#AtoZChallenge – Xenology, the study of aliens

Time for X in my Sci-Fi themed A-to-Z Challenge!

Xenology is a field that will really get started the second somebody confirms that life exists away from Earth.

In a way, xenobiology already exists – biologists are trying to figure out where we should look for life and what we might see when we find it. The most viable candidate locations for life in our solar system are Mars and Jupiter’s moon Europa, so future missions will try to get samples of water from each location. The big problem for any such mission will be collecting samples without having any bacteria or viruses from Earth hitch a ride on the probe and mess up the sites they try to sample.

Xenology is a much broader field that would include studies of alien biology, culture, society, language, and evolution. If intelligent life is ever discovered away from Earth, you can bet scientists from all disciplines will rush to become experts in various aspects of Xenology.

The earliest use of “xenology” in sci-fi is a story by Robert A. Heinlein published as Star Lummox in 1954 in Magazine of Science-Fiction and Fantasy (it was later released as the novel The Star Beast). Many other works have speculated on the sorts of experts that would be called for once alien life is known to exist.

We May See Xenology Sooner Than We Think

Maybe I’m just a hopeful optimist, but given how life has been found in some of the most inhospitable places on Earth, I think confirmation of alien life will come within the next generation. It won’t be little green men, but more likely microorganisms like bacteria.

Do you think we’ll see some news stories with the headline Alien Life Found in the near future?


More about xenology:





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