back to article ALIENS ARE COMING: Chief NASA boffin in shock warning

First contact with alien life will happen very soon, claims NASA's Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan. During a panel discussion regarding NASA's search for habitable worlds and alien life, Stofan said: "I think we're going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade, and I think we're going to have definitive …


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Settee at Home

      Is surely the best place to use CPU cycles

  1. D@v3

    definitive evidence of something, and contact with it, are not the same thing.

    Just saying.

    Other than that, best of luck to them.

    I personally believe that if there is anything out there (which i'm pretty sure there must be) then it wont be too long before we find it, even if we never actually make any kind of 'contact' with it due to the inconvenient distances involved.

  2. IcyBee

    "Fingers crossed they’re the Spielberg ones"

    Hopefully the sub-title is referring to "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and "E.T.", not "War of the Worlds".

    1. Grikath

      Re: "Fingers crossed they’re the Spielberg ones"

      Well, within the solar system, looking at the available real estate and possible conditions, and assuming that the laws of chemistry constrain "life" to a system of data transfer to the next generation, and construction method that is pretty similar to ours **, the best you could expect would be something similar to cnidaria or echinoderms, or possibly molluscs Of which the first two could be considered "alien" to an extent since the closest common relative would have been a sponge ( the first stage of cellular specialisation). While everything else*** alive has bilateral symmetry ( at the least at the start before development into adult form), they follow a different body plan. And all three groups have quite a few examples that happily thrive under conditions assumed to exist Out There in the solar system.

      Intelligence? Maybe.. it depends on whether the local race for supremacy favoured the smart ones, instead of the usual Bigger/Stronger/Meaner.

      ** I have always considered the fact the precursors for the necessary molecular chemistry are produced by the universe itself by the gigatonne a Bloody Big Hint about the feasibility of "life" under the proper conditions. That stuff + liquid water + time = life.

      *** Oversimplified, but verifiable without the aid of magnification.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Fingers crossed they’re the Spielberg ones"

      "War of the Worlds"? ....Dark Skies (1996–1997)

    3. Captain DaFt

      Re: "Fingers crossed they’re the Spielberg ones"

      "Hopefully the sub-title is referring to "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and "E.T.", not "War of the Worlds"."

      There was a Speilberg 'War of the Worlds'?

      Go on, pull the other one! Next you'll be claiming there was more than one 'Matrix' Movie!

  3. Basjoe

    He is a she... (somewhat like the spoiler alert for The Crying Game..)

  4. Joey

    All that we really know about aliens

    is that, yes, they exist and they count on a base of 187.5. Could that possibly be the number of digits they have?

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Not digits.

      Suction cups.

  5. RainForestGuppy

    And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere out in space,

    'Cause there's bugger all down here on Earth!

    Galaxy Song - MP

    1. Alistair

      @RFG - Aliens are coming.

      Have an upvote since you seem to have found my mantra.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Have you considered that we may be looking for life, but they aren't looking for us?

    After intercepting 60 years of our TV programming, the aliens view us the way we view that strange guy who hangs out by the office water cooler, waiting to trap you into a conversations about the Keeping Up With the Kardashians.

    "(sigh) Yes Neil, I can't understand why Khloe can't keep a man either. (sigh) You're right Neil--Scott really does need to treat Kourtney better. (argh!) Oh look! Time for my meeting. It's been great catching up, Neil. See you later buddy!"

    1. Arachnoid

      Re: Have you considered that we may be looking for life, but they aren't looking for us?

      If the "A1iens" are in a somewhat similar evolution cycle to ourselves and are as we are, only looking for signs of life thus only traversing the great expanses in the same way then the first indications we may see is a probe of a very similar construction to our own.It will probably be a very basic data collection device looking at topography and soil samples with regard to discovering signs of life.

      Lets hope they dont take out half our satellites in the process of getting some planetary images.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Abandon all hope ye who enter here

      I'm certain there's a map out there with our part of the galaxy labeled: Here There Be Monsters.

  7. Howard Hanek
    Big Brother

    Just in Time

    The U.N. will shortly announce an 'Alien' tax to be levied on every landing no matter where in order to cover the excess carbon costs. A special consumption tax will also be levied on all alien purchases to cover the infrastructure cost they had no part in creating.

    Following the revelation that the visitors are fleeing the Intergalactic United Planets will immediately make them the enemies of all liberals and the subject of a criminal investigation by the U.N.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ask pre-columbian south-American natives

    or what's left of them how it is when aliens start coming in.

    1. Mike VandeVelde

      Re: Ask pre-columbian south-American natives

  9. William Donelson

    Yet another misleading headline from the vulture

    Aliens are NOT COMING.

    We may see signs of them, but they are NOT COMING.

    Jeez, get a life vultures.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Yet another misleading headline from the vulture

      "Aliens are NOT COMING."

      They might be.

      Some of them could have girlfriends!

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Yet another misleading headline from the vulture

      You're right... they're just breathing hard.

  10. InNY

    I take it that no one from NASA been on the NYC subway or London Underground recently?

  11. Conundrum1885

    RE. Re. Yet another misleading headline from the vulture

    It could be that they are waiting for us to reach some critical level of advancement such as harnessing fusion or achieving stable superconductivity at room temperature to turn up, because by this point hopefully we will have abolished nuclear weapons and achieved world peace by then.

    It is also possible as a certain Mr Rodenberry suggests that going FTL generates some detectable signal easily distinguishable from astronomical phenomena which alerts nearby civilizations that something interesting just occured.

    Could also explain FRBs (Fast Radio Bursts), perhaps the energy needed to go that fast shows up as a well defined radio wave burst rather than light or radiation?

  12. Wilseus

    It's a garbage pod!

    It's a smegging garbage pod!

  13. pyrasanth

    When we find out they are already here...

    I think we are all missing the point which is what do we call ourselves when we find out they are already here? I propose "The Committee for the Liberation and Integration of Terrifying Organisms and their Rehabilitation Into Society."...

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: When we find out they are already here...

      Seconded, pyrasanth, ...... a quite perfect altar at which to server and savour Life and LOVE's* rewarding pleasures and deeply satisfying mysteries.

      * And in the Live Operational Virtual Environments of XSSXXXX Code, an Enigmatic Colossus of a Passionate AIdDVenture.

  14. silver darling

    fund nasa fund

    'We know where to [get funding]. We know how to [get funding]' = tell them the wee green man is just around the corner and we'll be rich as spielberg .

    In the interests of humanity rather than ET money would be better spent on proper training for the police.

    1. DugEBug

      Re: fund nasa fund

      ...and by the time we find out that these planets are completely sterile, the heads of NASA will be fully retired, enjoying their nice beach-front mansions at taxpayer's expense. Then the next generation of NASA leaders will say "But if we spend even more, we are certain that we'll find something interesting".

  15. briesmith

    How Long, Lord, How Long

    Epsilon Eridani (BD−09°697), located in the constellation Eridanus, is 10.52 light-years from Earth and the closest star known to have planets orbiting around it.

    Were there humanoid inhabitants of the Goldilocks planet orbiting EE then if they were, say, 100 years ahead of us in terms of evolution/development they could be here, finger in the air, next week having set out at 10% of light speed (107,925,285 kilometres per hour) 100 years ago.

  16. A Ghost

    I got enough problems with the booze and all...

    They've been living and working amongst us for years...

    ... in an advisory capacity...


  17. rdhood

    I expect that the only life we will ever find are microbes in our own solar system... dormant microbes at that. Mathematicians are increasingly warning that the number of variables (upwards of 200 at this point) that must be absolutely spot on for life to exist on earth are not likely (as in "virtually impossible") to exist anywhere else. Even if there are a billions planets in the "habitable zone". The odds are so against it happening on earth that it is becoming more likely that we are simply a computer simulation in someone else's universe, or that we live in a created world.

    One example of this came out a few weeks ago... that dual gas giants like Jupiter and Saturn are EXTREMELY far out and permitted relative peace-from-bombardment for the inner four planets (and still do). (see March 23 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. ) This is just one MORE variable that allowed life on earth... and there are now hundreds of variables. And all of those variables simply go to set up conditions for life... the actual development of life poses a whole new set of fantastic against-the-odds variables that must be overcome.

    Its possible that microbes get passed around like the common cold in the solar system. That is not what I consider "alien life". Further, lets assume that the earth "blew up" and sent shards off into space at the highest speed of a comet.. about a million miles an hour. It would still take about a million years to get to the closest uninhabitable planet. A piece actually getting to another planet, with microbes intact, surviving reentry and seeding another planet is probably about as likely as a gamma ray burst from a far-flung star.

    The more we know, the more we know that it is less and less and less likely that their is other life in the universe. Earth is an anomaly, and the mathematics involved are slowing proving that.


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