The idea that any technologically advanced aliens we might encounter will have it in for us, through behavioral tendencies to dominate or because our existence is inconvenient to their goals, is a tried-and-true Hollywood concept that will be played out again in the upcoming sixth installment of the Alien movie franchise, Alien: Covenant. The film’s director, Ridley Scott, recently told Agence France-Press (AFP) that it would be behoove humans to not challenge any aliens we might encounter, so as to not be eliminated by them. But one scientist believes that people like Scott instill certain attributes into what constitutes an alien, attributes that might not be true.
Scott told AFP in late April that he not only believed that aliens existed, but that there were at least 100 to 200 “entities” that had evolved along the same lines as humans. He warned that if any of these “entities” ever made an appearance on Earth, we should “run for it.”
Scott also said he believed that many of aliens would be “superior beings” and that “If you are stupid enough to challenge them you will be taken out in three seconds.”
Such a stereotypical view of aliens might not be based in reality, though. Seth Shostak, the senior astronomer at the SETI (Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence) Institute in California, told LiveScience that Ridley Scott could use a script doctor to help him in conceptualizing an actual alien and its civilization.
Shostak pointed out that Scott’s estimation of the number of intelligent “entities” is unsubstantiated, that there is no real way of knowing exactly how many there might be, but mathematically and given what is actually known about planets thus far, the director’s estimate could fall short by a significant amount. Doing some quick calculations, Shostak noted that there could be as many as a trillion planets in the Milky Way alone but only about one out of a thousand (roughly a billion) would be home to life more advanced than bacteria, some of which might develop into intelligent, extraterrestrial species.
Besides that, Shostak said that as for contacting aliens, if their territory was over 70 light years away, they would still be beyond the range of the furthermost reaches of the radio signals that Earth has been transmitting for a century. In short, an alien civilization that far out would not even know we exist, at least not due to detection of radio signals. But even if they were to detect us via our biosignature (one of the methods, along with electromagnetic radio signals, being used by SETI and other alien hunting agencies to scan the universe for signs of intelligent extraterrestrial life), such as oxygen in our atmosphere, it is doubtful, Shostak admitted, aliens would travel the enormous distances just to assuage their curiosity that there was more than just bacteria on our planet.
And that old Hollywood stand-by, the invasion by aliens so they can steal Earth’s resources to make up for those depleted on their own home world (or worlds), would be unlikely to occur due to the simply fact that aliens that have depleted their own star system’s resources would most likely be technologically sophisticated enough to artificially manufacture whatever they needed with what they have available, thus eliminating the need for such a trip.
And then there’s the most horrific reason for an alien invasion, the dreaded “humans as food for aliens” storyline.
“To do that,” Shostak said, ” they would have to know that we had something interesting within our bodies that they could metabolize, and their body chemistry would probably be very different from ours.”
The astronomer did acknowledge that Ridley Scott might be correct in assuming one thing: A typical human response — including Shostak’s own — to an alien spaceship suddenly appearing would likely be to “run for it.”
[Featured Image by Angela Harburn/Shutterstock]