'Hey Bill Nye, What If We're Descended from Extraterrestrials?'

Television Host and Science Educator

"How should we react to aliens?" asks Jesse from Texas. Such a question assumes we'd be able to contact aliens should we find them. Bill's not entirely sure we'll be able to. A civilization thousands of light-years away would be extremely difficult to communicate with. It might end up being impossible.

Bill then refocuses on a pretty fascinating idea: Is it possible that we're extraterrestrials? New research on Mars in the coming decade will help us find out if humans are really the descendants of Mars-based microbes that were docked off that planet and onto ours millions of years ago.

  • Transcript

TRANSCRIPT

Jesse Lawrence: This is Jesse from Central Texas. What are some of the reasons you think extraterrestrials will come to Earth and how should we react to them and how do you think we will react to them? And on top of that what are some of the consequences things like organized religion will have when they eventually make it here?

Bill Nye: Jesse I kind of thought that’s where you were going when you started with the aliens coming from some other world and then: "Well how do you think religions will react?" I guess it depends on the religion. The current pope is going to roll with it. He’s going to send Vatican scientists out there to take a meeting with them and they’ll speak Latin or whatever the heck.

But I know what you’re driving at. If you want to think about this Jesse, talk about extraterrestrials. You say what’s going to happen when they visit. I don’t think they’re going to visit. However, it’s very reasonable that we will in, Carl Sagan in fashion, detect a signal to it from some other star system. That’s very reasonable. I make no guarantees. It’s the Christmas light problem, the holiday light problem where the lights are blinking. Our light of being able to receive electromagnetic wave from another civilization has to be on when another blinking civilization light is on so that we can cross paths not only in space, but in time. We have to have both civilizations existing at the same time. And with the universe that’s at least 13.6 billion years old, it’s not necessarily a given thing that everybody will be — their lights will be on at the same time.

And if you want to think about this Jesse, and religions, it’s very reasonable, absolutely not proven — we may have the means to prove it — very reasonable that you and I are a descendent of extraterrestrials. They just found liquid water on Mars, super salty water on Mars that flows every, apparently, flows every Martian year, every time Mars goes around the sun, it gets warm enough in this one area; the liquid water flows for a while; briny water evaporates. It’s very reasonable that there’s something alive on Mars or certainly that there was something alive on Mars. Then it’s very reasonable that Mars was hit with an impact. You can show that Mars was hit with an impact or comet or asteroid about 3 billion years ago. And some of the material of Mars was thrown off into space and some if it landed here. We find rocks on Earth that are clearly of Martian origin. I bought one online for kicks. And suppose some especially robust Martian microbe, a Marscrobe was in this piece of material, landed on Earth in an especially fertile time era 3 billion years ago. And you and I are descendants of Martians. Do, do, do, do — do, do, do, do.

And one of the things you mentioned religion and you mentioned that you were in Texas. I will say I did this debate with this guy in Kentucky who has been very outspoken that he thinks NASA, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, is wasting tax dollars looking for life elsewhere because he — as near as I can tell believes that he has a book written 50 centuries ago translated into English, translated many times. He believes that’s what’s in this book overwhelms everything that we can observe and record and infer about nature. So I guess it depends on the religion, how religions will react when we discover life on another world or we receive a signal from another civilization. That’s a cool question man. Carry on.