Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Space: The Dank Frontier

Finally, scientist with a prediction
that isn't about how we're all doomed.
Hey everybody, good news: aliens. And soon! Well, twenty years, but for science that's pretty soon. And this isn't coming from some nutter in a tinfoil hat with a gif-filled website about reploids. This is from NASA's chief scientist. Yes, the actual NASA. She has like doctorates and everything and she said today at a public panel in Washington:

"I believe we are going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth in the next decade and definitive evidence in the next 10 to 20 years."

-Ellen Stofan, chief scientist
for NASA, yeah, that NASA

Awesome, now let's enjoy that for a minute before somebody issues a retraction...There. Wasn't that fun? Now comes the bland, science-y reality. This life beyond Earth she's talking about isn't going to beam down and ask us to explain this hew-mon emotion we call 'love.' It's just going to sit their and probably smell a little musty. But I'll let Dr. Stofan explain.
"I'm sorry, I don't understand. Why don't you simply eat your mates 
after fertilization? It seems like it would save a lot of time and effort."

Could...could the microbes be green?
"We are not talking about little green men. We are talking about little microbes."

-Ellen Stofan, NASA's chief
crusher of dreams

Yes. Microbes. Like in your sponge. In her defense she did say 'strong indications of life' and not 'alien starship orbiting our planet and transmitting the prime numbers.' But still, it's kind of a letdown after a headline like: Top NASA Scientist: We'll find Signs of Alien Life 'Within a Decade.'

Ok NASA, so maybe our fancy telescopes will someday pick up gasses in the atmosphere of some planet that could be produced by microbes and that will be great. Like, in theory. But if you want to inspire people to take an interest in space exploration again, you're going to need to do better than gassy space funk.
To seek out strange new worlds and disinfect them, I guess...

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