By: BARBARA VANCHERI
At one extreme in alien-invasion movies, there’s the slimy, razor-toothed, grotesque creature full of powerhouse violence — and a too-eager desire to feast on human filet. These aliens, never cordial in social settings, are the worst-nightmare kind of beast that one finds in the “Alien” series or “The Thing,” among many others.
At the other extreme are kinder, gentler alien visitors — “E.T.: The Extra-terrestrial,” “Paul” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” along with those using human form to hide their extraterrestrial identities as happened in “Starman” and “Cocoon.”
And as crazy as it sounds, those extremes reflect opposing positions of an actual scientific debate about extraterrestrial invaders, or at least a well-publicized intellectual disagreement that occurred this spring between two renowned scientists, Jill Tarter and Stephen Hawking.