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With over decades of films and convincing radio plays, aliens have captivated our imaginations and our worst fears. They’ve come in all shapes and sizes, looking either cute and cuddly or absolutely terrifying.

More often than not, they are portrayed as devious humanoids that have come to Earth to experiment on us or wipe us out. But what if they’re friendly and just here to help?
Either way, we’ll need to be cautious and prepared if we want to, in the words of Mr. Spock, “Live long and prosper.’

Where would aliens land? How could we learn their intentions? And if they’re mean, how do we get rid of them?


STEP ONE: ESTABLISH COMMUNICATION

Okay, let’s imagine that SETI , the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, receives a signal from aliens approaching Earth. World leaders would be notified and quickly gather together the best and brightest scientists. All of this would be done discretely of course, to keep the public from panicking.

As world governments prepare for the worst and try to keep things secret, their cover is blown as alien crafts descend over prominent monuments with the intention of drawing massive crowds. Linguists, physicists, biologists and astronomers would band together to help decipher their language and origin. Efforts would be made to develop some form of communication. Maybe a backlog of What If videos would get them up to speed.


In the 1970s, NASA sent out two gold records on the Voyager spacecrafts with words, music, phrases, letters and a diagram of the human body. This was in the hopes that, if aliens intercepted and studied the record, they would understand where we are and that we are friends, not foes.. or food. Hopefully, in this case, they’ve gotten the message.

So, how do we approach these aliens? Well, if the movies are to be believed, it might be in our best interest to think like environmentalists. Peaceful aliens could be here to help us clean up our act, or more specifically, our planet. If we’re nice to them, maybe they will share their advanced knowledge and technology. Or broker a peace treaty in exchange for vital resources.

If all goes well, we’ll have new cosmic allies and maybe hover cars if we’re lucky. Yes, finally!

Ok, ok.. I’m getting ahead of myself here. Let’s be real. This is all wishful thinking. What if these aliens are out for blood? Would we even stand a chance? While scientists may try to establish peaceful communication with the aliens, the military may have other plans.


STEP TWO: DESTROY THEM IN SPACE

The world’s militaries would need to break out a master plan, starting from the moment a hostile message was received and decoded. The first line of defense would be in space. Even a small piece of space junk could destroy a spacecraft. The Space Shuttle Columbia broke apart upon returning to Earth’s orbit after foam fell off an external tank and damaged a wing.

In this case, our best bet would be to start blowing things up in low Earth orbit, such as satellites, missiles, and whatever space junk we have. If all goes well, we could take them out before they even step foot.. or tentacle.. on our planet.


But if their ships manage to survive the barrage and enter Earth’s atmosphere, the military would have to strike with their full might. We’re talking fighter jets, missiles, guns, tanks and whatever we have. But what if their defenses are too strong?

STEP THREE: DON’T PANIC

As terrifying as getting probed might be, a panicked mob of people can be just as scary. Whatever the scenario is, we shouldn’t freak out and buy massive quantities of toilet paper. Everyone is going to have to set aside their differences and work together as a team to keep our species alive. Panicking also leads to people getting trampled and well, if you haven’t seen our episode on How to Survive a Human Stampede, you might want to add that to your queue.

STEP FOUR: NUKE THEM

If our artillery is useless against them, the next best option would be to use nuclear bombs. Sure, we might wipe out a big chunk of Earth’s population, but it might be just enough force to take them out. Or at least lower their shields. If none of this works, should we just run and hide? Well, if they’re advanced enough, we’d have to be pretty fast or super sneaky.

STEP FIVE: FIND THEIR WEAKNESS

As scientists and the military try to reverse engineer the alien technology in a safe, undisclosed location, maybe our greatest chance of survival lies elsewhere. The ugly truth is, we’ve actually encountered an alien invasion before. When Christopher Columbus and his crew stormed North America over 500 years ago, they were aliens to the indigenous people. Unfortunately, the crew brought with them deadly pathogens that spread fatal disease. To quote the late great physicist, Stephen Hawking, “We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet.”

Maybe our biology, or more specifically, our immunity, is our best defense. Alien species could be from a planet devoid of water or viruses like the common cold. If that’s the case, get your spitballs ready and sneeze anywhere you’d like! If they happen to be in protective spacesuits with filtration systems, well, we might be out of luck at this point.

Some astronomers believe taking to the seas is our best defense. As we haven’t found any exoplanets with water like Earth’s, water could be poisonous to the aliens. Perhaps setting up shop at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland would be a good place to be, what with all the seafaring technology at their disposal.

Or maybe there’s a certain song or frequency they would absolutely loathe that we could blast over the airwaves and scramble their systems. Who’s up for some polka?

STEP SIX: SURRENDER

Consider the analogy of humans stomping on an ant hill, except in this scenario, we’re the ant hill. We may not have any form of retaliation if they’re much bigger than us. Our biggest explosions could be felt as a mere tickle to them.

So, at this point, we might be wise as a species to welcome our new alien overlords with open arms. Perhaps, a peace deal could be made where humans are kept safe by the aliens in exchange for our company… as pets. The biggest takeaway from all of this is, we shouldn’t jump to conclusions. They could just be friendly visitors on a field trip far away from home. They might even bestow us with superpowers, if we’re lucky. At the very least, we’d have some pretty cool looking corn fields.

From a scientific point of view, it’s more likely that the extraterrestrial life we’ll first encounter is microbial. NASA and other space exploration and science agencies have been looking for planets that could support life. This doesn’t mean people or humanlike bodies necessarily. The conditions for life to evolve like here on Earth are pretty slim. But microbial life could be possible. Microbes can survive toxic environments and even thrive in extreme temperatures, like the atmosphere of Venus.

What we do know for certain is that we’ve discovered 3,850 exoplanets in the expanse of the Universe, some of which could support life. We’re still not sure what kind of life, if any, but the dramatic increase in the ability to find planets outside our Solar System in the last 30 years is remarkable.

With credible reports of UFO sightings dating back for centuries, maybe we’ve already been visited by aliens. Or perhaps, some of us have even been abducted.


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