Here’s the scene: You’re walking home from school when suddenly an alien shuttle craft lands in the road, and two knee-high green aliens wave at you to come on board.

On the one hand, it would be the chance to make a mark in history, and a lot of money too, if you had a camera with you.

But on the other hand … well, on the other hand, the mind boggles …! Alien surgery … Brain scanning … A cage in an alien zoo … These are just some of the horrific experiences described by people who claim they've met or been abducted by alien beings.

Either way, it would be a life-changing moment. And as it might leave you a bit over-excited, it may be wise to plan ahead now and decide what you’d do.

And, while you consider your options, what actually are the chances of it ever happening?

Could it happen to you?

Despite the fact that there have been thousands of reports from around the world of alien encounters, many scientists say these reports have other explanations. They give the chances of you being visited by an alien on any day in your lifetime as … zip … zero!


Well, for starters, the argument goes, even if a colony of aliens out there had spotted that we exist, right now they’d still be on their way to greet us…


Here’s the reasoning:

Suppose a colony of aliens was living ‘just up the road’ on the nearest star to us beyond our sun. That star is four light years away (meaning it takes light four years to travel the distance).

To do the journey in any kind of ‘conventional’ space ship would take several thousand years. So an alien in a ‘standard issue spaceship’ must have left their home-planet several thousand years ago.

BUT (goes the theory) the only way for aliens to spot our existence is if they detect one of the radio signals we beam around the place. A couple of thousand years ago, we didn’t have radio technology on Earth, so as far as any aliens were concerned, our planet was ‘silent’.

It's a long trip ahead

Meanwhile, if they have just recently picked up one of our signals, and are on their way now, they’ll arrive here in the year 12,000 (approximately).

OK, what about faster-than-light travel? Well in that case, they must be pretty sophisticated and intelligent, and not the kind of beings to pop in sporadically, to pinch people for their zoos.

And the truth is …

OK, so back to my earlier question, if a bunch of aliens did suddenly pay you a visit, even if they were knee-high to a poodle, and smiling like long-lost cousins, would you ever go up to their craft?

Call me a coward, but I know if I were picked out by species 1478a to advance intergalactic relationships, I’d be ducking. Yup, whether or not I had a camera in my hand, my first instinct would be to exit the scene rapidly, leaving the dog to bark at them. (And I wouldn’t be sorry if it chased them away entirely.)

Tell you what! If that’s the kind of welcome they’re in for, can we really expect them to be in a rush to get here?!

Writer: Berry Billingsley

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Written and project managed by Berry Billingsley for the Department of Education