July 16, 2008

Extraterrestrial Life: A Quick Lit Review

Yesterday at the reference desk, I had one of my most interesting research questions of the summer. A student was creating a bibliography for her class and chose extraterrestrial life as her topic. She needed a couple more sources, and I was more than happy to fire up my Proquest-searching skills for the occasion. Here is a sampling of what we uncovered (cited in APA format, with some added bolding to really make things pop).

Dartnell, L. (2008). Hairy Blobs found in an acidic hell. New Scientist, 198(2569), 15.
  • This article addresses recent research that shows life (in this case, hairy blobs) could survive in similar conditions to the Martian oceans (an acidic hell).
Want proof? Here're some hairy blobs:

Pendick, D. (2008). Earth through alien eyes. Astronomy, 36(5), 23.
  • This article discusses whether aliens with our current level of technology would be able to find Earth from lightyears away. The answer is yes, they could.
  • My favorite quote is from scientist Sara Seager, who discusses her research published recently in The Astrophysical Journal: "Maybe somebody's looking at us right now, finding out . . . the length of our day."
  • Quite possibly, aliens are discovering the length of Earth's days as I write this blog entry. What an extraordinary thought!
Sheehan, D.P. (2008). On the eighth day, God created extraterrestrials: Vatican says life on other planets possible. McClatchy-Tribune Business News (wire feed), May 14 2008. Retrieved July 15, 2008, from Proquest Research Library.
  • This newspaper article was originally published in The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa. I've never heard of this paper, but now I wish I read it every day.
  • In an interview in the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes (the Vatican's top astronomer, according to the article) says rejecting the the idea of alien life outright would be "putting limits on God's creative freedom." Extraterrestrial life is apparently a "thorny" theological issue in Christianity, but the Vatican has made its position clear.
  • In addition to Vatican experts, this article includes views on the topic from a UFO researcher:

    Besides, he added, aliens themselves may be creatures of faith. In a few of the many thousands of reports of alien abduction, abductees said they could speak with their captors. "Where people could ask questions, one of the questions they asked was, 'Is there a God?' or 'Do you believe in God?' " Bassett said. "Without fail, the ETs would say 'Yes.' "

In Wired's report of this story, they captured this related image of a saint and an alien meeting in a small chapel:
All in all, a productive day at the reference desk!


  1. Do you think that picture was Photoshopped? Just wondering ....

  2. Hey Katie, I just checked the blog reports and the blog just got a hit from Mars. Also, when I tried to do the same proquest search that you did, I got different results. SO, I did it again and got different results from my previous search. Proquest might know too much. This might be more evidence for a government cover-up. Let's get Mulder and Scully on this. I'm sure it would make a great episode of the X-Files. There is an episode in season 1 about a possessed operating system. Not that I would know. It might be sort of the same thing. Aliens infiltrating information through our networked systems, government cover up of information, etc. The truth is out there.

  3. Without fail, the ETs would say 'Yes.'

  4. I just wasted my entire morning pondering the length of the ETs' day.