This morning a white paper by NASA researcher Silvano Colombano, titled “New Assumptions to Guide SETI Research,” bubbled up on Reddit.

It made some bold claims, and the media immediately jumped on them. Fox News ran with the headline “NASA scientist says Earth may have been visited by aliens.” Yahoo wrote that “tiny aliens may have already visited Earth.”

Yes, Colombano — who works for the space agency’s Intelligent Systems Division — conceded that aliens might have already visited Earth. But in essence, the paper was a whip-smart new analysis of the Fermi Paradox. In other words, it confronted the question: Where are all the aliens?

Speaking in terms of galactic real estate, there are many possible locations aliens could be hiding out – the universe is gargantuan. In total, the Kepler Program has discovered 3,848 planets – including some candidates that exist in systems around 11.2 billion years old. Our home solar system is only about 4.5 billion years old — which means it’s possible that, in one of these super-ancient systems, there’s an Earth-like planet 6 billion years older than our home planet.

Imagine what life on that planet might be like. The timing — those six billion years — are what’s important to Colombano. Basically, he reasons, technology on Earth is evolving at such an unprecedented rate that we can’t even begin to predict the sort of evolution we’ll see in the next thousand years – let alone 6 million.

Colombano’s conclusion: there are four main assumptions we should be challenging that help dictate the idea of where aliens could be, and how ever-advancing technology could play a part in their discovery. Here’s a rundown.

To read more, click here.