Aliens are a mirror to humanity

Aliens symbolize the best and worst of humanity. When we dream of aliens, we are pondering our future selves.

Credit: rolffimages / 341809797 via Adobe Stock
  • Scientists explored the possibility of extraterrestrial life long before aliens became a fascination in popular culture.
  • Aliens serve as a mirror to our species. They represent the creativity and promise — as well as the destruction and terror — of being human.
  • Our conception of aliens can teach us about our fragility and the need to grow up as a species if we are to avoid one of the dystopian scenarios of our human-made alien tales.
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A big lesson from the ‘Oumuamua alienware controversy

Scientists should be cautious when expressing an opinion based on little more than speculation.

Credit: European Southern Observatory/M. Kornmesser
  • In October 2017, a strange celestial object was detected, soon to be declared our first recognized interstellar visitor.
  • The press exploded when a leading Harvard astronomer suggested the object to have been engineered by an alien civilization.
  • This is an extraordinary conclusion that was based on a faulty line of scientific reasoning. Ruling out competing hypotheses doesn't make your hypothesis right.
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U.S. to disclose UFO findings from Pentagon task force

A new report from The New York Times describes a Pentagon task force's long-standing project to collect data on unidentified aerial phenomena and a Pentagon consultant who says the U.S. has collected crashed "off-world vehicles."

  • Since 2007, a Pentagon task force has been collecting data on unidentified aerial phenomenon.
  • Earlier this year, the Pentagon published three videos showing encounters between Navy pilots and strange-moving flying objects.
  • The former head of the Pentagon task force believes U.S. officials have collected artifacts from crashed aircraft.
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The biology of aliens: How much do we know?

Hollywood has created an idea of aliens that doesn't match the science.

  • Ask someone what they think aliens look like and you'll probably get a description heavily informed by films and pop culture. The existence of life beyond our planet has yet to be confirmed, but there are clues as to the biology of extraterrestrials in science.
  • "Don't give them claws," says biologist E.O. Wilson. "Claws are for carnivores and you've got to be an omnivore to be an E.T. There just isn't enough energy available in the next trophic level down to maintain big populations and stable populations that can evolve civilization."
  • In this compilation, Wilson, theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, Bill Nye, and evolutionary biologist Jonathan B. Losos explain why aliens don't look like us and why Hollywood depictions are mostly inaccurate.
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UFO sightings: Why Mount Shasta is the new Roswell

A volcano in California is a hot spot for conspiracy theorists.

Photo Credit: Shasta-Trinity National Forest.
  • Unusual UFO-shaped formations were observed in the skies over Mount Shasta.
  • These were actually lenticular clouds that often look like lenses or flying saucers.
  • This volcano peak in California has long been the subject of conspiracy theories.
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