Thursday, March 22, 2012

‘Battleship’ movie: Goldilocks planets and the perils of ET contact

By Robbie Graham Silver Screen Saucers

Battleship hits cinemas 11 April (UK) and 18 May (US)

Back in 2010, the alien invasion film Skyline incorporated real news stories into its marketing campaign. The trailer for the film begins with bold text against a cosmic backdrop reading:

“On August 28, 2009, NASA sent a message into space farther than we ever thought possible in an effort to reach extraterrestrial life.”

This is true. On the date specified, the Australian government, through its “Hello from Earth” science initiative, and with the help of NASA, sent some 26,000 (carefully vetted) messages from the public to the extra-solar Earth-like planet Gliese 581d in a single transmission. This proactive approach to alien contact known as METI (Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence) differs from the traditional passive approach favoured by SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), which devotes its efforts simply to listening for any potential incoming alien signals.

The METI approach is controversial as some scientists consider it unwise to knowingly alert our presence in the galaxy to any potentially technologically superior civilizations. In April 2010, Professor Stephen Hawking made international headlines by stating his firm belief that humanity should seek to avoid extraterrestrial contact: "To my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational," Hawking said, but added, ominously, "If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn't turn out very well for the American Indians.” Hawking suggested that aliens "might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet” and would perhaps be “looking to conquer and colonise whatever planets they can reach.”

Skyline was a box-office bomb, panned by critics. Despite this, director Peter Berg has chosen to incorporate the “dangers of METI” idea into his upcoming mega-movie, Battleship (which was produced with the full cooperation of the US Navy).

Take a look at this new promotional featurette for Battleship, in which scientists take a proactive approach to extraterrestrial contact, sending a signal directly to a 'Goldilocks' planet...

Silly, arrogant scientists. What, with their selfish desire to expand human knowledge, and all. And, man, is that lead scientist fugly – and British to boot!! The stunningly attractive US military has better things to do with its time than sweep up the sciency mess of bumbling British boffins. But, then, who’s gonna kick those aliens’ asses if not... Rihanna? Wait...

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