Making contact

January 18, 2011, 12:52 AM GMT+0

Scientists’ advice to the United Nations that Earth should better prepare itself for alien contact has stirred up controversy among some of our UK panellists. Some agree that more preparation is necessary while a significant number think that there are better ways to spend public money. Some have thought beyond mere preparation, and have even speculated what any incoming aliens may think of our planet.

The Royal Society report recommends that the UN put ‘supra-Earth affairs’ on their agenda and work towards a global ‘action plan’.

This coordination of our efforts could avoid the kind of alien invasion that Simon Morris, a scientist from Cambridge University, thinks might be on the cards. ‘If intelligent aliens exist, they will look just like us, and given our far from glorious history, this should give us pause for thought,’ he warned, arguing that aliens are most likely to be Darwinian in nature and as such would have less of E.T.’s good manners and more of our tendency towards violence and exploitation.

However, many of our panellists didn’t feel that there was much justification for extra-terrestrial public expenditure at times when the strings on the public purse are supposedly pulled tight.

A few people think that aliens really are ‘out there’ and that money should be spent investing in a plan to prepare ourselves.

Others, albeit those with an apparently dim view of our planet as a whole, were more concerned with what aliens would think of us should they arrive.