FOR the last quarter of a century I have lived not so very far from Bonnybridge. Indeed, at one point I stayed just a mile up the road. And yet in all that time I have never seen a UFO, I can’t tell you how disappointed I am. Isn’t Bonnybridge meant to be UFO Central?

Of course, part of me doesn’t really believe in them. Or rather, I find it hard to accept that they are alien in origin. I mean, interstellar travel is quite time-consuming on the whole. Voyager 1 launched in 1977 and scientists reckon it will take another 300 years before it reaches the Oort Cloud, the most distant region of our solar system and will then take thousands of years to get through it. In short, it will be millennia before it even reaches our cosmic front door.

So, would it really be worth the time and faff to come the other way? And to end up in Bonnybridge? Nothing wrong with the place. It has a good library, a stretch of the Antonine Wall and lovely canal walks and I guess it’s handy for Stirling Castle and the Kelpies. But, even so, I’m not sure I’d want to travel across time and space for a day trip there. Now if it was Slamannan …

However, perhaps I am projecting human notions onto intellects vast and cool and possibly unsympathetic (well, they’ve had a long journey). Just as it’s unlikely that any alien lifeforms would be carbon-based bipeds (despite what Hollywood tells us), it’s possible, too, that they might have means of propulsion beyond our ken.

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The news that US intelligence agencies will soon deliver a report to Congress on “unidentified aerial phenomena” has piqued our interest in UFOs again. Barack Obama told James Cordon on TV recently that one of the first things he did when he became US President was ask if there was a secret US lab full of alien specimens. Turns out there wasn’t (or at least that’s what he’s telling us).

It’s a topic he returned to on a podcast with the journalist Ezra Klein with a little more gravitas. What, he wondered, would happen if we discovered alien life did indeed exist?

"There would be immediate arguments about like, well, we need to spend a lot more money on weapons systems to defend ourselves,” he speculated. “New religions would pop up. And who knows what kind of arguments we get into. We're good at manufacturing arguments for each other."

Sounds about right. We are so predictable as a species. What would we do if aliens turned up? We’d kill or convert. Or at least try to.

The idea of alien existence, though, is a profound challenge to us if you think about it for more than a second. What if there are space cephalopods out there, whizzing through black holes and generally treating trips around the cosmos as if they were just popping out to the shops?

That knowledge would prompt huge questions about our religious beliefs, our social structure and possibly our attitude to seafood.

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More importantly, it might also make us rethink our general sense of entitlement and up-ourselfness. What would it mean to us if we were to realise we are not the number one species in the universe? It’s a question worth asking, isn’t it? Whether you live near Bonnybridge or not.