Do you have an alien in your neighborhood? Of course you do, for any foreigner is considered to be one. However, do you know of any extraterrestrials? The odds are very low, if not zero, including the potential for microbial life from beyond Planet Earth.
It's been 70 years since the Roswell Incident, and 35 years ago the movie ET (for Extra Terrestrial) was released. I spent some time at NASA's Ames Research Center 41 years ago on a Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence project. Thus, much of the following represents a crystallization of everything I know about outer space I have learned over most of my life.
fastest any human has traveled is 24,791 MPH on Earth re-entry, while Juno (unmanned) arrived at Jupiter last year going 165,000 MPH. However, Solar Probe Plus (unmanned, rendering to the left) next year will reach an orbital velocity of 450,000 MPH, a speed that would take a craft from Earth to Moon in half an hour. However, this is still 1490 times slower than light. The Andromeda Galaxy, our Milky Way's closest neighbor, is more than 2.5 light years away. Thus, if we are ever to travel at 450,000 MPH, it would take 3278 years just to get there. Plus, consider the energy needed to travel that distance.
Going back that far in our history, the world had a population of maybe 70 million (versus more than 7 billion today) and the Israelites began their Exodus from Egypt. Still 1261 year before the birth of Jesus.
Thus, all those Star Wars and Star Trek films are fantasies beyond reality. Yet, it doesn't hurt to speculate what ETs would look like, and a new anthology, appropriately titled Aliens, edited by Jim Al-Khalili, provides a current best guess:
- Myth #1: Aliens would eat us--nope, the odds are minuscule that the biochemistry of ETs would allow them to process our molecules.
- Myth #2: Aliens would breed with us--we can't even reproduce with a chimpanzee, so, this too would be far-fetched.
- Myth #3: Aliens would look like us--nope.
- Myth #4: Aliens would be living creatures--if anything comes with intelligence, they will be robots sent by their masters.
- Myth #5: Aliens would steal our resources--there are better targets, like icy moons and planets with no competition.