Two good reasons to question the claim that alien life has been found in Earth's atmosphere


I, for one, welcome our dubious diatom overlords.


Also, their samples came from 17 miles up in the Earth’s atmosphere.
Earth’s atmosphere starts creating meaningful friction on reentry at 75 miles up.

At 17 miles up, you’re liable to find all kinds of things.
Plummeting Felix Baumgartners, for example.


I already know that I won’t accept any assertions of alien life until I read it in a post from MKB, with lots of links and qualifiers. Sorry for the pressure Maggie but there aren’t a lot of readily accessible yet credible science writers out there that also post on blogs with unicorns and NSA and maker stuff.


Even if this is true, so what?

Talking aliens or GTFO.

We humans - all of us - have always had a hard time remembering that knowing things - as opposed to the ease of believing things - is damn hard. Knowing we’ve found alien life will be a hard-fought, prolonged, exhaustive process of research, argument, and repetition, seasoned, because it’s a human process, with every possible human failing.

Knowing things is like climbing Everest, a daunting, compelling challenge . . . with an amazing view at the end.


Case in point, says Phil Plait, the alien in question

I read that as “Case in point, Phil Plait, the alien in question” which put an entirely different spin on the story.


Felix Baumgartner is an alien is what you are saying? I knew it.

My typing is apparently worse on Saturday mornings than on weekdays.

Either that, or, Phil Plait is an alien and that explains why he doesn’t want you to believe that aliens exist.

Your choice.

…along with plummeting Babbage Bears and their installed RaspberryPis, of course.

Diatoms aren’t “single celled plants” as per the writeup – that’s basically bad high school biology of the type that tries to claim that Paramecia are single celled animals. Not everything can be classified as plants or animals. Microbes are diverse, and can’t really be shoved into categories designed for macroscopic organisms. Not that this makes the idea of diatoms from space any more plausible, but as somebody who works on diatoms the misclassification is annoying.

For added hilarity, the diatom discoverer has been e-mailing PZ Myers complaining about the lack of attention:

As God is my witness, I thought diatoms could fly!

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