Prepare for Contact! - In January, The Royal Society, the national academy of science of the UK and the Commonwealth hosted representatives from NASA, the European Space Agency and the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs, during its 350th anniversary celebration. The event offered some dizzying intellects in the featured discussion, "The Detection Of Extraterrestrial Life and the Consequences for Science and Society." Lord Martin Rees, President of the Royal Society and Astronomer Royal, announced that aliens may be "staring us in the face" in a form humans are unable to recognize. Other speakers used words like "overwhelming evidence" and "unprecedented proof" to signify how close we are to making irrefutable discovery of alien life. Some, like Simon Conway Morris, professor of evolutionary paleobiology at Cambridge University, worried that contact with these unknowns might not be a good thing.
Vatican astronomers likewise weighed in on this question, "Are we alone in the Universe," and their top scholars hinted that discovery of alien life, including intelligent life, might be made in the near future. Father Jose Gabriel Funes in a long interview with the L'Osservatore Romano newspaper said there is a certain possibility of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, and that such notion "doesn't contradict our faith." Another Vatican astronomer, Guy Consolmagno concluded that chances are better than not that mankind is facing a near-future discovery of extraterrestrial intelligence (Monsignor Corrado Balducci even went so far a few years ago to suggest that aliens were already interacting with earth and that some of the Vatican's leaders are aware of it).