The concept of alien life visiting Earth, particularly in ancient times to plant the seeds of knowledge amidst early human minds, has gone through a renaissance over the last few years. Every few decades, trends (including this one) will appear to go through short little bursts of revitalization, almost like mystery signals leaping from the otherwise desolate void of space, and calling to us with promises of things greater and more distant than ourselves or the knowledge we have attained.
While the concept of “ancient aliens” has been entertained by some of the brightest minds, the concept is generally attributed to–of all people–Carl Sagan, who posited as early as 1966 that what he called paleo-contact might account for knowledge brought to Earth by extraterrestrials, in a book he coauthored with astrophysicist I.S. Shklovski called Intelligent Life in the Universe. Earlier roots predating Sagan and Shklovski’s writing have been linked to H. P. Lovecraft and his mythos of “Elder Gods” who could fling themselves about the stars, and occasionally land here on Earth to wreak havoc.
More recently, the theme of “ancient aliens” may have arisen again in the realm of science literature, but in a far more literal sense: that having to do with alien civilizations so old that they are, quite literally, ancient.
The recent discovery of a planetary system dubbed Kepler-444 had spurred discussion about what astronomers refer to loosely as a “period of planetary formation.” Kepler-444 is around 117 light years away, and is only about 3/4 the size of our own Sun. Its planets, though smaller than Earth, are surprisingly bright, becoming visible on a clear night using only slight magnification that a good pair of binoculars might provide.
Following a statement released by Kepler scientists on the discovery, io9 reported:
“Kepler-444 is the oldest known system of terrestrial-size planets,” write the authors in the study. “We thus show that Earth-size planets have formed throughout most of the Universe’s 13.8-billion-year history, providing scope for the existence of ancient life in the Galaxy.”