I just made a proposal on Area 51 for a Q&A site related to alien lifeforms, and someone mentioned that it should be the part of Astronomy.

What is the right path? Should it be a separated site or we should focus on asking these types of questions here instead?


2 Answers 2


There is SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), for example, that specifically tries to detect intelligent life elsewhere in the Universe. So regarding lifeforms, it could clearly be argued it at least affects our methodology in trying to detect them. If intelligent, then as SETI assumes, at some point in time they will develop radio wavelength communication capability that we can detect by using radio telescopes and listening to the Universe. If however we'd be just trying to establish if some distant planet currently (in astronomical sense, so apply the time needed for the light to travel the distance) hosts air breathing and carbon dioxide or oxygen producing Earth-like carbon based lifeforms, we might want to detect that through radio-astronomical spectrometry.

So I say yes, this site should allow questions related to extraterrestrial life and their possible lifeforms, but not in a speculative way asking directly about them and what we couldn't possibly answer, but if the observations that are inquired about specifically target one or a few aspects of these lifeforms or their stage of development, then I don't see any objections. I suspect we might get many questions regarding the search for Earth-like planets, so with that in mind, those questions would already be implying possible support for a specific type of life form at specific stage of technological and scientific development - us. Tho we're not extraterrestrial, we do have common criteria that specifies our range of function. Describing an extraterrestrial life form with the purpose of asking about our possibility to detect it should thus be equally acceptable.

  • $\begingroup$ Then I think I won't close my proposal. Also, join if you want! $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 8, 2013 at 15:40
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    $\begingroup$ @ZoltánSchmidt - When I said "this site" I meant Astronomy. ;) It is one of the selection criteria of astronomy methods. If there should also be another A51 proposal and later evolve as a separate, individual Stack Exchange entity, that's another matter though. I personally have nothing against it, but I don't see it as succeeding either, because most of what could be discussed about with a scientific method is already covered in other, already existing Stack Exchange websites, including Astronomy. But I might be wrong... $\endgroup$
    – TildalWave
    Commented Oct 8, 2013 at 18:06

In order to be successful, an SE site must have a sufficiently broad mandate to allow an adequate number of questions to be asked and answered. Also, it is the policy for SE sites to focus on questions that have specific, supportable answers - as opposed to either conjecture or generalities.

It seems to me, then, that "alien life forms" would be too narrow of a subject (considering that nobody on Earth has ever found evidence of an alien life form). It would therefore be better to put those questions here.

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    $\begingroup$ Not sure if ET's have more to do with Astronomy than they do with Space Exploration, though. $\endgroup$
    – user19
    Commented Oct 7, 2013 at 21:07
  • $\begingroup$ @Undo it could be a common topic within the constraints that TildalWave and Donald state. $\endgroup$
    – user8
    Commented Oct 8, 2013 at 7:27
  • $\begingroup$ From a radio telescope perspective, ET is certainly a good topic for Astronomy. Otherwise, it seems like it will eventually become a part of planetary science (at least we hope!) which would make it on topic for both Astro and Space Exploration. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage Mod
    Commented Oct 8, 2013 at 18:00

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