Scientists Theorize That “They’re Here”

Scientists theorize that space aliens may already be here, but we don’t recognize them

Andrew Fraknoi, a board member of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence in Mountain View

Stargazing scientists have recently begun to focus on the prospect of encountering intelligent extraterrestrials, and the more they think about it the more they realize the first meeting probably won’t be with little green men in flying saucers.

What aliens might look like is a growing question among astrobiologists, who are increasingly conjuring up creatures more Lilliputian than mega-brained or reptilian.

“The intriguing possibility is they are, in fact, here, but we just don’t know it,” said Andrew Fraknoi, the emeritus chairman of the astronomy department at Foothill College who recently taught a course on aliens at the University of San Francisco’s Fromm Institute and believes space aliens could very well be microscopic or unrecognizable as a life-form.

Fraknoi is on the board of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, known as the SETI Institute, based in Mountain View, where questions about alien civilizations are often discussed. He has long speculated that members of a civilization billions of years old might by now have evolved into a mechanical-biological mix, like a robot with a brain, capable of living for thousands of years as they travel through space.

But it is also possible, he said, that advanced civilizations would have sent into space thousands of tiny canisters holding the germs of life programmed to incubate and grow when they encounter suitable conditions around a star.

“In all the mathematical models, a species that started early in the history of the galaxy and had the will and resources to diffuse could by now have filled many parts of the galaxy with its artifacts or biological spores,” Fraknoi said.

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