ORIGINAL

Stranger aliens

5 minutes

When we look for aliens, why do we always find ourselves staring back?

Humans have long imagined beings in other worlds or on other planets whose emotions, motivations and physiologies closely mirror our own. Science fiction in its many forms tends toward a human-inflected conception of non-human life out in the Universe. This view of aliens as rather like us is fine for ancient myths and Hollywood blockbusters, but even modern scientists can’t seem to shake the notion that extraterrestrials’ decisions and behaviour would follow logic and patterns akin to our own. Many of the major scientific projects seeking life elsewhere in the cosmos still rely on assumptions that reflect, above all, ideas about how we would do something if we were aliens.

Narrated by the British science writer Philip Ball, this Aeon original video argues that, in order to stand a chance of succeeding, the modern scientific search for aliens needs to ditch science fiction’s frequently simplistic and solipsistic views in favour of a truly bold approach to imagining extraterrestrial life.

Read the Aeon Idea by Philip Ball from which this video was adapted.


Director: Adam D’Arpino

Producer: Adam D'Arpino, Kellen Quinn

Narrator and writer: Philip Ball

Composer: Chris Zabriskie

Video/Music

Melody, rhythm and piety: the rich forms and meanings of Indian classical music

17 minutes

ORIGINAL
Video/Ethics

If soldiers act with unjust aggression they are as culpable as civilian criminals

6 minutes

Video/Childhood & Adolescence

Why the ‘exotic and strange’ world of childhood is ripe for horror

5 minutes

Idea/History of Science

The missing fossils matter as much as the ones we have found

Adrian Currie & Derek Turner

Video/History of Science

Energy is like children’s toys: often hiding out of sight, but never actually lost

3 minutes

Essay/Deep Time

Welcome to Terra Sapiens

Humans have been altering Earth for millennia, but only now are we wise to what we’re doing. How will we use that wisdom?

David Grinspoon

Idea/Physics

Why we can stop worrying and love the particle accelerator

Joel Frohlich

volume_up
play_arrow
pause
Essay/Biology

The queen does not rule

The ant colony has often served as a metaphor for human order and hierarchy. But real ant society is radical to its core

Deborah M Gordon

Video/Evolution

How the mantis shrimp’s six-pupiled eyes put 20/20 vision to shame

4 minutes