back to article ATTENTION SETI scientists! It's TOO LATE: ALIENS will ATTACK in 2049

Today, top experts on aliens will debate one of the most pressing issues of modern times: to wit, should the human race send out signals with the aim of letting any possible extraterrestrial beings know we are here? But the brainboxes assembled in San Jose for the annual shindig of the American Association for the Advancement …


  1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Nah, we're safe

    Alien's receiving the webgasm will conclude that this could not possibly come from a sentient life form, and start looking for errors in their analysis software, or check they weren't getting stray signals from some passing Teaser. You know, rich kids with nothing better to do than finding planets like ours, landing next to some poor guy who nobody is ever going to believe and strut around wearing silly antennae making bepp-beep noises (childish really)

    1. VinceH

      Re: Nah, we're safe

      On the other hand, they might not draw that conclusion, and things will proceed as Lewis suggests, and they'll make plans to attack. But, if we're lucky, due to a terrible miscalculation of scale the entire battle fleet will be swallowed by a small dog.

      1. Michael Habel

        Re: Nah, we're safe

        I seem to be having this tremendous difficulty with my lifestyle...

      2. MrT

        Small dogs...

        ... and cheese sandwiches are hereby banned from being outside the same pub coincidentally. Just to be sure.

    2. Timbo

      Re: Nah, we're safe

      I wonder if the Bebo people pointed this signal at where Gliese "was" (in the night sky at the time of the transmission)....or did they point it at where Gliese "would be" once the signal got there 20 years later ?

      I would hope for the latter, but even so, if the signal was sent on a narrow beam, the chances of any non-terrestrial picking it up, as the signal reached the Gliese system would be pretty remote. Chances are that they'd be listening in a different direction for signals from "more likely" sources of "alien" (to them) life.

      1. Richard Boyce

        Re: Nah, we're safe

        I think we can relax. Alexander Zaitsev will have sensibly pocketed the cash from the idiots and laughed all the way to the bank.

    3. TheOtherHobbes

      Re: Nah, we're safe

      >strut around wearing silly antennae making bepp-beep noises

      Basic level.

      Advanced level is inventing and running social media websites to emotionally scar the natives.

      (I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to decide if that includes El Reg.)

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Nah, we're safe

        I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to decide if that includes El Reg.

        Seeing that they show us an illustration of a solar system where a red sun makes a planet reflect white light, I would say it absolutely does!

        1. DropBear

          Re: Nah, we're safe

          Well this just happens to be one of those planets that tends to absorb light an re-emit it at all sorts of different wavelengths - kinda like neon tubes and white LEDs do on a single wavelength. That red sun is just the "S" in LASER....

          1. JamesTQuirk

            Re: Nah, we're safe

            My GrandKid's introduced me to a 2014 movie, Battleship, by Hasbro, with pretty damm good special effects & All American Storyline, (even if japs help them save pearl harbour, this time, using mighty Mo, again), thats sucks like a chest wound .. BUT SFX are pretty good, Aliens are nasty but stupid, all from a message they sent to Gliese looking for contact ....

            Ps : hang to end of credits, there's another 5min bit right @ end, that happens in UK (somewhere) ....

            In 50 years climate change will be in full swing, may be fun to watch, and education, pity we couldn't learn, not to crap in own nest, So it could become the galactic tourist attraction, watchng the mess we have put ourselves in ...

    4. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nah, we're safe

      Considering the content beamed at Gliese, its more likely that we will wake up one morning to find shiny new learning centers filled with space-age educational technology deposited all over the Earth, staffed by a series of concerned, earnest and patronizing alien teachers and vocational counselors.

      "Pupil Marketing Hack, I see you were able to dress yourself this morning! And oh look, it almost all matches!"

    5. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Nah, we're safe

      Also the transmission is unlikely to be receivable at 20 light years distance.

      You'd need a VERY big dish that just happened to be pointing straight at us. Where was Earth vs sun then? If the sun in line behind or in front, they'd only hear frying.

      1. dan1980

        Re: Nah, we're safe

        "they'd only hear frying."

        Inarguably and improvement.

    6. Wzrd1 Silver badge

      Re: Nah, we're safe

      Strange, that is precisely what my home GCU thought initially.

      After finding no fault in the software, it decided it was a liveware problem and investigated Earth.

      It found no intelligent life present in most capitol buildings on the planet.

      Earth has since been placed back into the control group.

  2. John H Woods Silver badge

    Death by Alien Cockup ...

    Extrapolating from our own society (I realize it's a sample of one, but it is also currently the entire known population) any visitors would be, at least initially, wide-eyed enthusiastic researchers rather than a full-on military invasion force. They'll probably end up obliterating us by accident, by bringing native pathogens with them (a sort of reverse War of the Worlds).

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: Death by Alien Cockup ...

      "...native pathogens..."

      Most pathogens are species specific. Even flu, can struggle to jump the species barrier. More likely it would be a commensal or symbiont that turns out to adore squishy apes. "Yes, our thought processes are implemented via battling prions. Is that a problem?"

      1. John H Woods Silver badge

        Re: Death by Alien Cockup ...

        "Most pathogens are species specific" -- Brewster's Angle Grinder

        True, but some organisms can transfer genetic material even between kingdoms (e.g. Agrobacterium tumefaciens). And pathogen is as pathogen does: the symbionts or commensals you mention would, if they harmed us, also be pathogens :-)

      2. Nigel 11

        Re: Death by Alien Cockup ...

        It's a complete unknown what happens when life-forms with different operating systems come into contact. All known life is based on DNA or RNA with 3-base codons, a small common set of useful amino-acids, and there is a large amount of other commonality in biochemical operation across most of our life.

        So when we meet ET with mutual good intentions, our bacteria and theirs will decide the issue. Possibilities from optimistic to pessimistic are (1) our bacteria can't eat them and vice versa, (2) our bacteria eat ETs but theirs can't eat us, (3) vice versa, and (4) mutual complete destruction. (There's also (5): our sort of life is near-universal, because its evolution is heavily favoured by the laws of physics and chemistry over any other possibility).

        I suspect the worst case is most likely. There are bacteria that can eat just about anything that is capable of yielding energy when it is dismantled, and our defences against being eaten are highly specific to the "operating system" that all Terran life shares.

        1. kellerr13

          Re: Death by Alien Cockup ...


          Our bacteria and their's form an alliance and decide to eliminate both us and the aliens, thus revealing the true most intelligent life form in the universe.

          1. DrGoon

            Re: Death by Alien Cockup ...

            Unfortunately Gliesean 581c bacteria and Terran bacteria will probably decide to form a bacterial social media site, and, failing to gain momentum in the bacterial social media market will decide to eject a bacto guffpulse at HD 40307g.

        2. phil dude

          Re: Death by Alien Cockup ...

          It has always seems a bit obvious (to me) that all of our molecular biological knowledge has been developed for our unique systems of life, and that if we were to meet an alien life would we recognise it?

          Our world was shaped by microbes so I think we should be careful about the containment of alien microbes - assuming we can identify them, that is.

          It would be truly fascinating if the current dependence on RNA as the catalytic replication mechanism, turns out to be "near" optimal of all possible chemical combinations. But in 12 billion years another ecosystem may have evolved at a different rate, and can therefore use different constituents.

          Let's hope there's intelligent life out there, because there's bugger all down here on Earth...


          1. JamesTQuirk

            Re: Death by Alien Cockup ...

            Maybe if they where Super Intelligent Coachroaches who had time travelled from our future, where we are extinct, to find out who left all the food & sugar about .....

      3. John Savard

        Re: Death by Alien Cockup ...

        Robert Zubrin has used this as an argument against being overly concerned about back contamination from Mars. However, he overlooked one point. Of course we don't have to worry about Martian malaria contaminating the Earth. Martian mold or Martian mildew, however, could see us just as a big pile of sugars with no relevant immune defenses - and turn Earth's biota into green goo in a matter of weeks.

        Plus, on Earth, mold and mildew are relatively complicated organisms - symbiotic clusters of eukaryotic cells, I think. So they're not the ones that would have already made it to Earth on meteorites, putting paid to another one of his arguments.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: Death by Alien Cockup ...

          and turn Earth's biota into green goo in a matter of weeks

          These would still be complex organisms and would probably have Achilles Heels as high as Twin Towers.

          For example, "And don't forget: Hydrate every day, eat a banana and take an extra dose of Vitamin Cglide gel - a combination utterly toxic to all martian life forms! This message brought to you by Weyland-Yutani - Building Better Worlds, Today!"

    2. fajensen

      Re: Death by Alien Cockup ...

      Extrapolation from our own society means that we are Doomed!

      We meet our alien cousins who are exactly like us, but blue and maybe 100 - 200 years more advanced than us (or they wouldn't make the flight) and they, like ourselves, probably don't mind shooting themselves some of those wilds for sport, or putting them in zoos and making lampshades from our hides.

  3. Chazmon

    prophetic writings

    Given the expected physical characteristics of life forms from those planets they would fit the type described in the Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham.

    I live near a river so naturally I am concerned.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: prophetic writings

      Kraken... sentient... Hmm... Opens "Nova Wars" on the kindle... I do not think I like that idea...

  4. codejunky Silver badge


    Why is the assumption that whatever is out there is hostile even if that is our default position. Why the assumption that whatever is out there can decode what we send? Why assume they are interested in the insane ramblings of those that most embarrass our race Why broadcast what we are made of and what we are like? Why overcomplicate a simple situation?

    Surely if we want to get the attention of something out there we need to broadcast a very simple pattern which wouldnt normally be found in nature. Keep it simple and with little chance of offence or our disadvantage

    1. Little Mouse

      Re: Interesting

      we need to broadcast a very simple pattern which wouldn't normally be found in nature... with little chance of offence

      I don't think that beaming them Radio 1 is going to make matters any better.

    2. Eponymous Cowherd

      Re: Interesting

      Well, the theory is that any race that has survived long enough to develop interstellar travel will have outgrown petty vices like war, genocide, galactic domination, that sort of thing.

      Either that, or they have exterminated all opposition and are looking for their next "challenge"....

      Not that we'd be much of a challenge to a race of highly advanced, power hungry, genocidal super-strong beings bent on galactic domination.

    3. 's water music

      Re: Interesting

      Surely if we want to get the attention of something out there we need to broadcast a very simple pattern which wouldnt normally be found in nature. Keep it simple and with little chance of offence or our disadvantage

      That's what the race that built the pulsars thought. They must be kicking themselves now.

    4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Why is the assumption that whatever is out there is hostile

      Because of two simple facts :

      1) any race that has developed itself to be space-worthy has first had to establish itself as the ultimate predator in its own native environment. You can't build a spaceship if you fear being eaten by whatever tiger it is you have there.

      2) any race that is space-worthy has to have a bureaucracy which has to justify its existence in difficult economic times - thus an invasion will inevitably be a wonderful economic opportunity, for them.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: Why is the assumption that whatever is out there is hostile

        Because of two simple facts

        I applaud this to-the-point analysis!

        This is entirely supported by bretty-low-IQ "economists" blogging in the "New X'ran Times". We need a war now! Think of the children.

        And being hawkish interstellar sure is going to bring in the votes and fatten the MIC. We are all Space Nazis now!

      2. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Why is the assumption that whatever is out there is hostile

        @ Pascal Monett

        These are the problems I have with the assumption of hostile. The first point assumes the same confrontational requirement that we have here. Why? If so how long have the predators been wiped out and so is there a need for such hostility? There are many possibilities where not being distracted by war could allow faster advancement for other reasons.

        The second point assumes the wasteful need of a bureaucracy which is employed in many societies here to slow things down and restrict. On a previous topic about economy and tax someone mentioned how wasteful and expensive war is. Mutual trade would surely be more profitable. Of course that assumes a race unlike ours which seems to look for offence or reason to be a victim.

  5. hplasm

    That's all very well-

    But what if they are more Blobominational than Krakenesque?

    They could pop up anywhere in the West- they may Already be Wobbling Amongst Us!!

  6. gizmo23

    +1 to Lewis for "guffblurt"

    1. Richard 120

      I nominate

      guffpulse for word of the year

  7. Michael Strorm Silver badge

    2008: MySpace Odyssey

    Mr Bebo: "I've just sent a message inviting the inhabitants of Gisele 581 to invade earth... best publicity ever!"

    Astronomer: "Do you realise what a risk that is?"

    Mr Bebo: "That's a risk I'm willing to take... I for one welcome our sexy, sexy supermodel overlords. Shagged to death by hordes of six-foot tall blonde female aliens- what a way to go!"

    Astronomer: "WTF...." (Pause) "...wait, you do realise the planet's called Gliese 581, not Gisele?"

    Mr Bebo: "Oh, f***.... They're going to be green blobs that eat our brains, aren't they?"

    Astronomer: "They might be blue."

    Mr Bebo: "Damn... still, best publicity ever. Pretty sure it'll be worth it in six or seven years time when we've kicked MySpace's ass to become the dominant social network and that newfangled Facebook thing has sunk back into whatever obscurity it came from."

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: 2008: MySpace Odyssey

      @Michael Strorm

      Good news everybody, Michael Strorm makes Mr. Bebo sound like Zapp Brannigan. Is Gisele 581 a planet dominated by amazon woman looking for snu snu?

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: 2008: MySpace Odyssey

      the inhabitants of Gisele 581

      I can tell, the inhabitants of Gisele 581 are fierce. My doc gave me a lesson about STDs and I had to take antibiotics for two weeks.

  8. Nigel Brown

    Mostly harmless

    Apart from those who despise everyone but themselves.

  9. Christopher Lane

    With content like that...

    ...we deserve to die.

  10. Anonymous IV


    Whatever happened to "security by obscurity"?

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      It is a totally obsolete notion in the Age Of Internet.

      Except for those numpties who try to discover where any US Fleet is at any given moment. They then get the immense privilege of discovering the notions of Security and Obscurity in one fell swoop of an FBI van.

  11. Elmer Phud

    aaaakkk! AAaakkkkk!

    What we don't want is to upset our neighbours.

    "Oi, you! Turn that fucking noise down. We have a 2 earth-centuries sleep/wake cycle and we're trying to get some shut eye.

    If you don't you will be the green and blue ball heading to the big orange pocket."

  12. JDX Gold badge

    We have senses. Smell, Taste, Sight and Touch. Without any of these things, we wouldn't live.

    It's OK, the aliens will create a biological weapon which removes our sense of smell and it will be decades before they realise that neither a sense of smell (or for that matter sight) is critical to life.

    Presumably the author of this statement didn't want to alert the aliens to our sense of hearing, so we'll probably hear them coming when they don't try to be quiet.

    1. Bunbury

      Re: We have senses. Smell, Taste, Sight and Touch. Without any of these things, we wouldn't live.

      Great, the earthlings are deaf! Let's invade!

      1. defiler

        Re: We have senses. Smell, Taste, Sight and Touch. Without any of these things, we wouldn't live.


  13. Novex

    That Bebo 'guffblurt' would have been enough to enrage even the simplest organism into evolving so they can stop it...

  14. Sludged

    to quote MP

    And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space,

    'Cause there's bugger all down here on Earth.


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