We’ve only begun to point huge telescopes at exoplanets. There are too many unknowns to be sure of our status, he thinks.
As Robert Marks, Ola Hössjer, and Daniel Díaz discuss, some prominent atheists/agnostics have chosen to substitute advanced extraterrestrials for God.
Currently, panspermia has been rated as “plausible but not convincing.” Marks, Hössjer, and Diaz discuss the issues.
Sagan was denied tenure at Harvard for being, according to Zabel, a little too “out there.” But today, Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb openly discusses his thoughts on ETs and UFOs in popular science venues. And, in what sounds like a helpful move, NASA is seeking standards for ET life claims, rather than just denying or avoiding them altogether.
In a most informative article, David. F. Coppedge contrasts known facts as to why Mars might be lifeless with science writing that relentlessly attempts to paint it as hopeful.
Guidelines are certain to be disputed but they would at least provide a basis for reasonable discussion. That might lead to more and better public education on the issues.
Meyer: As crazy as it all sounds, scientists have long posited the possibility of aliens on our planet.
What if they are so simple that they could survive in space, perhaps generating energy via available elements?
Rob Sheldon offers some thoughts on NASA and the unexplained phenomena that prompted the recent report
Readers may remember our recent note that the Pentagon is rethinking the practice of merely making fun of odd findings reported by pilots.
Our physics color commentator Rob Sheldon offers some thoughts:
Not to enflame the alien hunters out there, but videos of the UFO’s taken by jets show two characteristics:
a) high speed (altitude)
b) high acceleration.
The shape is less important, but being pill-shaped means you are not aerodynamically suited for high velocities in high density air.
Humans can go at these high speeds, Mach 25 for the space shuttle, but it takes an enormous amount of fuel and rocket power. Plus, the shuttle has to have special tiles to dissipate the heat. Tiles and fuel = heavy and bulky which these UFO’s are not.
Second is the acceleration. Pilots wear “g-suits” that tighten when maneuvering, so that all the blood does rush to the head or feet. Even so, 3-5 g’s is typically the maximum a pilot sustains and at 9 g’s they typically go unconscious. These videos show UFO’s that appear to be pulling 20 or more g’s. I’d have to analyse them frame-by-frame to get the actual acceleration. But if you or I were in that craft, they’d be scraping off the cockpit with a spatula. Most s/c instruments that I build for satellites cannot handle 15 g’s, so we prefer liquid fuel boosters.
So the observation is a light weight, non-aerodynamic high-speed, ultra-high acceleration object. Is it human made? Hardly. Is it weather phenomenon? Unlikely, though not ruled out. Is it US research? I wish. Is it little green men? Only if their biology is very unlike ours. Once again, having seen what extraterrestrial life looks like (cyanobacteria on comets) it is very likely that any ET is built like us, so I don’t think this is LGM. That leaves “other” as a category.
Where is this taking us? Well I think that these objects show purpose. Their motions aren’t random like Brownian motion or determined like meteor trails. So there is a rudimentary sensory/propulsion system apparent. But the need to handle high g’s means it is very rigid. The lack of rocket or fuel system suggests they are also very light. Their shape is also reminiscent of bacteria, where the surface/volume ratio is maximized. This leads me to think that they are biological, they are mostly air, and the biology is in a thin surface material or skin. Their energy source must be at high altitude, because they aren’t designed for thick atmosphere. The only energy sources at those altitudes are electric, with large electric potentials present over thunderstorms or in the aurora. Electrostatic forces can create very high forces, and that would be the form of propulsion. One way to check, is to see if the electric field is parallel to their motion, or if the magnetic field is perpendicular to their motion.
So in summary my best guess is that these are space cows, grazing on the energy in the high atmosphere and inflated by hydrogen. Perhaps if we knew what they ate, we could put a deer stand in the Space Station.
Once again, I let ID direct me toward biology, instead of knee jerk reaction the ID leads to mechanical space probes. It fits with what we know of biology, but is a compete projection of our insecurities when we think of it as a machine made by an alien race. Like Father Brown in GK Chesterton’s novels, who said “It wasn’t a ghost because I believe in ghosts”, likewise I think it is biological because I believe in human ID and biological ID, and it certainly isn’t human.
No, it’s not necessarily aliens. But smirk is not a good approach to science or any other body of knowledge.
See also: The Pentagon’s UAP (UFO) report signals a sharp attitude change The brass have committed themselves to going “wherever the data takes us.” No, they didn’t report UFOs. But they reported enough mysteries to stop merely debunking and discrediting… and follow the evidence.
New Scientist: “being in space, its view won’t be hindered by Earth’s atmosphere, so will produce extremely crisp images and accurate measurements.”
Researchers: The findings are likely a disappointment for the Venus research community, which was invigorated last September by the discovery of phosphine, a compound made of atoms of phosphorus and hydrogen that on Earth can be associated with living organisms, in Venus’ atmosphere. At that time, researchers suggested the phosphines may be produced by microorganisms residing in those clouds.
More than anything, the report marks a change in attitude. At one time, lack of sufficient data was, essentially, a basis for dismissing whatever was happening. Now they must, at least, take it seriously. For one thing, the superior technology might not be alien, it might be earthlings who are better equipped than the U.S. military.
How be someone show us a fossil bacterium on Mars first? This is part of the big new Trust the Science program, right?
Say what you want, the aliens are good for the cultural fluff news business, whether they exist or not. Better, on the whole, if they don’t. Just like if you own an inn and you can somehow get a reputation for it that it is haunted, you’ll get lots of free publicity (= advertising).
The title is “Is there intelligent life in outer space? What are the stakes?”