UN prepares for 'first contact' with alien life
Monday 27 September 2010
The vexed issue of who should speak to an alien from another planet that demands "Take me to your leader" might soon be resolved.
The United Nations is about to appoint a little-known Malaysian astrophysicist to head its Office for Outer Space Affairs, which could soon be designated with the task of communicating with extraterrestrials. Mazlan Othman will tell delegates to a scientific conference next week at a country house outside London that she will head the UN office and be in charge of talking to any aliens who either arrive here from another world or, more likely, communicate with us.
Dr Othman recently told fellow scientists that the discovery of many Earth-like planets orbiting distant stars suggests that intelligent life may be more common in the Universe than many scientists had once supposed. "The continued search for extraterrestrial communication, by several entities, sustains the hope that some day, humankind will receive signals from extraterrestrials," Dr Othman said.
"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," she said.
Professor Richard Crowther, an expert on space law and governance at the UK Space Agency, and who leads Britain's delegation to the UN on the issue, said: "Othman is absolutely the nearest thing we have to a 'take me to your leader' person."
The UN has a history of being closely involved in the debate over how to handle the discovery of life on other planets. It has drawn up a protocol to decontaminate equipment that may be carrying alien microbes, and it has worked on the sort of greetings that humans should give to intelligent extraterrestrial life forms.
- 1 Replica Back to the Future Hoverboard released
- 2 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 3 Brixton squat flats now costing up to £3k per month show how out of control rent is in London
- 4 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
Costa Concordia: Shipment of Mob drugs was hidden aboard cruise liner when it hit rocks off Italian coast, investigators say
Brixton squat flats now costing up to £3k per month show how out of control rent is in London
Iran nuclear talks: Prospect of deal with Iran pushes Saudi Arabia and Israel into an unlikely alliance
A new (old) cure for MRSA? Revolting recipe from the Dark Ages may be key to defeat infection
Jeremy Clarkson 'could be given minder' ahead of a potential Top Gear return
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
£25,000 - £30,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a fantastic opportunity...
£50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...
£45,000 - £55,000: Loren Hughes: Are you looking for a new opportunity that wi...
Circa £45,000-£50,000 + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ac...