A provocative paper from a scientist at NASA suggests that the search of extraterrestrial intelligence has been hampered by preconceived ideas which may have led to humans missing out on the chance to spot ETs. Silvano P. Colombano of the space agency's Ames Research Center put forward this argument in a report titled 'New Assumptions to Guide SETI Research.' The thought-provoking piece notes that the Kepler telescope has discover exoplanets which are millions of years older than Earth and, as such, these findings should serve to upend previous "cherished assumptions" when it comes to the possibility for life out in the universe.
Specifically, Colombano points to four proverbial 'blind spots' which he believes have inadvertently thwarted our quest to locate intelligent aliens. First, he proposes revisiting the idea that "interstellar travel is impossible or highly unlikely," since it is based on our current understanding of technology rather than what an advanced civilization that is thousands of years old may be able to achieve. Additionally, Colombano theorizes that the predominant form of communication that scientists suspect aliens could be using to communicate, radio waves, might very well be obsolete to them.
Perhaps the most tantalizing point made in the paper concerns the idea that ETs would be carbon-based. On the contrary, Colombano muses, humanity's "computer evolution" of the last 50 years opens the door for speculation that an alien may be composed of something else entirely and even developed in a manner which makes for ideal space travel over thousands of years. He explained that "the size of the 'explorer' might be that of an extremely tiny super-intelligent entity." And, to that end, he hinted that just such an intelligent visitor may have been completely missed by scientists looking for an alien which fit their narrow viewpoint of what an ET would look like.
More on Colombano's remarkable paper, including his thoughts on the UFO phenomenon, at the Coast to Coast AM website.