Imagine that an intelligent alien species has discovered us, and that they have the ability to journey to Earth to make first contact.
It may sound like a fantastical scenario better suited to fiction than to science, and for more than two centuries this has largely been the case, but over the last few years a number of scientists have begun to debate first contact scenarios, both in scholarly domains and in the mass media.
What do you think first contact would be like?
I’ve had a few ideas of my own, inspired heavily by sci-fi I admit, and in previous posts I’ve looked at scenarios in which the aliens may not even be interested in us, or that they may make first contact with us, but covertly. In this post I’ll look at the idea that they do try to make an overt first contact, but that we may have a mutual problem in understanding each other.
Continue reading ‘First Contact Scenarios – Confusion’
Published October 3, 2011
Alien life , Astrobiology , Astronomy , Biology , Evolution , Exoplanets , Life in our Solar System , Palaeontology , Physics
Tags: Animal habitable zone, Enceladus, Europa, Extraterrestrial life, Habitable zone, Microbial habitable zone, Solar System
Heard of the Goldilocks zone?
It’s the idea that an area of space around a star will be at the right temperature for life to exist. Not too hot, not too cold, hence Goldilocks.
It’s a bit like standing around a campfire on a very cold night. Stand too far away and you freeze, stand too close and you catch on fire and burn to death.
It’s the same with planets orbiting stars too, if they’re too far away then water freezes and life can’t emerge, and if they orbit too close the planet is roasting hot and nothing can live.
It gets a bit more complex than this though, but complex in a fun way. Oh and its also got some pretty big implications for the search for extraterrestrial life…
Continue reading ‘Goldilocks, and other Habitable Zones for Life’
I’m planning on writing a series of posts on different scenarios for first contact with intelligent alien life. I’ve been inspired by some insightful comments from this post and have taken lots of my ideas from those who commented there. Thanks everyone who commented.
It’s feels as though this topic has been treated as a fanciful distraction by much of the serious scientific community until quite recently, and has very much been delegated to science fiction authors, fringe scientists and assorted lunatics. But as of late some big-name scientists have joined in the fun, and this topic is gaining an air of credibility. This isn’t to say that science fiction hasn’t made contributions to this field; I think Sci-Fi has provided some intelligent and very creative first contact scenarios and much of what I’ll be writing has been inspired or explored by Sci-Fi.
So lets assume that intelligent alien life exists, that its discovered humanity, and that it has the technology to communicate with us, either face-to-face or using an alternative method.
The first of my proposed scenarios is that the aliens will be totally indifferent.
Continue reading ‘First Contact Scenarios – Indifference’
Published August 18, 2011
Alien life , Astrobiology , Astronomy , Biology , Exoplanets , Life in our Solar System , Physics
Tags: Astrobiology, Atmosphere of Earth, Detecting life, Earth, Extraterrestrial life, Galileo, NASA, Red edge
In previous posts I’ve looked at some likely, and some less likely, candidates for planets or moons in our solar system that could harbour life, including Jupiter, three of it’s moons, two of Saturn’s moons, and Mars and Venus.
Now its time for Earth. Yep, you read right.
In 1990 NASA used the Galileo spacecraft to look for life on Earth. Why bother you scream, whilst hurling your cup of tea violently against the wall? Well, NASA did it to test how well spacecraft like Galileo can find life on planets and moons from space. Call it a proof of concept, if NASA can find life on Earth, then at least they know the tech works, and hopefully won’t miss signs of life on other planets.
Here’s what they found on Earth:
Continue reading ‘Life in our Solar System – Earth’
Published March 18, 2011
2012 Apocalypse , Not-so-science , Skepticism
Tags: Aliens, bullshit, Conspiracy theory, David Icke, Equation, Extraterrestrial life, Oprah Winfrey, Skepticism, Weird beliefs
I’ve always been fascinated by why people believe weird things, particularly the totally illogical ones. I delved into this world when I researched my 2012 blog posts, and there seemed to be a pattern behind a lot of the crazy beliefs, particularly in the way they’re constructed.
Based on this I’ve made my own equation for nonsense. I’ve seen that the more successful illogical beliefs tend to have a number of common features, and the more of these features they can fit into one crazy story, the more people will believe the story and defend it passionately.
I’ve tried to capture this in my equation (don’t get excited, there isn’t any maths), and I’ve used it to make my own insane myth.
Continue reading ‘The Equation of Nonsense’
Published March 17, 2011
Astrobiology , Videos
Tags: Alien life, Aliens, Astrobiology, Carl Sagan, Drake equation, Enrico Fermi, Extraterrestrial life, Fermi Paradox, Nick Bostrom
The Fermi Paradox is an idea that complements the Drake Equation. Enrico Fermi asked the question, if there are so many stars in our Galaxy, and therefore probably many Earth-like planets, then there should be lots of alien civilizations in the Milky Way, but why haven’t we found evidence of them? Why not?
Nick Bostrom talks about the Fermi paradox, and some possible solutions, in the video below. It’s not as smooth as the Carl Sagan clip I just posted, but he has some interesting ideas. Nick Bostrom is a philosopher from Oxford University, and has some interesting ideas on human enhancement, the survivability of advanced civilizations and the nature of reality by the way, his website is full of interesting stuff.
What do you think is the answer? Are we alone? Is there alien life in our Galaxy, but just simple life? Or are advanced alien civilizations doomed to wipe themselves out as they become more technologically advanced?
If you like to read more about the Fermi Paradox, I’ve written a short post here, and a couple of posts on possible solutions here and here.
Published March 15, 2011
Alien life , Astrobiology , Not-so-science , Panspermia , Sci-Fi , Videos
Tags: 2001 A Space Odyssey, Alien, Andromeda Strain, Extraterrestrial life, Panspermia, Seeds of Doom, Space Jockey, Species, Stargate, The Thing, War of the Worlds
Panspermia is the idea that life could travel between stars seeding habitable planets as it passed, a bit like a galactic infection.
In previous posts I looked at the traditional bacterial view of panspermia, then some more extreme views, such as aliens deliberately seeding the Earth with life, and I looked at a recent claim from a NASA scientist that he had found evidence for panspermia, in the form of fossilized bacteria in three meteorites.
In the final post of this series I’ll take a more light-hearted approach, and look at some of the best panspermia ideas in films, TV and books.
Continue reading ‘Panspermia: did life on Earth come from space? – Part 4, in films, TV & books’