Welcome mat rolled out for alien life

A global astronautical congress in Adelaide will literally roll out the welcome mat to aliens.

With colours and designs that project a sense of welcomeness to extraterrestrials, the mat will be placed at a central entrance to the congress this month.

It's a project inspired by the work of Nobel prize-winning physicist Enrico Fermi, who questioned the existence of intelligent life across the universe based on a lack of contact.

International experimental philosopher and conceptual artist Jonathon Keats says the reason humankind has never encountered aliens is perhaps because they've never felt invited.

"From an outsider's perspective, human behaviour can appear pretty unfriendly and that impression has some truth to it," he said.

To counter the hostility of his species and to communicate hospitality to aliens, Mr Keats developed his welcome mat in consultation with Flinders University space archaeologist Alice Gorman.

It seeks to translate the concept of welcomeness into a visual experience that all sentient beings can potentially understand.

Four versions, each differing slightly in their use of colours and shapes, have been produced.

"Since we can't make any assumptions about beings we've never encountered and certainly can't assume that they're versed in human culture. It's important to present them with different options," Dr Gorman said.

"For instance, one version of the mat expresses welcomeness in terms of geometric fit, while another does so by biological analogy, evoking room for growth."

Dr Gorman and a team of university students will monitor which of the designs appear most appealing to delegates attending the congress with the results to inform future versions of the mat to be distributed worldwide.

It's also hoped a mat will be sent to the International Space Station.

Mr Keats said any rendezvous the earth had with aliens would likely be a matter of chance but the welcome mat could also serve to bring humans together.

"Plenty of people and groups are disenfranchised here on Earth and the cosmic welcome mat is intended also to be inviting to them," he said.

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