ET, phone London. That's where top scientists are meeting this week to discuss the existence of alien life, possibly even on our own planet. The search for aliens should focus not on outer space, but on earth, Arizona State University physicist Paul Davies will argue in a presentation to his colleagues. “Weird” microbes that belong to a completely separate tree of life could already be thriving in isolated ecological niches here on earth, according to Davies and others who believe in an alien "shadow biosphere."
Not everyone subscribes to the shadow biosphere theory, of course. Some scientists aren't optimistic about ever finding alien life, while others believe we may turn up something on Mars. Still others are concerned about what will happen on earth when ETs communicate with us. “It's easy to imagine scenarios resulting in widespread psychological disintegration and social chaos,” said a California professor. But indications are that the predominant response to transmissions from light years away "is likely to be equanimity, perhaps even delight.”