On [October 30] 80 years ago, actor Orson Welles announced to audiences in a chilling radio performance that Martians were invading New Jersey, leading terrified listeners to believe that Earth was under attack by hostile aliens. But the so-called news was fake. Welles’ infamous performance was a dramatization of the H.G. Wells science-fiction classic, “The War of the Worlds.”
Thanks to decades of space research, understanding of extraterrestrial life has come a long way since Welles’ radio play, and it’s generally understood that Mars isn’t home to an advanced alien civilization with lethal weaponry and spacecraft. Public fascination with extraterrestrials still runs high; however, a modern announcement about alien creatures would likely spur a very different response today than “The War of the Worlds” did in 1938.
…[O]ur first encounter with alien life will [likely] be through finding microbes from other worlds, which are far more likely to be common across all the cosmos than intelligent organisms, said [writer Michael] Wall.
Today, an announcement about discovering extraterrestrial microbes is far more likely to promote fascination than panic, he said. “With all the news about exoplanets [planets outside our solar system], people are primed for this,” Wall said.
Read full, original post: ‘Alien Invasion’ Radio Broadcast Terrified Listeners 80 Years Ago. Would E.T. Contact Cause Panic Today?