Are we alone in the universe? There’s hardly an answer to the question that isn’t mindblowingly terrifying. The most comforting one, once you know all the options, is that we’re not, but the US government is on top of it: various “whistleblowers” have recently claimed that aliens have been smashing their craft into remote corners of the world for the past few decades, but federal officials have been retrieving the remains and covering it all up.

It’s a pleasing idea, because it suggests that we are still in the race for the most imposing sentient beings in the galaxy. We haven’t cracked interstellar travel yet, but the beings who have are still working with tech that can be brought down by a bit of dust in the rotors. A bit more focused effort, a sprinkle of reverse engineering, and we’ll have our own interstellar armada up and running before any alien civilisations decide to take a serious pop at us. In the meantime, there’s always Will Smith.

Unfortunately for my own peace of mind, I don’t believe any of this. Going on how long it has taken us to get men to the moon and chuck a couple of probes past Uranus, it’s probably safe to assume that any aliens who make it all the way to Earth are going to have technology more incomprehensible to us than a washing machine is to a dog. The only real options are that we’re either the only reasonably intelligent beings in the entire vastness of space, or that super-intelligent beings are out there but we haven’t heard from them for reasons that, I stress again, are mostly terrifying.

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