If you’ve never personally seen an extraterrestrial, the image you conjure up when imagining an alien is probably some skinny dude with a big head and big eyes.
Extraterrestrials have appeared in movies since early cinema. Aliens were also there in the early days of television. The popularity of the extraterrestrial theme has culminated in its prevalence in today’s blockbuster movies and television programming. Scripted dramas and even reality programming are flooded with UFO-related themes. Even a few Super Bowl commercials usually incorporate extraterrestrials.
Hollywood has heavily influenced how the general public imagines aliens. But a scientist thinks that intelligent extraterrestrials will look a little different than the stereotypical skinny grey aliens.
Cosmologist Fergus Simpsons, a scientist at the Institute of Cosmos Sciences at the University of Barcelona, recently published a paper titled, “The Nature of Inhabited Planets And Their Inhabitants,” in which he speculates about the size of aliens. Based on a mathematical model that assumes organisms on other planets obey the same law of conservation of energy that are seen on Earth, he surmises that aliens are fat.
“Throughout the animal kingdom, species which are physically larger invariably possess a lower population density, possibly due to their enhanced energy demands,” Simpson says. He explains that “most inhabited planets are likely to be closer in size to Mars than the Earth,” which leads him to estimate that, “since population density is widely observed to decline with increasing body mass, we conclude that most intelligent species are expected to exceed 300kg.”
So his best guess is that most intelligent extraterrestrials are a beefy 650 pounds. Calling them “little green men” is probably just something we do to make them feel better about themselves.
For some reason, I can’t stop thinking about the line, “Hey blimpo! Oink, oink. Too many Twinkies!” from Flight of the Navigator.
Seth Shostak, the senior astronomer at the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute, shares the opinion that intelligent aliens are likely larger than humans. But he knows studies like this recent one are all speculation. “It’s interesting, but there’s really no concrete data to work with,” he says.
But if aliens are a husky 650 pounds, then the estimated two-thirds of Americans who are overweight or obese can rest easy knowing that we aren’t the fat kids anymore.