We're fairly certain that we haven't yet made contact with any extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI), but when we do — and yes, let's go with when — it's definitely going to be big news. What is somewhat less definite is what form that news will take: will it be beneficial to humanity, with ETI offering to solve all of our problems, or will ETI turn out to be hostile and eat our entire species for dinner? A group of scientists from Pennsylvania State University and NASA's Planetary Science division have put a lot of thought into many different scenarios of ETI interactions with humanity, and here are 17 different ways that first contact might (or might not) go.
It's possible for an asteroid impact to send rocks from other planets to Earth, which is how I got myself a Mars rock and why this guy thinks he's found aliens. New simulations show that it's possible for things to work in the other direction as well, sending rocks from Earth out into our solar system and on to interstellar space.
Economist Paul Krugman, who won a Nobel Prize for his work on developing the New Trade Theory, has a fresh one in the works: the U.S. government should fake an alien invasion to stimulate the economy.
Not too long ago it was feared that the SETI project's Allen Telescope Array, which is made up of 42 networked radio telescopes, was destined to switch off forever. While the array is currently down, it's scheduled to be reactivated — and soon.
After one intrepid Google Mars user reported spotting a structure on the surface of Mars, the Internet at large took it way too seriously, as the Internet is wont to do. But someone actually bothered to ask the guy in charge of one of the telescopic cameras currently orbiting Mars what the deal is, and his take probably won't surprise you. Or maybe it will.
French scientists have confirmed with computer models that Gliese 581d, a planet orbiting a red dwarf star about 20 light years from here, has a stable atmosphere, comfortable temperatures, and a surface covered in liquid water. It's the first planet orbiting another star that could definitely support life, and it's basically next door.
Late on Friday, the Journal of Cosmology (a free but peer-reviewed scholarly journal) published a paper on their website by NASA astrobiologist Dr. Richard B. Hoover that showcases a variety of microscopic fossilized structures from inside meteorites that are possibly the remains of extraterrestrial bacteria. Aliens, for real.
The Russians have been drilling down through miles of glacial ice into an ancient freshwater lake that's been sealed off from the rest of the planet for millions of years. If they find life down there, it could make it more likely that we'll find life elsewhere in our solar system too.
Did you know the United Nations has a Office for Outer Space Affairs? It does, headed by Malaysian-born astrophysicist Dr. Mazlan Othman, who is now the woman to go to if aliens ever pop by for a visit.
One of the biggest mysteries that humanity has yet to solve is that of life on other planets. And now we don't even have to send William Shatner to explore the question for us! This chip, developed by Harvard Professor...