back to article UN appoints alien liaison boffin

The head of the UN's Office for Outer Space Affairs is poised to become first point of contact for extraterrestrials. Astrophysicist Mazlan Othman, 58, is concerned that we simply don't have a proper welcome mat ready to unroll when ET finally gets in touch - something she feels is ever more likely as we scour the skies for …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    The UN huh

    I could think of so many other organisations far more deserving and far more diplomatic to face and alien encounter. The UN has a sketchy history at best and has even proved pointless on ocassions when America decides it wants to invade a country. I hope if the aliens do come they knock on my door so I can tell them what a bunch of morans the people in power are.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    strategy to spare human subjugation

    just need lester haines and a laptop to write a virus on and paris hilton to pilot vulture one to deliver the payload

  3. Code Monkey

    I couldn't imagine a worse job

    I fear our alien ambassador will spend far too much time dealing with slack-jawed Americans claiming to have had their botties probed by E.T.

  4. Chemist

    ""first contact" is likely to be via radio,"

    Probably have a few hundred years at least to formulate a reply then.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have doubts

    No disrespect but a name like Mazlan Othman sounds little like Ford Prefect, not quite erm of this planet. How do we know they aren't here already and haven't infiltratedhe UN Office For Outer Space Affairs?

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  7. AndrueC Silver badge

    The first thing visiting aliens will say to us

    "Why the hell are you lot still pratting around down there?"

    I doubt they'll see any reason to talk to the leaders of a bunch of argumentative flatlanders.

  8. Tom 35

    Alien SUVs

    “I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet"

    So a lot like Americans then.


    I am fairly sure

    The invasion already happened but the invaders were so small relative to our world they were eaten by a small dog or something.

    I for one have a towel at the ready, just incase.

  10. TeeCee Gold badge

    You missed a trick.

    Surely this piece should have been written by Lewis and centred on whether a US or European manufacturer is going to get the contract for the requisite helicopter-covered-in-lightbulbs?

  11. The Envoy

    Welcome ... to Canada!

    I guess Mr Othman and all of you are aware that the aliens will land in Canada. Back in 1967 they built the world's first UFO Landing Pad in St. Paul, Alberta. It is still waiting for that inevitable first saucer to touch down. It's just a quetsion of time...

  12. M7S

    Too late, surely?

  13. Anonymous Coward

    70% of MJ-12 group ready for disclosure

    They are here and this is part of the beginning of disclosure - prepping us for the big announcement!

  14. Mike Bell

    Let There Be Gods

    The matter of extra-terrestrial life - what it might be and indeed whether it exists at all - is surely one of the most intriguing to contemplate.

    In doing so, however, we should not be so hasty as to imagine that aliens would get up to things that are remotely fathomable to the human race.

    We’ve been biting and fighting for a couple of million years, banging rocks together for a few hundred thousand, and sending radio signals for a few decades. Like Douglas Adams’ income tax and rice pudding, these are quite possibly inevitable outcomes that have been played out millions of times in the history of the cosmos, given that the laws of physics appear to be pretty much the same everywhere. But the chances of encountering a species at the same level of advancement as us have to be tiny when you consider the size and age of the universe.

    So, what to expect?

    If you accept the not unreasonable proposition that technological innovation will advance exponentially in the foreseeable future, it’s quite possible that the human race is coming near to its end and will be replaced by artificial life. Vastly superior to us in physical capability and intellect, such life would replace the human species, since no human would want to exist in a pitiful form when given the opportunity to join the ranks of Gods.

    Complete mastery of the quantum world and all forms of matter would follow. Notions such as “running out of natural resources” would be ridiculously naïve to Gods. Almost limitless energy abounds if you know where it is and how to use it. With their technology doubling in sophistication every few seconds, there could be a point where things are moving so fast that fundamental natural limits are attained, and the absolute pinnacle of possible evolution in this universe is attained in a flash. (Think sharks being what they are; think Gods being what they could be).

    Multiple times, all over the cosmos.

    At which point, the motivations and methods of such creatures is beyond my imagination. For I know nothing of the kinds of world that they would create.

    One thing is for sure: They are not going to be sitting in an armchair watching Sky TV, drinking Special Brew at the news that a tiny blue-green planet has finally worked out how to beam a few puny radio signals into space.

    And they won’t be bothering us unduly.

    1. OrsonX



      Your comments are plausable, yet dissappointing. Dissapointing from the "who wants to be visited by hyper-intelligent shades of the colour blue", kinda dissapointing. What we demand is proper aliens with proper acid for blood, etc.

      Just to be argumentative. Surely in-between ape and God there must be just your regular bog-standard "advanced" alien... who might visit? Or, perhaps the God-aliens are utterly-butterly evil & like nothing better than tormenting your average Earth like planet?

    2. Rob 9

      It's already happened...

      The Skynet Funding Bill is passed. The system goes on-line August 4th, 1997. Human decisions are removed from strategic defense. Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th....

  15. K. Adams
    Black Helicopters


    I'm sure the V's are just tickled to be getting such red-carpet treatment.

    Black whirlybirds, for obvious reasons.

  16. gray_

    Take me to your leader...

    "Astrophysicist Mazlan Othman". Since when did we put people who actually know something about their particular subject in charge? Outrageous. I put forward Tony Blair instead, he's interested in foreign relations recently I hear.

    1. FozzyBear

      Wait better idea

      I nominate Steve Conroy, telecommunications minister of Australia. I also authorise any advanced civilisation visiting, the use of multiple and aggressive anal probes on said minister

  17. Piers

    I imagine...

    “I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet."

    The blokes obviously a genius. What an imagination...

  18. The Indomitable Gall

    Operation global barricade

    A series of strategical shrapnel explosions in the upper atmosphere should produce a layer of high-velocity space junk that would slow them down while we prepare our response. Which would probably be a genetically engineer supermosquito with genetically re-engineered malaria.

  19. John70

    Stephen Hawking

    "This view is not shared by professor Stephen Hawking, The Australian notes. He recently warned: “I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet."

    Has Professor Hawking been watching Independence Day?

  20. Mike Moyle

    "...fleets of enormous astrocruisers packed with pitiless, resource-hungry lizard creatures."

    Not to worry -- we just get them addicted to ginger and give them Australia and they'll be happy. (I hereby nominate Harry Turtledove for Secretary of Defense.)

  21. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    SMARTer Beings Highlight Critical Parasitical and Strategic Systemic Weaknesses

    "strategy to spare human subjugation.... just need lester haines and a laptop to write a virus on and paris hilton to pilot vulture one to deliver the payload" .... Anonymous Coward Posted Monday 27th September 2010 15:18 GMT

    How very odd, AC, that you do not consider yourself already subjugated. Would the mechanism that enslaves units and nations, be the first to be crashed unless expensively protected with an Alien Danegeld Arrangement .... and Novel ReProgramming Language?

    A stupid rhetorical question, indeed, so it should be easily understood.

  22. Anonymous John

    No problem.

    Torchwood will ensure they never bother us again.

  23. Guido Esperanto

    first contact

    will be a jpeg featuring the prophet Mohammed and Jesus Christ, sharing a bed.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ I have doubts

    Exactly. Her name is M. Othman - Mothman! She can't be trusted.

  25. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Hawking is a troll

    “I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet."

    Yeah, yeah, yeah.

    I saw that movie too.

    Maybe talk about religion? Oh wait!

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More Useless Bureaucracy

    Now this is really useless bureaucracy. Why do we need one person at the UN to be the head of extraterrestrial response? Most likely the extraterrestrials won't be intelligent beings such as ourselves (or even most animals) so we won't be able to even communicate with them. What, did the UN run out of things to waste their money (most of it American money)?

    One more thing, why is it that they always point to Columbus's discovery of America and the subsequent destruction of native American civilization in Central and South America? What about French colonization? There was a time when French colonials were encouraged to intermarry with natives. Both French and Russian colonists in the Americas carried out active fur trade with the natives. Why is it that aliens always have to be hostile like the Spanish were? Why can't aliens be interested in learning our culture and trading with us like the French?

  27. Neal 5

    Something's not right

    am I the only one who is missing some important issues here, I am constantly amazed that some of the alledgedly most intelligent people in their respective area cannot get beyond the assumption that their intelligence is going to be at least on a par with any alien visitor. Take me to your leader? wtf is that all about then? first contact by radio, says who?, even without getting into realms of whether communication is going to be compatible with our technology, because we have to assume that we of course have the superior technology. And of course that all aliens will be compliant with our assumptions about them.

    Still, as they say, ignorance is bliss, and I have always met a high proportion of very happy "intelligent" people. Sadly for me, I cannot lay claim to the same level of intelligence. There again my middle name isn't Spock and I've not got a Phd in bullshit which is a prerequisite for being "intelligent".

    1. Steve 13

      first contact

      By definition, if they send some sort of advanced communication medium that we don't notice (gravity waves or quantum fluctuations or something we can't even imagine), then first contact hasn't happened has it!

      So whenever first contact happens, it will be within the realm of our technological capabilities.

      Assuming that it's not a directed communication (which we'd probably not notice), then a broadcast signal is the most likely means, and as radio is one of the easiest forms of EM to broadcast and isn't absorbed by the things likely to get in the way, it's a good guess.

      Nobody ever claimed that because first contact might be via radio that it means we're as smart as the contactee's. That's just a strawman you've made up.

  28. E 2

    @AC, the first poster

    Like a lot of people you do not understand the purpose of the UN. It was put together as a forum for discussion and diplomacy between nations, not as a supranational government capable of coercing nations' behaviour.

    The UN has no mandate nor any military power to stop (for example) the USA invading Iraq. Nor Iraq invading Kuwait. The UN can, if enough of it's members agree to do so, impose penalties or sanction military action by members - but the penalties or military action are not directed or controlled by the UN.

    If there is no consensus in the general assembly, or if the problematic nation has the power to defy the rest of the world (can we say "USA, USSR, UK, France, China" - the five permanent members of the Security Council and also the five major acknowledged nuclear weapons states?), then there is nothing the UN can do. The UN was designed that way.

    Don't blame it for not doing things it was not designed to do.

  29. Joe User

    We wish to serve man...

    for lunch (nod to "The Twilight Zone").

  30. Anonymous Coward

    As long as they are not Kanamit's who cares?

    Would you aliens like fries with that?

  31. Sunshine

    are you shiiiiting me?

    umm Let me get this straight...

    we're trying to establish communication with ETs yet we haven't established proper communication with each other. What ETs in their right minds would want to talk to us? Just look at us!!!!!!! we are still the same barbarians from thousands of years ago...we just have better tools...but everything else is still the same. Oh yeah and all those who say they are spiritual and "I'm just a soul having a human experience...but don't touch my stuff!!!" yeah we got that! HA! Once we establish peace and proper communication on this planet with each other then I'm sure some ETs will consider sending us a signal.

  32. Simon Waddington
    Thumb Up

    Double entendre

    "There was a time when French colonials were encouraged to intermarry with natives."

    Casts a whole different light on the phrase, "active fur trade"

    Still, I've seen, "Lifeforce" and think I'm happy to subjugate myself to my "fur trading" overlords...

  33. OrsonX

    Alone in a godless Universe....

    ...& out of Shake'n'Vac.

    THIS is the most mind-blowing possability.... that in the whole Universe, we are utterly & totally alone.

  34. Neil Paterson

    Has anyone at the UN asked SETI about this?

    Good article here:

    Given that it's fairly likely SETI will be doing the detecting and have strict protocols not to tell media or politicians postdetection, I'd be worried if I were Paul Davies....

    Unless I'm missing something?

  35. Anonymous Coward

    Now wait for ...

    ... her to disappear mysteriously. /panic

  36. Neal 5

    @neil paterson

    you are right, a very good article from the 2 man gruniad, of course assuming the success rate of seti has progressed past o% in the intervening time between your post and mine.

    Like I've already said, unfortunately, I don't have a PhD in bullshit.....................................

    make your own assumption.

    Unless I'm missing something, of course................

  37. Ken 16 Silver badge

    Too much responsibility for one man

    He needs an assistant and I want a seat on that gravy train.

  38. Rogerborg

    ^^^ winner

    Let's try to stay focussed on what's important here: the UN has found a way to make the trough a little deeper.

    Mind you, given the UN is usually several billion $$$ in the red due to the US only giving handouts as-and-when, I have to wonder who exactly is lending them the funds to keep the swill flowing. The Gnomes of Zurich, assisted by the Saucer People. See how circular it all is?

  39. YumDogfood

    Moves like a fish, steers like a cow.

    Who in their right minds wants the hassle of being stuck down a deep gravity well with a few billion blobs of thicko symbiotic bacteria with an attitude problem and delusions of competence? Come on, if I was part of an advanced civilization the last thing I would do is start talking to these gibbering idiots.

    Coat, thumb device, towel. All set. Now its time for me to GTFO.

  40. HRH Martin

    As any fool knows...

    the measure of any species is not their high tech tools, ability to open a bottle of beer, or con scientists out of extra food, but what they taste like: See cows, pigs, sheep, pigeons, dolphins, salmon and humans.

    I for one have total confidence in Malaysian cuisine to deliver us a delicate, yet satisfying first contact.

    Whatever happens, don't let the Americans get involved - their crimes against steak mean they should be kicked off the UN BBQ Council immediately.

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