Stephen Hawking is still afraid of aliens

Astrophysicist Stephen Hawking views a CGI alien civilization on the exoplanet Gliese 832c in this still from the new documentary "Stephen Hawking's Favorite Places."

Astrophysicist Stephen Hawking views a CGI alien civilization on the exoplanet Gliese 832c in this still from the new documentary “Stephen Hawking’s Favorite Places.”  (“Stephen Hawking’s Favorite Places”/CuriosityStream)

Humanity should be wary of seeking out contact with alien civilizations, Stephen Hawking has warned once again.

In 2010, the famed astrophysicist said that intelligent aliens may be rapacious marauders, roaming the cosmos in search of resources to plunder and planets to conquer and colonize. He reiterates that basic concern in “Stephen Hawking’s Favorite Places,” a new documentary streaming now on the CuriosityStream video service.

“One day, we might receive a signal from a planet like this,” Hawking says in the documentary, referring to a potentially habitable alien world known as Gliese 832c. “But we should be wary of answering back. Meeting an advanced civilization could be like Native Americans encountering Columbus. That didn’t turn out so well.”

For what it’s worth, some other astronomers believe Hawking’s caution is unwarranted. Any alien civilization advanced enough to come to Earth would surely already know of humans’ existence via the radio and TV signals that humanity has been sending out into space since 1900 or so, this line of thinking goes.

The alien musings are just a small part of “Stephen Hawking’s Favorite Places.” The 26-minute documentary shows the scientist zooming through the cosmos on a souped-up CGI spaceship called the “S.S. Hawking,” making five separate stops.

Hawking observes the Big Bang that created the universe, visits the monster black hole at the center of the Milky Way, journeys to Gliese 832c and tours Saturn in Earth’s own solar system. Then, he makes a final stop in Santa Barbara, California, which Hawking calls “my home away from home.”

“In 1974, Caltech [the California Institute of Technology] offered me a job in California,” the Englishman Hawking says in the documentary. “I jumped at the opportunity. In the sun with my young family, it was a world away from the gray skies of Cambridge, [England]. I’ve traveled the globe, but I’ve never found anywhere quite like this.”

You can watch a preview of “Stephen Hawking’s Favorite Places,” and learn how to subscribe to CuriosityStream, at the video service’s website:www.curiositystream.com.

Does an Earth-like alien planet orbit the Sun’s closest neighbor?

Hubble Space Telescope image of the red dwarf Proxima Centauri, which lies just 4.25 light-years from the sun.

Hubble Space Telescope image of the red dwarf Proxima Centauri, which lies just 4.25 light-years from the sun.(ESA/Hubble & NASA)

Astronomers have found a rocky and possibly Earth-like planet circling the star closest to the sun, according to the German magazine Der Spiegel.

On Aug. 12, Der Spiegel reported that the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) La Silla Observatory in Chile had spotted evidence of a rocky, potentially habitable world orbiting Proxima Centauri, a small, dim star that lies just 4.25 light-years from the sun.

Scientists with the ESO will announce the find later this month, according to Der Spiegel, which cited an unnamed astrophysicist on the discovery team as its source. [In Images: The 1st Earth-Size Alien Planets Ever Found]

ESO officials neither confirmed nor denied the report.

“We were surprised to see the article in Der Spiegel and do not know the source,” ESO spokesman Richard Hook told Space.com via email. “ESO has no further comment to make at present.”

Proxima Centauri is a red dwarf, a star much smaller and cooler than the sun. About three-quarters of all stars in the Milky Way galaxy are red dwarfs.

Proxima Centauri lies just 0.24 light-years from the two stars of Alpha Centauri, and many astronomers regard the red dwarf as part of the latter system.

In 2012, astronomers announced that La Silla’s High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher instrument, or HARPS, had spotted a rocky, roughly Earth-size planet around Alpha Centauri B. This world, known as Alpha Centauri Bb, circles its host star once every 3.2 days, and is therefore much too hot to support life, discovery team members said at the time.

However, a 2015 study found that the detected signal of Alpha Centauri Bb was merely an artifact and that the planet almost certainly does not exist.

To date, astronomers have discovered more than 3,200 confirmed alien planets, with NASA’s Kepler space telescope responsible for about two-thirds of the finds. Kepler’s work suggests that, on average, every star in the Milky Way hosts at least one planet.

Alien hunters claim Venus has buildings

Venus image from NASA’s Magellan probe – Venus Global GIS Mapping Application (usgs.gov)

Venus image from NASA’s Magellan probe – Venus Global GIS Mapping Application (usgs.gov)

Space might very well be considered the “final frontier,” but according to alien hunters, intelligent life on Venus includes cities for its inhabitants.

A 20-minute Spanish-language video posted to YouTube by mundodesconocido magnifies and examines images of the planet taken by NASA’s Magellan probe.

Related: 2015 was a big year for Canadian UFO sightings, report says

The video applies 3D modeling to some of the images. In a post accompanying the video, mundodesconocido says the images reveal “huge cities, artificial structures and all kinds of elements that seem to obey constructions appear intelligent effected [sic] by some kind of alien race that inhabited or colonized the second planet in our solar system.”

Magellan launched on May 4, 1989 and began orbiting Venus on August 10, 1990. The spacecraft was sent to study the face of the planet and to model its interior.

Related: Real-life ‘X-Files’? CIA posts trove of UFO documents

Despite being referred to as the Earth’s “twin” and “sister planet” NASAdescribes Venus as “an Earth-sized planet with no evidence of Earth-like plate tectonics.” Magellan also revealed that at least 85 percent of Venus’ surface is covered with volcanoes. The planet has a surface temperature of 864 degrees.

NASA lost contact with Magellan on October 13, 1994.

President Eisenhower’s great-granddaughter says vegan diets could attract extraterrestrial life

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They’ve been eating their veggies. (iStock)

We’ve heard that vegan diets may be good for planet Earth.

But could what we eat have an influence on the entire universe?

Laura Magdalene Eisenhower, a spiritual healer and clairvoyant who just happens to be the great-granddaughter of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, says food and drink on this planet could have a major impact on whether we ever come into contact with “sky beings.”

In an interview with Vice News, Eisenhower explains that “sky beings” can be anything from extraterrestrials, to UFOs, fairies, spirit guides, elves or even angels—since people are all different, the way we perceive non-human life varies.

“We have to understand that we are multi-dimensional beings and—based on our frequency, perceptions, and our vibratory levels that we are functioning from—we are going to see different things. It is not always going to be things that other people are capable of seeing,” explains Eisenhower.

The professional clairvoyant says she has always been interested in how people’s relationship to food effects their response to the environment. Eisenhowever even ran an organic food delivery business to bring products to people who were so sensitive to chemicals they couldn’t leave their homes.

“What I’ve discovered is that there are multiple factors—things like your emotional, physical, and mental reactions—and we are being affected by all levels. It is not just about looking after your diet,” says Eisenhowever.

Among the many factors that affect your sensitivity to alien life forms is your diet, according to Eisenhower.  While conventionally raised foods may contain “toxic energies” that can “link up to an artificial intelligence system,” vegetarian and vegan produce a “cleaner and purer energy.”

“When you are dealing with eating animals, it is a heavier density to process in our physical bodies,” she explains. When we eat veggies, we are lighter, so we can connect easier with higher beings. You don’t have to be vegetarian or vegan to experience sky beings, but it is a lot more appropriate for people.”

Eisenhower doesn’t follow a strict vegan diet herself. She admits to eating eggs. And though she doesn’t like to tell people what they can and cannot eat, Eisenhowever says blessing your meal is important no matter what because it allows you to honor the “sacred energies of food.” If you want to open your mind like the practicing tarot card reader, drink plenty of alkaline water and kombucha, keep your digestive tract flowing, try turmeric and eat raw when possible.

Eisenhower’s theories may not be proven but she appears to be carrying on the legacy of her presidential great-grandfather. In alien conspiracy theory circles, it has been rumored that President Eisenhower signed a treaty with extraterrestrial beings in 1953.

Study: No evidence of advanced alien life in nearby galaxies

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File photo. The galaxy Messier 63 – nicknamed the Sunflower Galaxy – is seen in an undated image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope released September 11, 2015. (REUTERS/NASA/ESA/Hubble/Handout via Reuters)

While a sequel to the 1990s alien invasion flick “Independence Day” is in the works, moviegoers shouldn’t worry about fact following fiction anytime soon. This is according to a new report by the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, which determined that there are no signs of advanced alien life in 93 of our neighboring galaxies.

Using an earlier Penn State study led by Jason Wright, professor and report author Michael Garrett (ASTRON, University of Leiden) poured through data compiled from 100,000 galaxies with unusually extreme mid-infrared (MIR) emission detected by NASA’s Widefield Infrared Survey Explorer satellite. From there, he chose the best candidates for hosting advanced alien life based on the amounts of MIR and radiowave emissions.

The general belief among experts is that advanced type-three civilizations on the Kardashev scale (a system invented by Russian astrophysicist Nikolai Kardashev based on energy disposal levels) have extremely high–energy needs. In other words, the more a civilization advances, the more its energy requirements grow, what with its large population and machinery. The energy being emitted from these civilizations should then be detectable via infrared satellites.

Garrett determined that the MIR/heat emission was caused by space dust brought about by star formation rather than aliens.

“There is a nice correlation between the strength of MIR emission versus radio emission for galaxies,” Garrett told Foxnews.com. “It’s grounded by the fact that when you form stars in a galaxy, you get a lot of MIR emission from dust and a lot of radio from charged particles – the two things always go together. But if the MIR is being produced not by star formation but by waste heat from an advanced civilization, then we don’t expect to see much radio emission.”

He concluded that almost all of the very best candidate galaxies listed by the Penn State team followed the natural MIR/radio correlation, thus the MIR emission was being produced by standard astrophysical processes seen in normal galaxies instead of extraterrestrials.

Still, alien hunters might not have to give up hope just yet. Garrett noted that there are still a few interesting galaxies out of the 100,000 sampled that don’t seem to produce as much radio emission, though he suspects it’s very likely that closer observation will show natural astrophysical explanations. That being said, he’s still planning on investigating them, as well as galaxies beyond those in our immediate neighborhood.

So what would be the next step if an alien civilization happened to be detected?

“If we thought we had evidence for that, we would train the best telescopes in the world on that source,” Garrett explained. “For example, we could do a conventional SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) search with radio telescopes looking for artificial signals associated with their own communication system — if they are advanced, these signals might be quite strong. It’s very easy to tell the difference between artificial radio emission and natural background emission.”

In an earlier statement, Garrett said he found the prospect that advanced extraterrestrial life didn’t exist “worrying.” A few months ago, famed physicist Stephen Hawking said that advanced aliens would likely conquer and colonize whatever planets they reached, including our own. Despite the dangers, he too championed the search for intelligent extraterrestrials.

“Maybe we only exist because they don’t! “ Garrett said. “The worrying aspect is the scientific perspective — it’s hard to believe that life is not fairly widespread within our own galaxy and others — so if civilizations like our own live long enough, there is nothing in physics to stop them becoming very advanced and making use of a lot of energy. But then we should see signatures of such civilizations in astronomical data, and we don’t. There are many possible explanations one can

think of (all civilizations are short–lived and die out after using up the resources of their own planet) or on the other extreme we are really alone, which I can’t believe.”

He also noted that while we have the technology to understand the universe we live in and produce the latest mobile phone, it’s not much use in explaining the “great silence” that we see.

“It’s a real puzzle,” he said.

The report can be found in the September 15 edition of the Journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Originally available here

The truth is out there: Did NASA Rover find a pyramid on Mars?

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NASA image from Paranormal Crucible YouTube video

Conspiracy theorist website Paranormal Crucible thinks they’ve spotted some signs of life on Mars. In a YouTube video, the intrepid paranormal investigators describe a pyramid-shaped object spotted in an image from the Mars Curiosity Rover. Is it just a large rock or an otherworldly pyramid? You decide. The truth is out there – maybe.

Originally posted : here

Aliens will be bear-size, according to math

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File photo. (REUTERS/Eriko Sugita)

With thousands of planets outside Earth’s solar system, there’s a pretty good chance that some of them have the conditions needed for life. If alien life does exist, scientists aren’t quite sure what it would look like, but they might be able to see how much these foreign “beings” might weigh. Most of these creatures will be big — nearly 700 lbs., one cosmologist says.

Fergus Simpson, of the University of Barcelona, outlines his statistical argument on the prepublished site arXiv. The finding is based on a model called Bayes’ theorem and a branch of mathematics called Bayesian statistics. The purpose of such techniques is to estimate the probabilities that change depending on the information available.

But although Simpson’s mathematical experiment may get scientists and others thinking about the possibilities of alien life, some researchers say some of his statistical assumptions may not hold true. [7 Huge Misconceptions about Aliens]

Estimating alien size

Simpson started his calculation with the number of individuals who would most likely live in a given alien civilization, and came up with about 50 million or fewer individuals. He posited that there are many civilizations in the galaxy and that any individual alien would be more likely than not to be from a highly populated civilization. The population distributions across planets would follow aBELL-shaped distribution but not a true bell curve, he said in the paper. That means most cultures would support an average number of people, with fewer populations holding very low or very high populations.

As anANALOGY, consider the populations on Earth. If you were to pick any single person from Earth, that individual would be more likely to be from China (1-in-5 chance) than from New Zealand (about a 1-in-1,600 chance). However, there are a lot more New Zealand-size countries than China-size ones, so if you were to pick country names at random, you’d be much more likely to pick a Spain- or Mozambique-size country than a Russia-, China- or United States-size nation.

The same idea applies to aliens. Assuming Earth is at the high end for the number of residents, a habitable alien planet would hold about 50 million aliens, Simpson found.

Using a similar argument, Simpson wrote that the size of the planet supporting extraterrestrial life is likely to be smaller than Earth, at least most of the time. In his model, he assumed that about 50 percent of Earth’s diameter is at the lower limit, because if it were any smaller, it would be difficult for the planet to retain an atmosphere or water. Mars, for example, is about 53 percent the size of Earth.

Once again, each individual alien would be more likely to live on a big planet, Simpson wrote, because those planets are likely to support more people. But a whole species has better odds of coming from a small one, because there are more small planets than large ones. Simpson wrote that, 95 percent of the time, planets will have a radius of 1.4 times Earth’s or less.

The last part of Simpson’s analysis focused on the size of other life forms. Earth animals have a widely known relation between size and the number of individuals — the smaller the species is, the more individuals of that species tend to exist. For example, an alien seeking life on Earth would be far likelier to run into a mosquito than a blue whale.

However, the relation between size and population can also be plotted on a curve against probability, which predicts that the median weight of an alien would be about 692 lbs. (314 kg) — about the size of a bear or an elk. So, based on the results of this model, about half of extraterrestrial creatures would weigh more than that, and half would weigh less. [The 10 Strangest Places Where Life Is Found on Earth]

It might sound contradictory for large creatures to be from smaller planets, but it isn’t: Remember that the populations from small planets, on average, would be small relative to the 7 billion humans who live on Earth.

Statistical caveats

However, some scientists say this mathematical prediction has some serious caveats. Michael Kopp, a professor of theoretical biology and evolution at Aix-Marseille University in France, said he isn’t sure about the statistical argument because it is not clear if humans are a random sample of intelligent beings. It’s also quite possible that humans on Earth could be about the median of all civilizations — in other words, in the grand scheme of the universe, Earth is moreCOMPARABLE to a country like Canada in terms of population than India or China.

“The prediction that most civilizations contain less than 50 million individuals is based on the assumption that the distribution of civilization sizes corresponds to the distribution of species sizes … but there are no particular reasons to believe this is so,” Kopp told Live Science.

The argument that intelligent extraterrestrial life would tend to be larger would be less problematic, he said, because the size distribution of terrestrial species is similar and the relation between size and population seems to be pretty consistent. However, he added that it isn’t necessarily true that the distribution of sizes among intelligent species follows the kind of curve Simpson modeled.

Seth Shostak, a researcher at the SETI Institute, said it’s unlikely Simpson is exactly right, especially about alien body size. “Anything that large, and you’re likely to be in the water,” he said. While whales are probably quite intelligent, for the purposes of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, you need radio telescopes or lasers, because that’s the simplest way to be detected over interstellar distances. “You can’t make a radio telescope underwater,” Shostak noted.

There’s also the issue of how intelligent life would develop. One reason humans and other animals got smarter was to find food. “An animal that big isn’t going to have much trouble getting dinner,” Shostak said, and that might work against the development of big brains and, thus, intelligence.

Nonetheless, Shostak said the paper gets scientists thinking about the possibilities of extraterrestrial life. “It should be applauded,” he said.

Copyright 2015 LiveScience, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Originally posted here : http://www.foxnews.com/science/2015/05/20/aliens-will-be-bear-size-according-to-math/?intcmp=features

Signs of alien life will be found by 2025, NASA’s chief scientist predicts

water-solar-system-galaxy

Recent observations by planetary probes and telescopes on the ground and in space have shown that water is common throughout our solar system and the broader Milky Way galaxy. (NASA)

Humanity is on the verge of discovering alien life, high-ranking NASA scientists say.

“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 evidence within 20 to 30 years,” NASA chief scientist Ellen Stofan said Tuesday (April 7) during a panel discussion that focused on the space agency’s efforts to search for habitable worlds and alien life.

“We know where to look. We know how to look,” Stofan added during the event, which was webcast live. “In most cases we have the technology, and we’re on a path to implementing it. And so I think we’re definitely on the road.” [5 Bold Claims of Alien Life]

Former astronaut John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, shared Stofan’s optimism, predicting that signs of life will be found relatively soon both in our own solar system and beyond.

“I think we’re one generation away in our solar system, whether it’s on an icy moon or on Mars, and one generation [away] on a planet around a nearby star,” Grunsfeld said during Tuesday’s event.

Many habitable environments

Recent discoveries suggest that the solar system and broader Milky Way galaxy teem with environments that could support life as we know it, Grunsfeld said.

For example, oceans of liquid water slosh beneath the icy shells of the Jupiter moons Europa and Ganymede, as well as that of the Saturn satellite Enceladus. Oceans covered much of Mars in the ancient past, and seasonal dark streaks observed on the Red Planet’s surface today may be caused by salty flowing water.

Further, NASA’s Curiosity rover has found carbon-containing organic molecules and “fixed” nitrogen, basic ingredients necessary for Earth-like life, on the Martian surface.

Farther afield, observations by NASA’s Kepler space telescope suggest that nearly every star in the sky hosts planets — and many of these worlds may be habitable. Indeed, Kepler’s work has shown that rocky worlds like Earth and Mars are probably more common throughout the galaxy than gas giants such as Saturn and Jupiter.

And just as the solar system is awash in water, so is the greater galaxy, said Paul Hertz, director of NASA’s Astrophysics Division.

The Milky Way is “a soggy place,” Hertz said during Tuesday’s event. “We can see water in the interstellar clouds from which planetary systems and stellar systems form. We can see water in the disks of debris that are going to become planetary systems around other stars, and we can even see comets being dissipated in other solar systems as [their] star evaporates them.” [6 Most Likely Places for Alien Life in the Solar System]

Looking for life

Hunting for evidence of alien life is a much trickier proposition than identifying potentially habitable environments. But researchers are working steadily toward that more involved and ambitious goal, Stofan and others said.

For example, the agency’s next Mars rover, scheduled to launch in 2020, will search for signs of past life and cache samples for a possible return to Earth for analysis. NASA also aims to land astronauts on Mars in the 2030s — a step Stofan regards as key to the search for Mars life.

“I’m a field geologist; I go out and break open rocks and look for fossils,” Stofan said. “Those are hard to find. So I have a bias that it’s eventually going to take humans on the surface of Mars — field geologists, astrobiologists, chemists — actually out there looking for that good evidence of life that we can bring back to Earth for all the scientists to argue about.”

NASA is also planning out a mission to Europa, which may launch as early as 2022. The main goal of this $2.1 billion mission will be to shed light on the icy moon’s potential habitability, but it could also search for signs of alien life: Agency officials are considering ways to sample and study the plumes of water vapor that apparently erupt from Europa’s south polar region.

In the exoplanet realm, the agency’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), an $8.8 billion instrument scheduled to launch in 2018, will scope out the atmospheres of nearby “super-Earth” alien planets, looking for gases that may have been produced by life.

JWST will scan the starlight that passes through the air of super-Earths, which are more massive than our own planet but significantly less so than gaseous worlds such as Uranus and Neptune. This method, called transit spectroscopy, will likely not work for potentially habitable Earth-size worlds, Hertz said.

Searching for biosignature gases on small, rocky exoplanets will instead probably require direct imaging of these worlds, using a “coronagraph” to block out the overwhelming glare of their parent stars, Hertz added.

NASA’s potential Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope, which may launch in the mid-2020s if given the official go-ahead, would include a coronagraph for exoplanet observations.

 

Sniffing out alien life: Stinky chemicals may be key

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Alien lifeforms may fill their home planets’ skies with stinky sulfur-based chemicals rather than oxygen, researchers say.NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech

If Professor Hubert Farnsworth’s “Smell-O-Scope” actually existed, astrobiologists would have pointed it at dozens of alien planets by now.

The Professor’s odor-detecting invention, which was featured in several episodes of the animated sci-fi series “Futurama,” would be a good life-hunting tool, researchers say, because alien organisms may betray their presence by pumping stinky chemicals into their home planets’ skies.

“I joke often that maybe you want to smell for life on other planets instead of look for it with a telescope,” Shawn Domagal-Goldman, a scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said last month during a NASA panel discussion about ancient Earth and habitable exoplanets. [10 Exoplanets That Could Host Alien Life]

Hunting for biosignatures

Domagal-Goldman and other researchers spend a lot of time thinking about the best biosignatures, or signs of life, to look for in the atmospheres of faraway planets.

Two good candidates are oxygen and methane, both of which disappear from atmospheres without replenishment. While each substance can be created by geological as well as biological processes, detecting both oxygen and methane in an exoplanet’s skies simultaneously would be strongly suggestive of alien life, many scientists say.

“They destroy each other,” Domagal-Goldman said. “If they’re both there together, you know someone is bringing the methane in an atmosphere rich in oxygen, so that’s what you’re looking for. The most likely explanation is, it’s life that’s bringing the methane and oxygen to the party.”

The methane-oxygen strategy is informed by the biosignatures that currently swirl in Earth’s skies: Plants and cyanobacteria generate oxygen, while many other types of bacteria, as well as animals, pump out methane.

But a comprehensive hunt for alien biosignatures should also look deeper into Earth’s biological history, drawing further inspiration from the planet’s pioneering first organisms, Domagal-Goldman stressed.

Different worlds

Life first appeared on Earth perhaps 3.7 billion years ago and had become indisputably established by 3.5 billion years ago, scientists say. It took a long, long time, however, for the biosphere we’re familiar with today to take shape.

Simple microbial life dominated the planet for billions of years, with complex multicellular forms getting a firm foothold just 800 million years ago or so. And while oxygen-producing cyanobacteria may have evolved as early as 3 billion years ago, oxygen apparently didn’t start accumulating in the planet’s atmosphere until 2.3 billion years ago or so, said Tim Lyons of the University of California-Riverside, who also participated in the NASA panel discussion last month.

So the oxygen-methane strategy would not have picked up signs of life on the early (“Archaean”) Earth, even though the planet was teeming with organisms — just as it may result in false negatives when applied to exoplanets as well, researchers said.

But studying the microbes that thrive today in Earth’s oxygen-free environments suggests a way to broaden the search for alien life. For example, Archaean life probably released some pretty stinky stuff into the ancient planet’s air, such as sulfur-methyl gases, which Domagal-Goldman recalled smelling while walking past a colleague’s lab.

“They don’t last long in modern-day Earth’s environment because they get oxidized,” he said. “But if you went back to the Archaean, or any planet without oxygen, and you had life making these gases — which they clearly do; I detected them myself — then they might have built up enough for us to see with a telescope from far away.”

Scientists have proposed looking for other biosignatures as well, including industrial pollutants such as cholorfluorocarbons that could be indicators of advanced alien civilizations.

Unfamiliar life

Of course, even looking back to the biosignatures of ancient Earth still involves a very large assumption — that alien life will probably resemble Earth life in important ways.

That would seem to suggest that it will be tough to detect lifeforms vastly different from those of Earth — organisms with exotic and undreamed of metabolic pathways. But Lyons thinks astrobiologists shouldn’t view the challenge as insurmountable.

“We have chemical principles, and we hope that those are universal,” Lyons said. “Life today is about the flow of electrons amongst bacteria, simple, single-celled organisms. And so if you had a sense for the chemistry on that [alien] planet that you’re inferring from an atmosphere, you could start to envision reactions that could lead to that chemistry that could be a source of energy.”

‘Mystery’ aircraft reportedly spotted flying over Texas raises speculation

FoxNews.com
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    The aircraft, which an aviation enthusiast says seemed be painted a silver-grey (like the F-22 Raptor), was joined by two others over Amarillo. (DEAN MUSKETT)

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    Steve Douglass was joined by a group of aviation enthusiasts when they claim they saw a mysterious object flying over Amarillo. (STEVE DOUGLASS)

It’s difficult to determine, but a group of aviation enthusiasts say they caught a glimpse of a mystery aircraft earlier this month flying slowly across the Amarillo, Texas sky.

“We looked southwest and there they were,” Steve Douglass, a journalist and member of the group, told FoxNews.com. “We thought they were B-2s, but when we studied our pictures, we ruled that out.”

Douglass and his group, armed with cameras and binoculars, met on March 10 at the Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport. The airport is a perfect venue because it offers expansive views of Texas’ big sky and a steady stream of military air traffic. On a good day, the group can see various military jets, and even the elusive F-22 Raptor.

It was a clear day, and the group was alerted to three aircrafts flying across the southwest skies. Douglass estimated that the planes got within 20 miles of the group and they started taking pictures with their 300mm zoom cameras. They looked at the photos, and saw that one appeared to be a silver-grey B-2 bomber.

The prospects of spotting a B-2 bomber was exciting, and Douglass said he got home to observe his photos when he noticed the aircraft in his picture had a smooth backside. The B-2 bomber has a distinct “W”-shaped back.

“The trailing edge is wrong,” Douglass shouted, according to his March 28 blog post.

Few items provoke public interest like an unidentified flying object. These stories are often attached to other theories about hidden testing bases or alien life forms. But these images have prompted some interest in the industry.

“The photos tell us more about what the mysterious stranger isn’t than what it is,” Bill Sweetman writes in Aviation Week, which first reported on the story. The report said that Douglass picked up some apparently related voice signals, which would indicate the aircraft had a pilot. Editors at Aviation Week reportedly say the images appear to be “something real.”

“If I had to guess, I’d say we took a picture of a stealthy transport aircraft,” Douglass said.

Douglass writes that he reached out to Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, which houses B-2s, to see if it flew any planes over Texas on that day and did not get a response.

Fox News’ Edmund DeMarche contributed to this report