Contrary to popular belief, interstellar space – quite literally, the space between the stars – isn't just empty space. It’s packed full of hydrogen and helium, and, according to an increasing number of scientists, advanced alien civilizations.

One of those scientists is a man by the name of John Gertz, the author of a new paper aptly titled “Interstellar Diplomacy.” Gertz has been involved in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) community for years, and has written a few compelling pieces for Scientific American.

Although humans are not ready to embark on interstellar travel just yet (it would take tens of thousands of years to reach the nearest star), other, far more advanced civilizations could be. In fact, as you read this piece, they could be on their way to us right now, hurtling towards Earth at an unimaginable speed. What are we going to do if and when “they” arrive?

In the paper, Gertz argues that “contact with aliens may be imminent,” and for this reason, he suggests, world leaders must come together and develop a formal plan for diplomacy with intelligent extraterrestrial life.

To read more, click here.