Why our endless fascination with aliens could get the better of us
Chris Ho//Opinions Editor
Most of you are already familiar with the satirical Facebook event proposing to storm the controversial and mysterious Area 51 by now (Storm Area 51 They Can’t Stop All of Us). Don’t worry, I’m not going to do any throwbacks to the nauseating amount of alien memes that are out there now. I much prefer a good old, run-of-the-mill conspiracy documentary over any social media myself. Still, you have to admit how ingenious the whole scheme is.
As soon as the Facebook event went viral, Matty Roberts subsequently used its popularity to promote his alien-themed music and arts festival, Alienstock, coming up on, you guessed it, September 20th, the same day we’re supposed to be storming Area 51. Not surprisingly, other companies and merch dealers jumped on the marketing opportunity as well, with Bud Light planning an alien-themed beer label, for example. Who would have thought double booking could be so profitable?
The hype is real right now (maybe too real) but it’s nothing new, really. Our fascination with extraterrestrials and the great unknown has been around since the beginning – though it’s certainly making its resurgence these days.
We have Netflix and Bob Lazar to thank for that, in part. At least, the 2018 biographical documentary Bob Lazar: Area 51 & Flying Saucers offers a fairly compelling argument for the discovery of a crashed extraterrestrial spacecraft. Lazar asserts that in 1989 he was hired to work hands-on in the reverse engineering of an alien spacecraft, discovering technology that “simply doesn’t exist” for humans. The craft supposedly runs on an antimatter reactor powered by element 115, which propels the craft forward by generating a gravity wave. “Put simply,” he said “it’s like putting a bowling ball (representing the spacecraft) on a mattress and then pushing down beside it, causing it to move in your direction.”
According to other scientists, while we can’t necessarily prove this, we can’t rule it out either. Similarly, we can’t rule out the possibility that he really did review government documents that outlined alien involvement in human affairs over thousands of years. If that doesn’t sound crazy enough, then gear up.
I think we can assume that life exists beyond just our planet. Take the “nearby” exoplanetary system Trappist-1 for example. There we discovered three of seven earth-sized planets, which orbit a large red dwarf star and have the right temperature to contain liquid water—and thus support life. It’s just a matter of time before NASA completes the much-anticipated James Webb Space Telescope, which will be able to yield hard evidence of life in these habitable worlds. You do the math.
If we’re so fascinated in the search for these extraterrestrials, it stands to reason that they’re probably interested in checking us out too. The difference being that to them our civilization would look antiquated, while to us, theirs would likely look mind-bogglingly advanced. If our old pal Bob the Builder is right and these extraterrestrials have already built such a spacecraft and explored our world (and others), then what else have they achieved?
Consider how far us earthlings have come with videogames (or simulated reality). It is already becoming widely accepted that in the not-so-distant future we will be able to create simulations so advanced, that they will have conscious entities within them. Simulation theory—the notion that our own reality is in fact simulated (yes, like the Matrix)—may sound like a stretch, but there are many scientists and physicists who not only believe it to be true, but that it will one day be proven just like we proved that the earth was not the center of the universe. But as philosopher Preston Greene suggests, we may not want to pry into it too much, since if it were true, “such knowing may end the simulation,” (yes, like The Truman Show).
Part of me has to agree. I’m not entirely sure I want to find out what they’ve got hiding in Area 51. Alien remnants and space crafts are one thing; experimental weapons of mass destruction are quite another. If this is a simulation, can we all just agree that God-like extraterrestrials (or whatever floats your boat) created it and move on? We’ve got a planet to save here, and our alien deities are not going to be impressed if we mess this up.