ET phone home

If the universe is as big as scientists say it is, isn't a little weird that we haven't yet communicated with any extraterrestrial beings? I mean, you'd think we would have heard from aliens by now seeing as we're so eager to make contact. Do aliens even exist? Are you telling me that out here in this mysterious cosmic mix of gases, rocks and terrifying black holes, that we're the only ones? We don't have the definitive answer, though one man might know why we have yet to make contact. Assuming aliens are real, of course.

While speaking to Neil deGrasse Tyson on the StarTalk podcast, Edward Snowden offers up an interesting theory, saying our need to keep information encrypted has prevented humans from making contact. In fact, Snowden posits that aliens are just as paranoid, keeping their communications encrypted so us humans—and any other mysterious beings—are none the wiser.

Snowden explains that when communications are encrypted, there isn't really a way for anyone to tell that things are encrypted. So when this information gets beamed around the cosmos, it might look like white noise to eavesdroppers.

"If you have an alien civilization trying to listen for other civilizations, or our civilization trying to listen for aliens, there's only one small period in the development of their society where all of their communications will be sent via the most primitive and most unprotected means," Snowden explained.

Snowden says that all of this encrypted info being sent between satellites, whether it's humans or aliens, is indistinguishable from the cosmic microwave background radiation. In other words, Snowden believes there's a distinct possibility we might have run into a message or phone call or cry for help and didn't even know it. Sounds like the only way to make direct contact is for us to go to them, or vice versa.

Tyson rightly points out that Snowden is making a huge assumption by saying aliens are just as paranoid as humans by actively encrypting their communications. Literature has imagined that whatever extraterrestrial life is out there is much more advanced than us, but it sounds to me like they're just as worried about information leaking out as we are.

At least you can rest easy knowing aliens aren't eavesdropping on your conversations with mom.