In science fiction, a signal from aliens is usually a cue for Earth’s fighter pilots to run to their spacecraft, ready for battle.
But in reality, it would be a bit different, according to one of Britain’s top alien-hunting scientists.
Dr John Elliot, joint coordinator for the UK Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Research Network, says that (contrary to some predictions from UFO fans) the info will be shared openly with the public.
If the signal is picked up by SETI (an organisation which seeks signs of alien life using high-powered radio telescopes), it will be published freely.
The network hopes that people will have an open discussion about what to do – but from that point on, it will be hard to stop people sending their own signals, Elliot warned.
Dr Elliot said, ‘I would have thought that there would be a reply made in some form at some point round the globe by someone with the required equipment.’
But it could take up to 200 years to get a response, Dr Elliot warned – with an 100 year wait for our message to reach the aliens, followed by another 100 year wait to get the reply.
That is, of course, assuming that the aliens don’t have Warp Drives, teleporters – or any of the other technology which sci fi has led us to expect they will…