All about aliens.
New telescopes and spacecraft will soon help researchers scour our galaxy for signs of extraterrestrial life. But what might aliens look like? And if they do exist, why haven't they returned our calls? These are just some of the questions addressed in the Science News special report In Search of Aliens" (SN: 4/30/16, p.24).
Readers enjoyed Tina Hesman Saey's feature "Will we know ET when we see it?" (SN: 4/30/16, p. 28) and described what they think aliens might look like.
"The search for extraterrestrials is a subject which needs to be taken more seriously by mainstream science. Thanks for looking at it and please have more on the topic," Wade Carmen wrote. He suggested aliens might look similar to creatures that dwell in the deep ocean. "H.G. Wells did it right by envisioning Martians as cephalopods in War of the Worlds," he added. "The first extraterrestrial forms of life likely to be encountered are microbes or even something amorphous like the Blob."
Other readers thought the search for ET might require new definitions for life: "Maybe ribose is ET," said Cabell Smith, drawing a connection between the special issue and Christopher Crockett's "Ribose could have formed in space" (SN: 4/30/16, p. 18), which reported that the key sugar in RNA can form in lab-made "interstellar" ice. Annselm Morpurgo took the idea a step further. "I am still waiting for some astrophysicist to declare that there may even be life on the surface of the sun," she wrote. "Forget biology. Information exchange between self-replicating structures of any kind, such as electromagnetic 'bumps' in a chaotic 'soup,' might also qualify."