If anyone has at least a vague idea of what a close encounter of the third kind would be like, it would be Alien director Ridley Scott. He has three words of advice if something from another planet makes a landing in your backyard: “Run for it.”
Scott believes there are hundreds of possibly humanoid extraterrestrial beings on other planets (or at least they have supposedly evolved in some way similar to our own evolution)—and if they somehow get through Earth's atmosphere without SETI going insane, you should bolt for the basement. Subterranean hideouts will be absolutely necessary if they so much as look anything remotely like the nightmare fuel that is Scott’s xenomorphs. I’ve suffered a parasitic infection before, and I’d rather not know what it’s like for that parasite to be magnified thousands of times and burst through your chest cavity in bloody triumph.
While Scott’s imagination can easily rocket off to wild space, he’s being completely serious in his warning. At least he thinks he is. SETI Institute senior astronomer Seth Shostak, who searches out alien signals for real and has written several books on the subject and even starred in an episode of Star Trek, is skeptical about the director’s dubiously educated guess. Hundreds of aliens who could challenge our brains?
"We have absolutely no data that would tell you what that number might be," Shostak said.
That said, it could be exponentially higher. The trillion planets in the Milky Way are just an exploration launchpad for alien life forms. Even though only a tenth of those planets are thought to be habitable (at least for life as we know it on Earth) and even fewer have the biological and chemical conditions necessary to spawn something more complex than microbes, there are infinite undiscovered worlds waiting in the darkness. Still, no radio signals meant to reach out to who-knows-what have gone beyond 70 light-years from our home turf.
Shostak also believes that an all-out alien invasion is little more than the stuff of Scott’s onscreen horrors. If there are E.T.s out there who have exhausted their star system’s resources, they’re more likely to phone home for usable materials than burning energy for what could end up as a failed mission into unknown territory. He also doubts they want to devour us, from the inside out or otherwise.
"To do that, they would have to know that we had something interesting within our bodies that they could metabolize,” he explained, “and their body chemistry would probably be very different from ours.”
So with world domination and ravenous flesh-lust out, did Scott get anything scientifically right? According to Shostak, yes. An alien starship that was somehow able to get other life forms to our planet means they’re infinitely more technologically advanced than us. Imagine the weapons. Imagine the probes. Imagine them hooking some sci-fi contraption up to your brain or saving it in a canister Mi-Go style.
Meaning, in this case even Shostak admits he’d take the director’s advice and run.
(via Live Science)