How do we protect ourselves from alien invaders?

We’ve already been warned by such books as War of the Worlds and The Day of the Triffids – so how do we protect our terrestrial borders from alien invaders? As the world rockets onwards in the space age, experts warn that we need greater recognition of biosecurity risks from alien organisms. While the risk … Continue reading How do we protect ourselves from alien invaders?

NASA proposes playbook for communicating the discovery of alien life

Imagine you’re the very first scientist to discover aliens. Maybe it’s a clear message picked up by a radio telescope or life swimming through the ocean below Europa’s icy crust, or perhaps it’s signs of microbes wriggling in harsh Martian lakes or microscopic fossils in a meteorite. But how do you go about telling the … Continue reading NASA proposes playbook for communicating the discovery of alien life

Could black holes power alien civilisations?

For centuries, humans have gazed up and wondered if we are alone in the universe. In 1960, physicist Freeman Dyson changed the conversation by suggesting some cool celestial tech that would allow us to more easily detect signs of alien civilisations. Dyson suggested that if an alien society’s energy needs outstripped the supply of its … Continue reading Could black holes power alien civilisations?

Which alien stars can see Earth?

US astronomers have identified over a thousand nearby star systems that would have been in the right position to view Earth – only visible to them as it passes in front of our Sun – over the past 5,000 years. All of the stars are within 100 parsecs (or 326 light years) of us. Human-made … Continue reading Which alien stars can see Earth?

On report: ET and other extraterrestrial beings

Extraterrestrial beings are on people’s minds as the Pentagon prepares to deliver a report on UFOs to the United States Congress. Officials say the report will not rule out the chance that Unidentified Flying Objects (or Unexplained Aerial Phenomena) spotted by US Navy pilots come from somewhere else in the universe – but they are … Continue reading On report: ET and other extraterrestrial beings

Bayesian statistics and the hunt for ET

One of the goals of the next generation of giant telescopes, now rapidly nearing completion, is to scour the nearby heavens for stars whose planets show signs of life. If they find even a single such a world, Amedeo Balbi of the University of Rome Tor Vergata and Claudio Grimaldi of the Swiss Federal Institute … Continue reading Bayesian statistics and the hunt for ET

The idea of alien life now seems inevitable

Extraterrestrial or alien life, that familiar science-fiction trope, that kitschy fantasy, that CGI nightmare, has become a matter of serious discussion, a “risk factor”, a “scenario”. How has ET gone from sci-fi fairytale to a serious scientific endeavour modelled by macroeconomists, funded by fiscal conservatives and discussed by theologians? Because, following a string of remarkable … Continue reading The idea of alien life now seems inevitable