If you’ve been abducted by aliens, don’t tell me
If you’ve been abducted by aliens, the Astronomer Royal wouldn’t like to hear about it.
Professor Lord Rees has urged ‘nuts’ to stop writing to him with allegations of alien encounters.
“I get letters from people who say they have been abducted by aliens, have met them, etc. would they just have met one or two well-known eccentrics and left? That seems unlikely.
“So I tell these people to write to each other and not to me,” he said.
If extraterrestrial life exists, Professor Rees said, it is unlikely to come in the form of little green men.
“If we detect anything, it is unlikely to be flesh and blood. It is much more likely to be an electronic entity. It’s unlikely to be in sync with us – it could be a million years ahead of us,” he told an audience at the Hay Festival.
And if we come into contact with aliens in a distant galaxy, conversation will be impossible because they will be light years away from us. “There’s no room for a quick repartee,” Professor Rees said.
Human colonists on Mars ‘will become a race of cyborgs’
Professor Rees also predicted that humans who settle on Mars, as Elon Musk plans to do, will become a race of cyborgs within a few generations.
He said: “Let’s imagine that at the end of the century, there are small communities far from the Earth. By then, genetic modification and cyber techniques will be much more advanced than today. Hopefully they will be regulated here on Earth, but those intrepid explorers on Mars will do well to change.
“They will use all these techniques to adapt and within a generation or two they could become a different species, a mixture of flesh and blood and a robot.
“So a scenario for the next millennium could be that some of the descendants of pioneering Martian explorers will become cyborgs.”
The idea of a non-human race is not at all far-fetched, said Lord Rees: “Most of us, unless we live in Kentucky or wherever, know that we are the result of four billion years of evolution.”
Lord Rees said Musk’s vision of mass emigration to Mars was a “dangerous illusion”. “It’s child’s play in the face of climate change compared to Earth-firming Mars,” he said.
“The term ‘space tourism’ should never be used because it will never be without risk. It should be called “space adventure” for people who like high risk, people who like hang gliding.
Wonder of my lost landings on the younger generation
The 79-year-old also told the audience that the wonder of the moon landings is lost on the younger generation today.
“I have been fascinated by space since childhood and am old enough to remember Neil Armstrong’s ‘One Small Step for Man’ in 1969,” he said.
“For my students, the idea of men on the moon – so futuristic for my generation – is ancient history. They know the United States put men on the moon, they know the Egyptians built the pyramids. But these seem to be mysterious national goals.
Astronauts these days mainly travel to the International Space Station, which orbits “rather ingloriously” around the Earth, Prof Rees said.
“There’s not much excitement unless the toilet goes bad or Canadian astronaut David Hadfield plays his guitar and sings David Bowie songs.”