London, January 25 (ANI): Reports indicate that scientists are going to hold a meeting where it would be suggested that the search for extra-terrestrial life should be focused right here on Earth.
According to a report in The Times, the idea would be discussed by scientists at a meeting of the Royal Society in Britain this week.
Paul Davies, a physicist at Arizona State University, US, will suggest that the search for extra-terrestrial life should be focused right under our noses.
His audience will include representatives from NASA, the European Space Agency and the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs, while Lord Rees, President of the Royal Society and Astronomer Royal, will also lead one of the sessions.
Addressing the meeting to mark the 50th anniversary of the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) programme, Professor Davies will argue that demonstrating that life has appeared more than once on Earth would be the best evidence yet that it must exist elsewhere in the Universe.
"We need to give up the notion that ET is sending us some sort of customised message and take a new approach," he told The Times.
According to Professor Davies, "weird" microbes that belong to a completely separate tree of life, dubbed the "shadow biosphere", could be present in isolated ecological niches in which ordinary life struggles to survive.
Likely hiding places include deserts, scalding volcanic vents, the dry valleys of Antartica or salt-saturated lakes.
One team, led by Felisa WolfeSimon, of the US Geological Survey, is investigating the possibility that places that are heavily contaminated with arsenic, such as the Mono Lake in California, might support forms of life that use arsenic in the same way that other life forms use phosphorus.
The conference will also address the social implications of the search for alien life. Albert Harrison, from the University of California, Davis, will discuss how human beings might respond to the discovery of extraterrestrial intelligence.
"It is easy to imagine scenarios resulting in widespread psychological disintegration and social chaos," he said.
"But historical prototypes, reactions to false alarms and survey results suggest that the predominant response to the discovery of a microwave transmission from light years away is likely to be equanimity, perhaps even delight," he added. (ANI)