One if by Land, Two if by Sea, Three if by Flying Saucer

From Broadside Online Oct.16, 2012

The idea of the end of mankind in the form of an alien invasion has loomed in people’s minds since the 1940s with the beginning of space exploration. Since then, Hollywood has created countless possibilities regarding what our first interaction with extraterrestrial life may be like. Extraterrestrial creatures may be vicious carnivorous beasts like in “Alien,” or have psychic powers and be technologically advanced as depicted in Independence Day. They might even be cute and cuddly like the Ewoks of Star Wars. Perhaps they will be nonsensically violent and weak to the sound of country music as shown in Mars Attacks!

Believers and conspiracy theorists alike claim that we have already been visited in places like Roswell, Stonehenge and the Pyramids. Their evidence lies in photographs of debris, strange groups of lights and firsthand accounts from the edge-of-town crazies talking about probes in their heads.  Many of these theories and sightings have been debunked with more realistic explanations or have been revealed to be frauds.

“Scientifically speaking, there is no evidence to support this hypothesis,” said professor of physics, astronomy, and computational science Harold Geller.

Many people out there want to believe we are not alone in the universe, and Professor Geller is one of them.

“I personally believe that there is life elsewhere in the universe. But this doesn’t mean that life is nearby to our own solar system. The universe is unimaginably vast in size, and the space between the stars is rather empty, and not so easily traversed,” said Geller.

Before you believers get too downtrodden, remember a quote by Martin Rees made famous by Carl Sagan,

“Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” In layman’s terms, just because we cannot prove aliens exist does not prove that aliens do not exist at all.

Perhaps the first aliens we find will not be incredibly intelligent or advanced. We may not even find extraterrestrial life in the form of complex organisms. Maybe they will be microbes, single-cell organisms or already dead and fossilized.

Given the modern state of technology, humans may find extraterrestrial life before it finds us. Professor Geller disagrees.

“There is no collective desire by the human species to search for extraterrestrial intelligences in the galaxy. I see all funding of such research being cut even further than it already has been cut. If we, as a species, don’t try to search for others, we certainly won’t find any,” said Geller.

With a lack of evidence supporting the existence of alien life, the odds of an alien invasion bringing an end to the world are slim. Nevertheless, the scientific search for life in the universe continues. What we do if/once we find these creatures is another whole debate in and of itself.