On Saturday, aliens invaded.
On Monday, NASA denied their existence.
This might sound like the perfect X-Files storyline for conspiracy theorists to chew over (and they probably will, for months), but as you may have already guessed, something wasn’t quite “right” about Richard Hoover’s announcement of an extraterrestrial discovery inside samples of meteorites.
Here’s NASA’s take on said piece of research, via SpaceRef.com:
So what can we learn from this statement? Well, it looks as if Hoover’s paper didn’t make it through the peer-review process when it was first submitted to a reputable science journal in 2007.
Peer review basically means that other experts in the astrobiology field needed to review Hoover’s analysis and agree that he had followed the correct scientific procedures and reached conclusions fitting with the results he gathered from his analysis of meteorite samples. Only then can the paper be published. Somewhere along the line, Hoover’s paper failed this procedure.
Phil Plait has put together a very nice post mortem of reactions from scientists pertaining to Hoover’s claims, definitely worth a read if you want to see how knee-jerk announcements of aliens inside meteorites buckle under scientific scrutiny.
Unfortunately, we are no closer to finding evidence for alien life inside meteorites today as we were on Friday.
Special thanks to Keith Cowing for pointing me in the direction of today’s NASA statement.