Nope, we haven't found life on another planet


So, a couple of days ago, when NASA sent out a press release announcing "an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life", I went scrounging around for the embargoed details and managed to look everywhere except the one place that had the information. Having now seen what's actually being announced tomorrow, I have some good news and bad news.

Bad news first: Kottke's speculations are wrong, and this announcement has nothing to do with newly discovered life—or signs of life—on another planet.

The good news: What is being announced is still pretty interesting, if you're into astrobiology and weird life on Earth.

I'm going to go ahead and hold the embargo. I'll post something here about NASA's real news tomorrow afternoon. But I did want to clear up exaggerations that I helped spread the other day, and make sure you guys had a better picture of what was actually going on. Sometimes, I get overly excited and bite into bait I ought to leave alone. My apologies on that.

Also: Not everybody is holding the embargo. A simple Google search will turn up the news of tomorrow, today, if you want it. Frustrated by the concept of embargoes, in general? Join the club. I highly recommend the Embargo Watch blog for some in-depth discussions of what purpose embargoes serve, why journalists follow them, and how the system needs to change.

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  1. I was too much of a pessimist to really get that excited about the NASA announcement, but thanks for the links for Embargo Watch.

  2. Maggie, there’s nothing wrong with passionate excitement, bring it on. Apologising and clarifying after the event makes it all worth while (presuming what you are passionately excited about doesn’t cause ppl harm).

  3. It’s really NASA’s fault for wording the original press release the way they did, it inevitably caused geek propellers to spin at hypersonic speeds. If they wanted to keep things chill they should have been way more muted and said nothing about “the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life”. Of course if they did that, no one would have given a shit about the press conference.

  4. It would be funny if all of the TSA screening and diddling is really some clandestine preparations for an alien take-over.

  5. NASA is like the boy who cried wolf when it comes to announcements about alien life.

    I guess this is a little bit better than their usual alternating announcements of “water on the moon!” and “no water on the moon!”.

  6. Come on! Announcing Mono Lake *again*? I mean, I’m a microbial ecologist myself, so I like the media to acknowledge that the field exists, but really — that was published in 2008.

  7. I’m holding out for the announcement with video footage that the space station has been taken over by that naked space vampire from LIFEFORCE.

  8. That has to be one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen, and adds to my joy at reading boingboing on a constant basis. For a writer to apologise for being overly excitable and biting at bait better left alone makes this place seem all the more human and brilliant. Thank you for helping to make this one of best places to hang out on the internet. Oh and I would say happily continue to bite at bait if when you are misled your apologies are as soulful and well written.


  9. The finding may actually be more exciting than the dailymail article suggests…rather than just a new type of bacteria that survives in extreme conditions, this gizmodo article suggests its basic biochemistry is fundamentally different from all other types of life:

    At their conference today, NASA scientist Felisa Wolfe Simon will announce that they have found a bacteria whose DNA is completely alien to what we know today. Instead of using phosphorus, the bacteria uses arsenic. All life on Earth is made of six components: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur. Every being, from the smallest amoeba to the largest whale, share the same life stream. Our DNA blocks are all the same.

    But not this one. This one is completely different. Discovered in the poisonous Mono Lake, California, this bacteria is made of arsenic, something that was thought to be completely impossible. While she and other scientists theorized that this could be possible, this is the first discovery.

  10. Just because NASA hasn’t found life on other planets doesn’t mean that we haven’t found you.

  11. This is not so much surprised news .life exist another planet possible.
    Cosmic world eye found some life planet .may be one day it will be possible
    To finding a alien life.

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