U.N. creates First Contact position to greet extraterrestrials

In news that's part wacky and part surprising, the United Nations will be appointing, early next week, Earth's official first contact (i.e., an ambassador) for aliens from outer space. (You couldn't make this stuff up. Well, you could ... but why bother?)

The U.N. has chosen a Malaysian astrophysicist by the name of Dr. Mazlan Othman, who happens to be the head of its Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) in Vienna, "to act as Earth's first contact for any aliens that may come visiting."

Apparently, Dr. Othman:

" ... is scheduled next week to tell delegates at a scientific conference at the Royal Society's Kavli conference center in Buckinghamshire "that the recent discovery of hundreds of planets around other stars has made the detection of extraterrestrial life more likely than ever before - and that means the UN must be ready to coordinate humanity's response to any 'first contact'."

Richard Crowther, who is an "expert in space law and governance" at the U.K. Space Agency, and who leads British delegations to the U.N. on such matters, said that "Othman is absolutely the nearest thing we have to a 'take me to your leader' person."

Dr. Othman has served in the same capacity at UNOOSA twice. She was appointed in 1999, but left the position in 2002 to serve as the first director general of Malaysia's National Space Agency. She received her second appointment to UNOOSA in 2007.

In July 2009, during Space Week, Dr. Othman reportedly said: "If we do make contact with aliens, who do you think should be representing mankind? It would be the secretary-general of the United Nations ... that's why we're here."

So basically this Dr. Othman is to be like Star Trek's own Zefram Cochrane? The only thing missing is the actual little green/gray men that may or may not one day show themselves to us, citizens of the Earth. Now if we could only go where no one has gone before ...

So what do you think of this news? Interesting step forward? A waste of time?

(via RBO)

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