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Space Science

United Nations Names Ambassador To Aliens 306

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the sounds-like-a-cushy-job dept.
Shag writes "Although searches for extraterrestrial intelligence have thus far come up empty-handed, the United Nations appears to be preparing for eventual 'first contact.' Many media outlets are carrying the story that Mazlan Othman, a Malaysian astrophysicist who heads the UN's Office for Outer Space Affairs in Vienna — already charged with things like keeping track of satellites to prevent Kessler Syndrome and coordinating the international response to any earth-impacting asteroids — will be the first person to meet with aliens if they do show up." Update: 09/27 16:42 GMT by S : Looks like this one's too good to be true — in an email to The Guardian, Othman said, "It sounds really cool but I have to deny it."
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United Nations Names Ambassador To Aliens

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  • by Sonny Yatsen (603655) * on Monday September 27, 2010 @09:54AM (#33711228) Journal

    Why doesn't the UN nominate one of those guys living in the backwoods to be the Ambassador to aliens? It seems to me that those guys are the people who seem to be getting abducted by aliens the most, not well-known astrophysicists.

    • Re:The wrong man (Score:4, Informative)

      by odies (1869886) * on Monday September 27, 2010 @10:02AM (#33711392)

      The wrong man? Mazlan is a woman.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        She should read(*) Solaris by Stanislaw Lem.

        (*) Yes, read the book - the movies (except the one by Boris Nirnburg from 1968) have little to do with what the book is about.

      • by roman_mir (125474)

        you just proved his point for him

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by initialE (758110)

        No wonder. Women are an alien species to us too!

    • The question was...Who wants to be first in line to melted/eaten/death rayed/vaporized/exposed to space herpes?
    • by Moraelin (679338) on Monday September 27, 2010 @10:18AM (#33711690) Journal

      Now that you mention it, don't most of those contacts also involve anal probing with dildo-shaped implements, mutilating cattle and apparently making crop circles for the heck of it?

      I mean, I can imagine a thousand Martian redneck hillbilies going,

      "Hey, Billy Joe Bob, it says here them Earthlings have a new ambers.. am... contact person."
      "What's one of those do, Bubba?"
      "Way I figures it, Billy Joe Bob, it means we gots to meet her when we goes down there."
      "But we was gonna do some crop circling and mutilate some of those strange animals they keep around. Do ya figure she's gonna help us with that?"
      "Nope, probably not."
      "Right, I'll fire up the ol' anal probe then."
      "Careful back there, Billy Joe Bob, I just bought us the Jackhammer probe upgrade. Don't wreck nuthing with it."

      I mean, why not just get the goatse guy as the ambassador?

    • by SpeedyDX (1014595) <speedyphoenix@gm ... m minus language> on Monday September 27, 2010 @10:20AM (#33711726)

      I personally think a man like him is the perfect one for the job. Maybe he'll be able to amuse the aliens with our meager understanding of rudimentary physics, prompting them to keep us alive as their cute pets or even just live historical specimens instead of just eating us all or something.

      • Re:The wrong man (Score:5, Informative)

        by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday September 27, 2010 @10:24AM (#33711796) Journal
        Quoth Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] (linked from TFS):

        Mazlan Binti Othman is a Malaysian astrophysicist who has served in several roles within her country

        Quoth SpeedyDX:

        I personally think a man like him is the perfect one for the job.

        Tip for aliens visiting Earth: Humans have two genders, and it can be embarrassing if you confuse them.

        • by SpeedyDX (1014595)

          That's exactly what I'm talking about. That kind of stupidity will get you eaten alive. Aren't you glad they didn't choose me?

          • by causality (777677) on Monday September 27, 2010 @10:46AM (#33712192)

            That's exactly what I'm talking about. That kind of stupidity will get you eaten alive.

            That reminds me of a bumper sticker I once saw. It read: "When the aliens come, I hope they eat the FAT people first!"

            I'm sure somebody got their panties in a wad over that one.

        • by JustOK (667959)

          uh, two main points on a gender continuum

          • by Surt (22457)

            I suspect it's a U distribution with pretty sharp peaks. Are there hypermales or hyperfemales beyond the U-points, or do all the other genders all fall in the trough?

  • Do they know (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dyinobal (1427207) on Monday September 27, 2010 @09:57AM (#33711272)
    Do they know more than we do? Should we be expecting, "first" contact soon?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      My bets for official first contact are sometime in December of 2012.
    • Re:Do they know (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sir_Sri (199544) on Monday September 27, 2010 @10:06AM (#33711484)

      more likely it is the bureaucracy of the UN planning for every contingency, and establishing a hierarchy of who's in charge if something happens.

      If aliens were to show up, and land in China or the US I cannot seriously envision a situation where they would defer to the UN ambassador to make first contact. However if they show up in somewhere with less bravado, and less scientists, they might have to go along with the UN or at the very least the UN would be fairly heavily involved in making sure they get as many representatives as they can there.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Teancum (67324)

        So I suppose Cheyenne Mountain really has a stargate and some other one is in the middle of Siberia where the IOA has finally decided to "go public" and at least appoint a red shirt extra that is going to head off in an official capacity to negotiate the peace treaty terms with the Goa'uld System Lords. If the war in Afghanistan is merely to mask the huge expenses for fighting an interstellar war conducted by NATO members, perhaps this world is finally beginning to make sense.

        Seriously, of all of the hairb

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Surt (22457)

          Time is going to be on our side regardless and we will likely have months or even years to appoint such a representative if an ambassador of this nature is ever encountered.

          Well, the clock started ticking when the scout crashed in roswell, and now the mothership is arriving, so really this is a case of the UN being slow on the uptake as usual.

      • by LWATCDR (28044)

        This is just bureaucracy in general.
        Keeps track of satellites? Funny but I would have bet that was NORAD.
        This guy is somebodies buddy and is getting a nice paycheck.
        Frankly if they land in US, the UK, France, Brasil, China, Australia, Canada, Russia, China, Japan, or any number of other nations I don't see them saying.. Just wait here while we check with the UN.

      • This is just a guess, but I don't think they'd choose to land in the US or China. Strategically, wouldn't it be a bad idea to land in a more densely populated area? If you had the technology to do it, wouldn't you land in Antarctica or somewhere else where it would take a while for people to get to you? You might want somewhere with a population density somewhat greater than Antarctica, but you wouldn't want to land somewhere with wall-to-wall people and the highest technology on the planet readily avail
    • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Monday September 27, 2010 @10:16AM (#33711666) Journal

      They should have appointed a Poet.

  • by EDinWestLA (453682) on Monday September 27, 2010 @09:57AM (#33711276)

    .. to welcome our new alien overlords.

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Monday September 27, 2010 @09:58AM (#33711312) Homepage

    Except that it is the US Air Force that actually does the job.

  • No he won't (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Yvan256 (722131) on Monday September 27, 2010 @09:58AM (#33711316) Homepage Journal

    They may have appointed him as the official contact person, but in the event it does happen, nobody really knows how and where first contact will happen. It might very well be with a farmer in the middle of nowhere, or with a penguin in the arctic.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by js3 (319268)

      When the Alien utters the phrase "TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER" we know where to send it to.

    • by dunezone (899268)
      I would say if an Alien race were to make contact with us they would have studied our language so they can properly communicate with us. Otherwise first contact would be them crashing or making an emergency landing.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by CHK6 (583097)
        I don't take the time to learn the communication of cattle, chicken, or fish before I eat them. And other animals learn though pain and praise when we train them. So unless earth is marked as a intergalactic nature preserve, expect to be dinner or slaves.
    • And it is all well and good to elect someone to be the first person to speak with them. But if they ever did show up it would be such an important event that I would not be surprised if someone important like the leader of the country they land in takes over the job.

    • Re:No he won't (Score:5, Insightful)

      by OzPeter (195038) on Monday September 27, 2010 @10:43AM (#33712150)

      or with a penguin in the arctic.

      If its a penguin in the Arctic then I'd be really surprised

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      They may have appointed him as the official contact person, but in the event it does happen, nobody really knows how and where first contact will happen. It might very well be with a farmer in the middle of nowhere

      It generally has been so far.

  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Monday September 27, 2010 @10:00AM (#33711344)

    they will give a book called To Serve Man

  • by Artifakt (700173) on Monday September 27, 2010 @10:00AM (#33711346)

    Isn't it more likely any aliens will pick whomever THEY want?

    • How will they know?

      If WE landed somewhere and found alien life, would we know enough to say "I'd like to speak to Jim, please"?

      No we'd probably say something like "Take me to your leader" Which is where you are brought before the UN council with someone already appointed to mediate the conference.

      • by hedwards (940851)
        The UN is leader of what precisely? I mean in all seriousness, the main reason that the UN lacks credibility is that it has basically no say in anything. Except in the rare case where there's agreement to do the least possible task applicable to the situation.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Currently it exercises no real power over the planet but it's the place where most of the world can be represented at once in a single room.

          I mean, until we have unification across the globe there isn't any real way for us to have a "leader" for them to go to. Rather than just speak to the President of the United States, who might withhold information for political reasons, its more probably they wish to speak to EVERY leader of the human race.

  • by MalHavoc (590724) on Monday September 27, 2010 @10:01AM (#33711370)
    I guess it depends on how you want the first meeting to go, but maybe Jodi Foster or Sigourney Weaver would have been better choices. Or Ahhhnold. But he has to get to the chopper.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by js3 (319268)

      Are you saying Aliens might be more susceptible to T&A?

      • by sorak (246725) on Monday September 27, 2010 @10:41AM (#33712096)

        Are you saying Aliens might be more susceptible to T&A?

        Isn't everybody?

      • by Teancum (67324)

        Of course why would an alien species even have breasts? That is an advanced evolutionary development found only in mammals and the developed breasts found on humans aren't even found on most primates (except when the mothers are lactating).

        The "A" on the other hand is more ordinary and can be found in at least in many vertebrates. Of course even that is an advanced and highly evolved form of life even though it has been quite successful in terms of adapting to the climate changes on the Earth including mo

        • by Surt (22457)

          That just means the aliens won't have built up any resistance to the power of T&A due to lack of prior exposure.

  • by Max Romantschuk (132276) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Monday September 27, 2010 @10:01AM (#33711386) Homepage

    If extraterrestrial life forms (biological or mechanical) would decide to come here I'm pretty sure they'd have the means to scan the planet and meet up with whoever they damn well please.

    We already have UAVs that are pretty impressive. I'm sure a swarm of intelligence gathering bots the size of insects are not an issue for someone with the capacity for intrastellar travel. I'm guessing they'd pick somewhere remote without huge crowds people bothering them as they attempt to make first contact.

    Or then they'd just kill us all and turn us into fertilizer, who knows?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by js3 (319268)

      Everyone assumes aliens will be far more technologically superior to us. If we happened on an Alien planet with prehistorical man, our UAVs still wouldn't be able to tell who their leader is.

      • by causality (777677) on Monday September 27, 2010 @10:25AM (#33711818)

        Everyone assumes aliens will be far more technologically superior to us. If we happened on an Alien planet with prehistorical man, our UAVs still wouldn't be able to tell who their leader is.

        And coincidentally enough, we are not capable of interstellar travel.

        If your intention was to refute the idea that a civilization capable of interstellar travel would have technology that makes our UAVs look like primitive toys, you have not succeeded.

        • by Teancum (67324)

          Interstellar travel is in theory possible with a nuclear reactor (fission or fusion both work) powering a rocket engine. The rest is mainly engineering and perhaps building the vehicles at one of the Earth-Moon Lagrangian points. It doesn't take a new kind of physics for a person to at least within a lifetime be able to travel to another star.

          This said, it wouldn't necessarily be all that fast and it wouldn't be a "routine" trip.... perhaps ever. I also think that such a spacecraft would be insanely expe

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by tehcyder (746570)

        If we happened on an Alien planet with prehistorical man, our UAVs still wouldn't be able to tell who their leader is.

        He'd be the one with all the hot cavechicks around him.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MozeeToby (1163751)

        Only two choices. Either they have the technology and cultural stability to make a multi-thousand year journey in an arkship or they have the AI to create a self repairing, self directing, maybe even self reproducing probe (and all of those take quite a bit of problem analysis and creativity). Either way, they should have the patience and ability to wait around a few centuries or even millenia to learn all about our culture, politics, and languages. The former would actually be more mind blowing in my op

  • by js3 (319268) on Monday September 27, 2010 @10:02AM (#33711408)

    I hear a lot of illegal aliens come from Mexico

  • by Nidi62 (1525137) on Monday September 27, 2010 @10:05AM (#33711456)
    The best first contact team is clearly an egotistical mathematician, an even more egotistical physicist, a biologist with clinical depression and low self-esteem, and lastly a psychologist that doesn't take his job seriously. We just have to hope the aliens aren't spherical or that the contact is made under water.
  • Coincince? [thesun.co.uk]. Maybe....

  • Umm, just in case the aliens do decide to land openly in my lifetime, anyone got a link as to where I send my resume to join his team?

    You know... just in case... not that it's going to happen tomorrow or anything... really....

  • This guy's appointment is bollocks.

    You really think if Aliens show up you'd be able to stop attention whores like Berlusconi and Sarkozy finding it in themselves to stop humping Obama's leg for a moment and running off to meet these aliens and declare their love for all species terrestrial and extra terrestrial? That's if they managed to beat Ahmadinejad there as he rushes to greet them with the insistence that they're muslim and clearly want all zionists to die.

    No, this guy would likely be left in the dust

    • by CHK6 (583097)
      Ummm, he's a she. Just letting you know. It's polite to offer a female into the breeding program early on in the getting to know your intergalactic neighbors.
      • by Xest (935314)

        In that case, let's just hope that if they visit, they don't arrive at the wrong time of the month.

    • by Teancum (67324)

      I'm going more conspiratorial here. The UN wants to take over the management and control of the whole of the universe outside of the atmosphere of the Earth. This is merely their first step toward asserting full sovereignty over the Moon, Mars, asteroids, and anything else of use. You want to talk about a huge bureaucracy that is going to hamper the ability of mankind to be free, this will be it.

      BTW, I agree that the appointment is pure BS here. There is nothing for this guy to do and will likely never

  • cars (Score:5, Funny)

    by slshwtw (1903272) on Monday September 27, 2010 @10:17AM (#33711684)
    How do they know the alien will want to make first contact with a human instead of some other life form? Presumably its first instinct will be to reach out to a moving car as the obvious dominant life form.
    • by jschen (1249578)
      If an alien species came to us, then it either is native to outer space, or got here by some sort of spaceship. Assuming the latter, the alien species obviously also is using transportation devices, and should have no trouble recognizing our cars as transportation just as we should have no trouble recognizing its spaceship as transportation. They'd likely find the person behind the wheel more interesting than the car. As long as they find the land most interesting, based on the human technological footprint
  • Contact [imdb.com], been there done that.

  • Mistake (Score:5, Funny)

    by Joebert (946227) on Monday September 27, 2010 @10:20AM (#33711720) Homepage
    I'm no rocket scientist, but I for one would feel safer if we put a stripper in charge of greeting the aliens.
  • by PatPending (953482) on Monday September 27, 2010 @10:22AM (#33711766)
    Clearly the person with the most experience and knowledge of aliens is: Sigourney Weaver
    • by Tetsujin (103070)

      Clearly the person with the most experience and knowledge of aliens is: Sigourney Weaver

      Yeah, she was in "Avatar", after all... ...Though, she died, didn't she?

    • by roman_mir (125474)

      well yeah, that's if you want to kill all the aliens we may end up meeting

    • by Drathos (1092)

      Sorry, but my vote goes to Doctor Who. Hard to beat the experience and knowledge of a Time Lord.

  • I don't see it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Monday September 27, 2010 @10:23AM (#33711776)
    If they set off from the closest sun-like star (18 Scorpi, 46 light years) right now, at the maximum speed we have achieved in space flight (62000km/h - Voyager 1) they would be here in approximately 80,000 years. That long ago, we were using pointy sticks to hunt and living in caves.

    Even if they increased their speed by three orders of magnitude, they would no longer be a representation of their own species. First contact with an alien civilisation a century out of time with itself. That's akin to someone coming out of a cave right now, having waked in when Queen Victoria was on the throne.

    I don't see it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by iONiUM (530420)

      You kind of think inside the human box. I realize our current understanding of the universe and physics puts maximum travel speed at what you specified, or even somewhat close to the speed of light. But I'm kind of assuming that in 200-500 years from now, our understanding will be fundamentally different, and we will find ways that seem extremely impossible right now to travel great distances at faster speeds. I guess that sounds like a sci-fi argument, but I just don't really think our understanding of spa

    • by mounthood (993037)

      If they set off from the closest sun-like star (18 Scorpi, 46 light years) right now, at the maximum speed we have achieved in space flight (62000km/h - Voyager 1) they would be here in approximately 80,000 years. That long ago, we were using pointy sticks to hunt and living in caves.

      Even if they increased their speed by three orders of magnitude, they would no longer be a representation of their own species. First contact with an alien civilisation a century out of time with itself. That's akin to someone coming out of a cave right now, having waked in when Queen Victoria was on the throne.

      I don't see it.

      Cat changed, but Lister was still a regular guy.

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      Actually I am wondering just how big of a shock 100 years would be to a scientist.
      Roll back to 1910.
      We do have cars, airplanes, large steam ships, and radio. Nothing we have today would strike them as magic. Very advanced but not outside the realm of imagination.
      Out of all the advancements maybe computers and biology would be the biggest shockers. And biology wouldn't really slap them in the face.
      If you go back only 50 years and thing would really be not that big of a deal.
      That would be 1960.
      We already hav

  • I can't wait until she boards the mother ship under the guise as an ambassador, only to realize she's nothing more than a taste test offering to our new overlords.
  • But does science not basically say: yes their is most likely a lot of life out their, but with with the maximum speed being light and with the planets so far away we are unlikely to find any unless we have expanded to many many planets and long distance space flight become common (meaning most likely thousands of years from now minimum).
    Thoe we or them could just get lucky and some of the first planets we try could have life. But at least for us that will not likely be for a few hundred years and it would a

  • Ok question: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kenp2002 (545495) on Monday September 27, 2010 @10:37AM (#33711994) Homepage Journal

    Why would aliens intrinsiclly meet with humans?

    We are one of the smallest lifeforms by population. If the majority lifeform "rules" the planet it would strike me as odd that aliens would consider us the owners of the planet mearly by virtual of intelligence. If anything there is the possibility they would see us as an unfair blight of a minority species taking a vastly significant share of real estate from the bulk of lifeforms. They might go so far as to cull the herd to ensure the bulk of the lifeforms have a porportional access to Earth. Since we are less then 1% of the lifeforms on Earth, why assume we would get much of a say.

    As much as I disliked the Day the Earth Stood Still remake they make a great point. Bate's character says "It's our planet, we own it" in which Neo... err I mean Klatus bluntly states, "uhhh no."

    If I were an intelligent alien, I would abduct humans and try and find a way to make them less destructive to an environment they are a marginal, by % of life, participant in. Or at the very least greatly restrict their ability to breed.

    It would stike me as more intelligent to survey the bulk of lifeforms and find out what the majority needs to continue to survive. While not intelligent I would expect an ambassador for "those that cannot speak for themselves" to have been appointed who subsequently surveys the ecosystem as a whole.

    It is hard to claim Earth has human-kind's personal planet when A: We don't manage it very well and B: are a tiny fraction of the population.

    Intelligence doesn't confer ownership, it mandates responsibility in which by and large we have done a poor job so far.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by vlm (69642)

      Why would aliens intrinsiclly meet with humans?

      Because of our great spelling skills, and furthermore we're the best at rishathra, or so I read. If that woman ever reads the ringworld books, its gonna be awkward.

    • Why would aliens intrinsiclly meet with humans?

      Trees are lousy conversationalists.

      And maybe superintelligent aliens have evolved beyond dreary, weepy, emo-goth kid, warmed over nihilism that uses Keanu Reeve movies to make their (for lack of a better term) point.

      You have made Sad Keanu even sadder. :-(

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by c6gunner (950153)

      Why would aliens intrinsiclly meet with humans?

      Why are you commenting on slashdot instead of having tea and crumpets with the roaches under your sink?

  • Most aliens are not green. Most of them have skin color like us. Some even look exactly like us, but there internal works differently.

    I am not saying that because I am Star Trek / Babylon 5 / Sci-fi fan. A common form for humanoids is that of the human race, to some extended. I am sure there are other forms too. Like insectoids, reptileloids and so forward.

    I also want to make it clear that I am not one of those crazy UFO hunters. Those people are crazy. It is also a fact that dish looking space ship is quit

  • This is good for when info about aliens goes public - In the mean time, first contact will continue to be conducted under the auspices of UNIT...

  • I thought U.N.I.T. was in charge of stuff like that. Or Capt Jack Harkness. Or maybe The Doctor.

  • Do we really need someone appointed to be the guy who says "we surrender"? Honestly, if an alien race can make it here, they've already got a key piece of tech required for conquering us. We can only hope they come in peace and haven't been watching our broadcasts TOO closely.
  • Wait a second. Just how do we know these space aliens speak Malaysian or whatever language Malaysians speak? Shouldn't we put forward a proper English speaking delegate, someone with a little charisma and flair? I nominate Bill Clinton or Rowdy Roddy Piper. Or Tony Stark...wasn't he great in that Iron Man movie?

    • by Drathos (1092)

      She just needs to remember the universal greeting..

      Bah weep gragnah weep nini bong!

  • Why do aliens land at some remote location and abduct the village idiot?

    If aliens were smart, they'd land at MIT or Cal-Tech.

  • ...'cause iContact belongs to Steve Jobs.

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