Blastr: Invasion Earth!

By Phil Plait | December 23, 2011 7:00 am

I watched "Battle: Los Angeles" recently, a movie about aliens invading the Earth. It wasn’t terrible, and it wasn’t great. It was watchable, and worked sufficiently well in lowering our supply of popcorn at Chez BA.

But like every alien invasion movie I see, there’s one small, really eensy-weensy problem: the reason they give for the invasion itself was dumb. [SPOILER] They came to steal our water? And use it for fuel? Say WHA?

Ignoring the silly idea of using water for fuel — that’s got physics exactly backwards, since you get energy out of combining oxygen and hydrogen to make water, and it takes energy to crack them apart — there’s an even bigger problem…

… which I won’t tell you here, because I go into all sorts of detail in my latest Blastr article, 6 Reasons Why Aliens Would NEVER Invade Earth. Mind you, I’m not talking about aliens just coming here to shoot the breeze, but aliens coming here to shoot us. It’s hard to think of a good reason they’d do so, and certainly the reasons given in pretty much every movie don’t make sense. And I have a real problem with just how bad aliens are at taking over. Wiping us out should be pretty easy; heck, I wrote a whole other Blastr article about that, too.

So head on over there and give it a read. Agree, disagree? Leave a comment there, too. But if you disagree, be nice: I’m way better at wiping out life on Earth than any Hollywood alien could hope to be.


Related posts:

Blastr: So, you wanna blow up the Earth?
Blastr: My Favorite TV Scientists
Blastroid
Blastr: Other than that, Spock, how was the movie?
Blastr: I Was A Zombie For Science
Big budget movies that got their science right
Master of Blastr

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Debunking, Geekery, Humor, SciFi, TV/Movies
MORE ABOUT: alien invasion, Blastr

Comments (85)

  1. Ken

    You obviously haven’t pondered the implications of Penn & Teller’s skit, The Invisible Thread (the trick that saved the world). That is findable on-line, with some limited effort. South Park applied a variant of the basic theme too.

  2. jrpowell

    They come to kill us because they hate our infomercials.

  3. Chief

    Your a brave one, Mr Plait. Shooting down Steven Hawking’s fear on alerting other civilizations of our presence so they can invade.

    I’ve always wondered how an invasion to take our water would be able to transport all of it without bringing a world sized container. It’s not like you can compress it and not to mention the fact that you have to keep it from freezing or you have to have even larger containers (and the energy to keep it warm). I know you can tow blocks of ice but to convert it to ice in order to get it to space to keep it ice.

    Hmm. maybe just a tow hook on the earth and pull the whole thing. (or blow up the sun). see how it gets more difficult.

  4. Ricky

    I find the reason in The Day The Earth Stood Still to be plausible.

    “Lack of habitable planets in the known universe”, that could be true.

    Humans are destroying it and we must be destroyed to save this precious resource.

    The way they go about it makes sense, eliminate EVERYTHING made by man.

  5. Richard

    The one and only one reason they would come here is the exact same reason that we want to go to other solar systems: Scientific Curiosity

    That’s the same reason we very much want to study microbes or complex life on another planet…if we can find it somewhere.

    And, they wouldn’t bother coming here themselves. They would send space probes just like we’re doing right now all around our solar system. And hopefully, someday, we will send probes to other star systems that can get there in less than a few hundred years.

    Even if they are millions of years ahead of us, they know (as we do) that probably the rarest thing in the universe is a planet that has evolved complex life forms. They are probably looking at us and listening to us right now with their space probes doing Earth Flybys and sending the scientific data back to their home planet.

    It’s the only expalanation that makes sense.

  6. Lawrence

    Of course, if anyone did actually come here (had the tech, blah, blah, blah – which you pretty thoroughly examined in the “Death from the Skies – Invasion” episode), we would be dead meat – because anyone/thing that can get here, at that level of technology, isn’t going to be concerned about a few nukes or ground troops…..

    I think Skyline was a pretty good representation (if not the best movie out there) of the general hopelessness of the situation.

  7. You very logically omit the (non-alien) Matrix franchise, which has a very similar problem — the machines raise humans in gigantic high-tech farms for the hundred or so watts each human body puts out. But, you know, the second law would say that… oh, forget it. I loved “The Matrix” (it was required watching for my class this year), but that part makes me want to hide.

    Nice job!

  8. Bob

    I would think the only thing that would cause aliens to invade us is simply to add us to their confederation/empire.

    Not for water, meat, plants, O2, ice, minerals, etc…

    Simply more subjects (slaves) – :)

    I, for one, welcome our new alien overlords, may they rule long!

  9. Jared

    Your choice of photo is quite astute. Earth as hunting or tourist safari is about the only realistic rationale for Them coming here to interact with us. There’s no mineral resources that can’t be gotten vastly more easily from comets, asteroids, and KBOs. There’s not much of interest genetically in humans; our bacteria, flora, and fauna are much more interesting. But hunting an intelligent, armed, potentially dangerous species for sport? Nuking us from orbit wouldn’t be any fun, and we can’t be found anywhere else. And for all that they are aliens with alien motivations… well, even cats like to play.

  10. charles222

    I thought Battle: LA was a poorly done sort-of sequel/companion film to Independence Day; I’ve never bothered watching all of it. Cool idea to show an alien invasion from the ground POV, but badly executed and full of silly military stereotypes.

  11. Renee

    It’s Hactar. Gotta be. He nurtured them on the planet Krikkit where no stars were visible until one day they break the bonds of their planet, see the universe in all its glory, look at one another and say, “It’s gotta go!”

  12. Thameron

    I think hunting, religious conversion and scientific study scenarios make sense. Also if they are on the altruistic side an uplift scenario might also be viable. The resource acquisition scenarios would make more sense if there was some energetically cheap way to travel between the stars but that principle (whatever it was) didn’t work for other kinds of manufacturing. Although I thought Skyline was a really bad movie they did have the aliens doing something that made sense – harvesting human brains for their constructs. If there is a unique resource here it would be the human brain. It would be interesting to have a movie where the aliens arrive and begin harvesting the rest of the solar system while ignoring the Earth.

  13. Leclerc

    Would reaction mass accelerated out of the spaceship by another power source be considered fuel? If so they would probably need a lot of it. I would expect mining comets would be easier, but there are no alien conflicts in that.

  14. Peter Ellis

    They got cold fusion working, and just need the heavy water fraction. Presumably the bound oxygen is catalytically important, otherwise they could use pure deuterium from interstellar hydrogen. Still have to explain why they don’t go for cometary ice though.

  15. Tom

    I’ve seen this several times, always on the lookout for SciFi of some kind. First thing that bugs me about this movie is some of the scenes seem to have been made for inclusion in a Video Game. That being said and of course remembering the scenes in the movie where the scientists say “they are here for our water”. Its clear the scientist does what so many have done in the recent past, point a camera in there direction and the scientific method goes out the window. Maybe he thinking he can get a government grant to study the aliens and they wouldn’t possibly bomb his ivory tower. Why would you invade someplace and totally destroy it in the process (nuke from orbit)? What does the Earth have that would make the effort of traveling that distance and invading worth the cost? Its not water, its not gold, or human brainfood. Its the planet itself, a living planet with a billion years before its local star gets to hot to sustain life. Kill off the technological species that “own” the planet and you have a new home. Ready to move in. In 100 maybe 200 years all their buildings will have crumbled away or make good tourist attractions, nothing like waiting for the atmosphere to clear after dropping a rock on the planet or how long it would take before you could move in after nuking the place. All that being said, I think we are pretty much alone, but please keep SETI doing anyway.

  16. Doug

    After reading the article that Phil posted on Blastr, I have only one disagreement and that is on the subject of colonization. Phil offers the choice that between a habitable world with natives that could take a violent exception to the alien’s attempt at colonization and a habitable world without natives. But what if the aliens had no other option?

    Does anyone remember the episode “Scorched Earth” from SG-1? The SG-1 team was helping an alien race colonize a world when another alien race’s xenoformer arrived and started to redecorate the planet. Both alien species had very specific environmental needs that were hard to find elsewhere despite there being a whole galaxy of habitable worlds. In the end, it was learned that one of the options for the xenoformer was declined because it was inhabited by the very race that SG-1 was helping.

    Another way of looking at it, our species evolved on a world with a 24 hour day, 1G gravitational pull, an atmosphere with 78 percent Nitrogen and 21 percent Oxygen, etc.. Studies have been done showing what the effects on the human body come from microgravity (less than the Earth gravity), jet lag (from experiencing a day longer or shorter than 24 hours), or different atmospheric levels of Oxygen (for example, visiting Estes Park near Boulder, Colorado. I have, its quite the workout. ;) ). Whether our species colonizes a new world or an alien species tries colonizing our world, its going to be biology that determines the motivation. Either a species terraforms a world taking time, money, and resources. Or, a species alters itself to fit a world. But maybe, a world is almost right, meaning a lot of the biological requirements are met with a little tweaking required by the planet or the species.

    For an alien species, Earth might be the only almost right world out there. If done right, the invasion might be worth it.

  17. Outcast

    Phil,
    Many good points as usual, but I wouldnt say never quite yet. Namely:

    Slavery-They might be centuries ahead of us in some ways but not others. It’s possible they got their FTL or lazerz tech from another race, either through espionage, reverse engineering, or a simple trade. That would put them far ahead of us in those areas……but woefully behind in others. Under that situation it is entirely feasible, albiet more rare.

    Strategic Advantage-If two races are at war for whatever reason, and Earth ended up being on the frontlines, you can be sure they will both fight over this planet. One may come before the other, but the other wont be far behind. Such a scenario would be devestating to us because we would be hopelessly outmatched, much more so than under a single race invasion scenario.

    Colonization-Ok so they can get resources in and of themselves fairly easily from the rest of this star system, but what about a nice place to live? Assuming they require an oxygenated environment (which is not unreasonable) and have similar tolerances to heat and cold, why wouldnt they want to live here? As for us, we’re just in the way. Such a thing does have precedence in our own history, and history does tend to repeat itself.

  18. DaveH

    How about the reason taken from Star Trek First Contact:
    They invade us now because we’ll advance quickly and in some distant future be too big and powerful to invade. Of course, while that explains why they’re here it does not explain why they didn’t just p0wn us from orbit.

    About the only reason I can think of that would make realistic sense would be if the baddies were here to find something.. think Transformers, without trying to hide. Or King’s Storm of the Century, but where Linoge is an alien.

  19. Wzrd1

    I know why they’d invade! After passing through the nebula full of ethanol, they were contaminated by it and became drunk.
    In their drunken state, they decided to go human tipping.

  20. Thameron

    The colonization scenario only makes sense if you think your biology is superior. If you stepped unprotected onto an alien world with its own biosphere then one of two things is likely to happen either you will be infected by the local micro organisms or yours will infect the local life. That is quite a gamble. Just look what happens here with invasive organisms not native to the environment. They spread unchecked and that is exactly what the alien microorganisms would do inside you or your terrestrial organisms would do in their world. If the planet is in the right zone around a star and you want to terraform it would make sense to sterilize it first and then introduce your own biota. Unless you are feeling lucky and think you have the better, stronger bugs. The War of the Worlds could easily have gone the other way with all humans getting sick and dying.

  21. James

    Ok how long would it take a miles long Star Trek planet killer made of pure neutronium to carve up the Earth with an anti proton beam?

  22. Tony

    I think predator gets it about right. It wouldn’t be to gain any resource or technology – they have all of that. But sport? We hunt Deer. To them, we would seem about as dumb.

    Another reason may be to prevent future competition.

  23. NoAstronomer

    @James #21

    If it’s made of pure neutronium how does it generate any anti-protons at all let alone a beam?

  24. Ryan the Biologist

    There are a number of reasons why an extremely advanced alien lifeform would want to invade Earth, as opposed to interacting peacefully with us (which I personally feel would be the least likely interaction):

    1) Biochemical compounds. There are many chemical aspects of the Earth’s biosphere that would be both very, very rare outside of Earth and very difficult/energy expensive to produce. If an alien civilization had a need for one or more of these biochemicals, it would give them a good reason to eliminate all humans as efficiently as possible while preserving the rest of the planet’s lifeforms. This would prevent them from just “nuking us from orbit” and forces them to be more selective.

    2) Scientific research. Odds are, we are a pretty nifty phenomenon to an alien race. They may very well have not seen another instance of abiogenesis outside of their own and that makes us downright interesting. Now… what do humans do when they find a new and interesting species? That’s right: Take some samples, maybe develop a breeding population in a controlled setting, dissect, study, observe in natural habitat, etc. These activities might seem entirely normal and morally neutral to such an advanced race, thought we would likely see such activities as invasions, abductions, and spying. Sure, such an alien race might also think of us as sentient beings that are worth trying to communicate with… but odds are much better that they would be millions, if not billions, of years ahead of us and could decide we have as many rights and as many interesting things to say as the bacteria we humans culture in a lab.

    3) Manifest Destiny. An alien race may well be as paranoid as we humans are, and may want to ensure that they are the only spacefaring species in the galaxy. Such a race would see our satellites and realize that we are a future problem that needs to be nipped in the bud. There is no real need to destroy the entire planet, since there is a veritable zoo of interesting lifeforms living here, so they clean the planet of pesky future competitors (maybe get the apes and dolphins too for good measure) and then take their time figuring out whether the many unintelligent lifeforms of Earth have any value to them.

    4) Sport. Much like Predator, aliens might choose to use us for sport, hunting us with primitive tools for bragging rights, status, or just simple amusement. As callous as this may sound from our point of view, looking at the morality of an alien race through a human lens is, I firmly believe, a monumental mistake.

    5) Unknowable motives. There could be hundreds of entirely unknowable reasons why an alien race would choose to invade Earth. We are talking about organisms that would likely have less in common with human beings that bacteria do. Who could possibly claim to predict the motives of such beings? They may have a religious reason for slaughtering all sentient beings they come across. They may want some obscure element we never even knew existed in our Earth’s core. They may just simply enjoy killing. Who knows? The one thing we can be almost 100% certain of is that any alien race sufficiently advanced to travel here in the first place is sufficiently advanced to exterminate us with our odds of survival being similar to those of termites versus the Orkin man. Our one and only defense against such beings, if they even exist, is that we are not found in the first place.

  25. Jim Saul

    The only physical interaction that makes sense would be total elimination, preemptively wiping us out as a potential interstellar self-replicating infection.

    As a curiosity, no reason to do that until we get within realistic reach of sending self-replicating units (mech or bio) out of the solar system, so may as well let us develop inside our own terrarium for research or amusement.

    Maybe that’s the Fermi Enigma answer… that there’s only one rule in the galaxy – “stay off everyone else’s lawn.”

  26. D Williams

    Dear Mr Plait,
    I applaud your efforts to enlighten people to how cool real science is and how you champion its teaching at all levels of life.
    But please, let me have my cheesy alien invasion movies without having to think too hard about the practicality of them.
    I promise to continue to make fun of “The Core”, Armageddon, and the like for their complete lack of credible science if you’ll just let me watch ET try to kill us all in peace.

  27. Robin Byron

    I believe the only reason they’d come here is to do a segment for their version of the Discovery Channel: “…and they still use the wheel (snicker)”.

  28. Paul Clapham

    Well, sure there’s exatons of water elsewhere which is much cheaper and easier for the aliens to access. But Earth’s water is different, it’s going to be a premium product which can be marketed at a much higher price to the water cognoscenti of Beta Piscis 5. Or maybe a range of premium products, we have a lot of different kinds of water. That’s why the aliens are willing to spend so much to get at it.

  29. Gary Ansorge

    Decades ago I read an alien invasion story with cybernetic pyramids that used human brains, integrated into their network, to control their industrial processes,,,that actually made sense in a world that had few super computers and no distributed hardware internet.

    ,,,but today, with what we’ve learned of cybernetic control systems, it seems much less likely,,,

    Gary 7

  30. Josh

    The prologue to the 1950s War of the Worlds movie is the best reason – basically Mars’ climate had changed for the worse over the eons which we know is true. It started out warm and wet like Earth is now but its small size and distance from the Sun was its undoing. So the Martians decided that Earth would be their new home but they had to get rid of us pesky humans first. It makes sense too that they would be much more advanced than us since their civilization was much older.

  31. Elmar_M

    Phil, they could be after the deuterium in the water to power fusion reactors. I know the movie did not really make it seem like that, but it would at least be somewhat plausible.
    If we were to get DT fusion going (which is very likely), we would filter the D out of the water. However, this would not mean that they would have to take all the water. They would only need to filter out the D. So from that POV the movie did not make any sense.

  32. If they have been monitoring our TV and politics, I can see a perfectly good reason for them to come here and wipe us out: Stop The Stupid!

    Seriously, if I didn’t happen to be a member of our race, I would be happier with a universe without ours in it. We are a terrible lot. As Agent Smith said, “It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you’re not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet.”

    Actually, there is a great book called Birthright: The Book of Man by Mike Resnick that explores this a bit more, and is quite good.

  33. amphiox

    On the subject of biological suitability, the fine details of biochemistry are such that it would be likely, even if the aliens’ requirements are very similar to ours, and earth very similar to their ideal world, that the fine details of the differences in amounts of trace substances (which we have specifically evolved to tolerate, and they have not), would make our planet lethally toxic to them.

    For example, if the aliens, to pull out a relatively topical example, used arsenic instead of phosphorus in their genetic material, then all phosphates here on earth would be as lethally toxic to them as arsenic is to us. Of if their metabolism employs cyanide, or hydrogen peroxide, in energy-producing reactions, then oxygen would be lethally toxic to them. If they used halogenated bases in their DNA, then regular bases would be lethally toxic to them.

    Indeed, the more similar their biology is to ours, the MORE likely our environment would be lethally toxic to them. Because in biology, it is SIMILARITY that makes the poison. Things like arsenic are toxic to us because they are SIMILAR to the stuff that we use for vital reactions, and so they cross-react, gum up the works, and kill us. (Arsenic is toxic because it is similar to phosphate, and thus messes up DNA and ATP, while cyanide and carbon monoxide are toxic because they are similar to oxygen and mess up oxygen transport)

    If the alien biology were very different from ours, then it’s more likely that their biochemicals and our biochemicals would simply not interact, and then there would be no toxicity.

    Of course, the more similar the biochemistry, the greater the chance for being vulnerable to local diseases, too. (One should suspect generalist bacteria, that would see the aliens as just one more warm, wet, nutrient-rich living environment, than specific parasites like viruses).

    Or suppose the aliens are oxygen users like us. We are finely adapted not just for using oxygen, but for tolerating a specific level of oxygen, which happens to be earth’s (for now). If we were to breathe a higher oxygen concentration for extended periods, we suffer from oxygen toxicity. If we were to breathe a lower concentration for too low, we go hypoxic and die. Oxygen breathing aliens would face the same dilemma with earth’s oxygen. And given that the O2 level of earth’s atmosphere is an entirely random happenstance based on the vagaries of earth’s geologic history, it is highly unlikely that an alien planet with an oxygen atmosphere would end up with the exact same level of oxygen as earth has today.

    Another example is actually from the movie Avatar. Pandora had an atmospheric O2 and overall pressure similar to earth but CO2 concentration of 5%, rather than <1% as it is on earth today. That level is of course completely reasonable, and earth had such a level several times in its past. But that level is enough to be toxic to humans.

  34. Dragonchild

    Ironic that you used footage from “Predator” because that’s the only “alien invaders” flick that had an underlying reason for “coming here to shoot us” that made sense: They came here to hunt for fun. They’re not bad at conquering, sterilizing or destroying the planet because that’s not the goal. They have the resources to hop from planet to planet, and get their kicks hunting (to them) exotic dominant species.

    Come to think of it, it’s easier to think of an unnecessary reason to come to Earth than any pressing need.

  35. amphiox

    One unrealistic thing about the Predator movie is how the alien superhunter, borne of a culture that glorifies hunting, and honed by generations of selection and cultural practice in the art of hunting, has such a low success rate in bagging Schartzeneggers….

  36. Drew

    This is why I love scientists and those who comment on their posts. You guys are the Adam Savages of Alien Invasions, you are overthinking their use of water for fuel. Be your inner Jamie, find the simple solution.

    No, it is not cold fusion…

    Its steam engines! And we have liquid water which is easier to make steam out of than ice, since you have to melt that ice first. As we see with Lovejoy, not even the Sun is very efficient at melting comet ice, since its still providing photo ops.

  37. amphiox

    One perhaps realistic reason (which was given in the animated move ‘Battle for Terra’*) is accident and necessity. In this scenario, the alien invasion was not the original plan. The alien ship arrives in the solar system originally for another reason. Perhaps they intended to colonize earth after detecting the habitable planet from their home world, but did not know until later it was inhabited. Perhaps they were just passing by or planning to stop to refuel in the Kuiper belt, and they have an unexpected accident. Or maybe they are refugees fleeing another aggressor.

    At any rate, the alien ship is either damaged, or it has used up all its resources what had been planned to be a peaceful one-way colonization trip, and it can’t go anywhere else. It’s life support is starting fail, or even if working properly, will run out of fuel or replacement parts and fail at a predictable time in the future.

    The aliens are left with a choice, which they had not intended to make. Either 1) invade earth and colonize it, 2) try to repair their ship using resources in the outer solar system before it fails on them entirely, 3) try to make contact with the humans and negotiate something, and 4) accept their fate and wait to freeze to death in the cold emply lonely depths of interplanetary space. And for whatever psychological or political reasons they choose 1 instead of 2 or 3.

    This scenario would also handily explain a lot of the other discrepancies in alien invasion movies. ie Their tech is surprising vulnerable to human counterattack because it isn’t standard military equipment to begin with, but stuff jury-rigged out of desperation from otherwise civilian (and failing) components. Their tactics are poor because they aren’t military types, but civilians without prior training. There is no follow-up after the initial defeat, because they literally don’t have any backup. And so on.

    (For example, maybe they’ve parked their mothership so close to earth orbit where pesky human pilots in stolen alien ships can get to them with nukes, instead of safely hidden in the Kuiper Belt or asteroid belt where our best telescopes might have a hard time even seeing them at all, because they’re antimatter/fusion reactors have failed, and they’ve jury-rigged solar collectors, but for those to work they have to be closer than 1AU to the sun….)

    *this particular alien invasion movie is premised on a twist, of course….

  38. amphiox

    Its steam engines! And we have liquid water which is easier to make steam out of than ice, since you have to melt that ice first. As we see with Lovejoy, not even the Sun is very efficient at melting comet ice, since its still providing photo ops.

    Ah, but to get to earth from the outer solar system means you have to expend energy to decelerate (to get into earth orbit), and then energy to reaccelerate back out, against the sun’s gravity. That amount of energy is much more than what you would need to spend to turn solid water (from outer solar system sources) into steam rather than earth’s liquid water.

  39. amphiox

    Seriously, if I didn’t happen to be a member of our race, I would be happier with a universe without ours in it. We are a terrible lot. As Agent Smith said

    There is deep irony about what Agent Smith says in that movie, though. 1) He’s wrong about other mammals – they all behave just as humans do, and limits are imposed externally, 2) The machines he serves also behave exactly in the same manner, 3) he turns into exactly that kind of virus himself in the next two movies….

  40. Scott

    What happens if the aliens can read our thoughts, but don’t understand English (or other language)? Do we think within our language, visually, or contextually? How much would they understand?

  41. Brett

    But like every alien invasion movie I see, there’s one small, really eensy-weensy problem: the reason they give for the invasion itself was dumb. [SPOILER] They came to steal our water? And use it for fuel? Say WHA?

    The in-universe source for that claim was some random Professor Dude on CNN, so if we do the whole “Creator is Dead” position of examining the movie, we could dismiss it as Cable Talkshow Blather.

    I think a better possible reason would be if the aliens are an aquatic or semi-aquatic species that puts a premium on certain types of planetary real estate (such as coastline within a certain climatic range). However, not just any planet will do – you have to get a planet with an ocean whose composition is within acceptable boundaries of habitability for your people. Earth could unfortunately be one of those rare planets in-universe.

    That might also explain why water was shooting out when Eckhart’s character was stabbing the biological part of the Alien Soldier with his knife. Maybe he was breaking open the internally contained water supply that the creature uses. It would also explain why some of the viral/preview material indicated that they had done scouting expeditions before, in the form of UFO sightings.

  42. W Sanders

    See, I told you. “Mostly Harmless.”

  43. Hevach

    The first rule of science fiction: Humans are awesome and the entire universe thinks so, too.

    It’s not just alien invasion movies. Take Star Trek. Klingons were fighting insterstellar wars about eight hundred years before humans met them, and Romulans had been the technological masters of the quadrant for long enough to have actually evolved into several distinct species, and the Gorn were old enough to remember a time when none of the above were around. Humans arrive on the scene, and within 150 years beat the Romulans in open war and peacefully united a group of races that had been at each others throats for centuries.

    Heck, in Mass Effect, they opened a mass relay and ran face first into a galactic superpower, build a fleet while the invasion is already on and at least manage to prove they’re not worth the loss of life to conquer before basically complaining their way up the ladder to be a galactic superpower themselves about fifty years later.

    Really, the only way to get rid of the “humans are awesome” bit seems to be to get rid of humans entirely. Or at least get rid of Earth, like Star Wars did.

  44. Jay

    I think a fun angle is to take a look at how the human species survives after a major catastrophe, say an impact event or a super volcano going off, or a disease such as the plague that is resistant to drugs. Talk about a movie series. You could show the breakdown of civilization and how groups survive and then how it evolves over time. Much like one of my favorite books of all times, Earth Abides (now that should be made into a movie . . . well, maybe not, the book is so much better). So no, Phil is right, I don’t fear alien invasion, but I do fear that we can and could lose our civilization very easily given the right situation and circumstances. The story of what happens after that could be very insightful.

    BTW if you can get a copy of Earth Abides and want a good read, I recommend it. James Sallis of the Boston Globe wrote of it “Each time I read it, I’m profoundly affected, affected in a way only the greatest art — Ulysses, Matisse or Beethoven symphonies, say — affects me . . .”

  45. ABR.

    Oh, so this was a remake of Ice Pirates.

  46. Fred Murre

    All pretty good. I don’t worry about surface level invasion vs. earth at all. Highly unlikely.

    The only two or three contingencies that I worry about:
    1: Religiously Xenophobic aliens, who view any intelligent life outside of their own to be heresy to their God(s). They are angry and ambitious enough to launch themselves out into the void ala the crusade. Subset: They build giant self reproducing hunter-killer spaceships to do it for them, automatedly.

    2: Near-Peer threat. Face it, humans are jerks. We’re hostile, expansionistic, pretty happy with killing each other and dominating our own planet. Now just imagine us with starships looking to colonize new planets. Result: Any slightly more advanced alien race within 20 LY of us decides to wipe us out now, before we’re serious trouble. Death via relavatistic kill vehicle. See “The Killing Star”

    3: Loved to death: See #1, except alien religion seeks to swaddle, covet, convert, and overly cherish humanity to the point of diluting our normal progress. Alternative Realities: We are actively being kept from the Universe at large as we’re still jerks- by a benevolent higher power. See also: “Have Spacesuit, Will Travel”

    Misc minor alternate possibilities:

    Aliens avoid contact, but enthusiastically suck up all our communications and transmissions for the purpose of entertainment: Reality show Earth

    Aliens are engaged in actual tourism of a ‘quaint and backwater civilization’

    Aliens are all now planet sized machine intellects, harass us with manufactured UFOs and little green men as hazing and practical jokes.

    Alien civilization is technically advanced to the point of having any other point in the Universe quantum-entangled to local models, capable of absolute remote viewing and remote effect, entirely making the need of physical ‘space travel’ useless. There is a 1/40millionth scale infinitely resolvable model of earth on some alien’s desk.

  47. Phil’s assuming the aliens are rational thinkers.

    Here’s another possibility: the aliens are just as illogical and emotional as we are.

    1) The Earth is pretty. No other planet in our solar system, and it’s looking like other solar systems too, has such an eclectic mix of environments, plant life, blue oceans, etc. Maybe as far as planets go, Earth may be just one of many habitable planets, but is fairly unique in how good looking it is.

    2) Weapons Testing/Target Practice/Sport. Maybe the aliens just need a random planet with primitive lifeforms to test some weapons on or maybe their like space rednecks and like to shoot varmints (humans) for the fun of it.

    3) Their God/Gods/Priests/Etc told them to invade us. Religion is not required to make logical sense or even be consistent.

    4) They like our artwork. Similar to #1, but more about things human make. Attracted by our radio and TV signals, the aliens find humans produce impressive (for primitive lifeforms) sculptures, paintings, music, stories, etc. Maybe they are here for our ideas. I think I better hide my Dresden Files novels.

    5) Drugs. Torchwood did an episode with this and it kind of make sense in a weird sort of way. Maybe human excretions are some kind of narcotic to them. Like humans picking up toads and licking them. Sure they can synthesize the chemicals, but nothing beats the “all natural” thing. Like how we pay more for wine just because its from France.

    6) Humans are cute! Maybe humans are like adorable but rambunctious little kittens to them. “Look, Xabgord! He’s pointing a nuclear device and threatening us, isn’t that precious?” Ah, you say, but surely they can find a less dangerous plaything. Don’t some humans keep tigers, chimpanzees, wolves, and other dangerous animals as pets because they think they’re cute? Well, same reason. We’ll make great pets.

  48. Downer

    The aliens have every reason to want to exploit Earth. Our world is choc a bloc with stuff you do not find in space. A lot of our minerals are the result of biological and geological processes. Where there’s no life you won’t find those minerals. And that stuff might be highly coveted for industrial processes that help the Aliens to settle and grow in our solar system. They probably come in a ship with limited cargo so they might be rather reluctant to send bots or crew members to mine Earth. They’d probably prefer to use their bots to build habitats that are perfectly suited for themselves. But us 7 billions humans is a big workforce. They probably won’t reduce us to slavery but they will extort tribute from nation states. An alien tax so to speak. We basically become a highly autonomous province of the aliens. They’ll probably still drop a rock every now and then to drive home the point that they are our lords and we should pay up and not do stuff like dabble in areas of forbidden research. That said it’s probably not just one way, we can probably negotiate for stuff. The aliens might fr.ex. agree to build solar power stations (that could double as orbital lasers, jess sayin’).

  49. amphiox

    I think a better possible reason would be if the aliens are an aquatic or semi-aquatic species that puts a premium on certain types of planetary real estate (such as coastline within a certain climatic range). However, not just any planet will do – you have to get a planet with an ocean whose composition is within acceptable boundaries of habitability for your people. Earth could unfortunately be one of those rare planets in-universe.

    I think the biggest stumbling block all of this class of explanation is that assuming such narrow and specific alien requirements, any technology capable of assembling an army-sized invasion force and transporting it interstellar distances, all the while with the life support needed to keep that invasion force alive despite those very narrow, specific requirements, is a technology fully capable of just making space habitats at will.

    You wouldn’t expect such aliens to need planets at all, let alone be willing to expend the resources in actually fighting a war for one.

  50. amphiox

    The Torchwood scenario would explain alien presence and interference, but it makes a weak argument for alien invasion.

    If all you need is some special compound or secretion or whatnot, it makes much more economic sense to come in low profile and abduct and individual or two, and then establish a domestic breeding colony that you can control. You could even genetically engineer out the pesky sapience thing, turn them into fat, mindless drug producers.

    Even if you valued the true wild natural product over synthetics or domestics, well, we don’t stage full scale military-style invasions of bear and rhino habitats for gall bladders and horns, do we?

  51. Messier Tidy Upper

    Actually I think the first – and still perhaps best – alien invasion story the original H.G. Wells Watr of the Worlds’ provided a good motivation in keeping with the scientific understadning of the time – survival.

    Wells pictured Mars as a dying planet :

    “Nor was it generally understood that since Mars is older than our Earth, … it necessarily follows that it is not only more distant from life’s beginning but nearer its end.
    – Page 4, ‘The War of the World’s’, HG Wells, 1898, Aerie books 1987 for my edition.

    Today we know that Mars & Earth are the same age but Well’s was using an old idea of Kant’s Nebular hypotheis for explaining our solar systems evolution and in that scenario it was at least plausible. That was back in the day when Mars was thought to have canals and intelligent aliens as well.

    Mind you, Herbert George Wells did probably push the “convergent evolution” idea to its limits in having Martians evolve from and prey upon very close to us humanoids however.

    Sheer survival – a nearby alien race finds their planet is dying and they desperately need to find a similarly habitable where they can suruive -but wait that planet is coccupied – by us still makes sense as a motivation.

    As at least to a certain extent does the sheer intolerant hateful xenophobia and racism of the Daleks and some other aliens – politicial, religious and ideological reasons have been either motivating or excusing factors for genocide on our planet as history tragically shows adn extrapolating them to aliens who think differently and perhaps no better than us in this regard is plausible too methinks.

    Same applies for the “get them before they get us” paranoia in ‘The Killing Star’ novel by Charles R. Pellegrino and George Zebrowski where our Galaxy is extremely dangerous for all sentient life because travel close to lightspeed automatically equals planet killing kinetic impactors and its best to stay quiet -very, *very* quiet potentially solving the Fermi paradox and jepordising us all if that’s true.

    Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter’s ‘A Time Odyssey’ also provides plausible motivation for its aliens in terms of their thinkingand history.

  52. Messier Tidy Upper

    See :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Time_Odyssey

    for Clarke & Baxter’s ‘Time Odyssey’ series.

    Great trilogy although it needs another book to finish it which, sadly, we’ll probably never get. :-(

    See :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Killing_Star

    for the killing star which includes a good discussion in it of the possible rationale for the aliens being hostile rather than helpful. They actually make a rather strong and convincing case there. Not exactly a cheery worldview but could well be the case in reality I hate to say. :-(

    Then too as this youtube clip points out :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6V0vSBatUI0

    the attacking aliens telling us *why* they want to exterminate us may be a big mistake that smart aliens wouldn’t bother to committ – they may well just get on with it without offering any explanations! ;-)

  53. @47. darth_borehd :

    6) Humans are cute! Maybe humans are like adorable but rambunctious little kittens to them. “Look, Xabgord! He’s pointing a nuclear device and threatening us, isn’t that precious?” Ah, you say, but surely they can find a less dangerous plaything. Don’t some humans keep tigers, chimpanzees, wolves, and other dangerous animals as pets because they think they’re cute? Well, same reason. We’ll make great pets.

    As in the song you mean? Click on my name here for it. ;-)

    Good list there.

    5) Drugs. Torchwood did an episode with this and it kind of make sense in a weird sort of way.

    Yep. They’ve been replaying Torchwood on Aussie TV recently showing the ep where a n alien come shere for a certain siortof energy produced in, uh, how can I put this, sexual climax too. Mind you they don’t necessarily need to invade Earth or especially try to destroy us for drugs (or sex) as they could simply negotiate with us for that.

    4) They like our artwork. Similar to #1 [Earth is pretty- let’s collect it- ed.] but more about things human make.

    Same applies to that one too. If you want artwork why not negotiate or even steal it without the need for a costly invasion that removes the source of more of the artwork in question? Then again, paintings, etc .. do gain value here once their artist is dead! ;-)

    Or, IOW, what (#50.) amphiox said.

  54. Melf_Himself

    At the rate we are trashing our own planet, I’m sure that a super advanced civilization would be super keen to find a relatively untouched one. They would not be carting resources out, they would be moving in. Gotta exterminate the natives first. Sound familiar?

  55. @ ^ Typos correction for clarity :

    Yep. They’ve been replaying Torchwood on Aussie TV recently showing the episode where a killer alien comes here seeking a certain sort of energy produced only in, uh, how can I put this, sexual climax.

    NB. I should add I find that a most implausible motivation given biological differences and the fact that such an alien would be more likely by about a million times to use its own species for obtaining that sort of energy than us. Makes about as much sense as us trying to get such energy from ducks or suchlike creatures actually! That Torchwood episode was really, I think, just using it as an excuse for showing, well y’know.

    Also when it comes to the “Earth as a collectible” (reason #1 in comment #47 darth_borehd) idea it could be that we – even our whole solar system – is *already* owned by an alien sentience that simply doesn’t choose to interfere with us at all. We could be alien owned and never even know it much as an animal in a safari park probably never realises what its legal status is or one of the “Kings Deer” in medieval England a la Robin Hood’s world.

    However, in this scenario if an alien thinks of Earth as its property – and we’re damaging that – they could exterminate us to prevent that damage. We’d be like a mould on a pricy cheese that needs to be cut away and thrown out (ie. alien invasion & extermination) to stop the rest of it going bad.

    That’s pretty much the case with the ‘The Day The Earth Stood Still’ or its recent remake at least which was replayed on TV the other week.

    Alternatively, the presently un-intrusive collector alien(s) of Earth could trade, give away or have us stolen from them and be replaced by less benevolent and un-intruding ones ie. we coudl swap the metaphorical (Aesop’s parables) “King Log for King Stork.”

    Or we could be caught up in someone elses fight. (Eg. Sontarans vs Rutans scenario from Dr Who : Horror of Fang Rock only on a much grander scale. Click my name here for wiki-page.)

  56. PS. I see that (#30.) Josh & (#4.) Ricky have beaten me to it regarding H.G. Wells War of the World & The Day the Earth Stood Still as plausible motives for alien invasion.

    One more thing from the BA’s article :

    Most of the life on Earth is useless or worse for us to eat

    Sure a lot of foods are posionous but then a lot of things aren’t as well! An awful lot of life is edible and we can render even posionous ones edible eg.the Japanese eating toxic Fugu pufferfish preperaed very carefully as a delicacy. Or cassava, rhubarb and tomatoes – partially poisonous, partially delicious – although I don’t know about that for cassava. Us omnivorous Humans can eat everything from elephants to sea urchins, there’s just a lot of things most of us choose not to eat or don’t even consider eating because we’re not desperate enough or too squicky to think of doing so. Coackroaches area Malaysian delicacy for example and various tribes and cultures eat things from dogs and cats through to chimpanzees and orangutans among other “bushmeats.”

    Aliens that arose in an entirely different biosystem would as likely find dirt as efficacious a diet as people.

    That would obviously depend on the aliens in question and their biology and – quite literally – their tastes! ;-)

    I don’t think eating us would be the first thing to enter alien minds any more than having sex with us would be – but, I don’t think its right to rule it out either. Convergent evolution and the probability of plenty of carbon based life along similar if not exactly identical lines – plus the panspermia idea that life spreads throughout the cosmos and so all or most life could be distantly related would seem to argue that we may well be edible to aliens – and them to us as well! ;-)

    I’m not volunteering to do (or be!) the one doing the taste test though! ;-)

  57. Matt H.

    “Battle: Los Angeles” was terrible and only marginally watchable. If aliens had the know-how to travel between the stars, they wouldn’t need to battle us on the ground. They could just kill us from space at their leisure.

    Now as to why they would want to conquer us:
    They could do it out of love, to save us from ourselves.
    They could do it out of an alien form of ambition that motivates them to conquest.
    They could do it out of xenophobia.
    They could do it to decrease the likelihood that a single disaster would result in their own species’ extinction
    They could do it because they are fleeing other aliens who are invading their world(s)
    They could do it because they see in H Sap the capability of destroying them in the future and want to stop this preemptively.
    They could do it because they are machine intelligences programmed for subduing worlds in anticipation of eventual migration by their long extinct creators.
    They could do it because they want a different and intelligent perspective to solve their own issues.
    They could do it because we are here and because they can.
    They could do it because all their women are ugly and they want ours
    They could do it because all their women are beautiful and sexually voracious, but kill the males after mating. And they just want to get away from them.

  58. From the BA’s ‘Astronomer: 6 reasons why aliens would NEVER invade Earth’ article again :

    And for breeding with Vulcans, well, slash fic aside—being able to have sex with aliens, let alone produce viable offspring, is about as likely as it happening between you and a lobster. Actually, that would be a whole lot easier.

    Really!? Imagines any average human* is somehow forced to choose between an attempted “breeding” with a Vulcan or an attempted “breeding”with a lobster.

    Looking at the lobster.

    Looking at Saavik, Spock, Tuvok and T’pol. (Hopefully in their right pon farr state! ;-) )

    Choosing one of the Vulcans. Very quick and easy decision.

    NB. Vulcans appear almost indistinguishable from Humans – as the link in my name to Saavak’s passport photo – shows. You wouldn’t know she was Vulcan from that would you?

    Of course *real* aliens almost certainly won’t be anything like so physically similar to us but all the same, sex with a lobster? Could get quite painful! No thanks! :-o

    Sorry Dr Zoidberg! ;-)

    ———————-

    * Incidentally, FWIW, from what I understand of human population demographics the “average human” is actually a woman. Probably also a young African or Asian woman living in a Third World nation although I could be wrong about that.

  59. Messier Tidy Upper

    Also thinking interspecies sex – sorry but I think I’d rather follow Garfunkel and Oates’ advice here than yours BA. See :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXPcBI4CJc8

    To see what I mean.

    WARNING : NOT SAFE FOR WORK. Sexual references. (D’uh!)

    Also make sure you’re not drinking at the keyboard when watching. ;-)

  60. ” but there must be lots of Earthlike planets…”

    There is really no reason to assume that. Planets with our conditions may be comments (let’s hope), or they may be rare. Life that fights back may be the general rule on such planets, however rare or common they are.

    I think looking for a place to live might be the best reason for an invasion. We have a nice system here, plenty of resources, aliens would love it here.

    However, I think it far more likely that one day a few centuries from now we will be the invaders, and woe to the poor aliens.

  61. MichaelL

    Loved Battle LA. Some of you people need to get over yourselves and just enjoy a f*****g movie for what it is. A movie – escapism. Jesus, why do you have to critique everything based on actual science? Your lives must be so boring that you cannot enjoy something that is just a good shoot em up kill em story without criticizing it for getting real science wrong, or ignoring real science. “OMG! People are going to believe aliens will invade us for our water if we don’t debunk the nonsense of this!”

    Seriously. Get a life. Sometimes I think you lot are worse than the Evangelical nutjobs I left behind.

  62. Christopher

    When I write an alien invasion movie it will be about how the Earth is planned as a field training exercise for new recruits to learn how to kill lesser lifeforms with their advanced technology but these recruits seriously underestimate the ability of the Humans.

  63. Bruce of Canuckistan

    How about an invasion of webcams? A Bracewell Probe arrived long ago, and quietly dusted the planet with effectively invisible cameras. Not for any legit scientific reason. Pure voyeurism, ala discovery network nature shows, or like a reality-tv show that had real mass-casualty 3d sword battles.

    The “Primitive Earth!” channel. They only interfere in subtle ways, to keep the storyline interesting, or prevent discovery.

  64. Sorry Phil, pretty poor job on this one. While there are a lot of dumb movies out there, there are plenty of reasons aliens might want to invade, some of them including those you so cavalierly dismissed. You begin with an assumption that the aliens must have a higher technology than we have. That is not necessarily so. As another commenter noted, it cold be a primitive race invading us using a technology stolen from others. They might need stuff they can understand. You also assume that it takes a high level of tech to move interplanetary distances. Our science may have missed something. We wouldn’t know what we had missed until the doorway to another world opened and an invading army poured through. Or aliens could arrive in wooden ships with gunpowder canon being towed by star whale life forms, or sails that catch the ether between the stars. Your speculations show little imagination.

    You also discount the possibility of von neuman machines/Saberhagen berserkers.
    Self replicating machines launched to fight war according to the rules of that civilzation, now breeding out of control and attacking all life forms.

    The Matrix series made a big mistake wanting human beings for power generation. Truly cringeworthy. But with a few different words it would have made prefect sense. The machines want the organic computers that are our brains. The most concentrated processing power on the planet. Humans living in the machine designed matrix reality created and maintained by separate processes in those very brains. With leftover processing cycles used to advance their own civilization and needs. Just because we can’t make organic computers work efficiently doesn’t mean this is beyond the reach of the future.

    Mining our resources? Sure, if all you want is iron or carbon you can get it anywhere. As others have mentioned, unique biochemicals may result in an in person invasion being most cost effective. But it is certainly just as possible that earth has an unusual combination of chemical, gravitational, and tectonic properties that creates one or more minerals that are very rare and valuable. What exactly are dilithium crystals anyway, and what form of Beryllium do you put in a sphere?

    Come on, you are writing for nerds and geeks. Get your game on or go home.

    Hairy

  65. The only real motive I see for an alien invasion is life itself!

    Life, in general, wants to spread and multiply. It is in all of our genes, from microbial life to humans. If a virus, a fungi, a bird species, and virtually anything else, if left unchecked (by nature usually) will spreads uncontrollably. We humans are currently unchecked and are spreading like a virus.

    So, why would it be strange to assume the same underlying natural mechanism in a space-fearing species? They want to spread and dominate. That’s what we do. It’s natural…

  66. Svlad Cjelli

    Er, the Predator isn’t an invader.

  67. Chris

    Expert in Field Says Movie Plot Unlikely!

    News at 11.

  68. @61 MichaelL: Someone needs a hug. Sans tentacles.

  69. @63 Bruce of Canuckistan: How about an invasion of webcams? A Bracewell Probe arrived long ago, and quietly dusted the planet with effectively invisible cameras. Not for any legit scientific reason. Pure voyeurism, ala discovery network nature shows, or like a reality-tv show that had real mass-casualty 3d sword battles.

    The “Primitive Earth!” channel. They only interfere in subtle ways, to keep the storyline interesting, or prevent discovery.

    See, that’s what really worries me. Rule number one of reality shows is that “conflict is interesting”. Look at shows like American Chopper – half the people tune in just to watch the guys yelling at each other. In many cases, producers will purposely arrange for crap to go wrong just to start a screaming match. What the aliens consider “subtle interference, to keep the storyline interesting,” we might call “World War I.”
    And if ratings have been flagging, they might feel the need to spice things up for next season…

  70. amphiox

    Hairy Buddah, you know, the scenario you describe regarding The Matrix was actually what the original script had planned. Some movie executive apparently demanded it be changed because he thought it would be “too complicated” for the audiences to understand…

  71. amphiox

    On any blog thread in this class of topic, the likelihood that a post like @61 will appear asymptotes to certainty as the thread lengthens.

    It’s actually kind of impressive that it took 61 posts this time around.

  72. Roadside picnic. Aliens just throw some garbage on our planet. And the side effect is that we all die.

  73. KDSmith

    One might consider that water could be used as /reaction mass/ for a nuclear engine apparatus (a la Heinlein, et al.) but, unless aliens were planning to set up earth as a ‘re-fueling depot’ for a massive amount of interstellar traffic, I would hardly think they could pump enough water into their tanks to make much of a dent in the world’s supply.

  74. Gary Ansorge

    51. Messier Tidy Upper Says:

    “survival – a nearby alien race finds their planet is dying and they desperately need to find a similarly habitable where they can suruive -but wait that planet is coccupied – by us still makes sense as a motivation.”

    No, it doesn’t!!!

    That is the worst reason ever to travel light years. Invest a fraction of that money into building 20km X 20km X 20km cubes and each can easily feed,cloth and house roughly 8 million sentients. Each cube has over 8000 cubic kms of space, with the ceilings of tunnels being 10 times as tall as the roof on your average Galleria(Super Mall). City dwellers have been living in constrained space for centuries and doing quite well at it, with population densities far exceeding the level I propose here.

    Long before a species is capable of traveling to another star, they must first master the resources of their entire solar system and when THAT is accomplished, the species will have all the resources they need to support trillions. Plus it will likely take several million years and who could guess what would motivate such an ancient species?

    I have absolutely no use for planets. They suck,,,

    Gary 7

  75. dave chamberlin

    They come here for vacation and disguise themselves in dogsuits so they can watch us up close. They live a long long time and have a big time problem with bordom, those sneaky aliens. They only come at all because we are mildly entertaining. They don’t call us humans but something along the lines of WTF, because we are one of the very few phenomena left that they find unpredictable.

  76. Hugo Schmidt

    Three reasons for why they would that make sense and, coincidentally, prove that 40K is awesome:

    1. Religious reasons. Who cares about distance and cost if God(s) want it?

    2. Food. Google “tyranid”.

    3. Fear. They found out what happens to all the other ones that ran into humanity…

  77. doug

    This thought just occurred to me;
    Unless they are interested in coming here, motivation is irrelevant.

    First, they would have to see if our star has planets.
    Then, the aliens would have to see if there are any planets in the star’s habital zone.
    And if there is, what kind of planet is it and is life friendly, i.e. liquid water, oxygen, etc.
    And maybe, is there sentient life there?

    Next, the aliens would need to send a probe because let’s face, would you travel to a destination that you have never been to before and have little information about?

    Now, unless the probe has FTL capabilities, its going to take a long time to get there, to study the system and then report back its findings.

    The biggest caveat is by the time information reaches the alien homeworld, what is that society like? Are they still in the Space age or have they knocked themselves back into the stone age? If its the former then are they still interested in going to this new world and do they have the means (time, finances, and resources) to get there.

    If they are still interested, then we can get into motivations. Starting with the basics (needs and wants) and go from there.

  78. Gavin

    I think we may be a bit biased against seeing the best of reasons get rid of us. Complex life forms are probably quite rare out there, and if they’ve followed anything like our evolutionary path, our would-be conquerors have probably wiped out most it on their own world. Like us, they might have come to a belated appreciation of Life for its own sake, and would philanthropically endeavor to rescue Earth from the cause of its current mass extinction.

  79. There are actually multiple possible motivations for aliens to invade the earth most of which wouldn’t make a good story because it involves us loosing fast. The only scenarios where we would have a chance is an invasion of refuges with very limited resources.

    All the people saying it can’t happen because of some technical or physical limitation remember this: history has shown us that we can not predict what technologie and society will be like in 30 years from now, trying to predict what technology, society and our understanding of physics will be hundreds or thousands of years is beyond moronic, all we have is speculation and science fiction. A hundred years from now we could have technology that can literally alter the laws of physics at which point; we’re gods and anything’s possible.

  80. Gary Ansorge

    79. Lone Wolf

    ” it can’t happen because of some technical or physical limitation”

    ,,,which is more or less what Dr. Phil was saying, except in reverse,,,a sufficiently advanced species(one capable of traversing interstellar space) would have no need for a planet earth. Asteroids and comets, on the other hand,,,

    Gary 7

  81. @80. Gary Ansorgee that would only cover resources which no aliens would invade us for but that leaves imperialism, colonization and refugees.
    Though if an alien empire invades it probably wouldn’t be much of an invasion, it would be more a threat of orbital bombardment and us surrendering. Well maybe some might try to fight back, “dem alien won’t get my gn unless they pry it from my cold dead-” “Daddy whats that light in the sk-” BOOM! A hick town is reduced to a crater and the human species is better off with out them. All hail the Igho’gugaduga’tata’b’u’yag’uopop’inf’on!

  82. Joseph G

    @74 Gary Ansorge: I’m confuzled: Why cubes? And why the high ceilings? Also, what about gravity? I’d think very large cylinders (ala Clarke’s Rama) would be the best use of resources?

  83. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ ^ Joseph G. : Because the Borg are right? ;-)

    @81. Lone Wolf : Yep. Seems a probable scenario there – although it may be a *lot* more than just one hick town that goes if the aliens decide to get seriously nasty with us.

    @74. Gary Ansorge :

    51. Messier Tidy Upper Says:
    “survival – a nearby alien race finds their planet is dying and they desperately need to find a similarly habitable world where they can survive – but wait that planet is occupied – by us – still makes sense as a motivation.”
    No, it doesn’t!!! That is the worst reason ever to travel light years.

    No, the worst reason to travel light years is to find a distant post office to mail yourself a letter! Or to get yourself a light beer. Or to catch an episode of Fox news you missed by flying out there and waiting for the TV wave for that channel to catch up to you. Those are worse reasons for ya! ;-)

    Invest a fraction of that money into building 20km X 20km X 20km cubes and each can easily feed,cloth and house roughly 8 million sentients.

    Can it? I’m not sure that’s true in any sense beyond the strictly mathematical. The resources have to come from somewhere and maybe there are good pyschological, politico-cultural or other reasons why this cannot be done. Such as long term physical effects of micro-gravity and lack of natural sunlight and lack of environmental connection for want of a better term. I’m not saying this cannot be done – but I am saying we just don’t know that it can be for a fact. Maybe, maybe not.

    Each cube has over 8000 cubic kms of space, with the ceilings of tunnels being 10 times as tall as the roof on your average Galleria(Super Mall). City dwellers have been living in constrained space for centuries and doing quite well at it, with population densities far exceeding the level I propose here.

    Cities that are supplied to their rural hinterland and from which people can come and go. Berlin in the East German era would be one slight exception I guess but even there they had air travel.

    Long before a species is capable of traveling to another star, they must first master the resources of their entire solar system ..

    Well, we’re already capable of interstellar travel via the Pioneer, NewHorizons and Voyager spaceprobes – its just on a ve-ery sloooooow timescale! But I take it that’s NOT the sort of interstellar travel you mean. ;-)

    All the same your statement there is a supposition without supporting evidence. Perhaps its true, perhaps it isn’t. There are certainly alternative scenarios. What if Humans today invented an FTL drive? Or found an ancient device say underneath Tycho crater enabling us to travel to another star system? Or helpful /mischievous aliens radioed us instrcutions on such a device a la Sagan’s Contact novel but a little more workable from our end?

    ..and when THAT is accomplished, the species will have all the resources they need to support trillions. Plus it will likely take several million years and who could guess what would motivate such an ancient species?

    Yes, who could guess? Well the BA it seems and me and a whole lot of others on this thread and elsewhere. Of course these are only guesses.

    I have absolutely no use for planets. They suck,,,

    Oh well, off you go then! Try living without one and let me know how you get on! ;-)

  84. Tom tude

    Oh yea and the idea of the earth stood still would be a stupid motive because aliens could technologically transform a planet to make it hospitable whether that being making an artificial ozone type of layer or what, I mean they got light speed travel down who knows what they could do to a planet making it suitable for life

    Ps i loved the movie battle for la and earth stood still and all those very entertaining

  85. Tom tude

    I don’t think theres any plausible reason for an invasion of earth from aliens, the only thing seemingly plausible would be non hostile scientific research. For one any reason for resources or environment is squashed. If the aliens have the technology to send a large invasion force to earth it seems more then reasonable that they have the ability to build settlements or anything on planets that seem uninhabitable to us. For example they build giant self controlling domes or cities underground that resist the certain threats the planet has. Not only that but there’s a multitude of goldilock planets already suitable for an advanced race. Resources they’re so advanced they can get resources from asteroids planets etc. Slave work would also seem very  unplausible because if the aliens are so advanced it would be figured that they’re economy and view on life would seem advanced also unless they’re devoid of any “humanity” and are a hostile race 7 billion workers would seem like a good workforce but then thered be the issue of maintaining us food water etc and also conquering us without killing many of us and by then it would seem the cons outweigh the pros for them but again it would seem implausible that an advanced race would seem that cruel as to do that, I mean if we suddenly had technology that could wipe out another race somewhere in the universe we wouldn’t use it to eradicate or enslave them we would use it as defense research and building and transforming uninhabited planets. Lastly a frontlines type of thing could seem a little bit plausible but still far fetched. Seeming as how big just a solar system is not to mention galaxies etc it would be unlikely they stop here for strategic value and having developed light travel they could get extremely close to one another without using the tiny space of our galaxy and also to think that if we were “in the way” would be implausible to as there’s thousands of lightyears around us that weve seen and most of those places would be suitable for alien anything they would want to do with so really any hostile action towards us would seem very unlikely almost impossible and the only thing that would make sense to even contact us would be to study a complex organism  

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »