So NASA has announced a press conference scheduled for Thursday which will “discuss an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life.” This most definitely and obviously means that aliens are on their way towards Earth to either take possession of our bodies as human hosts, do battle with Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum, drop off some of their least productive alien-citizens into an apartheid regime, ride a bicycle, or possibly all of those. But definitely at least one.
The astronomy blogger Phil Plaitt thinks all of that is over-hyped and that NASA’s announcement will probably be about something more subtle and nuanced, like a finding that will clarify the conditions under which life can possibly arise. But if that’s the case, then why does it seem like NASA press conferences are never anticipated by the press? Usually when NASA or JPL or the ESA or whoever makes an announcement like the kind Plaitt anticipates, it’s just put out there and everyone hears about it. The only way we’d be hearing an announcement for a future announcement would be if the press arbitrarily latched onto this particular press release without doing the further research necessary to gain a deeper understanding of the context, and the press would never ever ever ever be that irresponsible and lazy. Really.
The other problem I have with Plaitt’s thoughts on this is that it if NASA did find extraterrestrial life, then that would be incredibly awesome. And I for one prefer things that are awesome to things that are not quite so awesome.
UPDATE: Vice has a feature on the scientists involved.