A century of alien landings, in two maps

First contact movies had their Golden Age in 1980s America – now they're going global.

Credit: Dylan_Mq. Find his maps on Reddit, Twitter and Etsy.
  • The first extra-terrestrial to make contact (in a movie) appeared in 1920s Germany.
  • ET set off a wave of 'first contact' movies in the 1980s.
  • Many recent alien-landing movies are set in China and India – the future of the genre may well be Asian.
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Strange Maps

Michio Kaku: Let’s not advertise our existence to aliens

The countdown continues! The 4th most popular video from 2018 involves humanity hiding behind a tree.

  • If advanced alien civilizations do exist, theoretical physicist Michio Kaku asks: Why would they want anything to do with us? It would be like an academic talking to a squirrel, he suggests, and he has a great point.
  • Hollywood and science fiction novels have conditioned us for years to believe that aliens either want to hang out on our intellectual level and learn from us... or destroy us. If alien life really does have the technology and know-how to make it all the way here, perhaps we should just play it cool and not assume that we are the top species in the universe.
  • Kaku speculates that our hypothetical demise would come at the hands of an intelligence civilization that sees us as no more than deer in the woods and wipes us out by accident — just as we have done to (what we deem) less remarkable species since time immemorial. Our best bet for survival? Lie low.
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Videos

Major ingredient for life on Earth formed in deep space, claims new study

Researchers discover extraterrestrial origins of a chemical essential for human DNA and other cell processes.

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Credit ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM
  • Scientists create interstellar icy grains in a super-cold experiment.
  • They show that phosphates forms under these conditions.
  • Phosphates are crucial building blocks in molecular biology.
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Surprising Science

Michio Kaku: Let’s not advertise our existence to aliens

If aliens do exist, posits theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, why would they want anything to do with us?

If advanced alien civilizations do exist, theoretical physicist Michio Kaku asks, why would they want anything to do with us? It would be like an academic talking to a squirrel, he suggests, and he has a great point. Hollywood and science fiction novels have conditioned us for years to believe that aliens either want to hang out on our intellectual level and learn from us... or destroy us. If alien life really does have the technology and know-how to make it all the way here, perhaps we should just play it cool and not assume that we are the top species in the universe. Besides, if we play our cards wrong and go all Will Smith in Independence Day on our smart new neighbors, it could be the end of us. Mankind's biggest folly, Kaku suggests, might just be in its insistence that we are an exceptional species. Michio Kaku's latest book is the wonderful and enlightening The Future of Humanity: Terraforming Mars, Interstellar Travel, Immortality, and Our Destiny Beyond Earth.

Technology & Innovation

Gods, Aliens, and Atheists: Are We Alone in the Universe?

If you believe there is intelligent extraterrestrial life out there, have you ever stopped to wonder why?

Are atheists who believe in aliens falling for one of humanity's oldest brain biases? In a series of four studies titled 'We Are Not Alone: The Meaning Motive, Religiosity, and Belief in Extraterrestrial Intelligence', psychologist Clay Routledge and his colleagues discovered that participants who report low religiosity demonstrate a greater belief in intelligent extraterrestrial life existing out there, elsewhere in the universe. This tendency is particularly interesting to science writer and skeptic Michael Shermer, because let's face it, he says, "religions have no more evidence for god than scientists have for extraterrestrials." These two beliefs are as detached from proof as each other, yet both fill the all too human need to be comforted by the thought of another world—whether takes the form of moral and kind sky gods, or technologically advanced aliens. Is a belief in intelligent extraterrestrial life just another expression of our religious impulse? Michael Shermer's new book is Heavens on Earth: The Scientific Search for the Afterlife, Immortality, and Utopia.

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