Orson Wells, close to 80 years ago on October 30th, made an announcement over the radio that Martians were taking over New Jersey which led listeners into widespread panic — believing the Earth was in fact, under attack.
But the ‘news’ was deemed fake and Wells’ announcement was only just a performance of H.G. Wells, “The War of the Worlds.”
According to a transcript of the program, the dramatization was apart of a weekly series created in collaboration with the Mercury Theater on Air for CBS.
But thanks to tons of space research — the depth of understanding when it comes to extraterrestrial life has made leaps and bounds since that radio broadcast.
And while folks today don’t believe Mars currently houses more civilized humans who want to take over the world, people are still obsessed with aliens — and if a broadcast much like Orson’s was released today, it is safe to say many would have a different reaction according to experts.
In the original radio transmission, an actor interrupted a music performance as a news announcer, describing “three explosions” by the use of telescope observations on Mars.
The actor then claimed he was “on-the-scene,” reporting from a town near Princeton, New Jersey, collecting claims from fellow “witnesses,” or other performers, about what they saw — which was
unidentified flying objects (UFOs) and “strange creatures” shooting off a futuristic heat ray that had killed off dozens of people.
And while the program actually had multiple reminders throughout the duration of the dramatization that the broadcast was theatrical — many who tuned in truly believed the invasion was real and in the weeks to come, newspapers covered how the public was sick with fear in regards to an alien invasion.
“Thousands of listeners rushed from their homes in New York and New Jersey, many with towels across their faces to protect themselves from the ‘gas’ which the invader was supposed to be spewing forth,” the Daily News reported the following day.
A senior astronomer with the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute (SETI,) Seth Shostak, in California, shared with Live Science how space scientists at that time were very aware that Mars was not even capable of housing a civilization of intelligent aliens.
“Certainly, by the late 1930s, no one believed it. There was increasing knowledge from astronomers: Mars has a very thin atmosphere; there’s not much oxygen; we don’t see any liquid water on the surface,” Shostak shared.
Shostak suggested that if we did have intelligent neighbors — it would not be Mars or even in the same solar system.
According to Michael Wall, a science writer and author of “Out There: A Scientific Guide To Alien Life, Antimatter and Human Space Travel (For the Cosmically Curious)” says the violence Welles depicts in his book will not likely happen if/when humans do finally have their first encounter with extraterrestrial life.
Wall shared with Live Science how a militaristic alien attack would require aliens that are not just intelligent and technically advanced but also who know humans do exist and can travel to our solar system. And the chances of that happening are considered slim in Wall’s opinion.
We have a better chance of encountering alien life by discovering microbes from other worlds. Those discovered microbes would have a higher probability of being common through the cosmos than intelligent organism according to the senior writer at Live Science’s sister site, Space.com.
Walls also went on to say how if an announcement was made today about finding extraterrestrial microbes, it would stir more wonder than fear.
“With all the news about exoplanets [planets outside our solar system], people are primed for this,” Wall said. “Those who are paying attention know how much habitable real estate is out there. And it just makes sense that if there’s something out there that it’d be microbial.”
But while microbes may be the very first “aliens” we will encounter, the possibility of detecting communications from intelligent extraterrestrial isn’t out of the question, Shostak shared with Live Science.
And until that day, I will just be prepping daily by watching Alien.
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