Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
NOVA Home Find out what's coming up on air Listing of previous NOVA Web sites NOVA's history Subscribe to the NOVA bulletin Lesson plans and more for teachers NOVA RSS feeds Tell us what you think Program transcripts Buy NOVA videos or DVDs Watch NOVA programs online Answers to frequently asked questions

ET Gallery


Origins homepage

Launch slide show ET Gallery

When it comes to considering what aliens might look like, the human imagination has long stood in for science. Sci-fi authors, Hollywood directors, and T.V. make-up artists are responsible for how the average earthling envisions aliens, having brought to life all manner of fictional extraterrestrials for our avid consumption. Yet recently, as scientists have begun to uncover clues to the origin of our universe and life on Earth, the topic of alien life has crossed over from the realm of fiction. Many scientists now speculate that life on other worlds is not only possible but probable, raising the odds that even intelligent life might exist elsewhere.

So what would a real alien look like? Nobody knows, but most likely it would not resemble any being we've seen before. Even the strangest movie aliens (let alone the myriad humanoids), with their symmetrical bodies, blinking eyes, and dexterous appendages, are merely clever twists on life found on our planet. Experts agree that our humble imaginations may not have even scratched the surface of the wild possibilities for actual ET life. As digital artist Cameron Mckechnie notes, "Aliens could exhibit colors not in our spectrum. Aliens could look like coke bottles, or could be composed of magnetic forces undetectable to the human eye. They could be just a strange smell in the air. They could be completely digital and look like beautiful strange fractal chaotic swirls. Who knows?"

Someday we may discover an exotic aquarium beneath Europa's icy surface or a populated extrasolar planet. Until then, however, we'll just have to rely on human-imagined ETs. To flip through a photo album of some of the most memorable, if mundane, aliens we've known so far, click on the image at left.—Lexi Krock

  

Send Feedback Image Credits
   
NOVA Home Find out what's coming up on air Listing of previous NOVA Web sites NOVA's history Subscribe to the NOVA bulletin Lesson plans and more for teachers NOVA RSS feeds Tell us what you think Program transcripts Buy NOVA videos or DVDs Watch NOVA programs online Answers to frequently asked questions

Support provided by

For new content
visit the redesigned
NOVA site