Aliens ‘wouldn’t want to eat or enslave us’ says ET-hunting expert – the first ones we meet will be FAR too civilised
Challenge of interstellar travel means aliens will be too advanced to need food or slaves
Perspective from head of SETI alien-hunting project
‘We would not be the first aliens they had encountered,’ says scientist – due to age of universe
By Rob Waugh
PUBLISHED: 13:15, 25 May 2012 | UPDATED: 13:15, 25 May 2012
When we first make contact with aliens, they won’t be toothy horrors from beyond the void, obsessed with eating or enslaving the human race, says one of Earth’s most seasoned alien-hunters.
The technological challenges involved in faster-than-light travel would mean that the aliens were so hi-tech they would have no need for slaves, and would probably have their own ways of manufacturing food.
‘Often the aliens of science fiction say more about us than they do about themselves,’ said Jill Tarter, who announced on May 22nd that she was stepping down as Director of the Center for SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) Research.
Sigourney Weaver confronts the alien in Alien 3: The technological challenges involved in faster-than-light travel would mean that the aliens were so hi-tech they would be unlikely to view us as food or incubators for their young
Tarter is to continue her research into aliens even after retirement, but she has headed Earth’s search for radio signals from space for 35 years.
‘While Sir Stephen Hawking warned that alien life might try to conquer or colonize Earth, I respectfully disagree,’ says Tarter.
‘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.’
Aliens are exceptionally well represented at the local multiplex this spring.
Hostile invaders, tipped off by an overly enthusiastic broadcast from Earth, try to sink a lot of naval hardware in ‘Battleship;’ domestic extraterrestrials give headaches to urbane government agents in ‘Men in Black III;’ and fans of the ‘Alien’ films finally get the back story of Ridley Scott’s toothy terror in the famous director’s prequel, ‘Prometheus.’
SETI Institute astronomer Seth Shostak has been a consultant on ‘Battleship,’ ‘Green Hornet,’ and ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still,’ as well as other films.
Frequently, the creative folks simply want your help in solving a script problem – for example, what sort of weaponry might an alien society commandeer,’ says Shostak. ‘On other occasions, they just want some technical corrections to dialog. But the really interesting challenge is to introduce these people to some of the newer ideas in science – ideas that aren’t yet hackneyed.’
‘Ours is the one conference where the public can rub elbows with the innovators and leaders in the quest to find life in the universe,’ said Andrew Fraknoi, SETI Institute Trustee and Foothill College Astronomy Professor. ‘It’s where ideas that sounded like science fiction just a few years ago become part of today’s reality.’