If there's a story that refuses to die, it's the one about aliens. Recently it was given another kick along by the release of NASA's report on "Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena" (UAPs, formerly "UFOs") .
Inevitably this became associated with extraterrestrial life - or, as many people would say, "aliens".
In their report, NASA says "... there is no reason to conclude that existing UAP reports have an extraterrestrial source."
But that was not enough to stop one "UFO whistle blower" going public with the claim that the US government had secretly retrieved craft of non-human origin and alien bodies. The "evidence" was suppressed to protect a covert government program.
This is tricky turf for science, not least because it's logically impossible to prove the non-existence of something.
While it might seem highly unlikely, you could claim there's an alien living in your backyard. The fact that nobody else has ever seen it, might just mean they weren't looking at the right time.
Another challenge is defining what we mean by "alien". Invariably this morphs into human-like creatures with pear-shaped heads and large eyes. They are super intelligent and can be either benign god-like beings, or darker, more malevolent ones.
In either case, this says more about human psychology than any real evidence.
It's far more likely that an extraterrestrial lifeform will be closer to pond slime or bacteria. If there are "higher" types of life, they almost certainly won't look remotely human.
In favour of the extraterrestrial life hypothesis is the unimaginable vast size of the universe and, over the past decade, we've learned that planets around other systems are common.
Surely in all that there must be other life, perhaps intelligent.
This is the focus of the SETI program (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), which so far as not revealed any firm evidence for the existence of aliens.
Sometimes then, the topic becomes a bit silly. If found, should we contact them?
It's probably too late for that because humanity has already been projecting a sphere of radio signals over the past 100 years or more.
Aliens conducting their own SETI research would pretty soon realise these are not from a natural origin.
Then the topic turns to "what should we say?"
Not least is the formidable problem of interpreting an alien "intelligence".
If you thought talking to your ex is difficult, imagine a conversation where a reply takes decades or longer because the distances involved are vast.
And (perhaps like your ex), these beings aren't even on the same planet.
Hardly the basis for a healthy relationship.
* Ask Fuzzy has never been written by aliens.
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