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03

Sep

Stinky chemicals in space may be key to finding alien lifeAlien lifeforms may fill their home planets’ skies with stinky sulfur-based chemicals rather than oxygen, researchers say.

Stinky chemicals in space may be key to finding alien life
Alien lifeforms may fill their home planets’ skies with stinky sulfur-based chemicals rather than oxygen, researchers say.

16

Jul

Searching for alien life in the universe? Don’t look for E.T. just yetIt’s more likely we’ll discover single-celled microbes than other forms of alien life, but even this discovery would raise the chances for intelligent life elsewhere in the universe.

Searching for alien life in the universe? Don’t look for E.T. just yet
It’s more likely we’ll discover single-celled microbes than other forms of alien life, but even this discovery would raise the chances for intelligent life elsewhere in the universe.

25

Jun

World’s first UFO landing pad still waiting for its first alien visitorThe landing pad was originally built by the town of St. Paul in Alberta, Canada to attract tourists both from this world, and from afar.

World’s first UFO landing pad still waiting for its first alien visitor
The landing pad was originally built by the town of St. Paul in Alberta, Canada to attract tourists both from this world, and from afar.

26

Oct

How Earth’s ‘extremophiles’ could aid in search for alien lifeAn understanding of how organisms in extreme conditions thrive could help scientists narrow down the necessities for life on other planets.

How Earth’s ‘extremophiles’ could aid in search for alien life
An understanding of how organisms in extreme conditions thrive could help scientists narrow down the necessities for life on other planets.

29

Mar

Mysterious pond circles spur talk of aliens
Most likely the pond circles are the results of slightly warmer water from streams or decaying vegetation on the bottom of the pond.

Mysterious pond circles spur talk of aliens

Most likely the pond circles are the results of slightly warmer water from streams or decaying vegetation on the bottom of the pond.

28

Mar


 UFO memo is FBI’s most viewed record  



The document has been viewed nearly a million times since 2011, when the FBI launched an online database of public records called the Vault.
The document has been viewed nearly a million times since 2011, when the FBI launched an online database of public records called the Vault.

06

Mar

'Are We Alone?' New series explores how aliens could invade Earth
Some scientists doubt an invasion is likely, and think that discovering extraterrestrial single-cell organisms is far more likely to occur.

'Are We Alone?' New series explores how aliens could invade Earth

Some scientists doubt an invasion is likely, and think that discovering extraterrestrial single-cell organisms is far more likely to occur.

13

Dec

Serbian ‘doomsday’ mountain braces for end of the world touristsRumors of an alien-built pyramid in the mountain have apparently driven doomsday-fearers to seek out the mountain in hopes of protection.

Serbian ‘doomsday’ mountain braces for end of the world tourists
Rumors of an alien-built pyramid in the mountain have apparently driven doomsday-fearers to seek out the mountain in hopes of protection.

13

Nov

ikenbot:

Will E.T. Look Like Us?
Evolution helps us imagine what aliens might be like
Side Note: I love these types of discussions, specifically because of their overall implications. The more we learn about how evolution works and where it works and under what conditions the more we see how life, while not always probable still very possible, can grow on other worlds. Think of how limited our technology still is in terms of what we are able to see and how many habitable planets we can currently detect. Now think how exponentially larger that scope of detection would become if its technology continue to progress. I imagine this would also change our minds about how we think evolution evolves elsewhere, how much more diverse it may be, and how often in occurs in the cosmos once the right conditions for life are set. I recommend reading this whole piece especially if you’re well into astronomy, biology, or astrobiology and the topic of evolution occurring elsewhere in the Universe.
Image: Cover art for Carl Sagan’s ‘The Dragons of Eden’

by SciAm’s Michael Shermer
What are the odds that intelligent, technically advanced aliens would look anything like the ones in films, with an emaciated torso and limbs, spindly fingers and a bulbous, bald head with large, almond-shaped eyes? What are the odds that they would even be humanoid? In a YouTube video, produced by Josh Timonen of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, I argue that the chances are close to zero (www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKAXrmkx12g). Richard Dawkins himself made this interesting observation in a private communication after viewing it:
I would agree with [Shermer] in betting against aliens being bipedal primates, and I think the point is worth making, but I think he greatly overestimates the odds against. [University of Cambridge paleontologist] Simon Conway Morris, whose authority is not to be dismissed, thinks it positively likely that aliens would be, in effect, bipedal primates. [Harvard University biologist] Ed Wilson gave at least some time to the speculation that, if it had not been for the end-Cretaceous catastrophe, dinosaurs might have produced something like the attached [referring to paleontologist Dale A. Russell’s illustrated evolutionary projection of how a bipedal dinosaur might have evolved into a reptilian humanoid].
I replied to Dawkins that if something like a smart, technological, bipedal humanoid has a certain level of inevitability because of how evolution unfolds, then it would have happened more than once here. In his 2001 book Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny, Robert Wright argues that our existence precludes other terrestrial intelligences of our level from arising. But Neandertals were as close as one can get to a counterfactual experiment: they had hundreds of thousands of years to themselves in Europe without our interference and showed nothing like the technological and cultural progress of the modern humans who displaced them. Dawkins’s rejoinder to me is enlightening:
But you are leaping from one extreme to the other. In the film vignette, you implied a quite staggering rarity, so rare that you don’t expect two humanoid life-forms in the entire universe. Now you are … pointing out, correctly, that a certain inevitability would predict that humanoids should have evolved more than once on Earth! So, yes, we can say that humanoids are fairly improbable, but not necessarily all that improbable! Anything approaching “a certain inevitability” would mean millions or even billions of humanoid life-forms in the universe, simply because the number of available planets is so huge. Now, my guess is intermediate between your two extremes … I suspect that humanoids are not so very rare as to justify the statistical superlatives that you permitted yourself in the vignette.
Good point. But of the 60 to 80 phyla of animals, only one, the chordates, led to intelligence, and only the vertebrates actually developed it. Of all the vertebrates, only mammals evolved brains big enough for higher intelligence. And of the 24 orders of mammals only one—ours, the primates—has technological intelligence. As the late Harvard evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr concluded: “Nothing demonstrates the improbability of the origin of high intelligence better than the millions of phyletic lineages that failed to achieve it.” In fact, Mayr calculated that even though there have evolved perhaps as many as 50 billion species on Earth, “only one of these achieved the kind of intelligence needed to establish a civilization.”
The late astronomer Carl Sagan, in a Planetary Society debate with Mayr (Bioastronomy News, Vol. 7, No. 4, 1995), noted that technologically communicating species “may live on the land or in the sea or air. They may have unimaginable chemistries, shapes, sizes, colors, appendages and opinions. We are not requiring that they follow the particular route that led to the evolution of humans. There may be many different evolutionary pathways, each unlikely, but the sum of the number of pathways to intelligence may nevertheless be quite substantial.”
Thus, the probability of intelligent life evolving elsewhere in the cosmos may be very high even while the odds of it being humanoid may be very low. I strongly suspect that we are blinded by Protagoras’ bias (“Man is the measure of all things”) when we project ourselves into the alien Other.

ikenbot:

Will E.T. Look Like Us?

Evolution helps us imagine what aliens might be like

Side Note: I love these types of discussions, specifically because of their overall implications. The more we learn about how evolution works and where it works and under what conditions the more we see how life, while not always probable still very possible, can grow on other worlds. Think of how limited our technology still is in terms of what we are able to see and how many habitable planets we can currently detect. Now think how exponentially larger that scope of detection would become if its technology continue to progress. I imagine this would also change our minds about how we think evolution evolves elsewhere, how much more diverse it may be, and how often in occurs in the cosmos once the right conditions for life are set. I recommend reading this whole piece especially if you’re well into astronomy, biology, or astrobiology and the topic of evolution occurring elsewhere in the Universe.

Image: Cover art for Carl Sagan’s ‘The Dragons of Eden’

by SciAm’s Michael Shermer

What are the odds that intelligent, technically advanced aliens would look anything like the ones in films, with an emaciated torso and limbs, spindly fingers and a bulbous, bald head with large, almond-shaped eyes? What are the odds that they would even be humanoid? In a YouTube video, produced by Josh Timonen of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, I argue that the chances are close to zero (www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKAXrmkx12g). Richard Dawkins himself made this interesting observation in a private communication after viewing it:

I would agree with [Shermer] in betting against aliens being bipedal primates, and I think the point is worth making, but I think he greatly overestimates the odds against. [University of Cambridge paleontologist] Simon Conway Morris, whose authority is not to be dismissed, thinks it positively likely that aliens would be, in effect, bipedal primates. [Harvard University biologist] Ed Wilson gave at least some time to the speculation that, if it had not been for the end-Cretaceous catastrophe, dinosaurs might have produced something like the attached [referring to paleontologist Dale A. Russell’s illustrated evolutionary projection of how a bipedal dinosaur might have evolved into a reptilian humanoid].

I replied to Dawkins that if something like a smart, technological, bipedal humanoid has a certain level of inevitability because of how evolution unfolds, then it would have happened more than once here. In his 2001 book Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny, Robert Wright argues that our existence precludes other terrestrial intelligences of our level from arising. But Neandertals were as close as one can get to a counterfactual experiment: they had hundreds of thousands of years to themselves in Europe without our interference and showed nothing like the technological and cultural progress of the modern humans who displaced them. Dawkins’s rejoinder to me is enlightening:

But you are leaping from one extreme to the other. In the film vignette, you implied a quite staggering rarity, so rare that you don’t expect two humanoid life-forms in the entire universe. Now you are … pointing out, correctly, that a certain inevitability would predict that humanoids should have evolved more than once on Earth! So, yes, we can say that humanoids are fairly improbable, but not necessarily all that improbable! Anything approaching “a certain inevitability” would mean millions or even billions of humanoid life-forms in the universe, simply because the number of available planets is so huge. Now, my guess is intermediate between your two extremes … I suspect that humanoids are not so very rare as to justify the statistical superlatives that you permitted yourself in the vignette.

Good point. But of the 60 to 80 phyla of animals, only one, the chordates, led to intelligence, and only the vertebrates actually developed it. Of all the vertebrates, only mammals evolved brains big enough for higher intelligence. And of the 24 orders of mammals only one—ours, the primates—has technological intelligence. As the late Harvard evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr concluded: “Nothing demonstrates the improbability of the origin of high intelligence better than the millions of phyletic lineages that failed to achieve it.” In fact, Mayr calculated that even though there have evolved perhaps as many as 50 billion species on Earth, “only one of these achieved the kind of intelligence needed to establish a civilization.”

The late astronomer Carl Sagan, in a Planetary Society debate with Mayr (Bioastronomy News, Vol. 7, No. 4, 1995), noted that technologically communicating species “may live on the land or in the sea or air. They may have unimaginable chemistries, shapes, sizes, colors, appendages and opinions. We are not requiring that they follow the particular route that led to the evolution of humans. There may be many different evolutionary pathways, each unlikely, but the sum of the number of pathways to intelligence may nevertheless be quite substantial.”

Thus, the probability of intelligent life evolving elsewhere in the cosmos may be very high even while the odds of it being humanoid may be very low. I strongly suspect that we are blinded by Protagoras’ bias (“Man is the measure of all things”) when we project ourselves into the alien Other.

28

Jun

Americans favor Obama to defend against space aliensNearly 2 in 3 Americans think President Barack Obama is better suited than Republican rival Mitt Romney to deal with an alien invasion.

Americans favor Obama to defend against space aliens
Nearly 2 in 3 Americans think President Barack Obama is better suited than Republican rival Mitt Romney to deal with an alien invasion.