In that case, they can’t be smarter than us, can they?
As we’ve said here before, it is a reasonable idea. If only we could find a fossil bacterium on Mars.
Science is about discoveries, not speculative games. Forbes’s Siegel seems to agree. Hey, deal, guys: Find us fossil bacteria on Mars and we’ll think it’s science. Talk about space aliens and …
It’s all malarkey. In the real world, it would be awfully nice to find fossil bacteria on Mars. When that seems to be taking some time, we hear about 36 alien civs. That’s because there’ll always be a market for We Are Not Alone. The thing is, it used to be called religion, not science. And it still IS religion, not science.
At Air & Space: “There aren’t many organic silicon compounds to begin with, and silicon-based life in water, or on an oxygen-rich planet, would be all but impossible as any free silicon would react quickly and furiously to form silicate rock. And that’s pretty much the end of the story.”
Overcoming so many hurdles for so many life forms would surely require intelligence:
Cepelewicz: They’ve also found evidence that those microbes persist by getting energy from an abiotic process called radiolysis, during which radiation released by the rocks reacts with water in the system to release hydrogen, which the cells can then use in various forms as fuel.
Sheldon: The point is that we don’t expect to find nitrate and ammonia in the soil of Mars, not unless some nitrogen fixing bacteria put it there recently, because over time it will all come out of the soil as N2 gas. Claiming that the process goes the other way, from N2 in atmosphere to nitrates in soils, goes backwards, from high entropy to low entropy.
Standish: If the nitrogen cycle isn’t established within a certain time, nitrogen will be removed from the atmosphere and the surface will become rich in nitrate (bad) or, in a reducing atmosphere, ammonia (really bad). The bottom line is that there are speculations that probably get around this, but it is one more needle that has to be threaded for chemical evolution to produce the first life, or a problem for the first life to quickly take care of.
But remember, the space aliens are invented gods. If we don’t locate them here, we can locate them somewhere else.
We didn’t think our gentle readers credited those suggestions but for the record, here’s an explanation.
Koontz at Massive Science, on NASA’s Darwin-only definition of life: “For instance, say we find a planet full of aliens who have achieved immortality. The population has been stable for thousands of years, with nobody being born and nobody dying — in other words, there is no self-replication going on. There is no variation. Everything is static. There’s no evolution. Would this alien species be considered living under our current definition?”
The nice thing about SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) projects is that it makes very little difference if we don’t find anything. It’s not as though any conclusion can be drawn from a failure to find anything. We will just indulge in another round of speculations as to why we don’t. It’s not always clear why this is a science and not a religion. But hey.
We never found any aliens and Wired’s nostalgia piece can’t, understandably, address that. Of course space exploration will still be worthwhile but the central myth of our time—that superior space aliens will change everything for us—has come up empty.
Well, the state of computing has certainly changed but, after so many years of no Contact, the magic has probably also gone out of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) project. Also, to use the “Woke” approach that is becoming increasingly popular in popular science, why should SETI get to say what is and isn’t a valid search for ET? Why should SETI control the narrative? Can’t everyone have or be their own ET? Sow the wind…