Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Are Aliens Living Among Us?

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the talk-to-one-at-the-post-office-regularly dept.

Biotech 350

pickens writes "In recent years scientists have begun to view the existence of life outside of our solar system as ever-more likely. If life does emerge readily under terrestrial conditions, then perhaps it formed many times on our home planet. To pursue this tantalizing possibility, scientists have begun searching deserts, lakes and caverns for evidence of earth-bound 'alien' life-forms, organisms that would differ fundamentally from all known living creatures because they arose independently. Microbes have already been found inhabiting extreme environments ranging from scalding volcanic vents to the dry valleys of Antarctica. Other so-called extremophiles can survive in salt-saturated lakes, highly acidic mine tailings contaminated with metals, and the waste pools of nuclear reactors. Although 'alien' microbes might look like ordinary bacteria, their biochemistry could involve exotic amino acids or different elemental building blocks so researchers are devising tests to identify exotic microbes. If shadow life is confined to the microbial realm, it is entirely possible that scientists have overlooked it."

cancel ×

350 comments

What about us (4, Interesting)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423521)

We ARE the Aliens!

Re:What about us (2, Funny)

satoshi1 (794000) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423573)

I don't know about you, but I'm pretty normal.

Re:What about us (3, Interesting)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423777)

I don't know about you, but I'm pretty normal.

What is normal?

I've read reports that say that Earth could have been populated (seeded) by life that survived on meteors or other objects from space. I like to call it not-so-intelligent-design. Either way, if these theories are accurate, then that really would make us the "aliens" along with all other life on Earth.

Re:What about us (-1, Offtopic)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423797)

I don't know about you, but I'm pretty normal.
Yeah, sure, okay. Whatever you say [sugardeath.net] .

Re:What about us (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21423601)

If you see Kay, Why owe you???

Re:What about us (1, Funny)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423609)

So your ancestors came to earth on the B-Arch then?

Re:What about us (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21423807)

>So your ancestors came to earth on the B-Arch then?
Looks like yours came on the B Ark...

Re:What about us (5, Funny)

empiretrade (574120) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423733)

aliens can file federal form 485 for adjustment of status with the INS

Re:What about us (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423993)

It's certainly possible that we are some kind of alien-primate hybrid or a mutation of primates caused by alien microbes even. There's no real hard evidence to suggest that, but given that there's no hard evidence to eliminate it as a possibility, we must assume that it is one of many available hypotheses.

Re:What about us (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21424003)

Technically any life form that is not human, that exits on some kind of matter, is an alien, the only differnce is distance. Before there were microscopes, and knowledge about life-forms very small, they would have been considered aliens.

So when is an alien not an alien? when we know about them?

Re:What about us (1)

Nos. (179609) | more than 6 years ago | (#21424323)

Technically any life form that is not human, that exits on some kind of matter, is an alien,
Ummm, what? In this context, its clear that "alien" refers to extra terrestrial life. Extra terrestrial means life originating from somewhere other than the earth. Even if you meant alien, then alien in biology terms, means a life form that is not indigenous to the local area. The only question I would have, is supposing a meteor or similar object did bring some life to Earth at some point in the past, would that life form, or any that evolved from it, still be considered alien? If so, for how long?

END MODERATOR ABUSE (-1, Troll)

Taco Meat (1104291) | more than 6 years ago | (#21424075)

I have again been the victim of moderator abuse [slashdot.org] . MOD me up to correct this injustice.

Too many moderators use Insightful as "I agree". Too many moderators fall for unoriginal groupthink and mod it up. People complain about trolls, but the REAL line noise on slashdot comes from the posts modded +4 or +5 that contribute NOTHING to an intelligent discussion. You can't filter that out, and even if you have your thresholds set high, you still see all the stupid stuff that you've already seen. That's why digg sucks and will never be anything but a place for 1338 high-skool haxx0rs. And it's happening here. So I used this account to call shenanigans on sucky posts. I getted modded into oblivion for pointing out truth. I guess that's how it goes. Most of you are a bunch of mindless sheeple.

One way to fix this: I think Slashdot should give IQ tests to all would-be moderators. That would ensure most of the ramshackle pseudo-intellectuals who get mod points would be replaced by people who can actually read the moderator guidelines and adhere to them.

ALFs? (5, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423549)

I think we have enough problems with ourselves, to worry about aliens living among us. As a matter of fact, what sort of superiour intelligence, which could get here, would use earth as anything other than their own Botany Bay Colony?

Re:ALFs? (1)

mrwolf007 (1116997) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423767)

What reason could a highly superior intelligent life form have to visit underveloped countries, err, planets?
Probably just sex and drugs...

Re:ALFs? (0, Redundant)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423835)

As a matter of fact, what sort of superiour intelligence, which could get here, would use earth as anything other than their own Botany Bay Colony?

Who said anything about superior intelligence? Microbial life could have simply ridden an asteroid to our planet and survived re-entry. If that is how life started on Earth, then we are all aliens!

Re:ALFs? (1)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423859)

As a matter of fact, what sort of superiour intelligence, which could get here,
I think the article implies they might be bacteria, and they drifted here. But the real question isn't "Are aliens living among us?" The real question is, "how do they taste?"

Botany Bay?..Oh No! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21424095)

"It vas Khan, he put cleatures...in our ears!"

Re:aliens amoung us (5, Funny)

0racle (667029) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423613)

That's not a very good disguise.

Re:aliens amoung us (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423921)

That's not a very good disguise.

Exactly! That's why it's the PERFECT diguise! :D

Re:aliens amoung us (1)

WinterSolstice (223271) | more than 6 years ago | (#21424299)

Great MIB Ref :D

I also happen to be highly amused by that particular pair of sigs...

Re:aliens amoung us (1)

Cornflake917 (515940) | more than 6 years ago | (#21424085)

You mean Dennis Radaman?

who are you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21423559)

Subject 117?

I'm an alien, I'm a legal alien... (3, Funny)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423569)

...and Eeeenglishman in New York... (Sting lyrics in post and in my sig)

Re:I'm an alien, I'm a legal alien... (3, Informative)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 6 years ago | (#21424351)

Sting didn't write that. It's by Godley and Creme. The original is FUCKING BRILLIANT. G&C are awesome.

RS

Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21423571)

There are some illegals at Home Depot whenever I go there.

Okay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21423593)

I wanna see the following tags on this story: yes, no, maybe, iamone

Of course aliens live among us (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21423595)

Most of them are illegal.
And we commonly (although not always accurately) refer to them as Mexicans.

Re:Of course aliens live among us (5, Funny)

FatAlb33rt (1177781) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423893)

Hey you want to know something? The rest of the world does not refer to people living in their country uninvited as Aliens, they refer to them as ....





... Americans

Spiders (4, Insightful)

neo-mkrey (948389) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423615)

Spiders have got to be extraterrestrial. I'm just sayin' -- they are really freaky looking compared to everything else.

Re:Spiders (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21423719)

No. Crabs, lobsters, and scorpions are a few common relatives of spiders.

This is what the theory of evolution gives us - we can trace spiders back to a common ancestor shared with other life. Now we're looking for things that *don't* share this common ancestor, though honestly the chance of actually finding something like that isn't very great.

Re:Spiders (1)

stranger_to_himself (1132241) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423837)

though honestly the chance of actually finding something like that isn't very great.

Why do say that? 'Life as we know it' arose on Earth just about as soon as we had running water. So it can't be all that unlikely an event. In which case life should have spontaneously arisen at least more than once, especially since Earth is supposedly such a good place for life to start.

If we don't find another instance of life starting on Earth, that'll be bad news for our chances of finding it anywhere else.

Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21423617)

we are.

Pedro

For once this is correct to say! (1)

narftrek (549077) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423619)

I for one welcome our alien overlords!

Re:For once this is correct to say! (1)

LM741N (258038) | more than 6 years ago | (#21424029)

Hey, that mod is not fair. The response is obligatory. OK, mod me down but here goes:
"All of our alien bases are belong to us."

Strangely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21423621)

Reading this reminds me very much of reading your average Fox News report on illegal immigration, but with politer and more scientific language.

Have to be compelling (3, Insightful)

Bombula (670389) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423631)

The headline and the article both muddily imply that the identification of life on earth fundamentally different than what we are already familiar with would, in itself, be evidence that the life was of 'alien' origin. I can't help but think this is deliberate in order to hype the story. Is there a chance that there is weird terrestrial life on earth we haven't yet discovered? Of course. Is there a chance there is alien life on earth? Yes. But which of the two would be a more likely explanation for the origin of something unusual? I think the answer is obvious, and I think it's exceedingly disingenuous to state or imply otherwise.

Re:Have to be compelling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21423717)

Is there a chance that there is weird terrestrial life on earth we haven't yet discovered?

By RTFMing (or even RTFPing), one would realise that that is, in fact, the subject of discussion.

Re:Have to be compelling (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 6 years ago | (#21424177)

While I see your point, that weird != alien, I don't think you understand what the article is saying. They are searching for terrestrial life that arose (on earth) indipendently from the life we are surrounded by.

So, when you say "Is there a chance that there is weird terrestrial life on earth we haven't yet discovered?", yes, yes there is. And that's exactly what they're hoping to find.

I guess it's really time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21423641)

...to welcome our new alien imperial overlords.

Extreemophiles or aliens? (4, Funny)

protolith (619345) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423643)

So there's a bunch of INS biologists asking bacteria and small plants for their green cards?

Re:Extreemophiles or aliens? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21423765)

There ARE MANY right herein Cambridge, MA...

flip side (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21424335)

the INS is politically pressuring biologists to reclassify mexicans as silicon based life forms

Absolutely not (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21423647)

What a ridiculous idea. I'm sure we humans can all agree it's completely absurd to even wonder if there are extraterrestrials living amongst us humans. I suggest that we all ignore this article, and waste as little time as possible entertaining the laughable notion of aliens living on earth. On with your lives, fellow human friends.

:)

Re:Absolutely not (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21424275)

What a ridiculous idea. I'm sure we humans can all agree it's completely absurd to even wonder if there are extraterrestrials living amongst us humans. I suggest that we all ignore this article, and waste as little time as possible entertaining the laughable notion of aliens living on earth. On with your lives, fellow human friends.
Bill Gates? Is that you?

Who won the race? (3, Interesting)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423651)

Here we have candidate #1: the home-grown favorite, familiar with the local chemistry, which has to propagate a maximum of 13,000 miles to cover every last spot on the globe, a jaunt that is relatively well protected from cosmic rays.

And here is candidate #2: the extraterestrial, which has to make a journey of at least 10^13 miles ( and probably one or two orders of magnitude more to give it a reasonable chance of existing ) through interstellar space, subject to cosmic rays. It has to travel fast enough to get here before the sun goes nova, yet enter the atmoshere at a slow enough speed to avoid burning up. And if it gets here, it has to adjust to a foreign chemistry, and it has to avoid being eaten by all the decendants of #1.

Those are phenomonal odds in favor of #1.

The odds aren't as poor as you think (3, Interesting)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423919)

Bacterial infection of lunar landing sites [cambridge.org] is a serious concern. Here, read this. [panspermia.org]

Here's an excerpt:

I always thought the most significant thing that we ever found on the whole goddamn Moon was that little bacteria who came back and lived and nobody ever said shit about it. -- Pete Conrad

On April 20, 1967, the unmanned lunar lander Surveyor 3 landed near Oceanus Procellarum on the surface of the moon. One of the things aboard was a television camera. Two-and-a-half years later, on November 20, 1969, Apollo 12 astronauts Pete Conrad and Alan L. Bean recovered the camera. When NASA scientists examined it back on Earth they were surprised to find specimens of Streptococcus mitis that were still alive. Because of the precautions the astronauts had taken, NASA could be sure that the germs were inside the camera when it was retrieved, so they must have been there before the Surveyor 3 was launched. These bacteria had survived for 31 months in the vacuum of the moon's atmosphere. Perhaps NASA shouldn't have been surprised, because there are other bacteria that thrive under near-vacuum pressure on the earth today. Anyway, we now know that the vacuum of space is not a fatal problem for bacteria.

Re:The odds aren't as poor as you think (5, Informative)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 6 years ago | (#21424295)

And I counter your offer with This [wikipedia.org]

Excerpt:

It is widely claimed that a common bacterium from the human mouth, Streptococcus mitis, survived for two and a half years on the Moon inside the Surveyor 3 camera, to be detected when the camera was returned to Earth on board the Apollo 12 capsule. However, this claim cannot be sustained in the light of several lines of evidence:
* Streptococcus mitis lives in the mouth; there is no evidence that it can survive for long even in terrestrial environments outside the human body.
* Streptococcus mitis, like other oral streptococci, is a mesophile; it cannot survive outside of a narrow temperature range centered on human body temperature. It is not an extremophile nor does it produce endospores. It could not survive on the moon.
* Even extremophiles are unlikely to survive the extremes of temperature on the surface of the Moon (mean surface temperature day 107C; mean surface temperature night -153). Surveyor 3 would have gone through over thirty day-night cycles on the Moon, each one provoking freeze-thawing of bacteria. Applying multiple cycles of freeze-thawing is a commonly used technique for breaking open bacterial cells.
* There is evidence to suggest ................(read the wikipedia article for the rest)

Re:Who won the race? (1)

onepoint (301486) | more than 6 years ago | (#21424039)

>phenomonal odds

no not Phenomenal, extremely unlikely.

>yet enter the atmoshere at a slow enough speed to avoid burning up

that would depend on the size of the rock/ice comming inbound,
if it's large enough, it will only be hot on the outside but frozen solid ( even if it gets white - purple hot ( purple/white is the next color after white in heat )

Re:Who won the race? (1)

Truth is life (1184975) | more than 6 years ago | (#21424043)

The "aliens" referenced in the article are not properly aliens, merely microbes with a different biochemistry than ordinary bacteria (e.g possessing macromolecules with different handedness than all known life). Therefore, the comparison posed here is faulty; neither the "aliens" nor the ordinary life would possess any special advantage based on forming on Earth.

Re:Who won the race? (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 6 years ago | (#21424145)

Yes, but number two has the word aliens in it, which makes it much cooler. Plus the news sites will pick it up because people will want to read about aliens, rather than evolution. More hype, more clicks.

Real aliens aren't from hollywood! (3, Interesting)

2TecTom (311314) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423655)

Sure, Hollywood loves to portray aliens as weird, mostly very ugly and very different, meanwhile, I think that actually real aliens are more likely to be quite similar to terrestrial life. After all, we evolved into these forms as a matter of effectiveness and survival. We reflect our conditions more than I think we understand. Therefore, given that physics is physics no matter where in the universe you are, I think people will look like people, horses like horses, fish like fish and so on ...

of course, more highly evolved beings likely have more style too ...

Re:Real aliens aren't from hollywood! (1)

curmudgeous (710771) | more than 6 years ago | (#21424023)

...portray aliens as weird, mostly very ugly and very different...

Ah HA! My ex-wife was an ALIEN! Now it all makes sense!

Re:Real aliens aren't from hollywood! (1)

Truth is life (1184975) | more than 6 years ago | (#21424173)

While many alien lifeforms are likely to look like earth life (aquatic life, for example, will probably look like fish everywhere), I suspect that for the most part alien life will be quite different from earth life, probably more different than Hollywood depicts it. Many creatures on earth look the way they do simply by accident, with no particular advantage to that shape. Also, of course, alien environments will probably be quite different from terran environments, leading to different biochemistries and different environmental pressures on evolution.

Re:Real aliens aren't from hollywood! (3, Insightful)

BooRolla (824295) | more than 6 years ago | (#21424207)

I think you are mistaken.

I'm with you that we are product of our environment. But you are ignoring the implications a tiny terrestrial change would have on ALL terrestrial life.

For instance, assume the earth contained .001% more nitrogen. So for billions of years, life would have evolved around this alternate condition. To assume that life would have rolled out the exact same way on the earth in this environment seems a bit of a leap.

Heck, even within our earth's periods we've seen incredibly different paths of evolution occur. What happened to the dinosaurs? Well they were here, new conditions arose, and suddenly new phenotypes are preferred. They evolved but are no longer dominant due to shifting and somewhat unpredictable conditions.

Basically I'd agree with you if Earth 2 existed and had a COMPLETE MIRROR IMAGE of our planet's history. Then we could be assured that all the variables are in sync. But what kind of odds would you give that?

Aliens could be of almost any imaginable form & traits because they could arise in almost any imaginable conditions.

Re:Real aliens aren't from hollywood! (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#21424315)

After all, we evolved into these forms as a matter of effectiveness and survival. We reflect our conditions more than I think we understand. Therefore, given that physics is physics no matter where in the universe you are, I think people will look like people, horses like horses, fish like fish and so on ...
I'm not so sure about that. While yes, there is plenty of convergent evolution (which is what I think you're referring to), your theory is predicated on an earth-like environment. Sure, there may be alien life froms that morphologically resemble fish -- but given the wide range of what fish look like on earth (from seahorses to whale sharks, from anglerfish to flounder, from eel to manta ray, etc), what intrigues me are not "fish" but instead the specimens of extravagant form. Who is to say that some seculed population of "birds" on another plant didn't evolve in a predator-free environment like some of the ones in New Guinea that have ridiculous and beautiful forms far different from other birds? What is to say that your "seed stock" won't produce examples just as odd but in far different forms? What about a planet that is entirely covered by water? I don't think "people will look like people" in that case.

Re:Real aliens aren't from hollywood! (1)

evanbd (210358) | more than 6 years ago | (#21424365)

I'd say that's true up to a point. Dolphins aren't very likely to become a spacefaring race because of their lack of hands or other means of fine control. But have you looked at other species around us? When compared to some of the less-intelligent primates, it seems entirely plausible that something else might have developed into human levels of intelligence and tool use first. For example, have you seen videos of crows [youtube.com] using tools? They've got comparable smarts and mechanical abilities to the smaller, less-intelligent primates. Rats and mice aren't nearly so intelligent, but they're hardly stupid either, and they have hands that could turn into viable manipulators for serious tool use.

My personal hunch is that if we meet another spacefaring race, it will look recognizably like something we've seen before. Two legs and two hands seems quite plausible, but I doubt it's required. I'd be surprised if they had more than a passing resemblance to people, though.

Re:Real aliens aren't from hollywood! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21424385)

I disagree. Or rather, I ask that you define 'similar'. Given the number of variables in any given environment (type of predators, thickness of atmosphere, chemical makeup of oceans, etc.) , the accidental nature of mutations, and the numerous ways of solving any particular problem, it seems very unlikely that lifeforms would like similar to our own. Yes, we might see wings, eyes, limbs, but beyond that, I expect alien life (beyond simplier lifeforms) to be very unexpected.

Re:Real aliens aren't from hollywood! (1)

Chosen Reject (842143) | more than 6 years ago | (#21424489)

Physics is physics and chemistry is chemistry and heat is heat no matter where you are. The problem is that not all extra-solar planets are like earth. For example gravity is different. Which would mean (all other things being equal) that life on those planets would be much more squat, or a lot more lightweight to overcome gravity. But that is only a small part. The summary mentioned some forms of life on this earth that are very different to what we know. What if we were all descendants of them. Nuclear war would still be a none-too-good thing due to the energy blasts of the bombs, but the resulting nuclear fallout wouldn't affect us that much. Global Warming would be a disrupting event, but the extra few degrees wouldn't begin to reach volcanic vent temperatures.

Our bodies are designed not only to handle, but to require oxygen, which is terribly corrosive to a great deal of things. So what about a life form from a planet that has little to no oxygen? They probably wouldn't like earth much. All of those things have an effect on the way evolution goes.

Evolution isn't trying to reach some definition of perfection other than survival. We're used to seeing a giraffe's long neck so we don't call it weird but they really are. There aren't that many long-necked animals out there. But somewhere in the ancestry of giraffes, some were born with extended necks, which allowed those to survive and others of the ancestral species to either die off or evolve in a separate path. Another example is the elephant. There aren't that many long nosed animals, so they really are strange, but we don't call them that because we are used to seeing them. Somewhere in their ancestry though, some were born with long trunks that allowed them survival while the rest of their kin either died off or evolved in a different path. Take the vortigaunts from Half Life as another fictitious example but one that demonstrates differences. We could say that on their planet, some where in their ancestry some were born with an extra arm and cool powers, but those survived while the others had to either die off, or evolve on a different path.

Disclaimers: Not all traits are specific and necessary to survival. Some are, but some are just related to sexual selection, and some are just traits that didn't lead to the destruction of the species. Any trait is fine, just so long as it doesn't lead to the destruction of the species. If it does, well, we don't see those species around anymore, or at least won't in the future. Also, these processes take a long time, usually not just a few generations.

Correction (5, Funny)

Eradicator2k3 (670371) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423681)

FTS: "Other so-called extremophiles can survive in salt-saturated lakes, highly acidic mine tailings contaminated with metals, and the waste pools of nuclear reactors.

Other so called extremophiles can survive in their parents' basements, the only light source emanating from an LCD screen, gorging themselves with Cheez-Its and Mountain Dew.

There...fixed that for you. No need to thank me.

First Post Nano Bacteria (0, Offtopic)

PDX (412820) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423687)

Your kidney stones exist because they are feeding in you.

fuc4?! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21423699)

that 3omprise more grandiose ~280MB MPEG off of

Possibility of life..... (3, Interesting)

pottymouth (61296) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423713)


"In recent years scientists have begun to view the existence of life outside of our solar system as ever-more likely"

Oh yeah, I'm sure we all agree with that statement!

After 50 years of listening and looking we have, let's see, ONE suspicious signal that never repeated. Well if you consider that good reason for belief I'm not so sure why so many of you have trouble believing in God.... Having worked with several groups that are committed (and some should be) to the search of ET I'm less convinced than ever. Twenty years ago I was certain, now, not so much....

Re:Possibility of life..... (2, Insightful)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423867)

The universe is really big, mmkay? And 50 years is a really, really, short time. For the most part we can still just hear things that are being shouted directly at us, in order to get it above the noise. Likely no one else out there knows we are here to shout at us.

At the same time, the universe is really, really big. The odds are very good that the right combination of environment and events occurred many, many times. The odds just happen to be very bad that it happened a second time anywhere near our arm of our galaxy.

Re:Possibility of life..... (3, Insightful)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423901)

Those are two different (though tangentially related) topics. Life outside of our solar system could mean anything from simple microbes, to primitive animals, to advanced intellects superior to humans. The SETI project was only looking for advanced intellects using a narrow detection scheme. One would think that a sufficiently advanced culture would advance past the use of radio waves. Especially if intra-stellar or inter-stellar communication was needed.

I think the probability of detecting intelligent life is rather low using SETI (though worth a shot). However, the possibility that life in some form exists out there is, I think, very high.

Re:Possibility of life..... (1)

grub (11606) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423911)


ONE suspicious signal that never repeated. Well if you consider that good reason for belief I'm not so sure why so many of you have trouble believing in God

Perhaps because that one suspicious signal is still one more than any supposed God has ever given us?

God vs Seti (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423943)

Lets see you claim 50 years of listening to aliens with just one BLEEP. Okay. Now for the other side. A minimum of 5000/6000 years with NADA, ZILCH, NOTHING.

That is not even comparing the size of the searches. So explain to me, if you believe god exists, where is the evidence. If you are willing to forgo evidence in the case of god, why do you demand evidence in the case of aliens?

Offcourse neither proves a single thing. Just because we don't see a god, doesn't mean there isn't one. And just because we don't see any aliens doesn't mean there aren't any.

But if you believe in science, then the thought that life might exist elsewhere ain't so hard. If you believe in science and think there is a beard in the sky... Aliens can be explained, god can't.

Re:Possibility of life..... (2, Insightful)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 6 years ago | (#21424171)

I think you have to consider the existence of alien life as opposed to intelligent alien life as two entirely different questions. If you add up all the kinds of life on Earth and compare that number with anything remotely capable of thought, the ratio is pretty outrageous. For the sake of scientific accuracy, let's call it a gazillion to one.

Life might be common. Sentient life, not so much. Sentient life that communicates in a way we recognize and can detect across interstellar distances during the eye-blink of time we've actually been looking...let's not get too discouraged yet.

If you've worked with "several groups" investigating the question, I'm surprised you wouldn't automatically make such a distinction.

Re:Possibility of life..... (2, Insightful)

Wylfing (144940) | more than 6 years ago | (#21424221)

Life is a set that is likely to be considerably larger than the set of advanced civilizations.

2007 - TV international coverage of ETs/UFOs (1)

Adeptus_Luminati (634274) | more than 6 years ago | (#21424283)

"Twenty years ago I was certain, now, not so much..."

Well perhaps you might reconsider after watching The Disclosure Project: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vyVe-6YdUk [youtube.com]

Where hundreds of high ranking military, government & NASA staff went on national television (2001) to state that there is a cover up going on.
Unfortunately, (coincidence??) 9/11 happened only a few months after this TV broadcast and all attention was diverted away from it.

Or Perhaps this Nov 12th, 2007 Larry King Live set of clips on UFOs where previous high ranking deniers at NASA and military are now coming forward saying that there really are UFOs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBVoIT3KRYI [youtube.com]

Or how about a separate major public disclosure occured just this week where 14 senior officials of various countries came forward to testify of their experiences on international TV and are pushing governments for full disclosure: (Official Website): http://www.freedomofinfo.org/national_press.htm [freedomofinfo.org]
Youtube Video clips:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCGO7Iser4g [youtube.com] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vymLxCgGKM4&feature=related http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YPZAso2eSI http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9ttSXYwZsg&feature=related http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhqJZ47mf24&feature=related
And lastly, there's always the video where prior astraunaults, Retired colonels, physicists are discussed & interviewed "the most accurate investigation of UFOs": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBtVOhAl2ks [youtube.com]

The truth is out there, but I wish they'd hurry the hell up and open this up to public.
Adeptus

About as provable as Intelligent Design? (3, Interesting)

sseaman (931799) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423755)

It's a compelling idea, but what metric would be used to determine if a form of life arose independently? Wouldn't this suffer from the same problem as proving "Intelligent Design" - there is no metric for determining whether something is too complex to have arisen naturally, or too different to by related to known lifeforms. From TFA itself, life as we know it has been found everywhere on the globe, in radically different conditions than ours, which to me suggests that the related lifeforms on earth not only come in a huge variety of forms, but also will probably dominate any system they are in, including the hardest-to-reach ones that we can think of.

It raises an interesting question, however: if life can start, then it can have started more than once. In terms of probability, does this also mean that is has probably started more than once? And if life can start and stop, then does this also mean that life has probably started and stopped?

Re:About as provable as Intelligent Design? (1)

curmudgeous (710771) | more than 6 years ago | (#21424391)

...but what metric would be used to determine if a form of life arose independently?...

I'm not a biologist so feel free to correct me where I'm wrong. It's my understanding that according to evolutionary theory, if you follow family lines far enough back you'll eventually reach a single progenitor cell or organism. All life that came from that organism should have some things in common such as simple amino acids. If you can find an organism that doesn't have any of the common proteins or amino acids, it's a fair bet that its family tree arose separately from ours. The trick is in identifying the correct markers to look for.

Possible, but unlikely (4, Insightful)

sam_handelman (519767) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423759)

As the article mentions, bacteria - conventional, non-alien bacteria, which share a common ancestor with other conventional life like you, me and a tree - are found everywhere on earth.

  Living things are, in general, very competitive, and very effective competitors. Otherwise, they wouldn't still be here. So the odds that a new abiogenesis event, if one occurred, would produce a lifeform that would actually be viable in the face of a billion years of evolution by the competition are, I think, remote.

  Also, while living things may thrive under extreme conditions (for example, in a bath of deadly oxygen gas) this does not mean that abiogenesis can occur under such conditions.

  Finally, while it is true that many lab techniques are specific to detecting conventional terrestrial life, others are not. So, unless this non-conventional life is *restricted* to some remote environment - which conventional life certainly is not, so this again seems unlikely - we would be expected to have seen it.

  There are some exotic coincidences which might allow for this to be true - maybe this exotic life looks just like a bacterium under the microscope, but for whatever reason cannot be cultured at all. Maybe it can't live on sugar - maybe it requires some other exotic organic nutrient which is found out in the wild but no-one has thought to add to culture medium. All possible, but also all unlikely.

  Nonetheless, problems of detection of this kind remain a serious and useful direction for inquiry, in preparation for serious efforts to locate alien life on other worlds, where we will need a wide array of avenues for detection to allow for a completely-unknown level of chemical diversity.

Re:Possible, but unlikely (2, Interesting)

oni (41625) | more than 6 years ago | (#21424341)

this does not mean that abiogenesis can occur under such conditions.

exactly. It seems that life is very difficult to get started, even though once it does start it's very tenacious and can survive anywhere. In The Blind Watchmaker Dawkins suggests that running water and clay crystals may be some of the things that are required. In other words, you have organic chemicals laying about (actually, falling from the sky due to comet bombardment) and then being eroded by water. As they travel downstream they are constrained and shaped by crystals. 99.9% of the time, you get nothing. But perhaps once every million years, this results in a molecule that can copy itself being deposited into the shallow sea at the mouth of the stream.

But here's the catch: once that happens, the newly created life starts working its way back upstream, devouring all the raw materials and thus ensuring the process cannot be repeated.

So you make one good point: genesis can only occur under specific circumstances that no longer exist. And I would just add to that this additional point: once it does occur, life eats all the stuff that could be used to make more life.

Alien? Tough call (2, Interesting)

Huntr (951770) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423809)

FTFA:
Although 'alien' microbes might look like ordinary bacteria, their biochemistry could involve exotic amino acids or different elemental building blocks so researchers are devising tests to identify exotic microbes.

And:

On the other hand, an organism that employed the same suite of nucleotides and amino acids as known life-forms but merely used a different genetic code for specifying amino acids would not provide strong evidence for an independent origin, because the differences could probably be explained by evolutionary drift.

I think that people (Hello, ID'ers!) sometimes underestimate or misunderstand the power of allelic drift. Our world has incredibly diverse and interesting life forms. What may seem bizarre and "alien" on the surface is often simply the effect of random chance.

We are Stardust... (3, Funny)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423819)

Since most organic matter originated from Stardust falling to Earth, I would say we are ALL aliens in some way, shape or form.

The best evidence for this is Star Jones.

life arose on Mars and infected Earth (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423831)

Life probably arose on Mars first, because its smaller and geological stablized sooner. Many meteors from Mars have been found on Earth. Bacteria can live for a long time deep insted rocks. Rock is a great insulator and its interor would not get too hot during Earth atmospheric entry.

Re:life arose on Mars and infected Earth (1)

hanshotfirst (851936) | more than 6 years ago | (#21424399)

Maybe I'm a little dense, but how did these "Meteors from Mars" escape Martian gravity and come to Earth? Marvin, with a trebuchet? Volcanic expulsion at exit velocity?
Not trolling, genuinely curious.

bumper sticker proposal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21423851)

Stop illegal alien strains from taking the jobs of earthly bacteria! Vote Kodos!

while life itself can be reinvented (4, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423853)

it's also amazing how different forms of life can be reinvented

whales reinvented what fish do. bats reinvented what birds do

you can go down into deeper and deeper levels of reinvention of life processes too. for example, horseshoe crabs don't have iron-based red blood, they have copper-based blue blood [horseshoecrab.org] . go deeper than that: there are bacteria that have completely reinvented photosynthesis from scratch according to an alternative methodology [splammo.net]

of course the basest differences this article talks about is exotic, alternative forms of energy in superhot environments, superacid environments, weird chemical/ metal concentrations, etc. by necessity then, these animals have very exotic and bizarre biochemistry, but tehy are still in our family tree, because of the way they store their genes

so the deepest alternatives to life as we know it is to find some bugger somewhere who stores its genes in ways other than dna/ rna

find that bugger on earth, win the nobel prize

Re:while life itself can be reinvented (1)

cartman (18204) | more than 6 years ago | (#21424393)

Indeed, there are many examples of microorganisms which have reinvented some fundamental process of life. One interesting example is radiotrophic fungus [wikipedia.org] . Radiotrophic fungus gets its energy directly from gamma radiation, instead of photosynthesis. It doesn't require sunlight, and it doesn't need to eat any other organic material.

It's just like the Dr Who episode entitled "Eldrat Lives," in which there's a creature that needs to visit nuclear reactors on Earth to get energy to survive.

Scientists were probably surprised when they examined the Chernobyl reactor and found a form of fungus living there which survives by gaining energy directly from gamma radiation.

Thay are working on the Stargate program and some (-1, Offtopic)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423865)

Thay are working on the Stargate program and some are in Atlantis. I have said to.....gfahjlhj;lhfaklhgfas$@#$.....no carrier

Very important. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21423869)


Whilst you HEATHEN ATHEISTS of slashdot continue down your
PATH TO HELL by keeping your back turned to GOD and JESUS, you
are INFECTING others with your ATHEISM-based SCIENCE.

Our LORD Jesus CHRIST didn't die on the cross so ATHEISTS
like you could brainwash the youth of today with your FAIRY TALES
of genetic mutation and the ultimate ATHEIST LIE: EVOLUTION!

Every night I pray to GOD ALMIGHTY to deliver us from your EVIL, your
LIES, your FILTH and every morning I wake up to more SCIENCE and LIES.

It's not too late to repent. JESUS loves you, accept HIM into you HEART
and accept the BIBLE as the unerring word of GOD ALMIGHTY.

Science has done nothing for society but make you into selfish
music thieves and pornography downloaders.

PRAISE JESUS!

Re:Very important. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21424119)

Someone needs a hug. Or perhaps a tightly wound garrote.

two words (0, Troll)

lowcountry (1191861) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423899)

Barack Obama

Aliens? (0)

moogied (1175879) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423949)

Aliens? Thats just stupid.

First of all, we would not just come out and announce our presence.

Second of all, we would be sure as hell smart enough to hide proof.

Three, we would never ever just announce it on slashdot by not-so-clever usage of the word "we" or "us".

Peace out ya'all.

Calcifying nano-particles anyone? (1)

mi (197448) | more than 6 years ago | (#21423995)

Which some call nanobacteria [yahoo.com] ...

Of course they're among us. (4, Funny)

Tarlus (1000874) | more than 6 years ago | (#21424137)

I live less than 100 miles from the southern border of the US, and there are aliens all around.
But damn, their restaurants make some of the best damn enchiladas in the world.

Oh oh... (5, Funny)

nick357 (108909) | more than 6 years ago | (#21424147)

So aliens may already be living in the tinfoil that I make my hats with!?!?!?!?

Insects (1)

derinax (93566) | more than 6 years ago | (#21424155)

This has been on my mind a lot lately, for some unfathomable reason. Insects are so wildly different from other creature archetypes on the planet, that a small, pixie-dust, unscientific part of me believes that they must be exactly this type of alien: the ongoing result of a process of evolution that arose independently from some origin separate from the organisms that gave rise to quad-limbed Earthlings.

Perhaps they are the 'true' earthlings, and the quadruped lineage is the aberration. But it is my fervent belief that Insects were created by the Old Ones. I swear it. Ia.

Alien Intestinal Bacteria (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21424157)

I always wondered if my gastrointestinal pain and bloating were some kind of microbial SETI experiment.

oblig.Firefly quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21424165)

Yes. One of them is a doctor.

There is no evidence for extra terristial life. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21424227)

Any hard evidence?
Anyone?

Re:There is no evidence for extra terristial life. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21424353)

Try my cock, it's really hard.

this has already been shown! (3, Insightful)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 6 years ago | (#21424301)

Life has evolved more than once on Earth! Mitochondrian and cells were separate creatures until they formed this symbiotic relationship and out-competed both of their non-hybrid ancestors.

Drats! (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 6 years ago | (#21424337)

Our evil plan is becoming known to the outsiders as we speak! Quickly brothers, we must put everything in motion. We have no more time to prepare. The stars are right. Our destiny awaits.

I'a I'a Cthulhu Fhtagn!

In short? (1)

RareButSeriousSideEf (968810) | more than 6 years ago | (#21424359)

no (tagging beta)

It's life, Jim, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21424461)

but not as we know it.

Who Tagged this Cthulu? (1)

Relic of the Future (118669) | more than 6 years ago | (#21424471)

Who tagged this "Cthuhlu"?

The Illuminatus' Kraken is more appropriate. (And still not very appropriate.)

Kipling Lives! (1)

jazman_777 (44742) | more than 6 years ago | (#21424495)

But his orginal Just-So Stories were amusing, and fun to read to the children.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...