By flying a weather balloon to the edge of space and capturing samples of the air and particulates drifting around in the freezing, rarefied limits of our planet’s atmosphere, British scientists have discovered something odd. The biological organisms that returned to the ground for analysis were not typical of Earth life. The conclusion: They may be alien, and may have drifted into our vicinity after piggybacking on an asteroid.
The Independent reports the professor who made the discovery, Milton Wainwright of the University of Sheffield, is 95% confident the organisms aren’t from Earth. That’s a highly confident assertion. How does he know? Well, the organisms weren’t representative of something like pollen, and there hasn’t been a recent-enough Earth-based event (like a huge volcanic eruption) that could have propelled the material up toward space. Though the organisms aren’t alive, per se, it’s thought they may contain DNA, analysis of which will give more insight. Some of the samples were coated with cosmic dust, which lends support to the idea they drifted in from space, perhaps on an asteroid, which is one leading theory for seeding of life on Earth in the first place.
Should we break out the champagne and start watching E.T. marathons on TV (the original, not the new one with walkie-talkies for guns)? Not necessarily. This is an unexpected and controversial discovery. It needs to be replicated and analyzed. Earlier alien life discoveries have since been disproved. But on the other hand, why not spend your weekend believing it’s true, and wondering what that means for your future?
[Image via Flickr user: Robert Cudmore]