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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Info Post
(Published in Zeitgeist, The New Indian Express, on 26th June, 2010)

From the US to Australia, everyone seems to have woken up suddenly to alien invasion. I’m not talking about the kind that leaves Indian shores, makes money in dollars, has brown babies with Caucasian accents and plays desi music all year round.

It all began with Voyager-2 getting hijacked by aliens. Now, they’ve apparently got bored and left. I don’t blame them. Anyone read about that Golden Record? If not, you’ve probably seen Transformers, so this is the Golden Disk from Beast Wars.

NASA explains that it “contain sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth”. Knowing our species, we’ve probably sent along Star Wars in good spirit (thank heavens James Cameron took a couple of decades to write Avatar) and possibly a few graphic novels from the Watchmen series.

Also, some kindly astronaut might well have sneaked in the space agency’s favourite music – which includes The Beatles' Here Comes the Sun and Sinatra’s Fly Me To The Moon.

Now, imagine if you and I were to be hit on the head by a Frisbee which ended up emitting supersonic greetings and video of one-eyed, antennaed creatures mating. This is presuming, of course, that the human species has guessed the appearance of their alien counterparts correctly, and also presuming they all look alike and decided to adopt one uniform for posterity.

It’s not like earthlings have never met Extra Terrestials before. No, I’m not talking about Spielberg’s best. This involves Dwight Eisenhower, and has nothing to do with his vague resemblance to our imaginings of aliens.

While space geeks had already celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of this meeting six years ago, the UFO-unobsessed world came to know in late May from Henry W. McElroy Jr., a retired state representative who confirmed in a media interview that on the night of February 20-21, 1954, Eisenhower met a representative of Ether’s other children, and went on to sign a few treaties.

No wonder Stephen Hawking thinks we’re best off staying away, because chances are that aliens will be brighter than us.

Australia was the first to take his warning seriously, what with residents of the Northern Territory fearing a full-scale alien invasion after seeing what the police say is a meteor shower. Then again, police said Australian attacks on Indian students weren’t racially motivated.

UFO expert Alan Ferguson told papers that flares seen across a stretch of the Top End coast are likely to be from space ships on a pre-attack scouting mission. His reason? "Meteors usually just flash across the sky and leave a tail. But UFOs will stay in the same spot and wobble up and down and side to side. Fast movements.”

And if you still nurse doubts, he vouches that the numbers go up during military exercises.

News of Ike’s foreign friends seems to have come at the right time for some quarters. The state of Denver is planning to vote on the establishment of an Extra Terrestrial Affairs Commission sometime in August this year.

Even before them, the Vatican's Pontifical Academy of Sciences announced in November 2009 that it is holding its first ever conference on alien life.

Think of the implications this could have on the Catholic Church! It’s bad enough that most of the West is agnostic, and missionaries have had to turn their sights on the tsunami-affected areas of India and the rest of South Asia. Now, they’ll have to brave Outer Space too?!

It might be of some comfort that Professor Simon Conway Morris of the University of Cambridge believes aliens will look and act like we do. This is also why I bet secret discussions are on in our own Parliament about how to ‘woo’ aliens – Aam Aadmi (which, for a long time, I thought referred to mango-sellers) and Jai Ho might not quite work.


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