Kate actually woke me up to show me this. It's pretty cool though, and since she's so cute, she's forgiven.
Dr. Phil Plait (pronounced Plate, contrary to popular thought) is one of Kate's heros. It helps that she says his locks are somewhat scarce, I'm sure. (I think I've mentioned she has a thing for bald men, right? Every picture I see of him, he has a hat on so I can't verify that.) I saw him on a show a week or two ago on TV. He's like famous and stuff.
He's an astronomer, and you can find his website at BadAstronomy, his blog at BadAstronomy.com.
A recent post there, entitled My Mother, The Alien is rather nifty.
It's a brief summary of an experiment done by "Frederick V. Malmstrom, a psychologist and visiting scholar at the U.S. Air Force Academy". (That's only in quotes because I swiped it verbatum, not because I doubt his identity.) The idea was that maybe the mental image of what we think of as aliens might be derived from vague memories of our mothers while we were infants. He took a picture of a woman (presumably a mother) and altered the photo to simulate what an infant might see. Now, I don't know how we know what an infant might or might not see, but the image certainly is suggestive of the popular notion of an alien.
Basically, he took pictures of human women, and then ran them through a filter to distort them. The filter was based on how a baby’s eyes work, so that the resulting image would represent what a baby would see when they look at their mother. Malmstrom’s work is online...
Then there's an illustrative image set.
Now, I'm looking at the example given at Dr. Plait's blog, but it seems to me that this particular woman might not be an unbiased example. She seems to me to have a face already leaning in the direction Dr. Malmstrom wants to go with this. To me, she already seems to have larger than normal and almond shaped eyes, and other facial features suggestive of the final product. Is she a random sample? Or mearly the best sample for purposes of illustration. At this hour of the morning, I have to be honest - I'm not interested enough to search and find out. Do your own homework.
I have no idea how rigorous the experiment was, or whatever, but it's an interesting idea, anyway. It certainly seems more plausible than aliens crossing vast distances to skulk around cattle farms and wheat fields in England and the U.S. Exactly what possible reason would they have to fly all the way here in their warp-drive spaceships, only to make pretty pictures in the fields in the middle of the night?
Anyways, if you're having recurring nightmares of aliens and anal probes, it's possible you're only remembering your Mom and her butt thermometer. Whether that's a good thing or not is for you to deal with in the privacy of your own mind.
For fans of Stargate, I have to tell you. If you look at Thor and squint your eyes just right while standing on your head and eating cupcakes, that's EXACTLY what my Mom looks like. (Sorry Mom! :) )