? There should be a very small number of words that can be added to clear up this difficulty; probably inserted right after the word "model", and starting with "of" — "a new model of ...". Also (and this really is quite straightforward), rather than saying details can be found in their paper published in Nature, just say the model was published in Nature, and specify when it was published in Nature. --Pi zero (talk) 02:19, 3 December 2018 (UTC)

@Pi zero: Okay, how is this?

"Vlada Stamenković and his colleagues have developed a new chemical model of how oxygen dissolves in Martian conditions, which raises the possibility of oxygen-rich brines; enough, the work suggests, to support simple animals such as sponges. The model was published in Nature on October 22, 2018. A Wikinews reporter caught up with him in an email interview to find out more about his team's research and their plans for the future."

Just made that edit Robertinventor (talk) 03:37, 3 December 2018 (UTC)

And thanks for the feedback, I think it improves the lede to do it like that. Robertinventor (talk) 03:39, 3 December 2018 (UTC)

Suggestion very trimmed articleEdit

@Pi zero: Since I haven't heard from you yet I wonder if it is still too long to be easy to review and get into shape according to Wikinews guidelines? We could do a massively trimmed article, that doesn't explain much of the background at all. It still has enough information for the reader if they don't want to go into details of the background I think, and a quicker read of course.

Then I can do a longer article expanding on it in my blog and wiki.

Here is how we could do it:

If this will help move it to completion please say and I will edit the main article and you can review this instead. Thanks! Robertinventor (talk) 18:39, 2 December 2018 (UTC)

@Pi zero: I wonder if you can say a bit about your plans? Remember I'm a volunteer too. I could have published the interview on my wiki and blog over three weeks ago. I'm waiting for Wikinews to publish it because I don't want to scoop you. The short version is fine if that's easier for you. It is fine if you are going to look at it and there is a chance of finishing it in the next week or so, but do you have a timescale? Thanks! Robertinventor (talk) 22:31, 5 December 2018 (UTC)
@Robertinventor: There are two items on the queue; this, and an article meant to provide a starting point for a series on brexit, using Tuesday's start of debate as a focal event to anchor it. Clearly both articles need to be moved on pronto. I hope to do either both tonight (i.e., in the next few hours), or one tonight and one tomorrow morning (i.e., starting about 1200 UTC). --Pi zero (talk) 00:58, 6 December 2018 (UTC)
@Pi zero: Oh fine, that's okay. Please don't feel under any pressure from me, I just felt maybe a reminder was in order. Any questions be sure to say. Thanks! Robertinventor (talk) 01:08, 6 December 2018 (UTC)

Review of revision 4450780 [Not ready]Edit

@Robertinventor: Sorry it's taken me so long to get to this properly. We need this to move promptly; it is possible for an interview to go stale. --Pi zero (talk) 23:29, 8 December 2018 (UTC)
@Pi zero: It's here:

For our best estimate (including supercooling), the results dis-play large gradients in O2 solubility for Ca- and Mg-perchlorates across Mars, with polar regions having the greatest potential to har-bour near-surface fluids at 2 × 10−1 mol m−3 of dissolved O2,

There " 2 × 10−1 mol m−3" means 0.2 moles per cubic meter
The 0.002 moles per cubic meter occurs here in the paper:

Moreover, for supercooled Ca- and Mg-perchlorate brines on Mars today, ~6.5% of the total Martian surface area could support far higher dissolved O2 concentrations—enabling aerobic oases at dissolved O2 concentrations higher than 2 × 10−3 mol m−3, sufficient to sustain the respiration demands of more complex multicellular organisms such as sponges

I.e. their result was that 6.5% of the surface of Mars could support 0.002 moles per cubic meter, but the highest concentrations can reach 0.2 moles per cubic meter.
The reason it doesn't draw any remark from him is because it is an accurate quote direct from his paper.
Okay so you want to remove all the images and have done so. Okay - I can still link to this as the original of the story and include all the images and side panels and extra details in my expanded articles.
Can I hope that you can respond more quickly for a while? The slow pace here is all from your side, I typically respond the same day. I understand you ahve demands on your time but that's the only reason it has been delayed so long, I am giving fast responses. Robertinventor (talk) 01:10, 9 December 2018 (UTC)
The reason for the section on lichens you removed is that what is newsworthy about this new research is the possibility of multicellular life that depends on oxygen. Lichens also are multicellular and depend on oxygen. They however can provide their own oxygen in Martian conditions uany other multicellular life. They are not animals but they show that multicellular plants are possible on Mars without oxygen. This is an old result from 2010. So this is not the first study to show that multicellular oxygen requiring life is possible on Mars. It is the first to show that simple multicellular animals are possible on Mars however.
So, it is significant background information and directly relevant to the topic. But it can be removed. I just didn't notice when I went through it trimming everything not directly needed to support the interview. I will cover it in my expanded article. Robertinventor (talk) 01:29, 9 December 2018 (UTC)

@Pi zero: On the images, each one adds a bit extra background information to help the reader, indeed that's kind of the point for them.

I found only two images that I could add back in as mainly illustrative. The breadcrumb sponge. This is the actual species referred to in the paper they cite. But if this adds to the difficulty of review, better to publish and leave it out than not publish it because of this image.

The other is the changing axial tilt. I trimmed the caption right down so that it only says what is said in the original JPL page about it. Click through to Wikimedia commons and then click on source link to verify the caption.

The others I rejected because

  • RSL - directly relevant, it's the example they themselves refer to in the paper. But without some details, reader won't know what they are looking at
  • Eurocopter TDEM - it is rather pointless without an explanation of what it means and relevance to TH2OR
  • Polar ice caps animation and the sea O2 concentrations - these help the readers who are more visually orientated but require too much explanation for a short caption.
  • subglacial lake - it needs a fair bit of explanation for reader to know what they are looking at and its relevance to the article, a short caption is impossible.

But we probably have enogh to deal with anyway. If it adds to the complexity of the review please just leave it as is, it's absolutely fine without images.

Also do bear in mind we have the option of a very trimmed interview. If this seems likely to go back and forth several more times and take us to beyond Christmas perhaps we can do that?

Or just delete chunks from the article to reduce it to manageable length to review.

Mainly because of the time this takes. Thanks! Robertinventor (talk) 02:46, 9 December 2018 (UTC)

Have set it back to "Review" again as I have answered everything now. Robertinventor (talk) 03:00, 9 December 2018 (UTC)

And - the only reason it could go stale is because of review delays. I am responding promptly on my part. Can you find some time to resepond promptly too? For a day or two? Robertinventor (talk) 03:05, 9 December 2018 (UTC)

  • Those two quotes you give me to justify the 0.2-moles-per-cubic-meter figure: I don't see them in the paper. Where are they? (Are they staring me in the face?)

Yes, the hold-up has been on my side; I'm painfully aware. I meant only to be clear about the situation we've ended up in; I didn't mean to suggest you hadn't been responding quickly, thus far.

  • I can see that my reason for removing the lichen paragraph did not come across clearly, though I'd tried to explain in my edit summary. This matters not so much for this article, I s'pose, but for future articles. The purpose of the paragraph did not, I think, escape me; but, besides those references not being listed as sources —if I'd figured the paragraph could stand, I've have had to move them into the sources section— I saw nothing establishing the position of that work on lichens in the larger range of works relating to life on Mars. You're offering it as a for-instance, but not establishing the thing that it's supposed to be an instance of.
  • It seems there may be something not coming across regarding the images; but, again, not something that matters for the current article, rather something that may matter for future articles.
--Pi zero (talk) 03:43, 9 December 2018 (UTC)

@Pi zero: Okay glad you agree I'm responding quickly. And I can continue to do so for the next few days. It just takes minutes anyway for the sort of things you raised just now. I've just sent you screenshots of the two quotes via email. There are two links on the lichens in the background sources section. If you mean secondary sources citing them to support notability would be easy to do that too. Maybe enough to link to the DLR page about the project it is the main thing they use their Mars simulation chamber for, DLR being the German Aerospace, their equivalent of NASA and quite a large space agency. And this research is often mentioned by astrobiologists.

If you mean I have to find someone who explains that the lichens are not only actively researched and notable, but they are relevant to this research for the reasons I just explained in this talk page - perhaps if I hunt through all the aricles, maybe the SA or National Geographic or someone did mention it I don't know. For me that's a bit like trying to find a cite that says that Paris is the capital of France. I know it is but if this has to be established it might take a bit of time to find a good reliable source that says it.

But it's okay to delete it, to simplify the article, I already trimmed as much extra stuff as I could and just hadn't noticed them. My aim was to delete anything not actually required to understand the interview. The lichens are not required, though they are relevant. Robertinventor (talk) 04:12, 9 December 2018 (UTC)

Just did a search for '"lichen" "mars" "oxygen" "Stamenković"'. It only turns up our discussion (at least in the first page of results). So nobody else has connected the way lichens make oxygen in Mars simulation experiments to this research. Even though AFAIK it is the only previous research to suggest any possibility for multicellular life on present day Mars. This BTW is the NASA Astrobiology magazine article on the topic of lichens on Mars [13].

If someone was to write a history of research into theoretical possibilities for multicellular life on present day Mars, the lichen studies would be first published in the topic (lichen are multicellular [14]), then this paper with the possibility of primitive animals would be second.

So, looks like my blog post and wiki will be first page on the web to make this connection. I'm surprised. It isn't at all original even so. It is just me being more thorough than the other articles in the way I explained the historical context to what he has done.

Anyway definitely reasonable for Wikinews to not mention this :).

BTW I assumed that these draft pages would not be indexed by Google. Shouldn't we add a __NOINDEX__ to them? Robertinventor (talk) 07:14, 9 December 2018 (UTC)

@Robertinventor: Btw, do you agree that this was an oversight on your part (or is there something else going on that, perhaps, I'd better know about): diff?
@Pi zero: The original version is correct. I just thought "25 millionths" was more readable than "2.5 hundred thousandths". The quote is " and the least O2-rich environments in the tropical southern highlands at ~2.5 × 10−5mol m−3 of dissolved O2" Robertinventor (talk) 00:41, 10 December 2018 (UTC)
@Robertinventor: Please recheck that. The screenshot you emailed me has that bit partly obscured; but it does look as if it may say two-point-five times ten to the minus-five. That's in contradiction to the abstract of the paper, which says two-point-five times ten to the minus-six. Worse, that passage and the abstract also contradict each other about the upper bound. I'm going to have to reconsider how the article needs to treat both numbers. --Pi zero (talk) 02:01, 10 December 2018 (UTC)
@Pi zero: Oh, thanks for picking up on that! That's explained in figure 2. The two-point-five times ten to the minus-six is for the worst case estimate (where they do the calculations on their least optimistic assumptions which they think are probably not what actually happens, but to have a lower bound) and for the worst of the brines they look at, sodium perchlorate, and without supercooling, so, WC / ~SC. They don't actually give figures on the table, but the black one extends down to about ~2.5 ×  10−6  mol  m−3 and given that's what it says in the abstract presumably that's the figure. It's not mentioned in the main body of the paper, just in the abstract and shown graphically in figure 2. The orange one with BE (Best Estimate) and supercooling extends up to around 2 mol  m−3 and is for their best brine, magnesium perchlorate. The figures in the main body of the text are for calcium perchlorate and for the best estimate. They correspond to the pink bar in figure 2a.
Thanks for bringing this up. I've now explained it in the article. Hopefully it is clear now. I'll also incorporate this in my expanded article. It's a good catch Robertinventor (talk) 03:28, 10 December 2018 (UTC)

@Pi zero: Just wondered in your edit history the images I added back with shorter captions disapppeared after you added in the lichens passage and then removed itdiff. Was this intentional? Just saying because the edit summary doesn't mention that you removed them and in the review you asked me to consider adding back a couple of images.

If you want to add in a very short version of the lichens para you could do:

"This is the second suggestion for multicellular life on Mars. In 2014, de Vera et al using Mars simulation facilities at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) showed that some lichens, including Pleopsidium chlorophanum can grow slowly in Mars simulation chambers. What is innovative about Stamenković et al's research is that it describes a way lifeforms that require oxygen, even multicellular life, could live on Mars without need for photosynthesis."

Robertinventor (talk) 03:54, 10 December 2018 (UTC)

I didn't intend the images to go away; will investigate to figure out why such a thing might have happened and what else might have happened at the same time.

I feel there's something not clearly understood about verifiability. You seem to be adding stuff you believe to be true (which is a blogging thing; I recognize it from my own blog) without fully considering what the reviewer can verify. In the particular suggested phrasing, saying it's the second suggestion for multicellular life is afaics a groundless claim; I removed the claims about its contextual role because the research itself is potentially much less of a problem (for verification and for neutrality) than those contextual claims. That claim about second-suggestion would be, afaik, unverifiable even with suitable qualification; but since it's unqualified, it's evidently false (off the top of my head, even without invoking science fiction, Percival Lowell ought to count). At the end of that paragraph, the assertion about what's innovative here appears to be opening up a whole new thing for me to try to verify.

Btw, you've just been editing the article while it's marked with {{under review}}. I'll deal with those edits; but it means I have to start over on verifying that part of the material pretty-much from scratch. I had been thinking if I skipped sleep tonight (which has gotten very difficult for me these last few years, though I used to do it at need when I was younger), I might make some significant progress on this review; now I'm thinking if I do that I might still only finish the material I'd already looked at yesterday. --Pi zero (talk) 05:30, 10 December 2018 (UTC)

Something horrific happened when I tried to restore a few words there, and then apparently you edited on top of the erroneous version. --Pi zero (talk) 06:16, 10 December 2018 (UTC)

@Pi zero: Oh sorry about that! I will not do that again. I hadn't understood the nature of the review process properly. I understand now.

Okay it is fine to undo, no need to review the diffs. Instead, I'll put the old para here and explain what I did. BTW for some reason I don't get email notification or even alerts on my browser when I visit Wikinews unless you ping me. Just noticed this.

So, my new para added two extra facts to it

  • 2.5 millionths of a mole per cubic meter = sodium perchlorate / WC / ~SC (worst case without supercooling)
  • 2 moles / cubic meter = magnesium percholorate (best case with supercooling)

The rest is just copy editing and putting it into two paras to add the extra info. I also expanded a little on what worst case and best case means. However I have a much simpler solution.

First, this is the longer version:

Stamenković et al found oxygen levels throughout Mars would be high enough for the least demanding aerobic (oxygen using) microbes, around 2.5 millionths of a mole per cubic meter (0.0008 0.00008 mg per liter) even in the southern uplands where concentrations are lowest, and for their brine with the lowest oxygen solubilities, sodium perchlorate, and their worst case estimate (where they do the calculations on their least optimistic assumptions). However they give reasons for believing that their best case estimate, is close to the true situation. Also based on previously published experimental work, they expect supercooling, which permits colder brines and so higher oxygen concentrations.
Stamenković et al published a detailed map of the distributions of solubility for calcium perchlorates for the best case with supercooling. For this the lowest concentrations are around 25 millionths of a mole per cubic meter (0.008 0.00008 mg per liter). For this brine regions poleward of about 67.5° to the north and about 72.5° to the south, could have oxygen concentrations high enough for simple sponges. Closer to the poles, concentrations could go higher, approaching levels typical of sea water on Earth, 0.2 moles per cubic meter (6.4 mg per liter), for calcium perchlorates. The brine that achieved the highest oxygen solubility is magnesium perchlorates. With this, oxygen concentrations could reach values as high as two moles per cubic meter (64 mg per liter) for the best case with supercooling. On Earth, worms and clams that live in the muddy sea beds require 1 mg per liter, bottom feeders such as crabs and oysters 3 mg per liter, and spawning migratory fish 6 mg per liter, all well within their 0.2 moles per liter.

A much shorter version, easier to review'

The idea is to just not mention those extreme cases. So then it is:

Stamenković et al found oxygen levels throughout Mars would be high enough for the least demanding aerobic (oxygen using) microbes, for all the brines they considered, and all the methods of calculation. They published a detailed map of the distributions of solubility for calcium perchlorates for their more optimistic calculations (which they think is closer to the true case) and supercooling. For this the lowest concentrations in the southern uplands are around 25 millionths of a mole per cubic meter (0.008 mg per liter). For this brine regions poleward of about 67.5° to the north and about 72.5° to the south, could have oxygen concentrations high enough for simple sponges. Closer to the poles, concentrations could go higher, approaching levels typical of sea water on Earth, 0.2 moles per cubic meter (6.4 mg per liter), for calcium perchlorates. On Earth, worms and clams that live in the muddy sea beds require 1 mg per liter, bottom feeders such as crabs and oysters 3 mg per liter, and spawning migratory fish 6 mg per liter, all well within their 0.2 moles per liter.

Then all you need to verify is the text in the body of the article and the discussion here in the talk page explains why the abstract uses different numbers, and it just removes teh 2 moles per cubic meter figure. Robertinventor (talk) 06:57, 10 December 2018 (UTC)

Forgot to include "in the southern uplands" added to the shorter version para above.

Fine about the lichens just forget that then. It's a minor detail, I was trying to simplify it and in process made it more complicated instead. I think no point in responding to what you said either, let's just move on as we don't need to work out how to rephrase it if it is not going to be included. Robertinventor (talk) 07:01, 10 December 2018 (UTC)

On the contextual thing - it's like, e.g. reporting on Usain Bolt's race in 2012 and for some reason nobody else mentions the 2008 olympics win and you decide that you want to put it in your news article in case some of your readers don't happen to know about his 2008 win. I.e. it's not making a new connection, what's notable about the research is that it is multicellular, and the lichen research was the first to suggest possibilities of multicellular life on modern day Mars (of course not including old ideas when they thought Mars had a thick atmosphere). There is no need to mentino it, you can report theh 2012 win without mentioning the 2008 win. But it is not in any way bloggy or OR to mention it. Well that's how I see it.

But there is no need to assess that. If someone were to dispute the connection between the 2012 and the 2008 wins of Usain Bolt, well, there is no need to mention the 2008 race, so just leave it out, especially if none of the other news reports mention it :). Robertinventor (talk) 07:09, 10 December 2018 (UTC)

Well several things notable about this paper of course - but what is especially striking about the new research is the possiblity of multicellular life there and that is also the same thing that was esepecially striking about lichens - back then before the lichens result nobody thought multicellular life was possible on present day Mars, so it was a rather mind blowing result. Robertinventor (talk) 07:12, 10 December 2018 (UTC)

The context problem is more like reporting that a certain team won a certain tournament this year, and being able to verify that they also won that tournament in 2014, but being unable to verify whether or not they won in any other years besides 2014 and 2018. At least, that's closer.

I believed I had solved the lichens problem; that's pretty much the only actual review I'd gotten done in the past seven hours I've been working on this article. Only, it got deleted again with that edit of mine that went horribly wrong just before you made your edits. In repairing the mess, I've restored it again.

There are techniques an experienced-and-skilled Wikinewsie could likely use to do a great deal of what we're just omitting from all of this. The trouble is that without the reporter working it out for themself and providing the initiative, it's just an infinite time sink; I really do regret we aren't be doing this after you've made all your mistakes on previous synthesis articles (an expert being someone who has made every possible mistake in a narrow field).

I don't think I can keep going much longer, on this session. I plan to set both your proposals here into the article revision history, successively (so the short one is left visible), and then turn in. For tomorrow morning, there are other articles waiting forlorn on the review queue while I've been working on this instead, and tomorrow afternoon I have an unavoidable chore in physical reality. Not quite sure what that means for review on this tomorrow. --Pi zero (talk) 07:45, 10 December 2018 (UTC)

Turns out, when I undid everything back to just before my mistaken edit, made the edit I'd intended, and then placed your edits one by one, I ended up with almost your long version above, except that I'd removed the google-calculator html comment, and you'd forgotten to change 2.5 millionths to 25 millionths. --Pi zero (talk) 07:50, 10 December 2018 (UTC)
I've put the short version in place, except that I corrected a number in the process (which was also wrong in the second paragraph of the long version): 25 millionths of a mole per cubic meter is 0.0008 mg per liter, not 0.008.

It's 3am here. 'Night. --Pi zero (talk) 08:02, 10 December 2018 (UTC)

@Pi zero: Oh sorry that this took up so much of your time. For the longer version you have now, as of writing this, it's fine except the worst case for sodium perchlorates in the first of those two paras and worst case no supercooling is 2.5 millionth of a mole - that's the number in the abstract. It matches the figure 2. That was the reason for dividing it into two paragraphs because the first one is for sodium perchlorate and the second paragraph has the calcium perchlorate and it was confusing I felt to have both in the same paragraph with different numbers. It works okay for the magnesium perchlorate and the two moles per cubic meter, but there is too much to explain to have both the lower limits in the one para.

The lichens para. is fine. I see you've restored the two images as well, thanks! Right, so it was the "second" that was the issue, I get. AFAIK the lichens are the only other multicellular lifeforms suggested but they have studied several distinct species of lichens and I wouldn't want to say there have been no other previous multicellular studies for Mars, but none with animal life for sure :). Not for present day understanding of present day Mars. The paragraph reads fine now. Thanks for putting that work into it. Robertinventor (talk) 08:06, 10 December 2018 (UTC)

@Robertinventor: Oh, btw: do I have material for verification about the "detailed map of the distributions of solubility for calcium perchlorates for their more optimistic calculations (which they think is closer to the true case) and supercooling"? It occurred to me that could be a (small?) sticking point when I take this up again. --Pi zero (talk) 08:13, 10 December 2018 (UTC)
@Pi zero: Yes that's their figure 3a in their paper. It's in their caption: "Fig. 3 | Spatial variation of O2 solubility in Ca-perchlorate brines on modern Mars. a,b, Maps of [O2]aq according to the best estimate for the annually averaged O2 solubility [O2]aq in Ca-perchlorate brines with supercooling (BE) (a)". Their map (b) there is without supercooling. You could add (Fig. 3a of the paper) to make it clear.
BTW I had hoped we might be able to include the map in our story but sadly I think not likely to be permitted as nobody else included it. I asked if we could us the map in my first draft of the interview questions to Vlada but when he didn't reply I guessed he was very busy and sent him a trimmed down shorter list which he answered. Robertinventor (talk) 08:38, 10 December 2018 (UTC)
I can see I'm going to have "fun", when I get back into this, sorting out the 2.5 and 25 thing. Though I note you've been having some difficulty with that yourself; on two different occasions that I noticed last night, your moles-per-cubic-meter mismatched your mg-per-liter. --Pi zero (talk) 13:18, 10 December 2018 (UTC)
@Pi zero: Ah lost a zero somehow. I've fixed it in my text above with cross out,
BTW can you ping me in every coment if possible? It means I get a red alert if visiting Wikipedia or Wikinews + an email alert, so may respond a bit faster. I'm checking Wikinews from time to time in the day but this would mean a faster response sometimes if you are working on it and a fast reply will help. Thanks! Robertinventor (talk) 17:26, 10 December 2018 (UTC)


@Pi zero: I just had an idea. @Darkfrog24: suggested I ask Vlada about whether he has any ideas about where the warmer water might come from if it comes from below. I'd just assumed he meant geothermal heating but it could be interesting to ask him and if he answers we could include that question and answer to expand on that point. So - I had a thought - the amount of material to introduce the interview questions isn't that great. I make the total 1,568 words for the bits between the questions. At a typical 200 words per minute that's less than 8 minutes to read. Our interview is a bit under 1000 words total both ways. He was so busy because of the media attention after his research publication.

So, I could ask him that extra question, plus anything else that might be worth asking, I have a feeling I did have something else but can't remember what it was just now. I can ask it for my own wiki / blog - whether or not you add anyhting about it to Wikinews. And show him our article in progress about his interview - I can do a copy in my user space and colour the text in blue (say) for the parts we added to frame it, and ask him if he kindly has ten minutes of his time to check it over for us to make sure we haven't made any serious errors summarizing his research. I'm only suggesting it because I'm pretty sure it is reliable and that he'd just read through and say "That's fine" or at most mention some very minor error. `

If you like I could also ask if he has anyhting else he wants to add. It is a common thing for interviewers to do when interviewing someone to say "Is there anything we haven't covered that you'd like to add, or anything new you are working on you'd like us to mention", or something. That would help with freshness too, it's been a while since the paper and it is possible he is working on something else that he'd like to mention, e.g. maybe made progress on the dynamical models or wahtever.

Just a thought, what do you think? Robertinventor (talk) 16:17, 11 December 2018 (UTC)

And if he added something, and I felt it needed a short intro para of a couple of sentences or something, I could check the intro para to what he says with him via email too. Robertinventor (talk) 16:19, 11 December 2018 (UTC)

@Robertinventor: you want to add more to this article, when you've previously been trimming it to make review less onerous? Ca2james (talk) 17:19, 11 December 2018 (UTC)
@Ca2james: What I suggested, and it was just a suggestion to @Pi zero: as reviewer is that I ask him a couple of questions I want to ask anyway, including @Darkfrog24:'s suggestion. I can commit to using his answers in my own article. Wikinews doesn't need to use them. Indeed where I first got this idea today is I was thinking "I'm not 100% sure what he meant by warmer from below, in case he had some interesting slant on it I'd like to ask him before publishing my longer article" - and I think there was anather one - if I re-read my longer article will probably remember it. So I'd probably ask the questions anyway irrespective of what anyone decides here to complete my own expanded article about his research.
Then, if I do that now, I can ask him, if he has ten minutes, to glance over our Wikinews article, as it is quite short, and look over the passages in between that I use to introduce his questions. He wouldn't need to check his own paper as by now he would know all those figures by heart. If he does this, then maybe this then can count as checking the figures for Wikinews, so that @Pi zero: doesn't have to check them. Just as e.g. it is not necessary to check his answers to my questions.
If that was permitted, it could save a lot of work since the main issues for the review was checking all the facts and figures against the paper. If he replies with additional material then I include it in my expanded article regardless, and we can decide whether to include it here. And for that, I'd write a short linking paragraph if it is needed, and run that past him too. I would not write a long version of the background to whatever he says here, but would expand on it in my own article if he says something interesting that could do with teasing out implications and background and history in a longer article.
That way any new linking material would also be checked. So it would add more material that can be optionally included, all pre-checked for facts and figures. That is if he agrees as I think he probably would if he is not hugely busy again over something else. This would all mean a lot less work for @Pi zero: and it would also help with freshness. I hope the idea is a bit clearer now, thanks! Robertinventor (talk) 17:42, 11 December 2018 (UTC)
All that would be left after that would be copy editing / style / such like. If we added the extra linking paras, questions and answers there would be a bit more text to copy edit, that's all Robertinventor (talk) 17:47, 11 December 2018 (UTC)
I point out that the review process cannot be deleted to a third party (even if this were a third party; it's the interviewee, rather more closely involved).

(Btw, not a waking hour of my day goes by without trying to fit this review into it; the limited occasions when I do this review are just the occasions when I actually do fit some in. I hope to get to this in a few hours, after some required shopping; of course, I'd hoped to get to it this morning...) --Pi zero (talk) 18:24, 11 December 2018 (UTC)

(Btw: hopefully it's clear that review is way more than just fact-checking.) --Pi zero (talk) 18:28, 11 December 2018 (UTC)
(edit conflict)(Broke this out into its own section)@Robertinventor: Pi zero (or, more generally, the reviewer) still must verify everything in the article independently of whether VS looks it over, so adding more material does in fact add more work for the reviewer. You're also making a number of assumptions about how much time VS might have for this and about what facts and figures VS might remember off the top of his head. Ca2james (talk) 18:30, 11 December 2018 (UTC)

I wonder if this is a case of using ideas that are appropriate to political articles for a scientific one? When Stamenković says "45 deg is approx. the correct degree." - this surely doesn't need to be checked? He is the scientist who did the research. He will have checked every figure in his article a dozen times, so will his reviewer. It won't be stuff he could forget so soon after it is published. To be published in a journal like Nature it has to have had a very thorough review, typically takes months of back and forth checking every number and fact in minute detail. He is the source.

And we are not able to check it any more thoroughly than by asking him. His reviewers will have asked him to check and recheck his figures. He will have given presentations at conferences, and many press interviews saying the same figures in those. We can't check them any more than they did.

If the extra questions are extra work, no problem, but you are saying that asking him if he wants to look over the paper to check that we have cited HIS WORK accurately is not going to help with the review process? I wasn't going to ask him to check anything else in the article, just his work, and the numbers he uses in his paper. Robertinventor (talk) 18:51, 11 December 2018 (UTC)

@Pi zero: - I'm going by the issues you've raised so far, the ones that have taken most time have been fact checking as far as I can tell, and they have all been correct in the original version of the story I wrote. The bit about the different figures in the abstract were an interesting addition but the numbers I stated in the original of the article that you first reveiewed were correct, as they were for the calcium perchlorates (I think the result was improved as a result of you spotting that discrepancy but the original article was correct as far as it went in what it said).

It seems to take a long time to check this, and I thought if you already knew all the facts I cite about his research are correct this would save a lot of the time. At least for that element of the review process. Robertinventor (talk) 18:58, 11 December 2018 (UTC)

Just a suggestion, if it doesn't help then forget about it. Just thought I'd run it past you in case it helped. Robertinventor (talk) 18:59, 11 December 2018 (UTC)

@Robertinventor: the reviewer isn't checking that the original work is correct; they're checking that the writer has correctly summarized the original work AND has done so in accordance with Wikinews principles. It isn't just about checking the numbers themselves, although it is important to get those numbers right. Even if VS was willing and able to check the numbers right now, the reviewer still has to go over everything. It does take time. Ca2james (talk) 20:42, 11 December 2018 (UTC)
That's well put.

There isn't, actually, one kind of news writing for politics and another for science, although there are particular concerns specific to each area; it's always helpful to have plenty of background knowledge of the subject matter. (Science articles rarely have to worry about the inherent non-neutrality of the term "terrorism", while political articles usually don't fall afoul of subtleties of statistical inference.) The general problem, though, is to give the readership a window on objective reality that empowers them to make more informed judgements without telling them what conclusions to come to, and a vital part of this is telling them where claims of fact (and subjective opinions) come from, and thereby encouraging them to think about where information comes from. (Btw, if you follow Language Log long enough, you'll get an earful about the sorry state of science news coverage.) --Pi zero (talk) 21:06, 11 December 2018 (UTC)

I hope you realize I'm trying to help. As far as I can see your various remarks amount to saying that it wouldn't help as much as I thought it might. I'm not sure if you are saying it doesn't help at all. @Pi zero: in this particular case then most of the facts come directly from Vlada Stamenković's paper which is published in Nature which is regarded as one of the most reliable and top quality journals in the world. If you are doing postgraduate research and your thesis leads to a paper in Nature it means it is the crème de la crème. One of the most cited journals with an impact factor of 40.137. ". Three journals have by far and away the most overall influence on science: Nature, PNAS, and Science, closely followed by the Journal of Biological Chemistry.". And of those, Nature is top[15]. So, as far as establishing notability and reliability for the reader, we don't really need to say much more than that it comes from an article in Nature and that we interviewed the principal author of the article and that these are the figures he gave. Robertinventor (talk) 21:30, 11 December 2018 (UTC)
Which of course doesn't mean his research is "Correct" in the sense that these are the actual oxygen levels on Mars. They are the results of a model and he will continue to refine his models and others will build on his work, and eventually we get instruments that actually touch these brines on Mars and measure the oxygen levels directly. But he would never say it is correct in that sense. But when talking about his model and what he found and the conclusions he drew and the implications, he is the authority, you simply can't find a better source. Talking to him is better than reading his paper because you can misunderstand a paper but he is explaining it to you directly. Robertinventor (talk) 21:36, 11 December 2018 (UTC)
I'm aware that you're trying to help. My own remarks are meant, in large part, to help you understand better what you're dealing with in the Wikinews review process (so as to make you a better Wikinewsie going forward). Wikinews specializes in sources and verification and presentation of information. --Pi zero (talk) 23:18, 11 December 2018 (UTC)

@Pi zero: Glad to hear it, thanks. I am very aware that science news is often very bad. And that is the thing that I find so good about Wikinews, and why I am happy to be part of it despite frustrations at times. That you give sources for everything, while most news articles do not go as far as even to link to the press releases, news conferences, and the papers for the main story they are covering. The press release is usually publicly available, often the papers are open source, and they may be reporting answers to questions they themselves asked the researchers in a video conference that is available for anyone to watch on the internet. Yet it is rare to link to any of the source material in a journalistic article.

However, all the cases I come across myself of atrocious science reporting could have been sorted out by running the article past the researchers before publishing. Or, correcting it after publication when the researchers themselves tell everyone they got it wrong.

The worst example I've seen in the last few years in what should be reputable science journalism was when the New York Times reported research into the previous volcanic eruption of Yellowstone as saying that

"As such, scientists are just now starting to realize that the conditions that lead to supereruptions might emerge within a human lifetime."

Actually experts on Yellowstone from the USGS such as the director of the Yellowstone Volcanic Observatory, Mike Poland, all say that its magma chamber is not in a suitable state to go supervolcano, and recent research has clarified this further that we would have at least centuries of warning of a supervolcano eruption anywhere in the world.

This is where one of the researchers who wrote that article Chrissy Till, tweets the Snopes article debunking the New York Times article about their own research[16]. This is the New York Times article which to this day does not acknowledge their mistake and includes that false statment - they have not issued a correction, though they did issue a correction of another minor point [17]. The Snopes debunk has many quotes from email interviews with geologists about this apalling error[18], and my own debunk of it has a quote from an email from Mike Poland director of the Yellowstone Volcanic Observatory which starts[19]

""Unfortunately, the NY Times article, which was then picked up by a number of other news outlets, is a good example of how some research can be misunderstood, exaggerated, and sensationalized."

(He gave me permission to use this quote in my article via email, thanking me for helping to "tamp down the nonsense")

The BBC made a similar mistake when it claimed that NASA had a plan to drill into Yellowstone from the side to cool it down over thousands of years, at the same time generating power[20]. The USGS have this as a public FAQ that they reply to, as they tell the public that no, they have no such plan apart from any other reason, because Yellowstone is in the wrong state for a supervolcano eruption[21].

I think that if Wikinews were to permit researchers that they report on to correct errors then it would be a good way to buck this trend towards inventive science journalism that misinterprets the sources? It happens all the time. Recently with the IPCC report the New York Times did it again, another major blooper saying that the report said

"For instance, the report says that heavy taxes or prices on carbon dioxide emissions — perhaps as high as $27,000 per ton by 2100 — would be required" [22].

It's the same thing, a journalist who was over hasty while reading the article, it actually says in the previous paragraph

""The price of carbon assessed here is fundamentally different from the concepts of optimal carbon price in a cost-benefit analysis"

and then when it comes to carbon pricing as an incentive it suggests $7 combined with other measures such as improving building efficiency.

"Likewise, a policy mix encompassing a moderate carbon price (7 USD2010) combined with a ban on new coal-based power plants and dedicated policies addressing renewable electricity generation capacity and electric vehicles reduces efficiency losses compared with an optimal carbon pricing in 2030 "

The New York Times journalist just didn't read the report carefully and made a fundamental misunderstanding.

If they had run their story past one of the scientists who was involved in the IPCC research, he or she would have picked up on this instantly. They wouldn't need to go to their own report, they would just say "You got that wrong".

It's the same thing. This was taken up and echoed by other news outlets. Indeed in many ways the IPCC report was widely misreported indeed, nearly all the stories about this report had some journalistic exaggerations with few of them echoing the optimistic key points of the co-chairs. This is all available on YouTube but I think my Science 2.0 post about the IPCC is the only story othat embeds or even links to the IPCC YouTube vidoes about it [23].

I understand that it is a radical suggestion for journalists, that they run science stories past researchers before publishing them. I can understand that it can seem analogous to letting politicians sanitize what a journalist writes about them. But it's not the same thing in my view. As you say, "there are particular concerns specific to each area" and I think this is one specific to science journalism, because of the often very specialized and abstract nature of the research, unfamiliar and often new concepts, and a track record of journalisits often making major bloopers of basic facts. Not so much the figures as the main conclusions and purpose of the research.

It would be one easy way to ensure that this sort of thing never happens, in cases where the researchers are willing to do the checking. Also, this background is why I think most would be delighted by the offer, if phrased carefully as "if you have time" not suggesting any obligation. They will be well aware of how often their colleague's scientific research is misreported like this. Especially in the case of interview "scoops".

Just to say, I do not think we have done any such thing here. We have both been very careful. But I think it is a valid concern to want to be sure that the facts are right.

We can do it by checking and double checking the paper to make absolutely sure that we got it right. That should be fine for Nature. Papers published in less reputable journals could have typos such as an incorrect figure that were missed in peer review. Researchers are only humand, and even the IPCC reports have minor errata published after the publication of the report, after dozens of eyes have looked over them. However we can be reasonably confident that this hasn't happened in Nature except in the most minor way. That's how I knew the apparent mis-match in the abstract numbers was not a typo. It was then a case of checking within the paper to find out what it was they referred to.

So, I don't seriously think that we are likely to have made a mistake like the NY Times bloopers. It is fine for you to do all the checking and we don't have to ask him.

I think I may email him anyway. I will want to work through my own article and it might be an idea to do it now. I might copy it into my user space here and then add a NO_INDEX tag to hide it from search results, and I'll fold in this new material about the sodium and magnesium perchlorates and some other material by way of backgroudn to it that I found while checking it. Then I'll probably send him an email with final pre-publication questions if he is so kind to answer. I won't however ask him if he has time to check over the WikiNews article, which was the extra thought that came up in my mind today as I was thinking over my plans for my own article. Robertinventor (talk) 02:36, 12 December 2018 (UTC)

@Pi zero: I'd like to suggest it for consideration for future articles on Wikinews however, that science articles can be submitted to the original researchers for review, if they have the time to do so, especially if it is a "scoop". With these examples as motivation. Is there a place I can make such a suggestion here for new policy? Robertinventor (talk) 04:23, 12 December 2018 (UTC)

Robertinvetor, I do like you. I appreciate your willingness to contribute things like this to Wikinews, and I find you intelligent and gratifyingly helpfully responsive. Please pardon if I'm a little blunt. We're not running a blog for experts to come and post on; we once had an interviewer invite their interviewee to edit our article about an interview with them, and it was deeply concerning for our neutrality and for the integrity of our reporting. No, review is not just fact-checking; not even close. Your implication earlier that I don't know what Nature is — and, far worse, that if I didn't already know, I wouldn't bother to find out before undertaking this review — was honestly insulting, all the more for your evident good intentions since they imply sincere belief I'd be that incompetent. You seem to have thought the review burden could be significantly reduced if I appreciated what a prestigious journal Nature is, whereas in fact its prestige is pretty much irrelevant to the issues involved in this phase of review.

I regret we've ended up with you undertaking an ambitious interview before mastering the basics of Wikinews writing from experience with synthesis articles; we ordinarily strongly encourage contributors to learn on plenty of synthesis before undertaking original reporting. The things you didn't know about what you should be trying to do have compounded the difficulty of reviewing this. Today (my time), it's entirely possible I wouldn't have gotten any more review on this done anyway, but then you've also proposed at length to make more changes, and even to violently overturn core policy, and I've poured hours of time and effort into addressing your suggestions, so that if there was any chance I'd have somehow gotten some review in today, that chance has been lost.

Btw, under our archive policy, substantive changes are only to be made within 24 hours after publication; beyond that, if we got something wrong we put a {{correction}} notice on the article, which we aspire never to have to do, but it's a point of pride that we own up to our mistakes when we make them. --Pi zero (talk) 06:06, 12 December 2018 (UTC)

@Pi zero: Oh sorry. I was surprised that you didn't seem to realize that Nature was so prestigious, but I didn't want to put it like that. It was a misunderstanding, when you said about our readers "telling them where claims of fact (and subjective opinions) come from, and thereby encouraging them to think about where information comes from" it seemed you were suggesting that they should think about whether to trust our source.
In that case I don't understand what point you were making there. An excellent point in general, I just didn't see how it was relevant to whether or not we ask him to look it over to see if there are any mistakes. But don't want to distract you from your review for an explanation :). As a point of clarity I wasn't suggest that an interviewee edit the article. I agree that's not appropriate, anyway someone like that wouldn't have the time. I meant something like "Can you glance over the article and let us know if there are any mistakes in it". Just substantial mistakes, the sort of things that would require post publication corrections if not spotted, not rewrite suggestions! Robertinventor (talk) 07:37, 12 December 2018 (UTC)
We've not-infrequently had interviews end with some variant of 'can you think of anything else you'd like to add'. Re asking the interviewee to look over the article, my own reflex would be to wait until our review is completed before asking that, and of course by then, it's been published. Making it something of a puzzle how best to coordinate the thing. --Pi zero (talk) 08:08, 12 December 2018 (UTC)
@Pi zero: Oh okay, just a suggestion, what about the idea of doing the rest of the article in two phases, first prioritize to check the figures and facts, and then do everything else?
I plan to spend a few hours tomorrow, or later today going through my expanded article. I will read it, check everything with a fresh eye and some copy editing and there is a small amount of new material to add (I've already incorported the new material about the sodium and magnesium perchlorates, did that yesterday).
Any time after that would be a natural time for me to email him, with @Darkfrog24:'s suggested question, whatever else I find to ask, and I can ask "can you think of anything else you'd like to add?". That is an especially natural question given the time since I emailed him last. That would be a natural time to ask him if he has ten minutes of his time to glance over it to check for any errata in facts and figures in our summary of his research. I don't think it would be fair to ask him to do it post publication in the 24 hours window after that.
However, as a for instance, if I ask him tomorrow, that would be Thursday evening in the US, he might well answer Friday or early next week if he isn't too busy. His reply to my second email was reasonably prompt. I sent it Thu, Nov 8, 12:50 PM and got a response Fri, Nov 9, 5:03 PM. If I asked him on Monday he might well reply early next week. Then I'd add the extra questions and answers to mine, and you can decide whether to add them to Wikinews. It might be that they need little or no extra introduction and can just be interweaved with the other questions, anyway it would be up to you depending what he says.
I have several new questions that I have thought of since yesterday, on thinking about what I may ask him for my blog post, and they are rather techy. Going into perhaps more detail than is appropriate for this wikinews interview. I expect to have more questions for him after I have worked through the article, and some may be suitable for Wikinews. So as you can see I'll have a fair bit for an email and it would be natural enough to weave in a suggestion he might want to check the very short Wikinews article for errata. Not my own one, it is rather long, 6,000 words or half an hour of his time. But I'd share a url with him in case he is interested to see it in progress.
My list of extra questions for him is here, I'll expand on it as I go through the article: [24]Robertinventor (talk) 15:36, 12 December 2018 (UTC)
We do review the way we do it because it's what works. You're looking for a way to "fix" a specific problem that is best dealt with by actually doing it rather than trying to think of ways to change how it's done. (And then there are the long-term prospects for improving Wikinews operations, where also I've tended to employ a just-do-it approach — I can see what's needed, and most of the effort I can scrape up for that goes into doing it rather than explaining it. Which is taking, literally, many years to implement... which arguably only makes it more important to get on with it rather than further slowing things with meta-discussion.) --Pi zero (talk) 17:12, 12 December 2018 (UTC)

That's fine. I was responding to your

"Re asking the interviewee to look over the article, my own reflex would be to wait until our review is completed before asking that, and of course by then, it's been published. Making it something of a puzzle how best to coordinate the thing."

It's up to you, just an offer. If you find it useful I'll ask him if he has time to look over the article when I email him, to check for serious mistakes. If not useful I won't. If it is only possible immediately before publication and it requires a 24 hour response I'd be uncomfortable asking for that. No need for meta discussion, just a yes / no answer is fine. It was all along. If the answer is no, then I send him my email when I have finished my review of my own draft in my user space probably tomorrow. If the anser is yes, that it is useful, that's okay so long as it is a few days before publication and then you can let me know when is a good time. Thanks! Robertinventor (talk) 17:45, 12 December 2018 (UTC)

If an article of about this size and scope were written by a veteran Wikinewsie, I would hope reviewing it might take about three hours, and expect it would likely take less than twice that. I've spent so far, conservatively, upwards of twelve hours on this, and I'm only about a third of the way through the text. Not meant as a complaint, but useful perspective. The difference is that a veteran Wikinewsie has know-how to write an article that closely follows Wikinews principles and also facilitates review; and one thing we can do to improve throughput (this isn't enough for the long-term in itself, mind) is to help newcomers become veterans so that they'll write articles that take less effort to review. Which is not easy to do since that know-how tends not to be the sort of thing that's easily bottled for mass distribution.

I hope to start a major review session on this in maybe an hour or two from now (knock wood). --Pi zero (talk) 17:58, 12 December 2018 (UTC)

@Pi zero: Okay. Hopefully I get a better idea of how it works for the future. It has also taken up a huge amount of my own time, I haven't counted the hours, but I could probably have written a dozen blog posts on similar topics in the time it has taken working on this. But I have found the process valuable in ways hard to quantify, including for my own writing outside of Wikinews.
Just to say I can understand the value of "just doing it". It takes up huge amounts of time in Wikipedia, long discussions about e.g. is it spelt 'Aluminum' or 'Aluminium' and I'm glad to see we don't have that here, well, not that I've seen. This has its up-sides and its down-sides and maybe one needs a balance of both approaches, the main issue might be the "camel's nose" thing that if one starts having discussions of policy would it escalate to the point where the smallest minutae are endlessly debated as often happens on Wikipedia? Or if not, how does one manage to maintain a balance?
Staying small helps, for sure. I get the idea that the focus on Wikinews is not to try to become a news source that anyoen could rely on for their main source of news, but rather to focus on doing a relatively small number of articles, but doing them thoroughly and with all the sources. I doubt if an editor reviewing a journalist's article for a major news outlet would spend as much as three hours reviewing it. Probably only minutes to judge by the bloopers they let through at times.
No need to respond to this. Hope your next session goes well! I'm going to assume the answer is 'no' for my offer, I'll just email Vlada when it is natural to do so. However, I'll let you know first, before I email him, probably tomorrow and if it is an appropriate time and you want me to ask him to look it over then I'll do so. Robertinventor (talk) 18:08, 12 December 2018 (UTC)


@Pi zero: Hi, I've just started work again on my extended article in my user space[25], as I said I would.

Anyway, I see you are working on the para again. You might be interested to know, if you want to link to it, that the map of the calcium perchlorates is here Figure 3a - the upper left map in the image. We wouldn't be able to embed it, but I'd have thought a direct link was permitted given that they are publicly available (and could easily have been made subscription only). Noticed that while working on my extended article becasue it links to the figures. Robertinventor (talk) 07:25, 12 December 2018 (UTC)

@Pi zero: Noticed you just removed this with edit summary that it is not supported by the figure 2. " For this the lowest concentrations in the southern uplands are around 25 millionths of a mole per cubic meter (0.0008 mg per liter).". This is in the body of the text. I sent you a screenshot of the relevant section via email with the text circled saying " and the least O2-rich environments in the tropical southern highlands at ~2.5 × 10−5mol m−3 of dissolved O2". We discussed that earlier in this page. The figure 2 shows it too but as you noticed doesn't give any figures, the figures for some of the bars in figure 2 are given in the body of the text. Please rather than remove numbers from the article that seem to be unsupported, can you just post here on the talk page with a comment and you can usually expect me to respond within a few hours unless I'm asleep and I'll tell you where it came from in the paper and if necessary send you another screenshot. Thanks! Robertinventor (talk) 01:50, 13 December 2018 (UTC)

You could add the adjective "tropical" would be a good add, the "southern uplands" can mean the entire southern hemisphere not just the most mountaineous area, it's the tropical southern uplands that have the lowest oxygen levels because it is both high altitude, so low atmospheric pressure, and also warm (for Mars) so low in oxygen. Robertinventor (talk) 02:00, 13 December 2018 (UTC)

I pored over that number for a long while. Reread your comments on it carefully, repeatedly. Examined the source evidence: the figure, the passage from the body of the article, and of course the abstract; and how those things sit relative to your remarks on the matter. A basic difference between Wikipedia and Wikinews is that Wikipedia advocates a fundamental philosophy of publish-now-fix-later, whereas a defining characteristic of journalism is Thou shalt not publish something that isn't right.

I'll take a look at "tropical". --Pi zero (talk) 02:14, 13 December 2018 (UTC)

If you think something is wrong in what I said, can't you just fix what I said. But I don't see any mistakes. This is the passage in the paper that I was paraphrasing
"For our best estimate (including supercooling), the results display large gradients in O2 solubility for Ca- and Mg-perchlorates across Mars, with polar regions having the greatest potential to harbour near-surface fluids at 2 × 10−1 mol m−3 of dissolved O2, and the least O2-rich environments in the tropical southern highlands at ~2.5 × 10−5 mol m−3 of dissolved O2. The O2 solubility of near-surface brines across Mars today could vary by five orders of magni-tude (Fig. 3a)."
Use Figure 2 to compare with the text if you need more clarity, the pink bar is for the calcium perchlorates which is what they mapped and the orange bar for the magnesium perchlorates. Figure 3 caption ends with "comparable results for both" and so though the text says "Ca- and Mg-perchlorates" they are describing the results for the calcium perchlorates shown in the map because they use the upper figure for the calcium perchlorates of 2 × 10−1 mol m−3 which matches the bar in figure 2 for calcium perchlorates and it is also what you'd expect them to be talking about since it is what they mapped. So then the "~2.5 × 10−5 mol m−3 of dissolved O2" refers to the lower bound in that figure for calcium perchlorates. it is about the same for both but the context is pretty clear that they mean the calcium perchlorates. It is the sort of thing one could sort out in a moment by just asking Vlada in my email if you are unsure if he means the calcium or magnesium perchlorate by that 25 millionths of a mole figure. With papers in Nature, as a printed journal they have limitations of space and the figures get cluttered with lots of numbers on them, that would be the only reason they don't publish the numbers, they will have them in their own files about their own research and would be used to answering colleagues who ask this question.
Robertinventor (talk) 03:05, 13 December 2018 (UTC)
It would be reasonable to say "About 25 millionths of a mole" because of the ~2.5. Robertinventor (talk) 03:08, 13 December 2018 (UTC)
I say "around 25 millionths of a mole" in the draft in my user space. Robertinventor (talk) 03:10, 13 December 2018 (UTC)

@Pi zero: I don't want to delay review. I do not think I made any mistakes there. But please don't let me hold it up. The important thing is to keep the number of 0.2 moles per cubic meter that I asked in my question. The lower limit number is not important to the interview. Robertinventor (talk) 03:18, 13 December 2018 (UTC)

I don't want to delay review either; last time around, the thing that tipped the situation over from mere cutting of unverified details to not-readying the article was that I was having trouble with the 0.2 mole-per-cubic-meter figure, which is very prominent, featuring in an interview question.

Clarification: I didn't cut the 25 millionths number because I believed it to be wrong. I cut it because I was unable to verify that it was right. Also note, the things you're telling me to look at, I've already remarked I have scrutinized.

I am intimately familiar with peer-reviewed academic papers, having studied such papers, and participated in the process both as a coauthor and as an anonymous reviewer. To remind, in my earlier review I noted the lower bound appeared to be inconsistent between the abstract and the body of the paper; you explained to me what you believed to be going on there, and cited the figure; your explanation sounded plausible on the face of it, but when I closely studied all these things, including the figure, I did not find the figure supportive of your explanation. That leaves me feeling that there is something strange and still unidentified about that number in the paper, so it's definitely not advisable to treat as verified. Trusting that other people are infallible is not sound policy — never assume. And, explicit numbers or no, those bar charts clearly show substantially the same lower bounds in all four cases. (And yes, I know which bar in the charts is which; the figure says the color coding is explained in Figure 1, so I promptly snarfed Figure 1.) --Pi zero (talk) 03:53, 13 December 2018 (UTC)

(I mean, of course, not advisable to treat as verified for Wikinews purposes; I certainly wouldn't presume to advise you on your blog. :-) --Pi zero (talk) 04:01, 13 December 2018 (UTC)

Oh I see. That's a puzzle, I agree! In Figure 2.

The 2.5 * 10^-6 for the sodium looks right, I think the abstract was talking about the worst case which is sodium perchlorate, which clearly has no noticeable supercooling and is the same with all their estimates.

But the lower limit for the calcium and magnesium seems like it is lower than the 2.5 * 10^-5 moles per cubic meter mentioned in his map discussion, given it's a log plot it is much more like 1.(something)* 10^-5 moles per cubic meter. And the discrepancy is in the wrong direction because the lowest levels in the southern uplands would be for pressure levels lower than the 6.1 mbar used in that figure, and so, with even lower oxygen solubility than for the figure not higher.

I agree there is something we are missing here. The number 2.5 doesn't occur anywhere in the supplementary information either [26]. That's a bit of a puzzle.

There must be an explanation for it. I will ask Vlada in my email. And ask if he has the actual numbers for that table, and also the numbers for the map for the six brines published and if it is available online anywhere and if I can mention them in my extended interview article. It is a reasonable question.

I suppose even Nature can have typos sometimes, after all even the IPCC reports get rare errata, but it seems unlikely to me. I don't think we can resolve this by poring over the paper any more. The information we need is simply not there and nor is it in the supplementary information. Robertinventor (talk) 05:26, 13 December 2018 (UTC)

For review purposes it suffices to see the situation isn't trustable; though a typo is possible, I could easily believe something else is going on, even if there is a typo somewhere.

I have to stop for tonight; next to do is the paragraph starting "The usual cold limit of life [...]". --Pi zero (talk) 06:08, 13 December 2018 (UTC)

Well, I wouldn't say that myself because I've had situations like this before where something doesn't seem to make any sense but you ask the researcher and they explain and some unexpected detail helps you realize what is going on. I can't predict what that might be not being expert on the topic but it is possible. I need to find out what it is for my detailed article. I plan to have a read through of some of the rest of it tomorrow but I'll send him my interview questions as they are so far at that point + this question, don't want to keep it hanging I'm keen to find out what is going on myself too. I can always do another follow up question afterwards if there is anything else. Okay great.
On that paragraph then I discovered today he has an extensive section about it in the supplementnary information, look for section 3.2, line 502 [27]. I didn't know about it at the time of the interview, hadn't discovered the supplementary information, as it answers my question already (though it doesn't say any more about where the warmer water comes from except that of course it gets warmer as you go deeper but the question there is hnow does liquid get from deep down to the surface, there's though to be a deep hydrosphere kiloemters below the surface but that's no use, which is why it would need near surface geological hot spots to bring the warm water in contact with surface brines).
Anyway so thinking about what could cause issues in advance.
Maybe the microbes with lifetimes of millennia? That's discussed in section 3.1 of A New Analysis of Mars ‘‘Special Regions’’:Findings of the Second MEPAG Special Regions Science Analysis Group (SR-SAG2) where more exacatly, they find that microbes can survive for 100,000 to a million years of very slow metabolic activity not dormancy, and that in the Antarctic dry valleys where temperatures rarely exceed 0 C, they typically take 1000 to 10,000 years to invade and colonize sandstone. They go on to talk about how it's not possible to use cell counts to tell whether there is cell division going on there because if there is the process is so slow.
So - yes it is also hard to distinguish living from dormant life when metabolism is so slow - or maybe intermittently dormant - and that is brought out in some other studies. But for the section I referred to there, a better summary:
"where individual microbes have lifetimes measured in millennia which makes it impossible to tell if they are replicating through cell counts".
BTW better to replace the research gate url with the NASA one for the special regions report [28]Robertinventor (talk) 07:05, 13 December 2018 (UTC)
For the section after that, then the tilt of Earth's axis figure is Figure 4 c which is also discussed in the paper text. Robertinventor (talk) 07:10, 13 December 2018 (UTC)
For the para about early Earth compared to Mars then I can't find the 1.4 billion years ago, it's summarizing his last section which says that Earth couldn't support aerobic life prior to 2.35 billion years ago. Then goes on to talk about how this research shows another route to aerobes - the rest is as the conclusion, but that 1.4 seems to have come from somewhere else, I wondered if it was the press release, but no. Anyway, best replace it by 2.35 to match the paper.
Hopefully this helps to anticipate a few things that you might come across before you get to them. Robertinventor (talk) 07:25, 13 December 2018 (UTC)
@Pi zero: I see you moved the photograph of this article to after the {{Space}} template. I thought we'd discussed it, so this is just a reminder in case it's an accident. It means that if anyone shares this story on twitter or facebook then it will have the picture of stars from the Space template as the thumbnail. If the title doesn't match the image then it is likely to put them off, they may think there is some mistake before they click through. While if there is a good match, e.g. says it is an interview in this case and the thumbnail is of a person it will encourage them to click. We tried to find a way to customize the template to include the image from the article instead but it doesn't have that option, also @Gryllida: suggested adding the url to the image as an exclusion to the wiki code that decides which image on the page to show to social sharing platforms as the preview thumbnail. However nothing has been done yet because the article shows the stars image still as the preview thumbnail. You can check that for yourself here [29] Robertinventor (talk) 15:22, 13 December 2018 (UTC)
I see that you have put it after the first paragraph. And agree that the page looks nicer that way. So I suppose that's the reason? But it is likely to lead to significantly less social sharing. I suppose the problem with adding the Space image to the exclusion list is that if an article has no image associated with it, then that means there is nothing at all as a thumbnail. But I think in that case the Facebook algorithm would pick up the space image anyway - if you don't specify an image it will pick one for itself. Robertinventor (talk) 15:27, 13 December 2018 (UTC)
@Robertinventor, Gryllida: Some software will snarf an image that's named in an html comment, so that one can arrange what image the software will find "first" and yet not affect the appearance of the typeset wiki page. I wouldn't know whether that's the case with the software you're interested in. (In adjusting the article layout, I followed the principle that our first concern logically ought be what the article looks like on Wikinews; just wondering if we can have our cake and eat it too.) --Pi zero (talk) 15:30, 13 December 2018 (UTC)
@Pi zero: Oh @Gryllida: found the solution. Wikinews uses the extension Pageimages which is what implements the open graph protocol. This is what is automatically picking out the Space template image as the first image on the page and telling social media that this is the image to use as the thumbnail no matter what else it finds on the page.
That extension has a blacklist as explained here [30]. They give this one as their example, from Wikipedia: [31]
So, if I understand right, all you need to do is to navigate to this page:
Then just edit it to add the Space template file. Only admins can edit that page. But I think this woulid do the trick as raw wikitext

These images will never appear in results returned by [[mw:Extension:PageImages]].

* [[:File:ScoCen.jpg]]

Now the Space template image will never be set as the preferred image on the page, but if it is the only image then the social media will select it anyway as the preview thumbnail.
You can proceed to do the same for any other images you want excluded, e.g. the images for other sidebar templates. @Gryllida: - have I missed anything here? 16:04, 13 December 2018 (UTC)
Trying the pageimages blacklist thing, though it seems kind of a kludge.

I might clarify, regarding that puzzling number, that as a reviewer of course I'm always considering possibilities; it's just that in terms of reviewer action, there's no practical difference between a number that's wrong and a number that we don't understand; we can't go publishing something we don't understand. So, situations where the paper is theoretically "right" and we're not understanding it are just as much unverified as situations where the number is somehow "wrong". (I actually once stumbled on an error on a web page, emailed the author, and it turned out the web page was an htmlized version of a paper they'd published in a peer-reviewed journal a couple of years earlier; stuff does happen.) --Pi zero (talk) 18:21, 13 December 2018 (UTC)

Great that's fixed it, hurray![32] It's a kludge, I agree, but it's a recommended kludge designed by the authors of the extension itself. It's not "intelligent" enough to distinguish between a navigation side bar and other side bars. The less kludgy way would be to add some wikitext prior to an image in the page to indicate that it is not to be picked out for social sharing (while the same image used outside of that sidebar could be). If they had done that then it would also be possible to completely customize the plug in for any page by just excluding all the images except the one you want seleced.

But for some reason, maybe something technical, they didn't do it that way and we can't change that except by asking them to rewrite the plugin. This is what they ask us to do in this situation in the page for the plugin itself. And it is a one-time fix for all future {{Space}} and even all past {{Space}} articles too. Robertinventor (talk) 00:36, 14 December 2018 (UTC)

For me a previous example from last year was when I found out that the list of Near Earth Objects at one kilometer or larger in the PL Small-Body Database Search Engine had fewer members than the number listed in their discovery statistics pages for the number of such objects discovered so far. When I contacted them to ask why, it turned out that the discovery statistics use the orbit perihelions as worked out by the IAU minor planet center, and the list of objects uses the values for their own internally generated orbits. There is an error margin of course, and they calculate them independently. For objects that happen to have a perihelion of 1.3 exactly at the boundary of the definition of a NEO, they sometimes differ in whether they say they were inside or not. The two lists just are different, it can't be "fixed", and for consistency they recommend everyone uses the minor planets center list for statistics. Robertinventor (talk) 00:53, 14 December 2018 (UTC)

{@Pi zero: hope you don't mind am checking your edit summaries from time to time as you mix. Good catch on mixtures, they didn't study mixtures of calcium and magnesium perchlorates, but them separately.

For the simulation experiments it was me being clumsy, I meant "In experiments with simulated Mars soil". Because we don't have the real regolith here of course. Indeed even for lunar regolith experiments normally use simulants. He mentions this in the paper (third para) as

"Ca- and Mg-perchlorate brines exhibit a much lower freezing point than pure water, by as much as 60–80 K, and at their eutectic composition, they effectively supercool down to 140–150 K before transitioning into a glass, even when mixed with Martian regolith simulant"

In the supplementary information[33] (line 528) as

"The much lower freezing temperatures for Martian brines and the ability of some of them to effectively supercool, even when mixed with soils, are the reasons why we study such brines as materials interesting to life."

So he explains its a simulant in the paper but doesn't mention this in the supplementary information, probably just didn't feel it needed repeating. Reader will assume it anyway of course, it's a minor point, and the way I expressed it was clumsy suggested it was a theoretical simulation, just came out wrong on the page. Robertinventor (talk) 03:28, 14 December 2018 (UTC)

@Pi zero: First, I've just emailed Vlada (yesterday). I will let you know when he replies. Asked him about our numbers puzzle.

I've been working some more on my extended article so that it can be ready when the Wikinews version is. One thing I did that may be relevant here too is to divide up the background links section into categories and add a short line of text before each one to say what it does.

Just a suggestion if you think it is useful. Some of the material in the external links also we might decide to leave out and this division could help with that, things that are to do with the extra material in my extended article.


Robertinventor (talk) 14:43, 15 December 2018 (UTC)

@Pi zero: I haven't heard back from Vlada, perhaps it is another busy time for him. I might perhaps send a follow up reminder email. Not that you depend on it in any way but I hope to resolve the question of that puzzling number.

It is getting close to Christmas and I think you have a fair few articles to review. So probably this is not going to be finished before.

I'll still be available and online over Christmas, somewhat less time online per day but I'll have my laptop and wi-fi connection. And maybe after that? Try to do it before New Year?? If I get a reply from Vlada it will help me with my own article draft.

Robertinventor (talk) 07:09, 20 December 2018 (UTC)

@Pi zero: Just to say I heard back from Vlada today, he's had a lot on for the last few weeks but will definitely get back to me with responses to my extra questions once he has more time. One of my questions was about the number that puzzled us, so I'll be able to let you know when he replies, although it's not relevant to the article as it is now since you removed it. Most of my other questions are rather technical, more suitable for my longer blog post, but I asked him to elaborate about warm water entering from below and asked about any developments since then. This is my follow up email to him, which I expect an answer to soonish Email-Interview-with Vlada follow up
Robertinventor (talk) 20:52, 8 January 2019 (UTC)

Massively trimmed what's leftEdit

@Pi zero: Seems realistically it's not going to be possible to get the rest reviewed unless I trim it hugely.

So I've removed most of what remains of the exposition in between the interview questions.

I'll take another look later today or tomorrow see if there is anything else can be trimmed. I've left in of course the first bit that is already checked and reviewed.

I've also removed the external links section. I don't think any of it is needed for review.

Robertinventor (talk) 11:37, 27 December 2018 (UTC)

@Pi zero: I have also removed the details of the time period that the tilt was suitable for sponges in their model. It is not needed for the interview and another thing you don't have to verify.

Also removed the 1.5 km figure for the subglacial lake, one less thing to verify, and it is not needed for this article, and removed the question and answer about Möhlmann's model because it also has figures you'd need to verify.

So there are now no more numbers left to verify except the remaining ones I asked in my questions which couldn't be removed easily and are easy to check.

Robertinventor (talk) 08:51, 28 December 2018 (UTC)

@Pi zero: - I've removed a bit more, there isn't much left to review in the rest of the article, it is mainly connecting text to help the interview questions to flow more easily. Are you going to be able to review it? I've done the best I can to make it as easy as possible to review. Robertinventor (talk) 16:27, 28 December 2018 (UTC)

@Robertinventor: I've already sunk a staggering amount of work into this review; there was, of course, more left to do, and I was feeling crushed by the difficulty of finding the time-and-energy to do it. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding what you've now done, but it sounds as if you're telling me, if I want to review this article I have to start with a massive study-and-analysis of how you've changed it. Followed by... whatever it is I find needs to be done at that point, which I have a deeply unpleasant feeling about in relation to the previous review work. --Pi zero (talk) 15:35, 29 December 2018 (UTC)
@Pi zero: no, I'm trying to help. Please in all this I am only doing my best to help. I have not edited the bit you reviewed so far. I have just deleted material from the rest of the article. You can restore it if you want, but given it took several weeks to review the first part, I felt this was saving you a massive amount of work. There are no numbers left to check in the rest of the article apart from the ones in my question to Vlada and I removed one of the questions + answer because it had several numbers in it you'd have to check and is not of high importance, I can cover it in the extended article.
Remember I also have put a massive amount of work into this. I could have written a half dozen or more blog posts in the time I spent on it. I am trying to help. Robertinventor (talk) 15:45, 29 December 2018 (UTC)
It would not have occurred to me to doubt your intentions. I'm aware you've put massive work into this. My general sense of you is that you're intelligent, knowledgeable of the subject matter, industrious, enthusiastically engaged — and yet, here we still are. --Pi zero (talk) 16:11, 29 December 2018 (UTC)
I've talked with Robert and he's trying to make the article easier to review than it was in its previous form. But yes, I can see how that could backfire if it necessitates starting over and re-checking paragraphs you've already checked. Darkfrog24 (talk) 18:52, 29 December 2018 (UTC)

Yes glad you see it like that. As far as I can tell, it is just one of those glitches that can happen, and wasn't easy to forsee. Now that it's happened it's a case of finding the best way forwards.

I hope that when you review what I did, that it helps. It's just removing things in the bit you haven't reached yet, AFAIK, the diff is a bit confusing for some reason, so it may help to summarize what I did. diff

Here are the things I removed - hopefully it reads fine without them, it leaves almost nothing left except the interview questions and answers and some connecting material in the rest of the article. I feel - that if you think there seems to be a gap as you read and that some of this is needed we could restore it, so maybe doing it like that would be better. But I think it is okay "as is" hopefully.

  • Figure for the usual cold limit of life of -20 C - reader doesn't need to know that and it needs to be explained that it is not a hard limit, because at those low temperatures then the metabolism slows down so much it is hard to tell the difference between dormant life and life that is very slowly metabolizing. Removed entire para about this
  • My explanation of what he meant by "the major reason for limiting life at low temperature is ice nucleation, which would not occur in the type of brines that we study." - reader will get some idea of what it means from what he says and to explain it further means expanding on what he says in the paper and so more to check.
  • The figures about how far back they took the modeling for the brines. It is a detail that the reader doesn't need to know to follow the conversation and one more thing to check removed
  • My question and his answer about the Mohmann solid state greenhouse effect fresh water hypothesis. It is a detail that can easily be left out. It is a model that interests me personally, and it was a natural question to ask for my own blog, where I have covered Mohmann's model before, it is not at all essential for Wikinews to cover this.
  • Background details from Curiosity REM measurements of Mars - just to show to the reader how variable the climate is on Mars and how the dynamics is important to study. But it's just background easily left out.
  • the bit from the conclusion of the paper that on Earth photosynthesis came first, on Mars it could have happened that oxygen using animals came first. Again, interesting but not essential, one less thing to check, and the 1.4 billion figure there would need to be updated or removed. Simplest to just remove it all.

Robertinventor (talk) 19:07, 29 December 2018 (UTC)

@Pi zero: Perhaps this will help? It's in my user space, I've just copied the old article over and coloured in red the material I removed and in green the material I added. Surely removing so much material from the article can only make your job easier? If for some reason this backfires and makes things harder, I am sorry as that was not the intention at all, and let me know if there is anything else I can do to help.

Robertinventor (talk) 16:34, 30 December 2018 (UTC)

I mean to tackle this later today, if at all possible. Though there's a William Saturn article to do first. --Pi zero (talk) 17:04, 30 December 2018 (UTC)
@Pi zero: Just pinging you as a reminder since you said you'd look at it about a week ago. Robertinventor (talk) 06:14, 6 January 2019 (UTC)

Review of revision 4457552 [Passed]Edit

@Pi zero: Thanks glad it is okay now. The footnotes to figures 3 and 4 work fine and the solution of putting the links to the figures below the paper also works well.

Yes I did put particular emphasis into removing numbers, I can understand that qualitative things would often be most difficult to review. In this case though, I felt that it was a number that caused one of the main sticking points before. Not just that we both found it puzzling, but more than that, we were unable to resolve it either. That's the lower limit of 2.5 * 10-5 moles per cubic meter in the abstract. Neither of us found a mention in the paper itself and didn't seem to match his figure 2a which seems to go much lower than that for the calcium and magnesium perchlorates, something you noticed which I hadn't noticed.

Haven't yet resolved that because Vlada has had too much on to respond but he said he hopes to respond soon. As it is no longer mentioned in the interview it's not a problem any more. I will post to this talk page when he replies for anyone who follows this talk page discussion.

Anyway I that's why I removed all the remaining numbers except where they were absolutely essential. They were just additional background material. They were complete paragraphs so I could easily have removed qualitative things also. Anyway as you say whether it helped or not, done is done and the main thing is we've got it finished now hurray! Yes hopefully things will go better in the future. Robertinventor (talk) 04:17, 9 January 2019 (UTC)

@Pi zero: just checked your edits[34], all look fine to me. The only one I could comment on is your removal of:

"But it takes account of topography such as mountains and craters etc"

Anyway it's not needed for the interview but just to explain the background there. First, you can see from figure 3[35] that it is taking account of topography - you can even see the peaks of Olympus Mons and the three peaks of Tharsis Montes at top left of figure 3a as dark blue, showing the lower oxygen concentrations at altitude. As for the actual model used, the article itself doesn't give much detail as far as I can see, nor does the supplementary information. It just says "We couple this solubility framework to a Mars general circulation model (GCM)" and adds footnotes to two papers about MarsWRF, the Mars version of PlanetWRF[36]. The papers he links to are this one[37] and this one[38]

In the paper itself he doesn't say what resolution he uses, but the second article he links to says that 5 degrees by 5 degrees is typical, with compensation done to avoid slowing it down at higher latitudes where the resolution would be finer if they just used degrees. So that would be a spatial resolution about 300 km in equatorial regions, i.e. rather low resolution but enough to pick out the main features including the very largest mountains, Hellas basin, the northern ocean etc.

I will ask him what resolution it was for my expanded article as an extra question, it's a good question to ask. But anyway none of this is needed for the article. As to whether you want to restore that sentence, I leave it to you. We don't touch on the topography for the interview so it is not required. Robertinventor (talk) 05:33, 9 January 2019 (UTC)

Ah. Thanks for the explanation.

When cutting that passage I did, of course, consider the implications; even the paragraph it's in doesn't lose much, as a slightly weaker form of the same thing can be tentatively inferred from the end of fthe following sentence, "at various locations on Mars." (If cutting it had appeared to do something bad, I'd have had to consider improvising further alternatives.) The specific concepts of mountains and craters still feel just a bit extrapolational to me, and reformulating it would be outside reviewer's purview. So I think I'll leave it be. --Pi zero (talk) 12:58, 9 January 2019 (UTC)

Aw, I'm gonna miss seeing this thing like a bookend in the review hopper. Congrats, all! Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:36, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
Pardon my saying so, but I'm not going to miss it. Its psychological effect on me, as a constant reminder of my failure to get to it, was not good. --Pi zero (talk) 19:00, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
@Pi zero: I think @Darkfrog24: means that in a sympathetic tone, a way of saying that it is good to see it sorted out at last. It is an expression some people use, saying they will miss something when they really mean that it is good to have it sorted out, and they won't really miss it at all (except familiarity) not unlike when people say "wicked" for "good". With a bit of self deprecating humorous tone to it, often used by people who have been a bit involved in the events themselves, even though they have had a relatively minor role for this story but did do their best to help sort it out.
On the topography I agree. It was a little too specific - craters - how big? Hellas Basin for sure but how much smaller? That's why it would be good in my extended article to have an idea of the actual resolution. I think it may even be the 0.5 degree finest resolution from the map given that you can see Olympus Mons and the Tharses Montes - at 5 degrees and 300 km they would be barely discernible, one or two points each. At 0.5 then it would be 30 km. Will see what he says in his reply. Even so - only the very largest craters would be taken account of. Robertinventor (talk) 19:37, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
I took Darkfrog24's remark in good kind. --Pi zero (talk) 19:41, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
Great :) Robertinventor (talk) 20:27, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
I am glad to hear it. I only meant it was not unpleasant to look at. Hopefully next time will go more smoothly. But now we have TWO original reporting articles up on the main page at the same time! Darkfrog24 (talk) 21:47, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
And that is definitely good to see. There's another OR piece on the queue, as well. --Pi zero (talk) 22:43, 9 January 2019 (UTC)
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