Human-alien hybrids have been a staple of space-faring science fiction for a long time now. Star Trek, the main pioneer of the genre, already talked a lot about it since the beginning, with its iconic character Spock being himself half-human and half-Vulcan. As the genre expanded, other kinds of half-aliens appeared, not only from human/alien parents, but also from infections, parasites, and genetic engineering.
Of course, right now we don’t have the technology to do any kind of large-scale genetic engineering to merge two wildly different DNAs, nor do we have access to any alien DNA to do this kind of modification and create hybrids. Still, a small village in Southern Italy claims to be creating them by using meteorite-infused water. How does this work? Check it out:
Meet Jonathon Keats
Jonathon Keats is an experimental philosopher. That means that not only he reflects about our world, but he also makes experiments that make us reflect about it too. And they tend to be pretty entertaining in their own right.
For example, in 2003 he copyrighted his own mind, arguing that it was a work of art he had created by the very act of thinking. That was his way of increasing his longevity, because a copyrighted work remains a property of the author up to 70 years after their death. So, if his mind was still being used after his death by a third party (by licensing the work), he’d outlive his own body, because “I think, therefore I am.”
In 2006, he took advantage of the possibility of the universe being composed of more than three dimensions (according to string theory) in order to sell real estate based on those other dimensions, even designing a four-dimensional “tesseract” vacation home. During the first day of sales he managed to sell 172 lots.
In 2010 he created his own space agency, the Local Air and Space Administration (LASA), in order to carry out his own space exploration, as NASA wasn’t doing that at the time. As he doesn’t have many resources available, he decided to do his own space exploration here on Earth, by simulating the lunar and martian soil using pulverized meteorites. His first astronauts were potatoes he grew on that soil, which explored the alien terrain “by osmosis”. And because they ingested alien minerals, that made them “alien hybrids”.
So, what are these human-alien hybrids?
The last paragraph of the previous sections may have given you a clue.
In partnership with the Italian village of Fontecchio, Keats has placed some meteorites on a hillside close to the village. When it rains, the water partially dissolves those meteorites and carries its minerals to the groundwater, which in turn goes into the village’s water supply and, especially, to a fountain in the village, dubbed now a Fountain of Tolerance.
By his reasoning, when drinking water that contains alien minerals, we become partially alien ourselves, hence “human-alien hybrids”. So, this isn’t exactly the kind of sci-fi stuff you’d expect. Far from it actually, it’s something metaphorical.
Going in line with Keats’s experimental philosophy, this is a way of making us reflect on what it means to be human and what it means to be non-human. The project invites people to have a drink and think about how easy it is to become “less human”, by having alien minerals replace earthly minerals, and how that doesn’t change who are in the slightest. It’s a “perspective shift”, as described by Keats himself, in order to makes us reflect about xenophobia and prejudice in general. Hence “Fountain of Tolerance”.
Still, as he himself also said, we also don’t really need to go to Italy in order to become human-alien hybrids. The planet absorbs around 5000 tons of alien dust each year, which everyday finds its way into our lungs, meaning we already have alien minerals in our veins, and consequently all of us already are human-alien hybrids.
Not exactly what we’d expect, but an interesting little thought experiment.