'Of extraterrestrial origin', an organism not indigenous to our planet. The word itself means foreign.
A form of life that may exist and have originated in an environment other than our planet Earth, the only place in the universe currently known to support life.
Specifically, something non-human, not us, an intelligent extraterrestrial being; a visitor from another planet, another world or a different dimension.
Scientifically, the definition of alien encompass any type of extraterrestrial life, ranging from sapient beings, to life at the scale of bacteria. Its existence is at present entirely hypothetical, as there is no evidence of any other planets that can sustain life, or of actual extraterrestrial life.
On the other hand, the lack of tangible proof has not stopped thousands of people of claiming they have seen alien or extraterrestrial beings. These reports have been around for centuries, but the number of occurrences have increased dramatically since the first flying saucers were seen in the late 1940's. Eyewitnesses report a number of different types of alien creatures; in fact, they vary in almost every imaginable way, described in a baffling variety of shapes and sizes.
Surprisingly, however, the aliens reported are not so very different from human beings most have two arms, two legs, and one head, being also remarkably human in their clothing and technology. Weird monsters are rare. This imagery is strongly imprinted into popular consciousness by science fiction books, films and comics, which may thereby influence perceptions during contact experiences.
For this reason most scientists, psychologists and even some ufologists doubt their reality: surely, they say, visitors from outer space would not look so much like ourselves. The late Carl Sagan, famous astronomer and author of the book The Cosmic Connection: An Extraterrestrial Perspective, believed that the aliens sighted were "stodgy in their unimaginativeness" and were hence the inhabitants of human minds, not extraterrestrial spaceships.
Whatever the experts may say, close encounters of the third kind continue to be reported worldwide. Have beings from other worlds met and talked with people of Earth or are they creations of the subconscious mind? The jury still out on that.
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Sources: (1) Sagan, Carl, The Cosmic Connection: An Extraterrestrial Perspective, Cambridge University Press; (2) Mysteries of Mind, Space & Time: The Unexplained, H. S. Stuttman Inc. Publishers.
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