How It Works

Top 5 Facts: False signs of aliens

Martian canals

At the beginning of the 20th century, American astronomer Percival Lowell popularised the idea that long dark lines on Mars were canals built by intellectual Martians.

Signals from Mars

Nikola Tesla received signals that repeated the numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4. He claimed they came from Mars, but research suggests they were radio emanations from Jupiter.

CTA 102

Gennady Sholomitskii believed a powerful variable radio emission represented a signal from a super-civilisation. It was later identified as a quasar, designated CTA 102.

Little green men

Jocelyn Bell and Anthony Hewish discovered a 1.3373-sec signal via radio telescope. They named it ‘little green men’ (LGM-1), but it was actually the first pulsar to be discovered (CP1919).

Very large

The Very Large Array (VLA) telescope at Socorro, New Mexico, recorded five highly energetic low-frequency radio emissions (GCRT J1745-3009) in 2002. Some claim this to be an extraterrestrial signal, but it is more likely caused by a pulsar or neutron star.

  • Steve

    Anybody see they may have found liquid water on mars?? Hopefully we will get a positive answer after more studies! Life could be on mars afterall!

  • Nigel Watson

    It’s worth looking at this article:

    ‘Would contact with extraterrestrials benefit or harm humanity? A scenario analysis.’

    ‘While humanity has not yet observed any extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI), contact with ETI remains possible. Contact could occur through a broad range of scenarios that have varying consequences for humanity. However, many discussions of this question assume that contact will follow a particular scenario that derives from the hopes and fears of the author. In this paper, we analyze a broad range of contact scenarios in terms of whether contact with ETI would benefit or harm humanity. This type of broad analysis can help us prepare for actual contact with ETI even if the details of contact do not fully resemble any specific scenario.’

    The full pdf version can be obtained here:

    Plus check out the latest edition of How It Works that explains the different methods being used to try to contact ETI.

  • Jon Leyton

    I’m afraid the human species is genetically predisposed to believe in stuff with insufficient evidence to back it up

    We used to want to believe that Gods in the heavens hurled lightning down at naughty people

    We had gods for love, the Sea, the Woods, and inevitably War

    We grew up a bit a decided we only needed one God, but couldn’t decide whose one god was right
    so we killed each other to prove our God was the best-est, some still do.

    So some people god fed up with gods and recently decided to believe in Aliens instead, a fairly new belief

    Scientology has quite a well developed religion based on them, quite profitable too

    A bunch of Americans committed a mass suicide so they could be transported to an alien spaceship hiding behind a comet that recently passed by

    Many people like to believe that aliens are trying to communicate to us via Corn circles

    I sometimes wonder if as a species we will ever grow up and learn to accept the facts of Science and Technology and that man is man made, you are what you eat, and to take responsibility for themselves and stop waiting for Superman to come and rescue them

    Ah Well, I can but hope