The world must prepare for an alien encounter now before it’s too late, scientists have warned.
While this may sound more like the plot of a sci-fi movie, the prospect of communicating with extra-terrestrial species could happen sooner rather than later.
Scientists have warned that we must be able to know what to say to them and have now set up a research hub to prepare us for the encounter.
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The University of St Andrews has collaborated with the UK Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence’s (SETI) Research Network to help establish protocols and procedures that would be put in place if aliens are found.
They will bring in experts from all over the world to work on how to decipher methods, put in place space law and examine the social impacts it could have.
Currently, the only existing agreed ‘contact’ protocols for communicating with alien life were put together by SETI in 1989, however, they have not been revised since 2010.
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Dr John Elliott, an honorary research fellow in the School of Computer Science at St Andrews and one of the coordinators of the Hub believes that now is the time to update them.
He said: “Will we ever get a message from ET? We don’t know. We also don’t know when this is going to happen.
“But we do know that we cannot afford to be ill-prepared – scientifically, socially, and politically rudderless – for an event that could turn into reality as early as tomorrow and which we cannot afford to mismanage.
“But we need to go beyond thinking about the impact on humanity.
“We need to coordinate our expert knowledge not only for assessing the evidence but also for considering the human social response, as our understanding progresses and what we know and what we don’t know is communicated.
“And the time to do this is now.”
The interest in alien life has risen in recent times after NASA recently launched an eight-month inquiry to investigate unexplained UFO sightings, with a conclusion hoping to be announced next summer.
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Last year, the Pentagon’s Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force released a report into over a hundred UFO incidents between 2004 and 2021, many of which were spotted by military pilots.
However, investigators in the study concluded that there was no evidence the objects had come from outer space, and it could have possibly been aerial technology from another country.
Dr Elliot has further warned that the process will be time-consuming since they will be studying a whole new language that has been unidentified.
He added: “Scanning signals of assumed extra-terrestrial origin for structures of language and attaching meaning is an elaborate and time-consuming process during which our knowledge will be advanced in many steps as we learn ‘Extra-Terrestrial’.”
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