Astronomers detecting repeated bursts of radio waves coming from deep space in 2018 can hardly be considered evidence of alien life, according to TV and radio comedy writer James Felton.
In an opinion piece for The Guardian, Felton jokingly suggested that aliens could certainly have picked a better time to transmit fast radio bursts (FRBs) to get "chatty" now that "there's Brexit, there's Trump, there's [UK pop singer] Ed Sheeran [who was sued for $100 million for copying a Marvin Gaye song in July 2018]".
In the article, titled "The aliens are coming. And they’ve caught us with our pants down", Felton sarcastically blamed aliens for failing to show up for "a chinwag with humanity" during the 2012 Olympics or "when Britpop was at its height" or "better yet when Shrek 2 was first released".
Instead, the author notes, the FRBs were tracked at the moment when "humanity is at its lowest, most embarrassing ebb" and does not have "a brilliant track record".
"War. Pollution. Finding a new species of exotic animal and twatting it to death on the offchance that it's tasty. But right now we're in a place where we've reviewed all those past mistakes, learned from them, and decided to do a live-action remake of every last pratfall on humanity’s blooper reel. We’re a species that has realised we're going to die of global warming – and have decided to burn the old fossil fuels more than ever," Felton pointed out.
He recalled that radio waves typically take lots of time to travel through outer space, suggesting that aliens could "see us turn a corner during the 1950s."
At the time, they could have decided "to send out a message of friendship, not realising that the message would be answered 70 years later by [US] President Trump: a man we can't trust not to try and phone-bang the aliens during first contact," Felton noted.
He added that he is sceptical about aliens' motives to reach out to humans because "the timing of this potential message is so suspiciously bad".
"It's pretty obvious at this point their only aim is to point and laugh at the Earthlings during our worst moment of humiliation in some sort of horrible interdimensional version of You’ve Been Framed. In short: if they have shown up, then as far as I’m concerned, they can sod off again. Sorry lads, you’re breaking up," Felton concluded.
The origin of the signals remains unknown, with theories including a neutron star with a very strong magnetic field that is spinning very rapidly, and even some form of an alien spaceship.