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Aliens Don’t Want To Eat Us, Says Former SETI Director

Don't worry Ripley, it just wants to explore.

Alien life probably isn’t interested in having us for dinner, enslaving us or laying eggs in our bellies, according to a recent statement by former SETI director Jill Tarter.

(Of course, Hollywood would rather have us think otherwise.)

In a press release announcing the Institute’s science and sci-fi SETIcon event, taking place June 22 – 24 in Santa Clara, CA, Tarter — who was the inspiration for Jodie Foster’s character in the film “Contact” — disagreed with both filmmakers and Stephen Hawking over the portrayal of extraterrestrials as monsters hungry for human flesh.

“Often the aliens of science fiction say more about us than they do about themselves,” Tarter said. “While Sir Stephen Hawking warned that alien life might try to conquer or colonize Earth, I respectfully disagree. If aliens were able to visit Earth that would mean they would have technological capabilities sophisticated enough not to need slaves, food, or other planets. If aliens were to come here it would be simply to explore.

“Considering the age of the universe, we probably wouldn’t be their first extraterrestrial encounter, either. We should look at movies like ‘Men in Black III,’ ‘Prometheus’ and ‘Battleship’ as great entertainment and metaphors for our own fears, but we should not consider them harbingers of alien visitation.”

SETI's Alien Telescope Array (ATA) listens day and night for a signal from space (SETI)

Tarter, 68, recently announced her stepping down as director of SETI in order to focus on funding for the Institute, which is currently running only on private donations. Funding SETI, according to Tarter, is investing in humanity’s future.

“Think about it. If we detect a signal, we could learn about their past (because of the time their signal took to reach us) and the possibility of our future. Successful detection means that, on average, technologies last for a long time. Understanding that it is possible to find solutions to our terrestrial problems and to become a very old civilization, because someone else has managed to do just that, is hugely important! Knowing that there can be a future may motivate us to achieve it.”

On the other hand, concern that searching the sky for signs of life — as well as sending out your own — could call down hungry alien monsters would make a good case for keeping quiet. And a quiet search may not get the necessary funding to keep going. I can see where Tarter is coming from.

Let’s just hope she’s right. (About the eating part, at least.)

Top image: Alien 3, © 20th Century Fox. Tip of the tinfoil hat to EarthSky.org

About 

A graphic designer in Rhode Island, Jason writes about space exploration on his blog Lights In The Dark, Discovery News, and, of course, here on Universe Today. Ad astra!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Chris Devriese May 24, 2012, 9:45 PM

    I hope so to, but earthlings needer need to eat animals. But most intelligent ones do! Maybe our flesh would taste nicer and would be a alternative to space packaged meals ;-)

    I’m vegetarian. btw..

    • Dan Johnson May 24, 2012, 11:08 PM

      Could aliens even digest Earth-based DNA life forms? Or would we be indigestible or even poisonous in some way to them?

      • Jason Major May 25, 2012, 1:38 AM

        “Honey let’s try something different; we had carbon-based life LAST night.”

        • zkank May 25, 2012, 2:24 AM

          “And they have so much iron in their blood that they taste like liver!”

      • Jeff Boerst May 25, 2012, 6:32 PM

        They could be wiped out by a cold virus per Wells’, “War of the Worlds”. You have a good point, as any species not indigenous to this planet would be risking unknown pathogens, unless their medical advances moot any lethal bugs with a quick anti-body manufacture and systematic physical introduction…

  • zkank May 24, 2012, 9:49 PM

    Oh, look, Jill – here come the nice aliens with their number one best-seller book,
    “To Serve Man”.

    …..IT’S A C O O K B O O K !

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      ROF

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  • Francisco J. Trueba May 24, 2012, 10:33 PM

    I respectfully disagree with miss Tarter, if history has shown us something is that the advanced civilization always conquers the less advanced one.

    • HeadAroundU May 25, 2012, 12:18 AM

      My argument would be that this is our planet’s thing or not interplanetary stuff, but like I said in the other post there is a chance that something goes wrong.

      Also, we haven’t destroyed every single branch of animal species (yet :d). And, yeah, people fought between themselves through the history, but really what’s the point? Could be just a temporary developmental problem…

    • Checkers Crossfox May 25, 2012, 5:09 AM

      Well, advanced civilizations do that to less advanced civilizations that -have something they want-. I’m struggling to think of what we might have that some civ capable of feasible interstellar travel would want enough to take it from us. :)

      • fleinkantarell May 25, 2012, 5:29 AM

        We have a territory. Cant claim this system and exploit it without dealing with the locals. It is the same old story but on a larger scale.

      • zkank May 25, 2012, 5:35 AM

        We have a habitable planet with an atmosphere.

        We have a habitable planet shielded from solar radiation.

        We have a habitable planet ~three quarters covered with water, which an advanced civilisation would appreciate, since they’ve long conquered cold fusion.

        • Uncle_Fred May 27, 2012, 2:35 AM

          Problems with this reasoning:

          1. Its a habitable planet only for the lifeforms who have co-evolved together. Alien biology would have no experience dealing with Earth’s viruses and microbes. They would be like walking loaves of bread. This could also work in reverse, but numbers work against any invading organisms.

          2. Water is everywhere in the universe, and can be extracted easier from regions not sitting at the bottom of a gravity pit.

          3. Electromagnetic shielding technology is possible

      • Jon Wax May 27, 2012, 3:32 AM

        yes but consider… even the most advanced society on this planet is still well below the developmental expectations of a society capable of interstellar travel. anything “they” want, they could probably create at that point.

        the scary consideration is that “curiosity” and the need to understand/seek to master ones own environment seems to be consistent across most species, both sentient and base. humans, ants and wolves all seek to spread out and expand, to ascertain the limits of their “domain” and to seek new territories which in turn lead to new challenges.

        so if we assign innate curiosity to a species such as we are discussing here, then we could assume simply they would come because “they can”.

        hopefully that innate trait would imply an inherent “acceptance” of “lower” species that were still evolving.

        the best thing to hope for is that animosity and hostility are innate only to humans.

        Peace

    • Checkers Crossfox May 25, 2012, 5:09 AM

      Well, advanced civilizations do that to less advanced civilizations that -have something they want-. I’m struggling to think of what we might have that some civ capable of feasible interstellar travel would want enough to take it from us. :)

    • Jon Wax May 26, 2012, 4:17 AM

      sorry but when u think about it:
      man has been around for a such a short time. tech wise we have just BARELY started to come into our own in the last 50 to 70 years.

      even the most advanced human socities that you would consider in your statement as being conquerers were just babies in the timeline of humanity. consider america at this very minute, possibly the most progressive and “advanced” location on the planet and we STILL can’t seem to be better then we are, we act like a nation in it’s infancy that is part of a species that is in it’s infancy. and yet we have nuclear weapons.

      any species that could reach our planet from theirs would have had to have been alive so far beyond us, so much longer then us that a historical comparison between the 2 when it comes specifically to this conversation actually goes against your point. if a species can reach us, they would have had to have evolved away from the mentality of being conquerers or they would more then likely have died out/killed themselves off long before being capable of reaching us.

      Peace

  • phelanka7 May 24, 2012, 10:41 PM

    The Universe is a big place. The odds are that there are both benevolent and malevolent spacefaring lifeforms “out there.” I thought that would be pretty obvious. Especially to such intelligent people as Hawking and Tarter.

    • gopher652003 May 24, 2012, 11:18 PM

      There are probably civilizations out there whose actions we would categorize as “friendly” or “enemyish”, but I think that’s missing the point. I think both Jill Tarter and Hawking have a point:

      1) Jill Tarter is right: any species that is capable of faster than light travel (or old enough to have traveled here using slower than light travel) will be so much more advanced than we are that they won’t need to invade or colonize us. There will be no need for slaves or mines. If they need raw materials after they arrive, they’ll just pick a random, handy asteroid and turn it into whatever finished product they need faster than we can say “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” 10,000 times. Why invade when you can do that?

      2)Stephen Hawking is right: any species advanced enough to make it here will be unfathomable to us. If they see any need, any need at all to squash us, they’ll do it without remorse. It will be as morally shrug worthy for them to kill us as it is for us to wipe out a colony of mushroom growing ants.

      Are those ants “technologically advanced”? From a certain point of view, maybe. But really they’re just following evolutionarily derived instincts which are telling them to farm mushrooms. Are humans advanced? From a certain point of view, maybe. But really we’re just following our base directives, and – due to cultural learning over many thousands of generations – that has lead to certain interesting natural behaviours, like “rocket building”, “moon landings”, and “nuclear weapons”. Same as the ants, really.

      When you strip away the silly media savvy examples, both Tarter and Hawking are making different assertions based on same central idea: we have no basis on which to judge the behaviour of alien species that we might bump into. Hawking says “for all we know they might invade us!” Tarter says “for all we know they might not even notice us, and we could learn from their scraps and transmissions!” But both of those are premised on the same idea: we don’t know enough to guess what’s going to happen. Any species that could travel from a distant star (or galaxy) to Earth is bound to be so advanced that they might not even recognize us as intelligent life.

      • Ernie Dunbar May 25, 2012, 7:43 AM

        And thus, exterminate us to build a new hyperspace freeway? We humans have been known to exterminate entire colonies of less-advanced animals for far, far less reason than that.

        Likewise, Ridley Scott’s aliens weren’t advanced. They just happened to catch a ride with us.

        • Jon Wax May 26, 2012, 3:55 AM

          agreed… Alien was the equivelent of a carpenter ant with a botfly gestational cycle ending up on a space ship. 1 single ant did all that.

          Peace

      • David Towles May 25, 2012, 1:49 PM

        There is also the pretty obvious case of an alien species is looking for a new host planet after some event on theirs and ours is a suitable planet.

        • gopher652003 May 25, 2012, 3:09 PM

          Planets aren’t exactly great places to live when you think about it. It would be easier for a species at that level of advancement to build a single, large space station capable of supporting an entire ecosystem and billions of them than it would be to extraform a planet to their specific needs. So why bother?

          A more likely scenario would be aliens coming here and going “ooooo! Interesting various species that we’ve never seen before! Let’s harvest samples of some of them, then grow them ourselves and see if there’s anything neat here!” And then just ignoring us, and any attempts we made to interact with them. If we attack, they crush us, without apparent effort. Probably not completely, but just enough to stop us from being irritating. “Darn it something is buzzing around us. Get out the fly swatter.”

          If we don’t attack, they spend a few decades in orbit sending down probes to take samples, ignore us completely (except for sampling purposes), and then leave when they’re done. Maybe they caused a bunch of damage while sampling, maybe not. But they wouldn’t care either way.

          • bfmorris May 25, 2012, 5:19 PM

            “””Planets aren’t exactly great places to live when you think about it. It would be easier for a species at that level of advancement to build a single, large space station capable of supporting an entire ecosystem and billions of them than it would be to extraform a planet to their specific needs. So why bother?”””

            Gravity comes to mind, as a good reason to bother. Yes, the aliens in Independence Day had gravity whipped for their mother ship, but reality seems to place gravity front and center for everyone else considering interstellar travel ;)

          • Jeff Boerst May 25, 2012, 6:27 PM

            Again, if these aliens are advanced enough to do any of this, one would imagine that they would have gravity in their back pockets as well, no…?

          • lcrowell May 25, 2012, 8:02 PM

            The only way to get artificial gravity is to rotate an enclosure. On the rotating frame the centripetal force of the floor pushing up appears as a pseudo-force — centrifugal force.

            A gravity machine would not be practical. Suppose you had a machine which caused particles in some lattice to spin around very rapidly. As they did so they gain mass if the rotation is large energy by the Lorentz formula. If they gain enough mass you could get some gravity. The mass increase would be no larger than the energy you put into it, so this machine would not produce gravity “for free.” In fact you might as well just take the mass-energy you are using to drive the machine and just directly us its gravity.

            LC

          • gopher652003 May 25, 2012, 11:06 PM

            Again though, this debate presupposes that aliens come looking for us. That means that they have interstellar travel, which means they’ve already figured out the problems involved in living in space, like gravity. Maybe by bioengineering themselves for low gravity, or through rotation, or through some weird (and unlikely) form of particle based artificial gravity.

            In any case, by the time they got here they’d have solved that problem long ago, so invading a planet because it “has gravity” wouldn’t be necessary for them.

          • lcrowell May 26, 2012, 12:37 PM

            There is a quantum state with spin = 2? that is a graviton. This particle-field obeys the Einstein field equation. It is outside the scope of this article to go into depth on this, but this particle couples to matter with a term 8?G/c^4. The Newton coupling constant G = 6.67×10^{-8}Nm^2/kg^2 and c = 3×10^8m/s. So this coupling constant is very small, which means gravity is very weak. It takes a whole Earth amount of matter to set up a 1g force of gravity, but a little static electric charge on your laundry out of the dryer can create a comparable acceleration or force between your clothes.

            Creating a “gravity machine” would be a difficult thing to do. You would have to renormalize the coupling constant to a much larger value in some local region of space. However, that occurs at extremely high energy — trillions of time larger than particle energy the LHC provides.

            LC

          • gopher652003 May 26, 2012, 1:51 PM

            Arrrg, these comments are getting so narrow!

            And yeah, as cool as artificial particle based gravity would be, it doesn’t seem likely to be possible at any practical level of technology.

          • lcrowell May 27, 2012, 3:03 AM

            I comment above replying to myself.

          • Uncle_Fred May 27, 2012, 2:24 AM

            LC, instead of creating a giant rotating wheel as seen in 2001, could it be done in some scaled up spherical version (ex. high density spinning core wrapped in a liquid)?

          • lcrowell May 27, 2012, 3:03 AM

            I comment above replying to myself.

          • bfmorris May 27, 2012, 3:49 AM

            You’ve missed my point. My point is, as is LC’s, that it is very unlikely gravity is going to be able to be switched on floor by floor in some self supporting ecosystem ship, like on Independence Day, or even Star Trek. Thus my initial mention of gravity.

          • lcrowell May 27, 2012, 3:25 AM

            Gravity is a bit of a harsh mistress. It is not possible to turn on a switch and make gravity turn on. It can’t work the same way we can turn on a magnetic field by running a current, or placing a capacitor in a current and getting an electric field across plates. The reason basically is that the electromagnetic field has two charges +e and –e. Gravity only has one type of charge called mass. We don’t have negative mass. So with the EM field we can input energy to separate charges or to make them flow, and the source of the field (charge) is not the same as the energy we use to move it around. With gravity the source of the field is mass or mass-energy, and attempts to manipulate gravity fields requires using mass-energy, which is the source of the gravity field. This means gravity is highly nonlinear. This is why general relativity is a rather difficult area of physics to work in. General relativity is a low energy approximation to the physics of closed strings or AdS/CFT correspondences with gravitons, strings in quantum gravity. There things become more difficult.

            There is no quick way out of the problem of creating artificial gravity. The only way to do it is to set up a rotating frame. We might have in somewhat distant future (50 or 100 years from now — or maybe more) the ability to convert asteroids into rotating cylinders or spheres that are sort of inverted synthetic mini-planets. If we humans in the flesh actually colonize parts of the solar system in a major way this is how I suspect it will be done. Whether the large scale technology required is ever developed and whether there is an economic incentive for doing this is anybody’s guess.

            LC

          • IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE May 27, 2012, 2:29 PM

            Gravity is a bit of a harsh mistress.

            You mean like this?

      • lcrowell May 25, 2012, 9:10 PM

        Most speculations about extra terrestrial intelligent life are flawed. This is particularly the case with science fiction. Since this features a picture of the Giger alien, the plot line had problems. This is even though I thought the theme of the first several movies was pretty good, until the Resurrection flick, which I thought fell flat and I never saw the rest of them involving the Predator. The first problem is that alien biochemistry (ignoring the sequels that had the alien a product of human bio-tech, which I intentionally never saw) would likely be so different from Earth life that it is not likely it could integrate itself into a human host. Particularly given the huge pH difference; the alien was very acidic. Barring that problem the alien gestates in a human body and violently erupts out, and prior to that the human immune system seems to take no notice of this rather large (5lbs or so) parasite. In the next scene the alien is about 10 feet long or tall and probably weighs the equivalent of 3 humans. How did it acquire that mass, and is it reasonable to assume any life form can grow that rapidly? Killing the Giger alien would have been a piece of cake. The animal leaks like a sieve. I must have adapted for a highly aqueous environment. So monitor where it is, seal the doors or vents (they did something like this in the first movie), and reduce the air pressure with 0% humidity in the containing space. The animal would lose all its moisture and dehydrate, and just keep it there during the long journey home just in case it might awaken if given more air pressure with humidity.

        I might see the Prometheus movie, but I am a bit disappointed and even reluctant to see this for I hear it has “ancient astronaut” ideas about the origin of the human race. That is a major problem I see with it. It also goes into how all too often science fiction themes, particularly those involving ETI, are often prosaic — if not puerile at times. These themes usually have aliens organized a bit like us, they look like us (a head, two legs, two arms, speech — sometimes speaking English). They are basically humans in costume — both on the set and in the fictional depiction.

        For the reason I indicate how easy it might be to kill the Giger alien it is likely that any life form in the universe will have enormous difficulty sustaining their life functions in space. Even building large enclosures with ecosystems are not likely to have the sort of stability needed to sustain its inhabitants for long durations. Alien intelligences probably face the same difficulty, which is one reason they are not likely to travel vast distances required to get to another life bearing planet. Even if they did, the life on that planet might well prove to be toxic or problematic to their life forms.

        LC

        • bfmorris May 26, 2012, 4:41 AM

          “””For the reason I indicate how easy it might be to kill the Giger alien it is likely that any life form in the universe will have enormous difficulty sustaining their life functions in space. “””

          I think this difficulty would be greatly amplified for life forms using (less efficient) radically different biochemistry than ours, to the point that it wouldn’t surprise to see that robotic exploration may be a necessity for such ETI. Not that it might not be a necessity for us, of course.

          • lcrowell May 26, 2012, 12:57 PM

            Any beings which colonize interstellar space or a galaxy are likely to be von Neumann probes. We in fact may do this as well, where we may end up setting up self-replicating and evolving nano-bots and aggregates of them into space so that in millions of years they evolve and spread between stars and then throughout the galaxy. Interstellar constellations of nano-based ecosystems (just as ecosystems on Earth are formed on the nuts&bolts level by DNA and organic molecules) could evolve and develop into beings truly adapted for living in outer space. I doubt there is going to be a Star Trek reality where we pilot starships and colonize extra-solar planets and the like. The planet Mars is now known to be forbidding to Earth life, where the regolith is filled with perchlorates; think of soil saturated with bleach. Mars, the most Earthlike planet, is then toxic and uninhabitable, and the prospects for habitability is far worse with the rest of the planets.

            I suspect any beings which evolved on a planet by biological means comparable to that on Earth will face a similar problem. They may find they are able to send spacecraft to other planets, maybe even land a few of their beings on other planets. However, just as our astronauts had to return after a few days on the moon they too can’t stay there. If we encounter anything from such beings it most likely will be their robots or nano-bot based systems.

            LC

      • Jon Wax May 26, 2012, 4:00 AM

        wouldn’t the natural assumption be that technology and machines outlast their creators when developed to a certain level and based upon the competence of the creator?
        considering the amount of time and distances we are talking about here and figuring in even at our primitive level we already have technically done the same thing with other planets with our satellites(our “alien” tech has visited other places), then wouldn’t it make sense that an alien entity that can reach earth will more likely NOT be an organic species but probably a sentient machine-like species?

        great read above by the way

        Peace

        • gopher652003 May 26, 2012, 1:49 PM

          I agree with the logic, but having a sample of one (us) it’s hard to make an informed judgement:).

          • Jon Wax May 27, 2012, 3:43 AM

            im probably WAY off on this, but i’m going for lowest level of difficulty here, for the sake of argument:

            would a barnacle shell be considered a simple machine? it serves to protect the animal and secure the animal in position, albeit it’s a stretch of a definition. but if we accept that definition, then we can agree that the shell usually outlasts the creator?

            and technically, the folks who designed and built the cars of the 50’s, who are dead now, were outlived, some of them, by the same cars which are now being driven in parts of Cuba?

            so in a sense, there are both ends of the spectrum and both show simple examples of “machines” outlasting the species that created them.

            is it possible this is a constant in nature not limited by distance and not just humanity?

            this is what would lead me to believe that because all species are finite, if one did learn to live in peace and subsequently evolve to a point of stellar travel, their knowledge and resulting tech would outlast them or “replace” them in terms of their continued existence.

            Peace

    • HeadAroundU May 25, 2012, 12:06 AM

      The question is if lifeforms who jump from system to system are able to be malevolent. I’d think they would have balanced brains and personalities, but I guess there’s always a chance that something goes wrong. I killed some ants couple hours ago…but that wasn’t interplanetary. :d

      • meekGee May 25, 2012, 5:34 AM

        It was to the ants!

      • Jon Wax May 26, 2012, 4:07 AM

        malevolence could be misinterpreted on the receiving end if the giver is only exhibiting natural traits/instincts.

        say a lil kid wants to examine those ants you were talking about. and he uses a magnifying glass and he focuses just a lil too much for a lil too long.
        1 dead ant.

        no malevolence on the kids end. casualty on the receiving end.

        how big is the magnifying glass that could be used to look at our planet?

        Peace

    • HeadAroundU May 25, 2012, 12:06 AM

      The question is if lifeforms who jump from system to system are able to be malevolent. I’d think they would have balanced brains and personalities, but I guess there’s always a chance that something goes wrong. I killed some ants couple hours ago…but that wasn’t interplanetary. :d

  • Abraham Samma May 24, 2012, 10:54 PM

    “If aliens were able to visit Earth that would mean they would have technological capabilities sophisticated enough not to need slaves, food, or other planets. If aliens were to come here it would be simply to explore.”

    Stephen Hawking’s warning may be done justice by labelling it as late in coming. Our radio signals have already reached quite a distance in space by now (leave alone the signal quality upon reaching any receiver).

    Besides that it shouldn’t be treated too lightly as Ms. Tarter suggests. One could better understand their (aliens) intentions upon arrival by inspection of their transport; if an armada arrives best be on guard. One or two scout ships then all’s well (but still exercising caution might not be such a bad idea).

    All this speculation makes me wonder, though evolution may cough up different sapient beings with different biologies, would all of them think in the same way (or think like us which might be a tad bit anthropocentric). Perhaps logic will rule their actions. But what might ‘logical’ mean to them.

    • HeadAroundU May 25, 2012, 12:52 AM

      The quote makes me wonder, if they are all peaceful, what can they do? I guess they can cook up suitable planets or move planets around because how do you survive red giant phase? Maybe there is plenty of life-free systems, but what if the whole universe will be full of life one day?

      Anthropocentric thinking is an interesting point, but I think that if you get intelligent it’s very similar to us and math is universal so it’s not all so different at the end. But, I still keep thinking what if some alien child gets some scary technology into their hands and goes to have some fun. :d

      I see I’m kinda positive thinking, but still cautious.

      Also, now I think about Predator and Babylon 5’s planet destroyer. :D

    • Jon Wax May 26, 2012, 4:10 AM

      Violent societies tend not to last very long.
      I think upon arrival, within striking distance, you could easily tell “their” status by use of satellites: send up a dozen or so to get various samples. once the sats are in range, if the subject is aggressive, they will probably destroy the satellites. if they are passive they will probably allow the sats to proceed. on to next problem.

      Cheap, quick, no lives lost.

      Peace

    • Jon Wax May 26, 2012, 4:10 AM

      Violent societies tend not to last very long.
      I think upon arrival, within striking distance, you could easily tell “their” status by use of satellites: send up a dozen or so to get various samples. once the sats are in range, if the subject is aggressive, they will probably destroy the satellites. if they are passive they will probably allow the sats to proceed. on to next problem.

      Cheap, quick, no lives lost.

      Peace

  • kkt May 24, 2012, 11:09 PM

    If an alien ship visited us, it would be so advanced we wouldn’t know whether it was a survey ship or a battleship until it was too late. Actually I would expect any ship they might send to be quite powerful. Who’d volunteer for a mission to a primitive planet otherwise?

    • HeadAroundU May 25, 2012, 12:57 AM

      Alien Mormons knock knockin at your door? :d

    • jjbreen May 25, 2012, 6:40 PM

      We assume a lot when it comes to et-alien life forms. IF, as some do we use earth as a “type” …

      Do we have cannibals here, yes … So it would not be ‘out there’ that et-life forms could be human flesh eaters.

      Do we have bugs and such that lay their eggs in other hosts? Yes.

      Do we have bugs that eat their mates after mating? Yes ….

      The thing is we assume a lot about “ET-Aliens” and their supposed technologies and such. I find it actually rather funny – because as of yet, we’ve not even had a “Close Encounter” with even a signal from Exo-planet.

      I mean I know certain groups that think ET’s are “spiritual” because they travel the stars – have Holographic technology – Telepathy – Transporter and such … and yet what can they offer for all their claims? Nothing …

      If we ever do have an encounter – I have this feeling it will be exciting and likely disappointing at the same time.

    • Jon Wax May 26, 2012, 4:20 AM

      guarenteed: there would be international FLEETS of satellites being flung off this planet within hours of confirmation. if it’s aggressive, it will destroy the sats before they can get within observational distance. if they are passive they will allow the sats to proceed. once that event took place, the initial threat level would be determined.

      Peace

  • portlandeastside May 25, 2012, 12:17 AM

    The only aliens that have ever been seen were caught in the swirl of a causality loop around the bottom of a whiskey glass. In the drinker’s altered mental state, he made first contact. In days of old,this alien race took the form of pink elephants..later these shape- shifters took over human bodies and made ugly ladies beautiful and turned overweight geeks into hunky princes.

    • Aqua4U May 25, 2012, 4:53 AM

      Meet an overweight geek at ‘The Pink Elephant’ just last week. But to get there, I had to use my time machine. Turns out that: ‘The Pink Elephant’ had closed down several years ago… But since I wanted a ‘drink at the pink’ I went ahead and hauled out my recently purchased ‘garage sale’ time machine. I’d bought that hunk of junk for $50 as an ‘object-d-arte’ and never figured that it would actually work, but after I fed it some black metal scrapings I’d collected with a big magnet and some zinc cold remedy tablets… Well, it DID work! And so there I was… sitting at the bar of the Pink with a drink in my hand!

  • DarkGnat May 25, 2012, 4:45 AM

    They don’t want to eat us, but they do want to skin us, remove our spines and place our bleached skulls in their trophy case.

    Only if we are armed, of course.

  • Simon Nicol May 25, 2012, 7:20 AM

    “If aliens were able to visit Earth that would mean they would have technological capabilities sophisticated enough not to need slaves, food, or other planets.”

    That’s a bit like saying Millionairs don’t pursue making even more money because they have enough already…

    It’s a bit like saying that Alexander, having conquered one country stopped there because there was no need to continue.

  • Ints Kesans May 25, 2012, 7:30 AM

    first, I believe that time span during which two civilisations might be interested or even able to communicate is extremely short.

    and second, who would ever dare to contact swarm of aggressive egoists?

    • Skipdallas1 May 25, 2012, 2:02 PM

      “Who would ever dare to contact swarm of aggressive egoists?”

      Non-aggressive aliens with self-esteem issues!

  • Lemuel Vargas May 25, 2012, 7:48 AM

    Think they would be like refugees from their home planet/s maybe because their sun has become a red giant and thus they realized that their home planet/s will be on a collision course with their sun and thus have decided to build and launch spaceships in the interim(which could last several thousand years)?

    Then after several hundred or thousand years, their craft accidentally crossed earths path..

    Hey, do this sound like a plot for a scifi movie or book? If so, anybody using this plot should pay me a royalty.. :-))

  • Jack Jacobsen May 25, 2012, 8:56 AM

    Aliens must also be expected to obey the laws of evolution as long as they reproduce – i.e. the survival of the fittest. But, we carry our animal legacy in our genomes. Survive, eat and reproduce makes for a fit animal. Perhaps in many, many generations from now we will carry some legacy of civilised people. The question is what the aliens carry? What drives them? Curiosity or the constant need for more that we humans are cursed with? It’s hard to tell. I think this will always be an emotional rather than a rational issue. But then again – what isn’t? cheers

  • letsjustdoit May 25, 2012, 12:25 PM

    When we go to Europa and discover an ocean full of fish we WILL eat them!

  • lcrowell May 25, 2012, 2:01 PM

    I think the probability ETI travel to Earth is very small. If they came here with unfortunate desires it most likely would be to turn the planets of this solar system into resources for their use. We humans might just be a minor surface nuisance on the third planet. Of course this could have happened at any time in the geological past of this planet, where clearly that did not happen. So the probability for malevolent visitations seems very small. I think probabilities are not much better for benevolent visitations.

    LC

    • Jeff Boerst May 25, 2012, 6:29 PM

      As usual, well thought and stated.

  • Rick Shelton May 25, 2012, 2:11 PM

    It’s a cookbook!

  • abdullah alzarouni May 25, 2012, 2:54 PM

    IF there any extartertiallife in this univers … it will be like the aliens in STAR TREK not like
    the aliens in (alien or predator ) because it more advance in biolegy and technelogy …. and more
    lifetime civilasation than our (human) , and they will be more morality than the human because
    they lived and experienced the wars between them therefoer they will be peacfull and not blood
    theresty as hollywood filmed them .

  • Torbjörn Larsson May 26, 2012, 9:04 PM

    Good one.

    No, aliens will have no interest in our biosphere, infested with pathogenic organisms and poisinous biochemicals unlike any they have evolved to cope with as it is. (Most seriously wrong amino acids, I think already Asimov was onto that one.)

    Prokaryote autothrophs may be a remote concern for immigration. Energetic heterothrophs like ourselves, capable of evolving complex multicellulars, evolves to ingest biochemicals as is into cells. There is virtually no chance for ‘eating’.

    As some here, I find it hard to understand how intelligent people like Hawking and Tarter behaves so childishly when considering “aliens”.

    – Interplanetary space is too vast for sensible exploration.

    – Colonizers wouldn’t setttle on inhabited biospheres, see above.

    So ETIs would likely not raise any moral concerns, if that is Hawking’s spiel.

    But seeing how we have started to include the species we domesticate (beyond ourselves), and conversely these species domesticating _us_, into an extended family, I find it reasonable that many or most ETIs would have a similar generous morality. If some meet it would be interesting to see their social interactions!

  • Dima R May 27, 2012, 2:25 AM

    Wouldn’t some aliens might like to hunt us for sport or entertainment? I hope not..

  • hionthemountain May 27, 2012, 1:13 PM

    I think man will be just a minor blip on the screen,
    he will have his time and it will pass, man will be replaced
    by something else. . .

  • Jeffrey Offermann May 27, 2012, 11:39 PM

    I don’t really worry about them eating or enslaving us; but what pathogens or alien organisms might be introduced to our world, or theirs, by contact that would have profound consequences? Just on our own world, the age of exploration in the 15th century introduced an age of extinction that we are still grappling with to this day. The loss of many indiginous peoples (true, some by enslavement and genocide, but many more by contact with alien diseases), the loss of native species by introduced pathogens (on Hawaii and, New Zealand, etc., native avifauna has been devastated by contact. Extinction is still happening.) I don’t think that direct contact would go down as it does on Star Trek and the like, with a happy treaty and sharing of technology. Direct biological research would have to be very contained and contact indirect.

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