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After talking to a scientist, Mass Effect’s aliens are more believable than I ever expected


When it comes to aliens, Mass Effect leaves no options unexplored. You can fight alongside them, war with them, befriend them, joke with them, and, yes, even have sex with a few of them. It’s a space opera where humanity is just one tiny fraction of a much bigger galactic community of intelligent species, ranging from the dour, bird-like Turians to the devout and very squishy Hanar.

You can’t throw a stone in Mass Effect’s version of our Milky Way galaxy without hitting a new alien species. But for astronomers like Seth Shostak, the search for aliens isn’t quite so easy. “You do what Jodie Foster did in the movie Contact,” Shostak tells me over the phone. “You use big antennas, you point them at nearby star systems that might have a planet with some aliens on it, and you try and eavesdrop on any signals they may be broadcasting.”

What is the SETI Institute?

SETI Institute

(Image credit: SETI Institute)

SETI stands for the “search for extraterrestrial intelligence” and is a collective term to describe our research into the statistical likelihood that we’re not alone in the universe. The SETI Institute is just one of many different initiatives, founded in 1984 as a non-profit organization largely funded by private contributions.

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