Thanks to GT reader Indrid Cold for the updated story about Mazlan Othman and her role as the “Space Ambassador”. Apparently the SundayTimes erroneously reported on the case. Mazlan Othman denies her role as the official “Alien Greeter” in an email response to the Guardian UK. She will be attending a conference next week and will talk about “near-Earth objects” and what protocols to do in case of Earth being in danger of a collision.
Full source: Guardian UK
If a Martian, proverbial or otherwise, had landed on Earth in the last 24 hours the media had some practical advice. Or so it seemed. According to the Sunday Times and numerous other media outlets that followed up the story, the United Nations was “poised” to appoint an individual to be the first point of contact with aliens.
Malaysian astrophysicist Mazlan Othman was being lined up for the role, the story said. As head of the UN’s Office for Outer Space Affairs (Unoosa) Othman would be the “nearest thing we have to a take me to you leader [person]”, Prof Richard Crowther, from the UK Space Agency, told the Sunday Times.
According to the paper, Othman is due to tell a Royal Society conference that as the detection of extraterrestrial life is more likely than ever, the UN needs to be ready to co-ordinate humanity’s response.
Reading all this our Martian visitor might have been encouraged to try to get in touch. They would have had a frustrating time.
The Royal Society knew nothing about it. The United Nations referred all queries to the switchboard of Unoosa in Vienna. Its switchboard number wasn’t much help. “The person at extension 4951 is unavailable, please leave your message after the tone,” it said. Those messages might make for some interesting listening today.
Finally an email from Othman herself would have prompted our Martian to trudge back to his spaceship. “It sounds really cool but I have to deny it,” she said of the story. She will be attending a conference next week, but she’ll be talking about how the world deals with “near-Earth objects”.
Our alien will just have to try someone else, or stop reading the Sunday Times.