Did E.T. finally phone home?
December 1st, 2010
11:29 AM ET

Did E.T. finally phone home?

The truth is out there.

NASA is planning to hold a news conference Thursday "to discuss an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life."

The Web is abuzz with speculation about what that cryptic phrase might mean.

"Our guess is that this astrobiological discovery will have something to do with water, evolutionary biology, and aquatic bacteria," the Geek Tech bloggers at PCWorld say.

Gaming and fantasy site Kotaku thinks it could mean life-friendly conditions - or even living organisms - have been found on Saturn's moon Rhea.

"There's only one thing this could mean: NASA has aliens. Now let's just hope they're the friendly, ET-kind of visitors, and not the warlike Klingon types," Stephen Losey wrote (tongue-in-cheek) on FederalTimes.com.

Blogger Jason Kottke analyzed the lineup of scientists slated to appear at the press conference and came up with his own conclusion:

"If I had to guess at what NASA is going to reveal on Thursday, I'd say that they've discovered arsenic on Titan and maybe even detected chemical evidence of bacteria utilizing it for photosynthesis (by following the elements). Or something like that."

Leave it to Discover.com's level-headed Phil Plait to throw a wet space blanket on the hype over the possible discover of extraterrestrial life:

"It seems really unlikely; I don't think they would announce it in this way," he writes. "It would've been under tighter wraps, for one thing. It's more likely they've found a new way life can exist and that evidence for these conditions exists on other worlds. But without more info, I won't speculate any farther than that."

Hmfph. Party pooper.

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Filed under: Science • Space
soundoff (444 Responses)
  1. Whisky1981

    I dont know why you think that they have found life of any form. Where? On Saturn moons? Please. And how did they detected a bacteria on a moon with a statellite?

    Probably what they found is yet another rocky planet in another solar system that is probably 2 or 3 times larger than Earth and that can be possibly orbiting its star at the right distance for life to form.

    There is probably no life on other planets in our solar system. The conditions are too rough. We will have to look elsewhere.

    December 1, 2010 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  2. NetNinja

    To think that 1 planet in the entire universe supports inteligent life is absurdly ignorant.
    People who want to speculate that it takes millions of light years to reach a solar system? Just because your knowledge is limited in the area of space travel does not restrict other intelligent beings from reaching our solar system and even visting our planet. I believe that there is inteligent life out there and I shudder to think the impact it will have on humanity because the extreme ignorance that exists here on earth.

    December 1, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Chad

    They found eveidence for the possible existence that some methane based life form may exist on one of Saturns moons. This news is two days old already. Apparently hydrocarbons are being consumed on that moon in a similar fashion as oxygen is consumed on Earth. Had it not been being consumed by something there should have been a different type of gas forming at the surface. Still they will end there discovery statement with the words "but there is always the chance there could be some other explanation.

    December 1, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Michael Horn

    You can search for this article:

    BREAKING: Astronaut Edgar Mitchell to Explore Billy Meier UFO Case?

    December 1, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. g

    i just want to know why the second alien in this picture has a "woody"?????

    December 1, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hammer Time

      because, well.............. thats how they communicate!

      December 1, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eric the actor

      ET does look a little boned up doesn't he

      December 1, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. steve505

    If there is, indeed, life out there in outer space...... we must IMMEDIATELY DECLARE WAR ON THEM

    December 1, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Nointlife

    Get real, this was answered on Nov 29th. NIce to see CNN using stale news to drum-up business:

    http://kottke.org/10/11/has-nasa-discovered-extraterrestrial-life

    Update: According to Alexis Madrigal, the answer to the hyperbolic question in the headline is "no".
    I'm sad to quell some of the @kottke-induced excitement about possible extraterrestrial life. I've seen the Science paper. It's not that.

    December 1, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Walker

    Yeah all this hype and it's going to be some bacteria living in alien monkey snot in some far off planet...not too exciting.

    December 1, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. brandon0311

    You're all idiots. For those of you who wish aliens to be real, you would doo doo your pants if they knocked on your doors. And the ones who laughs at this alien subject, grow a set and expand your mind please. Don't be so closed-minded because all you do is work and make money to pay bills and get fat. If humans landed on the moon in the 60's, why is it so hard for you to believe that we have been visited by others?

    December 1, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Enrico

      "If humans landed on the moon in the 60's, why is it so hard for you to believe that we have been visited by others?"

      Umm, because they have absolutely nothing to do with each other. You could drive to moon in your Pinto in a couple of years if there was a highway. That, and there's been no evidence so far that any kind of life exists elsewhere and arguing from the number of stars that X is large so Y must happen is not science, it's numerology at best.

      December 2, 2010 at 8:55 am | Report abuse |
  10. Brent

    I suspect this has more to do with funding for NASA than any new discovery.

    December 1, 2010 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Cesar

    I'm looking for Blazee.

    December 1, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. TheOldLady

    Oh my gosh they found Elvis!!!

    December 1, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  13. cap61

    What if there was/is another world like ours that had a 10,00 year head start? Wouldn't you think that they may be able to cross the distances needed to reach us? I mean look how far we have come in just a hundred years. I thinkk there are several if not hundreds of other worlds out here and that may be just in this galaxy alone.

    December 1, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • nmorris86

      it would have to be in our galaxy because the entire galaxy rotates around other ones so the earth we stand on today is millions and millions of miles away from where earth was in the universe even hundreds of years ago.

      see; red shift

      Unless! – they used inter-dimensional travel

      December 1, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • IceT

      Even with a 10 hundred yr headstart they would be sufficiently advanced for many things. The universe is teeming with life. But the question I keep coming back to is "why"... why would an advanced alien race contact us? They would have no need & most likely know more about us than we know about ourselves, so it would serve them no purpose to make contact.

      December 1, 2010 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris Berry

      You're right of course - if a civilization emerged just 10,000 years before ours, they should be ultra advanced by now. Astroengineering, space probes dotting the galaxy, signals galore. But 10,000 years are the equivalent to pocket change in the life of our 14 billion year old universe. Most likely - even if our galaxy is prone to produce only a small handful of civilizations - an intelligent civilization could have emerged millions, tens of millions, or hundreds of millions of years ago.

      So where are they? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fermi_paradox

      December 1, 2010 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Patrick Stewart

      To Chris Berry ... even given the age of the earth that couldv'e happened here a few times. Humans have been around for only about 5M years while large animal life has been around for 100's of millions of years. Intelligent life could have evolved & left earth many many times in that period. Perhaps these "aliens" we keep seeing are just past earth life coming back to check on how things have progressed.

      December 2, 2010 at 7:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Enrico

      Even if you mean 10,000 years, you are way way off. *IF* there were ET intelligence, some would almost with certainity have millions, tens of millions, hundereds of millions, or even a couple to several of billion years head start. In fact, having civilizations within 10,000 years of each other is as unlikely as having two unrelated people in a party to have been born 2 seconds apart. Now, on the one hand, even a billion years headstart will not allow one to bend the laws of physics. On the other hand, with even a 10 million years head start, a determined civilization would colonize a fair amount of nearby portion of the galaxy. And one would assume if the galaxy was teeming with ETI, a few would at least try that. The fact is nobody is here, thus, with almost certainity rule out that there are ETI that have managed to travel interstellar distances. See Fermi paradox for further reading.

      December 2, 2010 at 8:06 am | Report abuse |
    • nonPCrealist

      Or perhaps they could have spent thousands of years with a religiously dominated culture that forbade exploration outside of their own planet since the possibility of other life contradicted their scripture.

      Nah, that's just a silly idea, no sentient race would limit themselves in such a manner.. nm.

      December 2, 2010 at 8:16 am | Report abuse |
    • rcmntl

      Who knows...?? Maybe we are their science experiment?? Trying to grow life to extend theirs? If not, maybe we are like their 'third world country', their charity, their panhandler on the side of the galactic interchange!? ...and why is it we always have to think they are 10,000 yrs AHEAD of us?? Myabe NASA is going to tell us there is a planet with life-providing capability that is billions of yrs BEHIND us??? A bunch of single, small numbered cell critters evolving like we did billions of yrs ago...

      December 2, 2010 at 8:39 am | Report abuse |
    • scroo yoo

      If its a world without religion they would only need a 10 year head start,or maybe thats us?

      December 2, 2010 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Finally Needed

      I am your father Luke.

      December 2, 2010 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
    • J

      Lots of dependencies – let's speculate:

      What if they were locked in conflict/war for a massive amount of time?
      What if within those 10,000 years they've developed WMDs twice and nearly wiped themselves out twice?
      What if within those 10,000 years they exhausted all of their natural resources OR poisoned their planets ecosystem?
      What is within those 10,000 years their progress was stagnated in the name of an archaic set of beliefs that denied their scientists the right to push technology further?
      And so on and so forth...

      Granted there could potentially be thousands if not millions, billions, or trillions of species out there that could have surpassed all of these potential roadblocks. I guess the better question is – will we?

      December 2, 2010 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
    • symore b

      wow you're all so smart. I get what cap61is saying. we haven't even unlocked all the mysteries of our own selves, planet, star system, etc, never mind the universe or galaxy. i mean aren't most out screenshots from one probe like 30 years gone (galileo?) ? i think, of course there's other life and advanced life, multi-dimensional life where everyone is born a god so to speak, like in a Sentience Quotient sense (never mind I.Q). But to the those 10 k years advance still dealing with government and inter-stellar bureaucracy I'm sure it's not okay to mess with civilizations like ours, at our stage. And to those beyond 10 k or a million or billion years ... we're probably something like the equivalent of amoeba, or wild (albeit lovable) doggies.

      December 2, 2010 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
    • mtnman

      10,000 years is nothing when you consider factors such as a meteor or asteroid impact, which could set any civilization or species back considerably, and repeatedly. Theoretically, there could be an intelligent civilization thousands or millions of years older than ours that is still stuck in their Stone Age.

      December 2, 2010 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
    • CanadianBacon

      I agree with ice t. But I think if they were/ are watching us it's only because they see how much we messed up our own Earth, and they want to make sure we don't get off this planet to go mess up thiers.

      December 2, 2010 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
  14. dude

    Why wait its already on wikileaks

    December 1, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chaosevil

      uh...fail...

      December 2, 2010 at 7:46 am | Report abuse |
    • symore b

      hahaha. oh get over yourself Chaosevil, lol.

      December 2, 2010 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
  15. cap61

    10,000 in mean

    December 1, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Walter

      Actually you mean billions. Intelligent life capable of making the trip wouldn't, they'd be twittering at the speed of light while also looking for others twittering at the speed of light.... knowledge of their future would be the only thing of value out there amongst the cosmos – you don't need to leave home to capture it. All you need to do is detect the only light source capable of communicating those distances – systematically reflected starlight of the host system. Maybe some ancient ET star system has just tried to "Friend" NASA.

      December 1, 2010 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • symore b

      "Acutally you mean.."
      'wow you're so clever, W. What conception could you have of the difference between 10 k and billion years, as we only live a 100 and our civilization as we know it isn't more than a few thousand? I'm thinking in this case something like Moore's Law.

      December 2, 2010 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
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