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This Astronomy related article has been awarded BRONZE status for quality. It's getting there, but could be better with improvement. See RationalWiki:Article rating for more information.



I just kind of made this up off the top of my head. It's probably a pretty good 4th grade level article, or a decent introductory primer in a sci-fi novel, but I'm sure it could use some dummying-up to make it better. Some facts and footnotes might be nice! humanbe in 14:02, 29 May 2007 (CDT)

Actually, It's not that bad, I'll add some more. MiddleMan

Thanks on both counts... yes, it's getting better already! humanbe in 15:49, 29 May 2007 (CDT)

I've never liked the "carbon-based life" label, it kinda obscures the fact that not just carbon, but also about a dozen other elements are ubiquitous in biochemistry of every organism we know of... so simply switching carbon for silicon not really something you can do in isolation. (e.g. most of the carbon redox reactions happen at catalytic centres in enzymes, containing a d-block metal - iron, nickel or copper sulphides are the most common.... and Na/K and Mg/Ca are ubiquitous as electrolytes) Any switch to silicon has to be able to do analogous chemistry with all that lot - simply forming silicon polymers isn't even halfway there.

As for extremephiles - looking at them in phylogenetic terms, they usually appear to be *precursors* to non-extremophiles, suggesting not just that life can be *viable* at high temp/high pressure environments, but that it actually originated there.--Feline1 (talk) 15:43, 17 May 2012 (UTC)


I'm wondering if exobiology would also cross paths with ufology? Since there are so many instances of people bringing back decriptions of aliens wouldn't that interest an exobiologist?Prof0705 15:52, 29 May 2007 (CDT)

Those descriptions are not looked upon as valid material, but based on the appearance of an alien it's possible to learn a great deal about its homeworld.


How are they not valid descriptions? Most of them are the same description, and therefore, by the tenents of mobocracy, they are the truth.Prof0705 16:02, 29 May 2007 (CDT)
Although sometimes the mob was right (giant squid), we'll have to wait until an actual alien has been officially examined (or until the government publishes its "X-files"), since there are a number of other ways to explain this.


I don't think ufos belong here. This refers to an actual science that agrees that it has no evidence beyond what is on earth. Ufology is, um, well, kinda x-files. And the aliens that have "appeared", unfortunately tend to appear in way that make any facts about them rather difficult to document. The fact that the descriptions are similar is more of a self-fulfilling prophecy than anything, IMO. By all means, though, please start an articles or articles on ufology, ufo sightings, what the aliens look like, etc. Obviously if a genuine alien presented itself for examination, if not vivsection, that data would then absolutely become part of exobiology. humanbe in 16:15, 29 May 2007 (CDT)
Oh crap. I'm sorry guys, for some reason I thought this was in the pseudosciences category. Just delete by edits, I didn't realize exobiology was a serious field.Prof0705 16:17, 29 May 2007 (CDT)

No problem, but yeah, exobiology is a serious field.

And X-files or not, creationism still beats ufology when it comes to loonyness! MiddleMan

Oh, by a long shot, yeah. creationism goes against huge amounts of available evidence. Ufology is lacking in solid evidence - but also in evidence to the contrary. Heck, I've seen an alien broadcast antenna coming out of Cartman's butt! But seriously, the various ufo/alien sighting topics can be treated with respect and skepticism, I think. humanbe in 18:11, 29 May 2007 (CDT)

Now that you mention it, don't you think it's possible the aliens that put Cartman's anal probe there, also introduced creationism to make the "Earth" show more enjoyable to watch? MiddleMan

I think the creationists are descendants of a species brought here from a planet that is only 6000 years old. humanbe in 18:34, 29 May 2007 (CDT)

...that would explain why they haven't evolved higher brain functions yet! I think we're on to something! MiddleMan

Where do you think all those different religions came from? They are all brought by the aliens, and now they are laughing their asses off just waiting to see which "One True Faith" gets nuked off the island next. The guys betting on Zoroastianism are kinda pissed.Prof0705 19:03, 29 May 2007 (CDT)

Drake and Fermi[edit]

Is the Drake equation connected to the Fermi paradox in any way? Daecon 11:45, 10 July 2008 (EDT)

What is the Fermi paradox? ħumanUser talk:Human 17:15, 10 July 2008 (EDT)
Ah, I see. I would say in some ways it answers the paradox? If all we might find are attentuated radio waves broadcast for say, 100 years, even if the universe is teeming with intelligent, technologically capable life, the "signs" will still be far and few between. What if, say, a planet on one of the Centauris had a civilisation, broadcasting heavily, just a couple hundred years before us, that then either died out or stopped broadcasting. We'd never know unless they picked up our signs and sent us a message - and we'd have to be listening at the right time, on the right frequency... I guess my answer to the FP is just the vastness of space and time. ħumanUser talk:Human 17:22, 10 July 2008 (EDT)
If life should be rather common, why have we never seen any evidence of it outside of our own planet? Why is there no evidence of other civilisations, such as radio transmissions, (their TV shows for example) etc.? The Australian tourism advert says it best: "So where the bloody hell are you?" Daecon 17:24, 10 July 2008 (EDT)
Because of time and space. Like my example. Imagine how hard it would be to detect our transmissions (light, radio, etc.) from more than a few light years away, considering we are closely orbiting a massive radiation source. We can't even detect other planets directly yet (say, by reflected light), let alone try to see if they are broadcasting. As far the "physical" part, I find it a bit SF-y to assume civilizations would even have nearby planets they could colonize, let alone that they could cross the vastness of interstellar space to find new places to live. EG: We have been doing our observable thing for the better part of a century so far, and the only artifacts we have sent out of the solar system are still relatively close and nearby. What is the chance one of those tiny objects will pass near another civilization and they will detect it? What Drake did was factor in how long a civilization might survive, which is a very important issue. To use the Australian example, we would be much more likely to find a message in a bottle from OZ washing up on the shore of SA than picking up some tiny signal from 100 light years away. ħumanUser talk:Human 17:34, 10 July 2008 (EDT)
There is also the question of whether we would even recognise a signal if we received one. You mention TV shows Daecon. Our TV shows are exquisitely calibrated to our technology and our senses. A certain selection of all the available light and audio spectrum is captured by a TV camera and processed. The data is then transmitted into the air in a format which is recognised by a device which knows exactly what it is looking for and knows how to change that data into something else which is exactly tuned to two human senses. If we were to pick up a signal which had been through a similar alien process designed to transmit through alien technology to unknown alien senses - I am not convinced that we would even be able to recognise it was a signal. --Bobbing up 17:47, 10 July 2008 (EDT)
That's a good point. Judging by humanity's track record, it's possible that any aliens approaching our level of technology may have accidentally ended up destroying themselves. Perhaps they created a black hole that destroyed their planet by turning on a giant particle accelerator... ;-) And yes, aliens could have evolved to see the ultraviolet spectrum, like many insects do. Daecon 17:51, 10 July 2008 (EDT)

So, someone added a rather pointless bit about the FP without any real coverage. I wonder if it should just be its own article? I don't think either of the questions posed are hard to answer, so "paradox" seems to be a very poor term for it. ħumanUser talk:Human 21:17, 25 March 2010 (UTC)


I'm going to transfer the drake stuff to the article on it. However, would anyone prefer to leave it as a "see also" or a section with "see the main article...". ArmondikoVpostate 10:16, 24 November 2008 (EST)

I think a "see the main article" under a header would be good. ħumanUser talk:Human 17:36, 24 November 2008 (EST)

Question about creationists[edit]

What would creationists do if life was found elsewhere?The only thing I can think of is them refuting everything and claiming that it has been faked by 'eviloutionists'.--Thedoctor80 (talk) 21:14, 28 November 2010 (UTC)

There are always going to be conspiracy theorists, but I imagine that creationists would claim God created the extraterrestrial life as well. Blue (is useful) 21:33, 28 November 2010 (UTC)

But they base their ideas on their big book of fairy tales, which ,as far as I am aware of, mentions nothing of an alternative genesis on another planet.Indeed, many internet creationists deny the existence of alien life, and if life was found on another planet, it would most likely be very simple, not fully formed advanced organisms created instantaneously, like in the genesis story.--Thedoctor80 (talk) 21:09, 29 November 2010 (UTC)

I think...[edit]

That there could be no possible way for us to be the only thing in the galaxy, much less the universe! There are too many solar systems for us to be the only life out there.

But thinking that extraterrestrial life is already on our planet is nuts. Simply the amount of energy and brainpower that would take! And if that is what the extraterrestrials do with that power, visit such a primitive and backward species, well, maybe they aren't so smart after all.

My heart races like anyone else at the prospect of other life visiting our planet. But I do not think it is possible and it should stay in the realm of science fiction. Winttrix and Freinds 08:27, 10 July 2011 (UTC)


I think that the article is conflating astrobiology and exobiology (see wp:Astrobiology). I propose moving it to "Astrobiology" or "Astrobiology and exobiology". Discuss.--ZooGuard (talk) 08:11, 5 January 2012 (UTC)

Bump for the move proposal. The only people who use the "exobiology" form seem to be SF writers and nutjobs.--ZooGuard (talk) 13:35, 23 February 2013 (UTC)
I'll move it. TyJFBAA 17:05, 23 February 2013 (UTC)

Quibbling over terminology[edit]

The lead sentence says "theoretical". In a technical sense, this implies there is a body of theory behind it. Hence the word "conjectural" or "hypothetical" might be more appropriate. VOXHUMANA 00:38, 5 March 2013 (UTC)