The Whole World Has Aliens on the Brain

There’s been an overwhelming amount of alien-related news lately, and the latest bits of it have covered the leaders of Earth actually preparing for conact.  It all started when European astronomers discovered a new solar system last month, 127 light years away from us, and believed to contain at least 5 planets. Pretty awesome, right?

Any wannabe astronomer worth his salt knows that the universe is 1. estimated to be 14 billion years old, 2. HUGE and 3. expanding.  Where the REAL wannabes go from there is to understand that means there is undoubtedly a non-zero probability that the necessary components have come together in the necessary proportions to sustain life somewhere else in the universe.  And if that probability hasn’t come to fruition yet, it is still a certainty when extended over an infinite timeline.  In other words, it’s only a matter of time before we find some other planet that can sustain life and raid them for their Spacecash.

Wait, what?  It already happened?!

If confirmed, the exoplanet, named Gliese 581g,  would be the first Earth-like world found residing in a star’s habitable zone — a region where a planet’s temperature could sustain liquid water on its surface. [Illustration of planet Gliese 581g.]

Earth once supported harsh conditions, the researchers point out. And since red dwarfs are relatively “immortal” living hundreds of billions of years (many times the current age of the universe), combined with the fact that conditions stay so stable on a tidally locked planet, there’s a good chance that if life were to get a toe-hold it would be able to adapt to those conditions and possibly take off, Butler said.

“Personally, given the ubiquity and propensity of life to flourish wherever it can, I would say, my own personal feeling is that the chances of life on this planet are 100 percent,” said Steven Vogt, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, during a press briefing today. “I have almost no doubt about it.”

There you have it folks.  So what is Earth to do when we see a mind-blowing jump in the probability that there are indeed some sexy blue cat people out there theatrically recreating the plot of Fern Gully?  News outlets have reported this week that the first order of business for the UN was to appoint a pointman as Alien Ambassador.  Since the kid from E.T. was unavailable they went with an astrophysicist (yawn) from Malaysia, Mazlan Othman.  Apparently this story has since been debunked as mass confusion fueled by the Interwebz’ hyperactive news-cycle, but it seems like Othman is already the go-to lady anyway, as head of the U.N.’s Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA).  Personally I’d like to see that awesome Japanese scientist with the sweet hair representing Earth, or maybe John Stamos.  Gotta make sure we put our best foot forward.

Interestingly enough, the Vatican has also chimed in.  The Pope‘s astronomer (the Pope has an astronomer?!) said that he would “be delighted” if intelligent life were found, and that he would baptize them Catholic if they so wished.  He had no answer when asked, “But why the hell would they want that?”

Speaking ahead of a talk at the British Science Festival in Birmingham, he said that the traditional definition of a soul was to have intelligence, free will, freedom to love and freedom to make decisions. “Any entity – no matter how many tentacles it has – has a soul.” Would he baptise an alien? “Only if they asked.”

The Guardian

Unfortunately, those soulless gays are still out of luck.


I Have to Admit, I Expected Worse Grammar

Proudly representing his native Knoxville, TN, some guy decided to take a little time out from this killer ho-down to write his local newspaper a nice little opinion piece on why evolution shouldn’t be taught in public schools.  SPOILER ALERT: there are some logical holes in his treatise.  I mean without evolution, how do you explain a chimp like me blogging my little heart out?  Dude, I’m so evolved that I type with my chimp-feet.


Now I’m not into Creationism.  It’s not really my thing.  But does it have a place in schools?  Sure, in religion class, where you talk about religions and their history and such.  I learned about Christianity, Islam, and several other religions that I went on to nonchalantly disregarded in my personal life.  So why wouldn’t you want to teach science in science class? One guy who is into Creationism is the Pope, so let’s see what he has to say on the subject:

There is much scientific proof in favor of evolution, which appears as a reality that we must see and which enriches our understanding of life and being as such.

-Pope Benedict XVI in 2007 via MSNBC

Wait, what?  You’re telling me the freaking Pope has said on the record that Creationism and evolution are NOT mutually exclusive? That’s awesome.  He respects science and all that it has discovered, while pointing out that the wealth of scientific knowledge we’ve amassed over the last few thousand years only represents a drop in the bucket.  And that’s true.  The only place his Popeness and I diverge is where he chooses to explain everything we don’t know yet by attributing it to the Catholic idea of God, while I choose to sit back and wait for the science to do its thing.  But here’s one piece of advice for the Holy Roller: tell these people to shut the fuck up every once in a while – they are NOT helping your cause.  I know every time I hear some guy like Anthony here open up his mouth all I can think is “JEBUS, the one thing I know is THIS GUY ain’t got it right.”

But he DID go back a whole 200 years into his family tree to look for an ancestor with scales (why am I not surprised that a guy from Tennessee thinks that the history of the human race couldn’t predate the USA?).  Look, Anthony, there is a problem with evolution: it’s slow.  Next time try praying for watermelons.

The Daily What via Geekologie