Sci-Fi Movies and The Reality of Extraterrestrial Life

Perhaps, topics that involve Extraterrestrial Intelligence are one of the most daunting tasks to write about. Having no formal proofs for their existence, and still knowing that anything, including the existence of Extraterrestrial Life, is possible, it is even more complicated to think about what they are based on, what shapes, sizes, and forms, they have – if they do exist.  Extraterrestrials have been a major topic for SciFi; many books have been written and as many movies, if not more, have been produced.

The one that caught the eyes of the majority in the cold war period, 2001: a space odyssey. It is a movie that seems very unrealistic; at least, to the present generation. Larry Cousins, a plot author, describes the m=plot of the movie as “ “2001” is a story of evolution. Sometime in the distant past, someone or something nudged evolution by placing a monolith on Earth (presumably elsewhere throughout the universe as well). Evolution then enabled humankind to reach the moon’s surface, where yet another monolith is found, one that signals the monolith placers that humankind has evolved that far. Now a race begins between computers (HAL) and humans (Bowman) to reach the monolith placers. The winner will achieve the next step in evolution, whatever that may be.

The movie, based on a monolith being discovered and that monolith leading to major discoveries the human race has ever made, seems a very unlikely supernatural scenario, especially the ability to travel in time. The existence of HAL 9000, an artificially intelligent computer and its more human depiction than the other astronauts was a thing that most would argue about. Time travel – a mathematically possible, but a physically hard task for humans of this age has been made simpler by the monolith in the movie. The solution of the monolith tends to go with, I believe, Webb’s assumption of “They Were Here and Left Evidence of Their Presence”, especially if we are assuming the Extraterrestrials to be more developed than us.

Another big hit movie, Contact, tries to show a possible scenario for the existence of Extraterrestrials which is, in my opinion, a more scientific approach to the solution for Fermi’s paradox than the idea of a monolith. It approaches the problem with more math and stories based on scientific theories like Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. The fact that aliens would communicate with us by mathematical terms makes more sense as perhaps everything can be explained mathematically. The pattern of prime numbers sent so as to be a code for a machine to be built which then can allow us to travel across space, maybe being a ”wormhole”, although a seemingly unplausible idea, it has scientific support. Stephen Hsu, a professor of theoretical physics at the University of Oregon when asked about wormholes, said in an interview wh that “…The whole thing is very hypothetical at this point…No one thinks we’re going to find a wormhole anytime soon…There could be solutions to the Einstein equations which are wormholes…You would need some very exotic type of matter in order to stabilize a wormhole…and it’s not clear whether such matter exists in the universe…You would need some of super-super-advanced technology,”. As professor Hsu suggested, wormholes would need some form of very advanced technology. Hence, assuming that the extraterrestrial life might have certainly been more intelligent than us is no mistake. Deciphering the codes, was also another task that made the situation more realistic and approachable. Mathematics would be the only language they[extraterrestrials] could connect with us.

The Classic Men In Black, a notable SciFi movie

After the machine was built and Ellie was on board the transport pod, the magic happened. She passed through several wormholes, seeing alien machinery and meeting an alien, which took her about approximately 18 hours, but which was just a fraction of second for the observers. This accounts for time dilation, which is a relativistic concept by Einstein which accounts for time slowing down for objects traveling near the speed of light. The part where she meets the Alien that looks like her father was perhaps the most unrealistic part of the story. The alien was able to take her thoughts and memories from her which somewhat seems to be supernatural skills and very inapplicable when discussing science. I find this the downside of the film, although all the math, the traveling, and scientific concepts were perhaps plausible, it is very difficult to assume that the alien had supernatural skills by which he could control her thoughts and memories. Furthermore, the physical look of the alien was identical to her father, which, again, might be another downside for this film. An article from Smithsonian suggests that traveling in space might create hallucinations to the mind and that might have happened to Ellie, but since it was not explicitly stated, it is hard to tell. 

The conversation the alien  and Ellie  had, I believe, clearly implied the inferiority of humans to the aliens, as the alien told Ellie he found out that the human race felt “so alone” t And encourages her  to find out more, saying “That’s the way it’s been done for billions of years”. The conversation between the alien and Ellie is similar to Palmer Joss’ comments to Ellie. 

The primary goal of the search for extraterrestrial life is, after all, to find the roots of life and to know where we all are from. It is perhaps the only point religion and science have in common, It is to know the origin of the humans and all life. It is the driving force for all the researches, questions and all work. As Ellen Parr put it best, “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity”