Science Sunday: NASA’s Chief Scientist Predicts We’ll Find Alien Life by 2025

In a recent panel discussion, NASA’s Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan predicted we would find evidence of alien life within a decade, followed by definitive proof within the next 20 to 30 years. I’ve talked about this previously, but it seems more and more respected scientists are coming out and talking about this. Now, I don’t believe NASA will find intelligent life within 20 to 30 years, but I can definitely see us finding microbes or vegetation of some kind.

However, there is one thing that I’ve been thinking about for a while now that bothers me. If we do find some form of alien life, in whatever form it happens to come in, how will that affect Science Fiction? Will our visions of the future be limited by what we know? Will the futures we write about be extrapolations of this ‘new’ world where knowledge of alien life exists already?

The premise behind a lot of Science Fiction is that alien life surfaces and most or all people don’t believe in it. If it starts being taken as a given that alien life exists, it will affect, necessarily, how authors write. If we do find alien life, there will surely be doubters, there will be new cults or religions formed, some may flee the religions that are currently out there while some others might flock to the religions to seek answers. There’s a number of ways this could go from a storytelling standpoint as well as from a ‘realistic’ standpoint.  After watching the Batman V Superman trailer, it seems like Science Fiction is already changing to become more realistic given what we know.

Do you think we’ll find alien life? If so, in what form will we find it? How will the human race react? Has NASA lost it? Is Science Fiction doomed? So many questions! Leave your comments below!

How Far Can You See?

How Far Can You See?

I recently came across the Webb Space Telescope on which NASA is currently working.  When it’s launched in 2018, it will have 100x the power of the Hubble telescope, the telescope responsible for images like the one at right.  It’s amazing how inspiring the photos from Hubble were and are and I can’t imagine what we’ll be able to see with the Webb Space Telescope.  NASA is hoping to see the end of the universe, looking back through time to when the universe began.  Heavy stuff.

The new telescope will be positioned about 1,000,000 miles from Earth, a little more than four times the distance to the moon.  Being that far away, it will have capabilities that the Hubble doesn’t.  There shouldn’t be any period of time when the Webb telescope wouldn’t be able to capture images.  With that advantage, it should be able to get better images than the Hubble.  What I’m hoping for is a closeup of an Earth-like planet in another solar system.  NASA has already found thousands of other planets, but I think it will be different if people could see those planets clearly and up close.  Images like the one above make me wonder just what’s out there.  That’s why I choose to write science fiction novels.  I choose a star out of that crowded picture and imagine intelligent life searching the stars as we do.

My upcoming science fiction series asks a lot of these same questions, and answers the question, “Are we alone in the universe?” with a resounding “NO!”  It’s action-packed and sure to please fans of Space Operas, Space Westerns, and fans of movies like Blade Runner and Alien.  Keep a lookout this December for the first of many in this new series.


Microbial Life in Meteorites?

Microbial Life in Meteorites?

Photo Credit: National Geographic

What are the chances that microbial life exists in meteorites or the asteroids from which they broke off?  Scientists have already found that some forms of life can live in the vacuum of space.  In addition, the Tardigrade can live in space for up to 10 days, taking in radiation far beyond what a human could withstand.  This article from 2011 talks about a rare type of cyanobacteria that was found fossilized in a carbonaceous meteorite.  These are the types of articles I researched when I was planning my upcoming novel Symbiote, set for release in September 2014.

In my novel, I posit that alien parasites can indeed survive in or on a meteorite as well as the journey through our atmosphere.  I consider this speculative fiction, as the science is certainly leaning this direction, with life possible on meteorites and asteroids, but not being conclusively proven yet.  In Symbiote, I go into the implications of this, of what it would mean for the Earth if such a thing were to occur.  From there, the novel transgresses to more of a soft science fiction, in which I explore one possibility of an alien parasite and what it could do if it came in contact with a human.

Think of this: We come into contact with millions of kinds of bacteria in the course of our lives and some of them make us sick.  Some of them could make us die.  But some of them are necessary for digestive function.  The line is thin but it is there.  The major question throughout the novel is whether or not the alien parasite is truly that, or if it is in fact symbiotic.  What changes would occur in the human body if it came in contact with this extraterrestrial microbe?  Would it change who we are?  To find out, you’ll have to pick up a copy when it comes out next month.  Until then, I’m open to questions or comments on the possibilities of us actually finding life on a meteorite that falls to Earth.