WootBot


quality posts: 15 Private Messages WootBot

Staff

If you haven't heard the news yet, NASA set all of sci-fi geekdom atwitter with their announcement that this Thursday they will have a press conference to discuss "an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life." Sounds pretty intense, right? "Astrobiology," as in "things that live out in space or on other planets," "finding" as in "evidence, hard data, not a complicated math theorem that might hold up one day if we develop warp drives," and "extraterrestrial life" as in "Mother&*$^ing aliens, yo."

But we've been burned before. See, whoever runs NASA's PR department is either a bit of an alarmist or just desperate for someone to pay attention to the every day tedium that is space exploration from the comfort of earth, so their press announcements typically have headlines like "PREPARE TO GET YOUR STUPID LITTLE MINDS COMPLETELY BLOWN, YOU IDIOTS!" or "YOU KNOW HOW COOL IPADS ARE? THIS NEW THING WE JUST FOUND IS GONNA KICK THEIR ASS!" only to lead up to several tweed-clad physicists or astronomers droning into a microphone about how they found some dust on a moon rock that is actually a different kind of element; not a NEW element, mind you, just one that they didn't know was on that particular moon rock before.

So in the interest of speeding NASA's news fatigue we present our Totally Outlandish To The Point Of Being Borderline-Libelous NASA Press Release Preview...
 

IT'LL BE ALIENS

We're all hoping for it, right? That moment when some solemn pencil-pushing NASA nerd (can they just get Neil DeGrasse Tyson to handle their press?) leans into a microphone and says, "We are not alone." Followed quickly by, "we're all going to die." Yeah sure, the Roddenberrys of the world would have you believe everyone we meet in the universe will be a colorful biped with pretty straightforward motivations and intentions, but we're betting more on a cross between a Cylon and something H.R. Geiger cooked up.

IT'LL BE BACTERIA

Okay, so it's not quite as exciting as little green men, but extraterrestrial bacteria will be a pretty amazing announcement and will definitely spur some theological arguments. Until they turn out to be ravenous brain-eating and/or -controlling micro-parasites that turn us all into drooling, blood-lusting psychopaths a la The Crazies or 28 Days Later. We give the human race three weeks, tops.

IT'LL BE A PLANET FULLY INHABITED WITH NON-SENTIENT LIFE

This'd be great! A planet teeming with plant, animal, and insect life (or at least whatever the equivalents might be) with no potentially hazardous locals to worry about. Think of the nature documentaries alone! Until of course some creatures are brought back to earth for study, where they escape and wreak havoc as nigh-indestructible super predators on a planet that was never prepared for them.

IT'LL BE AN ASTEROID HEADED TOWARDS THE EARTH

We'd really have to take issue with NASA for the sideways wording of their press release if this happens. Sure it will "impact" the search for extraterrestrial life in the sense that it will wipe us all out so we won't be able to search any more. Riots will be widespread, religious zealotry will spike, and humanity will lose all that's good and decent about it as society crumbles when faced with impending doom.

IT'LL BE THE SUN IS ABOUT TO EXPLODE

Again, we guess that would definitely have an impact on our search for life, but it would be better to just come out and say "We've got some seriously bad news, guys." Our home star will expand and vaporize the surface of the earth, reducing it to a tiny ball of molten iron that will slowly spiral into the star's core. Everything that humanity has created, conquered, fought for, died for, lived for, and loved will be gone without a trace. Some distant alien race may one day stumble across a few lonely space probes sailing silently in the infinite black, but will never know just who made them.


That's what we're expecting, anyway. If Hollywood has taught us anything, it's that astronomical news events are overwhelmingly negative and downright disastrous. NASA, if we get anything less this Thursday you can expect yet another angry letter.



Quality Posts


tgentry


quality posts: 111 Private Messages tgentry

Staff

My completely unexciting and buzz-killing guess: it will be some bacteria they found living in ice or lava here on Earth, thereby expanding our understanding and expectations of theoretical life elsewhere in the Universe.

Amander


quality posts: 2 Private Messages Amander

The sun is always just about to explode, init?

Jessara


quality posts: 9 Private Messages Jessara

I've asked my contact at NASA for any details. Just think of all the classic SF that will be viewed as prescient if it's Something Significant.

traalfaz


quality posts: 1 Private Messages traalfaz

It'll be spectrographic evidence of gas concentrations on an exoplanet that are indicative of life processes.

Adrenalynn333


quality posts: 3 Private Messages Adrenalynn333

I'm with the first respondent. Shadow Biospheres. Some "new lifeform", either found in the deep trenches or in a cavern like the expedition to the Lost Crystal Caves in SA.

Cieloan


quality posts: 0 Private Messages Cieloan

{Sorry but the editor in me can't help itself.}

Sentient isn't limited to describing people, just anything capable of thought. So, a planet with no sentient life wouldn't have animals...just a lot of plants. And microorganisms.

And yes, the sun is definitely about to explode.

durkzilla


quality posts: 5 Private Messages durkzilla

I was thinking the same thing about NASA's PR department.

Maybe they hired the same folks who redesign laundry detergent boxes - you know, the old "HOLY CARP, ITS TOTALLY the same crap IN A NEW BOX!!!" folks.

Or maybe they nabbed one of the Apple marketeers - they change the world every year or so too with hipster gadgets.

But it might be the same folks who run those celebrity tabloid TV shows - "Stay tuned for the hot super secret dirt on Oprah/Lindsey/Brittney/OJ/Mel/etc." that turns out to be they got a parking ticket or something.

/I'm voting for the Geiger killer aliens.

FenStar


quality posts: 16 Private Messages FenStar

The alien overlords will reveal themselves, and their intergalactic LOLhumans website!!!!!!

Still single, can't imagine why.

choriskardia


quality posts: 0 Private Messages choriskardia
FenStar wrote:The alien overlords will reveal themselves, and their intergalactic LOLhumans website!!!!!!



And I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords"

ActorTom


quality posts: 2 Private Messages ActorTom

It will be that there are aliens already living among us...

bdzot


quality posts: 0 Private Messages bdzot

They'll announce that the budget for astrobiology has been cut, and they're "privatizing" it.
(Not that I'm a cynic, but...ok, yeah, I'm a cynic).

It says you're not real. Sorry.

enville


quality posts: 2 Private Messages enville

looking over the presenters, the big guns aren't even coming in. That suggests that it is truly a scientific revelation and not a cultural/congressional photo-op. So it will probably be significant, but take lots of science to understand or apply, and most people can't be bothered with the brain effort to learn new channel listings, let alone comprehend the significance of a discovery that doesn't get them a bigger tv.

but I'm probably cynical too.

I'm betting on some revelation from the recent comet investigations.

or that it really is Steve Job's world and we're just living in it. I'd rather the sun explode.

stingray69


quality posts: 4 Private Messages stingray69

It's a new telescope.

MozeeToby


quality posts: 0 Private Messages MozeeToby
Adrenalynn333 wrote:I'm with the first respondent. Shadow Biospheres. Some "new lifeform", either found in the deep trenches or in a cavern like the expedition to the Lost Crystal Caves in SA.



Someone on a different forum pointed me to an article about the lead presenter for NASA's press conference. About a year ago, she was just starting an experiment that was attempting to isolate bacteria that could completely replace phosphorus with arsenic (from some lake I can't remember that has naturally high levels of arsenic). The experiment would take at least several months, and another few months to analyze the results and make dang sure that they are right.

Basically, it would mean that life began on Earth twice, which in turn makes finding alien life much, much more likely.

rayray099


quality posts: 6 Private Messages rayray099
MozeeToby wrote:Someone on a different forum pointed me to an article about the lead presenter for NASA's press conference. About a year ago, she was just starting an experiment that was attempting to isolate bacteria that could completely replace phosphorus with arsenic (from some lake I can't remember that has naturally high levels of arsenic). The experiment would take at least several months, and another few months to analyze the results and make dang sure that they are right.

Basically, it would mean that life began on Earth twice, which in turn makes finding alien life much, much more likely.



Wery intervesting. There was an update on Kottke.org yesterday in regards to the 'Has NASA discovered extraterrestrial life?' headline, and the guy quoted says he's seen the Science paper...'It's not that,' he says.

dugaboggy


quality posts: 3 Private Messages dugaboggy

Arsenic microbe it is! California remains the craziest state around.

http://www.slashgear.com/nasa-find-new-lifeform-arsenic-microbe-widens-likelihood-of-extraterrestrial-life-02117300/

llandar


quality posts: 32 Private Messages llandar
dugaboggy wrote:Arsenic microbe it is! California remains the craziest state around.

http://www.slashgear.com/nasa-find-new-lifeform-arsenic-microbe-widens-likelihood-of-extraterrestrial-life-02117300/



I wonder if that's the same bacterium NPR did a story on five years ago (didn't RadioLab do one too, or was that a different lake? It might have been in Montana).

dugaboggy


quality posts: 3 Private Messages dugaboggy
llandar wrote:I wonder if that's the same bacterium NPR did a story on five years ago (didn't RadioLab do one too, or was that a different lake? It might have been in Montana).




Oh yeah, look at that.
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4668418

I guess it only counts if NASA discovers it. No love for the USGS.

NightGhost


quality posts: 1908 Private Messages NightGhost

Send more Chuck Berry.

noleafclover614


quality posts: 0 Private Messages noleafclover614
MozeeToby wrote:Someone on a different forum pointed me to an article about the lead presenter for NASA's press conference. About a year ago, she was just starting an experiment that was attempting to isolate bacteria that could completely replace phosphorus with arsenic (from some lake I can't remember that has naturally high levels of arsenic). The experiment would take at least several months, and another few months to analyze the results and make dang sure that they are right.

Basically, it would mean that life began on Earth twice, which in turn makes finding alien life much, much more likely.




Isn't this essentially the same plot of the movie Evolution in 2001?

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0251075/

:-O!!!

Woot!!!


quality posts: 2 Private Messages Woot!!!
dugaboggy wrote:Oh yeah, look at that.
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4668418

I guess it only counts if NASA discovers it. No love for the USGS.



This looks like it's going to be different.

That bacteria processes arsenic, supposedly the new NASA bacteria are made of arsenic.

http://gizmodo.com/5704158/nasa-finds-new-life

NOT woot! Staff

DennisG2010


quality posts: 20 Private Messages DennisG2010

Looks like the NYT beat them to the announcement:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/03/science/03arsenic.html

DennisG2010


quality posts: 20 Private Messages DennisG2010
DennisG2010 wrote:Looks like the NYT beat them to the announcement:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/03/science/03arsenic.html



Oops - looks like Gizmodo and other posters beat me and NYT and NASA to the punch.

dugaboggy


quality posts: 3 Private Messages dugaboggy
Woot!!! wrote:This looks like it's going to be different.

That bacteria processes arsenic, supposedly the new NASA bacteria are made of arsenic.

http://gizmodo.com/5704158/nasa-finds-new-life



So if we put them in a room together, one bacteria would totally eat the other, right?

NightGhost


quality posts: 1908 Private Messages NightGhost
tgentry wrote:My completely unexciting and buzz-killing guess: it will be some bacteria they found living in ice or lava here on Earth, thereby expanding our understanding and expectations of theoretical life elsewhere in the Universe.



Scary good guess.

NightGhost


quality posts: 1908 Private Messages NightGhost
dugaboggy wrote:So if we put them in a room together, one bacteria would totally eat the other, right?



Now, don't go all Michael Vick on us!