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In the 2016 science-fiction blockbuster Arrival, Amy Adams is sent to make first contact with alien life after extra-terrestrial spaceships land on Earth.
But in reality, women are far less likely to want to have a close encounter with another kind compared with men, Oxford University has found.
In a survey, asking whether humanity should initiate contact with aliens fewer than half of women thought it was a good idea, compared to nearly two thirds of men.
Even the male and female researchers were split down the middle with Astrophysicist Dr Peter Hatfield believing reaching out to be an important and worthwhile endeavour, while legal ethics expert Dr Leah Trueblood said she was unconvinced.
Overall, some 56.3 per cent of Britons said they were in favour of contacting aliens, and 39.3 per cent said they would want scientists to be the ones to get in touch, rather than politicians or a random selection of citizens.
“Those surveyed are clearly much braver than me,” Dr Trueblood told the British Science Festival in Coventry.
“I’m much more frightened than Peter so I wouldn’t have voted to make contact with aliens, and I wondered if scientists were chosen to make contact because people are afraid, because this is a hugely frightening prospect, and they just want someone who understands it.”
Currently there are no international laws or regulations on what to do in the event of alien contact, only a rough set of guidelines drawn up by the Stockholm-based International Academy of Astronautics, which warns against responding without global consensus.
But Dr Hatfield said there was around 10 per cent chance of making contact with alien life in the next hundred years, and said mankind needed to be prepared.
In recent decades there have been several attempts to reach out to extraterrestrial life, including Nasa’s Voyager probes which carry on board phonographic gold discs containing greetings in 55 languages, the direction to Earth and the structure of DNA.
The audio recordings also contain the noise of footsteps across a polished floor, a human heartbeat and someone laughing. There is also the sound of a couple kissing and a mother with her child.
Dr Hatfield said: “There are around 4,000 different planets outside of The Solar System, and there are around 20 that are relatively Earth like,” he said.
“And we are listening to them. There are telescopes around the world today trying to detect some kind of biosignature or radio signals from an alien lifeform.
“There are probes we have sent out, such as the Voyager probes, which were launched in the ‘70s and on board there are various messages which an alien hopefully might find and interpret, the location of the Earth.
“People also started sending out radiowaves, and one was beamed in 2017 which is now 12 light years away, so if they sent a message back straightaway, it would take 12 years, so it could be 2041 when we get a message back.
“So in principle it’s possible that we’ll start to receive messages in the next few decades.”
The survey of 2,000 people also found that 14 per cent of people would definitely not initiate contact with aliens while 20 per cent did not know. And just 11 per cent agreed that a worldwide referendum to decide what to say was a good idea.
Dr Hatfield added: “No-one knows if or when we will receive a message from extra-terrestrials, but it could happen any time.
“If we do receive a message it is encouraging to know that the public seem to have any confidence in scientists having a key role in the decision-making process in replying.”
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