On September 12, ufologist and journalist Jaime Maussan offered what he claimed to be evidence of alien life to the Congress of Mexico. On September 19, Mexico’s scientific group gathered for a convention to ask a easy query in return: “Extraterrestrials or Llama Skeletons?”
The reply was proper there within the subtitle of the convention itself: “Science responds to the charlatans and the gullible.” If Maussan had shocked Mexico and the world along with his outlandish claims, this was Mexico’s scientific group preventing again. Towards the tip of the convention, Alejandro Frank, a professor of mathematical physics at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) and the host of the occasion, summed issues up: “Confronted with the intense issues we’re experiencing in Mexico and the whole planet, beginning with local weather change, battle, and pandemics, it’s unhappy to collect to speak concerning the misdeeds of knowledgeable charlatan.”
Frank mentioned the scientists had not gathered to debate Maussan’s “many years of ridiculous conspiracy claims,” however quite due to the place Maussan had delivered his newest outlandish claims. Maussan’s look in Mexico’s Congress had, Frank argued, “turned the world the wrong way up” and made scientific rationality in Mexico the topic of ridicule. “What’s at stake right here is whether or not our nation will observe science or superstitions and quackery.”
Whereas Maussan’s extraterrestrial claims are laughable, the injury they threat doing to science in Mexico, and worldwide, is a severe matter. Frank pointed to the polarization of Mexican politics, particularly round pressing points just like the local weather disaster, as an particularly alarming instance of how the nation’s scientific popularity was already struggling. Following the alien debacle, Frank had referred to as on Mexico’s Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología, or Nationwide Council on Science and Know-how, to talk up and take motion. “The company has been silent concerning the information surrounding the Nazca mummies, that are more and more turning into well-known because the ‘Mexican mummies.’”
José Franco, a researcher at UNAM’s Astronomy Institute, began the convention with a presentation entitled “Life within the Universe,” the place he spoke about DNA and RNA, interstellar chemistry, the radio spectra of Orion’s KL nebula, and cloverleaf quasars.
He spoke of exobiology, the realm that research the potential of life outdoors Earth; the direct seek for microbial life in celestial our bodies; meteorites, the moon, Mars, Europa, Enceladus, and Venus. He additionally spoke about humanity’s oblique seek for alien life—concerning the messages despatched from the Arecibo telescope; the Pioneer plaques; the Voyager 1 and a couple of Golden data; the message despatched from Ukraine to Gliese 581c, a planet with some situations much like Earth’s, in 2008; and one other transmission, additionally in 2008, of the Beatles tune “Throughout the Universe,” directed towards the star Polaris.
“Hayabusa2 was despatched to the Ryugu Asteroid, returned to Earth, and is already within the fingers of scientists in Japan, and NASA,” Franco mentioned. He talked about the Osiris-Rex pattern assortment mission, which collected round 250 grams of rubble from an asteroid. He additionally touched on the 9 probes despatched to Mars, amongst them the celebrated Perseverance. “No life has been discovered anyplace, and neither has intelligence been present in Congress,” Franco joked.
Gabriela Frías, a philosophy of science researcher, described current occasions in Mexico’s Congress as “a pseudoscientific occasion, which appeals to our fantasies, wishes, and fears.” Throughout his presentation, Maussan pointed to a “carbon-14 evaluation” carried out on the Nazca mummies by scientists at UNAM. Maussan had claimed this, partly, as proof that he was presenting “nonhuman beings.” UNAM has since distanced itself from “any subsequent use, interpretation, or misrepresentation of the outcomes.”
In an announcement, UNAM mentioned it was important that the seek for alien life be approached “with the assist of scientific analysis establishments, and following the rigorous moral requirements inherent to analysis.” Maussan’s look in Congress was the alternative of that.
This text was initially printed by WIRED en Español.