They're heeeere? Scientists say alien life could already be lurking among, or even in, us
2010 01 27
By Raphael G. Satter | YahooNews.ca
For decades, scientists have scanned the heavens in search of extraterrestrial life. Perhaps they should have looked for alien life closer to home.
Variant life forms - most likely tiny microbes - could still be hanging around "right under or noses - or even in our noses," Paul Davies, an award-winning Arizona State University physicist, told a group of scientists Tuesday.
"How do we know all life on earth descended from a single origin?" he said, speaking at London's Royal Society, which serves as Britain's academy of sciences. "We've just scratched the surface of the microbial world."
The idea that alien micro-organisms could be hiding on Earth has been discussed for a while, according to Jill Tarter, the director of Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, a U.S. project that listens for signals from civilizations based around distant stars.
She said several of the scientists involved in the project were interested in pursuing the notion, which Davies laid out in a 2007 Scientific American article, "Are Aliens Among Us?"
So far, there's no answer. And finding one would be fraught with difficulties, as Davies himself acknowledged.
Paul Davies of Arizona State University poses for the Associated Press prior to his lecture
in the Royal Society in central London, Tuesday Jan. 26, 2010. LEFTERIS PITARAKIS / AP
Unusual organisms abound - including chemical-eating bacteria which dwell deep in the ocean and organisms that thrive in boiling-hot springs - but that doesn't mean they're different life forms entirely.
"How weird do they have to be to suggest a second genesis as opposed to just an obscure branch of the family tree?" he said. Davies suggested that the only way to prove an organism wasn't "life as we know it" was if it were built using exotic elements which no other form of life had.
Such organisms have yet to be found. Bruce Jakosky, an astrobiologist at the University of Colorado at Boulder, said the notion of alien life on Earth was "an interesting theoretical idea" but one that would be impossible to put odds on because "we have no idea what we're looking for."
Jakosky added that, if such life forms existed, humans would probably have little to fear, as their different biochemistry would tend to mitigate against infection or disease.
Davies agreed that the idea needed verification, telling the conference that "the scientist in me screams out for caution."
Still, he noted that less than 1 per cent of all the world's bacteria had been comprehensively studied - leaving plenty of room for scientists to find surprises in Earth's nooks and crannies.
Davies' call for alien-hunting scientists to look to their own backyards came as a pioneer in the search for extraterrestrial life in outer space told the conference the job appears to be more difficult than previously thought.
Frank Drake, who conducted the first organized search for alien radio signals in 1960, said that the Earth - which used to pump out a loud tangle of radio waves, television signals and other radiation - has been steadily getting quieter as its communications technology improves.
Drake cited the switch from analogue to digital television - which uses a far weaker signal - and the fact that much more communications traffic is now relayed by satellites and fiber optic cables, limiting its leakage into outer space.
"Very soon we will become very undetectable," he said. If similar changes are taking place in other technologically advanced societies, then the search for them "will be much more difficult than we imagined."
But Drake said scientists at SETI were excited by the possibility of using lasers to send super-bright flashes of light into space for a tiny fraction of a second. The flashes could theoretically be seen by an advanced civilization up to 1,000 light years away, and infrared versions of the devices could possibly send beams even further.
But Drake noted that the interstellar equivalent to turning a flashlight on and off only works if a prospective alien civilization wants to get in touch to begin with.
"There has to be altruism in the universe," he said.
Article from: YahooNews.ca
The Royal Society
Channeling your inner alien? Maybe, scientists say
Are we alone? We may soon find out
Synthetic biology and the search for aliens
Exolanguage: do you speak alien?
Alienating Aliens: Do Nukes Make Them Go Ballistic?
Dr Michio Kaku "We will make contact with alien life ... get used to it!"
Aliens Make Crop Circles, Best Evidence Ever (Video)
Bulgarian Academy Scientists Reported to Be in Touch with Aliens
Aliens 'Already Exist on Earth', Bulgarian Scientists Claim
The Vatican joins the search for alien life
Don’t call the aliens,they might not be friendly
Are We All Aliens? The New Case for Panspermia (2000)
Life On Earth Could Have Come From A Mars Rock
Attack of the space microbes!
Latest News from our Front Page
Pre-historic tokens used in conjunction with cuneiform
2014 07 22
An archaeological dig in southeast Turkey has uncovered a large number of clay tokens that were used as records of trade until the advent of writing, or so it had been believed. But a new find of tokens, dates from a time when writing was commonplace – thousands of years after it was previously assumed this technology had become obsolete.
Are immigration opponents Nazis?
2014 07 22
It seems the usual suspects are calling anyone who opposes unlimited immigration to be a "Nazi". The Left seems to be in constant fear of "Nazis" that lurk in public policy discussions and I assume under their beds. If you oppose any Leftist position, you are a.... take a wild guess...wait for it.... a NAZI! Tim Wise recently went ...
What Did US Spy Satellites See in Ukraine?
2014 07 22
Exclusive: The U.S. media’s Ukraine bias has been obvious, siding with the Kiev regime and bashing ethnic Russian rebels and Russia’s President Putin. But now – with the scramble to blame Putin for the Malaysia Airlines shoot-down – the shoddy journalism has grown truly dangerous, says Robert Parry.
In the heat of the U.S. media’s latest war hysteria – rushing to ...
Oh, Great: Robots Are Set to Conduct National Security Clearance Interviews
2014 07 22
Advancing a career in the US government might soon require an interview with a computer-generated head who wants to know about that time you took ketamine.
Psychologists at the National Center for Credibility Assessment (NCCA) are developing an interview system that uses a responsive on-screen avatar for the first stage of the national security clearance process.
Initial screening for a variety ...
Is Anything on the Internet Real Anymore?
2014 07 22
Is there anybody…out there?
I promise I’m a real person asking this question and typing this article…but beyond that, I can’t promise much else about anything you or I see on the Internet.
This article on ZDNet, “GCHQ’s dark arts: Leaked documents reveal online manipulation, Facebook, YouTube snooping,” confirms — beyond a shadow of any possible doubt — that a barrage of ...
|More News » |