If aliens visit Earth, they’re gonna want a nice colorful welcome mat to step on as they exit their mothership. That must be the thought process behind the design of a new “alien welcome mat” unveiled at the 68th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Adelaide, South Australia. The mat was designed by experimental philosopher (whatever that is) Jonathon Keats with consultation from space archaeologist Alice Gorman. The mat is intended to signal that Earth is a welcoming destination for potential alien visitors.
The mat features a black border, intended to represent space, which surrounds a blue and purple foreground field intended to represent Earth. Against this background is a red amorphous blob which somehow is meant to represent alien life. Yeah, really.
The are four different versions of the mat, each slightly different. Two of the mats are intended to evoke a biochemical reaction with the red “alien” blob fitting into some receptor, while a third somehow shows the blob has “room to grow” and the fourth features a diverse set of blobs, intended to show that all blobs are welcome here on Earth. The mat’s creator, Keats, told Space.com that he believes these designs convey one of the simplest messages in the galaxy:
I think ‘Welcome’ is the simplest message of all. My core audience is everybody. We’re all aliens.
Uh, sure dude. While I’m all for designing messages that will signal that we come in peace, I can’t help but wonder if these types of messages miss the mark. As far as a welcome mat is concerned, who really knows if a potential alien race will have legs or vision organs that perceive the same wavelengths of light that we do at all, or will even be in a corporeal form to begin with? I want the human race to discover we’re not alone as much as anyone, but sometimes I think common perceptions of what possible forms alien life could take are too narrow.
Alien life very well could resemble nothing like life on Earth, and chances are we might not even recognize it. All of our scientific instruments are designed to measure and detect the forms of matter and energy here on Earth; who knows if life could take forms based on types of energy or matter we can’t even perceive (or conceive)? Like weird welcome mats. How happy would they be to see us stepping on plastic effigies of their mat-shaped race?