Feeds

UN appoints alien liaison boffin

'I for one would like to welcome...'

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

The head of the UN's Office for Outer Space Affairs is poised to become first point of contact for extraterrestrials.

Astrophysicist Mazlan Othman, 58, is concerned that we simply don't have a proper welcome mat ready to unroll when ET finally gets in touch - something she feels is ever more likely as we scour the skies for signs of non-human life.

According to The Australian, she recently told fellow scientists: “The continued search for extraterrestrial communication, by several entities, sustains the hope that some day humankind will receive signals from extraterrestrials. When we do, we should have in place a co-ordinated response that takes into account all the sensitivities related to the subject. The UN is a ready-made mechanism for such co-ordination.”

Professor Richard Crowther of the UK's Space Agency lent his support to the appointment, which requires ultimate UN approval. He said: “Othman is absolutely the nearest thing we have to a 'take me to your leader' person.”

Crowther doubts, though, that Othman will be required to shake hands personally with intergalactic envoys, since our "first contact" is likely to be via radio, and in any case much alien life is probably nothing more than microbes.

This view is not shared by professor Stephen Hawking, The Australian notes. He recently warned: “I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet.

"The outcome for us would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn't turn out very well for the native Americans.”

The native Americans, of course, didn't have the benefit of a "co-ordinated response" fronted by an astrophysicist, and we're sure Othman has a diplomatic strategy in place to spare humanity subjugation by fleets of enormous astrocruisers packed with pitiless, resource-hungry lizard creatures. ®

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
MARS NEEDS OCEANS to support life - and so do exoplanets
Just being in the Goldilocks zone doesn't mean there'll be anyone to eat the porridge
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.