We've been conjecturing about life on Mars for centuries. In popular culture, the concept of intelligent life on Mars was championed by astronomer Percival Lowell in the late 1800s and his theories on the Martian canals. Science fiction writers -- always game for some reckless conjecture -- took up the banner from there.
Perhaps the most famous Martians in the history of sci-fi and popular culture, the invaders in H.G. Wells' 1898 novel "War of the Worlds," have since spawned dozens of films, TV shows, comic books and one very famous radio drama.
Telescopic observations of Mars in the late 19th and early 20th centuries appeared to show long surface lines that some believed were man-made (well, Martian-made) irrigation canals. Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli made this map of Mars from his notes on the telescope images.
Science fiction writers often depicted Martians as an advanced humanoid race intent on conquering Earth. In "Flash Gordon's Trip To Mars" (1938), Azura Queen of Mars subjugates her own Martian people. Ray Bradbury would later conceive of a kinder, gentler race in "The Martian Chronicles."
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Space explorer stories were a regular staple in the pulp fiction magazines of the early 1900s, and Edgar Rice Burroughs was another author to speculate at length on Mars' inhabitants. His Martians included the six-limbed, green-skinned Tharks and humanoid Red Martians.
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The so-called Grey Alien is a kind of archetype image of an extraterrestrial -- not necessarily from Mars -- that has arisen from fictional depictions, alleged alien abduction stories and conjecture on what an advanced race of beings would look like.
On July 25, 1976, NASA's Viking 1 orbiter captured the above image on the surface of Mars' Cydonia region. The infamous "Face on Mars" prompted decades of speculation, although scientists have long dismissed the image as an example of pareidolia; e.g. seeing shapes in the clouds, or Jesus in your toast.
Legendary Looney Tunes animator Chuck Jones created the character of Marvin the Martian in 1948 as a foil for Bugs Bunny. As devotees of Saturday morning cartoons know, Marvin is forever plotting to destroy the Earth by way of his Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator. Apparently, we obstruct his view of Venus.
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Director Tim Burton played around with B-movie tropes and pop art notions of Martians in his 1996 film "Mars Attacks!" Brian De Palma followed up a few years later with "Mission to Mars," a huge critical and commercial bomb. (Although the French critics liked it -- really.)
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As is its eternal wont, pop culture is constantly recycling its own ideas -- Martians included. In 1999, Christopher Lloyd starred as the titular alien in director Donald Petrie's reboot of the 1960s TV show "My Favorite Martian," which was itself inspired by earlier pulp sci-fi stories.
An upcoming documentary film about UFOs claims it will offer evidence of aliens, including cutting-edge scientific analysis of a recovered body.
The film, which premieres April 22, is titled Sirius and showcases the claims of Steven Greer, a prominent UFO researcher who has dedicated years of his life — and a small fortune — to proving that the U.S. government is actively covering up hard evidence of extraterrestrial life.
The project has taken several years, and money to fund it was raised from donors and UFO buffs. In an urgent, breaking news update to the crowdfunding project, Greer asked his donors for more money because:
There is a chance that we may be able to include in the film “Sirius” the scientific testing of a
The cute little EBE alien-thing is about half a foot long. It looks like something you might stir your coffee with if you broke off one of its bony little arms. It was recovered not from Area 51 nor a hidden base near Roswell, N.M, but instead, supposedly, from Chile’s Atacama Desert several years ago.
This revelation raises all sorts of questions: If ETs aren’t much larger than your cell phone then why are their spacecraft so big? If the thing really is an alien body found in a South American desert years ago, why are we only finding out about it now? Why didn’t it make international news at the time, and why weren’t the scientific tests that will supposedly prove its extraterrestrial origins done years ago? What would a single alien body — without a spaceship, other occupants or even any G.I. Joe-scale helmet or ray gun — be doing alone in the desert? And why is all this suddenly being brought up when Greer is trying to raise money and publicity to complete a movie?
Actually I think I know the answer to that last question.
This is of course not the first time that a “documentary” has surfaced promising definitive proof of extraterrestrial life. If the whole alien autopsy theme seems familiar, it should be. It was done back in 1995 and broadcast on the Fox network as Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction.
The show centered around 17 minutes of supposedly top-secret grainy black and white footage filmed by the military and showing a post-mortem dissection of an alien body. To much of the public it looked credible, though skeptics pointed out many signs that it was a hoax. Those suspicions were soon verified, and the filmmakers admitted the footage had been staged.
So what is the Latin American, alien-leprechaun thing that Greer found? It looks a lot like a sculpted model, and fairly realistic faked aliens, animals and other creatures are widely available, including on eBay. Maybe all the questions will be answered when the film premieres, and scientists will finally have the “potentially explosive and world-changing evidence” they need to confirm extraterrestrial life.
Image: YouTube screen capture