Two good reasons to question the claim that alien life has been found in Earth's atmosphere

First, neither the authors of the paper, nor the journal its published in, have the best track record for careful work, well-documented research, or non-hyperbolic results. More important, the actual paper, itself, makes claims it can't back up. Case in point, says Phil Plait, the alien in question is a particle the authors assume is part of a diatom — a single-celled plant. The paper actually says "assume", and, from the sounds of things, they haven't even checked out that basic, important idea with a diatom expert.

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  1. I, for one, welcome our dubious diatom overlords.

  2. Also, their samples came from 17 miles up in the Earth's atmosphere.
    Earth's atmosphere starts creating meaningful friction on reentry at 75 miles up.

    At 17 miles up, you're liable to find all kinds of things.
    Plummeting Felix Baumgartners, for example.

  3. I already know that I won't accept any assertions of alien life until I read it in a post from MKB, with lots of links and qualifiers. Sorry for the pressure Maggie but there aren't a lot of readily accessible yet credible science writers out there that also post on blogs with unicorns and NSA and maker stuff.

  4. We humans - all of us - have always had a hard time remembering that knowing things - as opposed to the ease of believing things - is damn hard. Knowing we've found alien life will be a hard-fought, prolonged, exhaustive process of research, argument, and repetition, seasoned, because it's a human process, with every possible human failing.

    Knowing things is like climbing Everest, a daunting, compelling challenge . . . with an amazing view at the end.

  5. Case in point, says Phil Plait, the alien in question

    I read that as "Case in point, Phil Plait, the alien in question" which put an entirely different spin on the story.

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