The story caused a sensation after The Guardian reported last week about a study carried out by a group of scientists. One of them belonged to NASA's Planetary Science Division, and the purely speculative short essay was labeled a NASA study. Most of the headlines read something like; NASA says Aliens may invade Earth due to global warming.
Finally NASA took to Twitter to dispel the news of alien invasion study allegedly carried out by them.
The tweets linked to the blog of Shawn D. Domagal-Goldman of NASA, one of the three scientists who wrote the 33-page paper.
So here's the thing. This isn't a 'NASA report.' It's not work funded by NASA, nor is it work supported by NASA in other ways. It was just a fun paper written by a few friends, one of whom happens to have a NASA affiliation, he wrote in his blog paleblueblog.org.
Goldman doesn't even believe that humans might get in touch with aliens anytime soon. The paper was a review of all the different proposed situations for contact with an alien civilization. I didn't think this was particularly important. After all, I consider the likelihood of contact with an alien civilization to be low. It certainly wasn't urgent, as I don't expect this to happen anytime soon. But... it sounded like fun and I decided to join in on it, he wrote.
He noted the idea of superior aliens invading the Earth is hardly new. Keanu Reaves recently played a similar alien in the movie 'The Day the Earth Stood Still.' There were lots of other ideas we reviewed, but this was probably the most provocative, he wrote.
Goldman became aware of the gravity of his provocation when news reports started crediting it as a NASA study.
So here's the deal, folks. Yes, I work at NASA. It's also true that I work at NASA headquarters. But I am not a civil servant... just a lowly postdoc. More importantly, this paper has nothing to do with my work there. I wasn't funded for it, nor did I spend any of my time at work or any resources provided to me by NASA to participate in this effort.
But I do admit to making a horrible mistake. It was an honest one, and a naive one... but it was a mistake nonetheless. I should not have listed my affiliation as NASA Headquarters.
Goldman's post offered an apology for spreading a speculative report attributed to NASA. I'm deeply sorry for that, but it was a mistake born out of carelessness and inexperience and nothing more. I will do what I can to rectify this, including distributing this post to the Guardian, Drudge, and NASA Watch. Please help me spread this post to the other places you may see the article inaccurately attributed to NASA.