Martians! How Aliens Invaded Earth

Martians! How Aliens Invaded Earth

Thank you to Draper and its Hack the Moon
initiative for supporting PBS Digital Studios. The red planet has captured our attention
throughout human history. With its relative proximity to us and to the
sun, early astronomers thought it was possible for life to exist on Mars. We’ve imagined martians as everything from
humans with silver antennae, to skeletal invaders with exposed brains. From a helmeted cartoon to muscular, four-armed
bipedal warriors. Annddd whatever this thing this. PBS even has its own Martians. Some martians are depicted as monsters, while
others are allies. Why are they all so different? Technology plays a role, and so does biology,
natural history, and war. But the whole martian craze began with just
a single mistranslated word. [Monstrum Intro] The modern history of Mars began in 1877 when
a crucial discovery was made: a network of lines were visible on the surface. The Italian astronomer who discovered these
grooves named them “canali.” “Channels” in English. In 1895, astronomer Percival Lowell published
the first illustrated book on Mars. Lowell observed the same lines, and writing
for an English-speaking audience, translated the word canali to “canals” rather than
“channels.” And that’s when a fateful mistranslation
changed Mars history forever. He speculated how life could survive there
if it did indeed exist. But then, Lowell’s theories got a little
out there: His book claimed that the surface markings visible on Mars were deliberate as
quote: “no natural theory has yet been advanced which will explain these lines.” He theorized that what he was seeing were
changes in vegetation made possible by a vast series of irrigation canals. And even though he insists that he is only
referring to the possibility of an intelligent lifeform on Mars, he also says “Certainly
what we see hints at the existence of beings who are in advance of, not behind us, in the
journey of life.” Now that a scientist had suggested intelligent
life on Mars, the public couldn’t get the idea out of their heads, and the press had
a field day. Newspapers and magazines reprinted Lowell’s
maps, adding a visual element to Mars mythology. Depictions in literature of the time presented
Martians as humanoid in form-and their society utopian. No war, no poverty, no social classes, no
prisons, and no alcoholism. Martians were portrayed as advanced beings
both in technology and intelligence. They were odd, but kind of appealing. Until The War of the Worlds that is. No not that one. Nope, not that one
either. Further back. Yes, this one. Not only did H.G. Wells give us one of the
first alien invasion novels of all time, his Martians were very far from human. Although they did possess a superior intelligence. They also wanted to kill humans—and inject
themselves with our blood. Initially serialized in Pearson’s Magazine
in 1897, the story was collected and published as one volume in 1898 and was an immediate
success. It has never been out of print. It increased in popularity after Orson Welles’
infamous radio broadcast in 1938. On October 30, listeners tuned in to hear
his dramatic reading of the book. The show was so realistic he managed to convince
some people Martians were actually invading New Jersey. Other than my beloved Yip Yips, and Marvin
the Martian, these were the first aliens I was ever exposed to, and they left a lasting
impression. How could they not? After all H.G. Wells’ aliens were essentially
giant heads about 4 feet in diameter with no nostrils, a fleshy beak, large eyes, and
sixteen tentacles arranged in two bunches. Their internal structure was basically all
brain. What was so scary about these Martians was
their advanced war machinery. Wells describes a “monstrous tripod” 100-feet-high
capable of traveling with the speed “of an express train.” These machines, driven by the Martians, have
flexible metal tentacles, heat-ray guns, and a chemical weapon in the form of “black
smoke.” See? Terrifying. In what is regarded as one of the best plot
twists in science fiction, the Martians are destroyed not by human military or weapons,
but by bacteria. While serious, persistent criticism of the
supposed canals on Mars began in the 20th century, that did not stop authors from writing
about life on the red planet. Some authors latched on to Mars as an uncharted
frontier ripe for nostalgic romance driven by masculinist fantasy, a place for swords
and magic, beasts and treasure, slave-girls, princesses, and other beautiful female Martians
just dying to be loved by a human man Even film picked up on the trend Following World War I, we see a shift in Martians. The human explorers traveling to Mars in these
texts were met with menace, and we see a surge of non-mammalian extraterrestrials similar
to Earthly insects, reptiles, or worms that were, more often than not, predators. Stories of aliens from this period could be
read as American anxieties about nationalism and racial segregation. When Martians were described as more humanoid,
they were still a threat because of their advanced weaponry. It wasn’t really until after World War II
that Martians were more commonly referred to as “aliens.” This word alien was specifically linked with
a new term and concept for the time—the “unidentified flying object.” As consumer cameras and recording devices
became more accessible, so did the popularity of UFOs. People could now capture and share “alien”
experiences. Martian literature post-WWII reflected a desire
to escape Earth. To flee from repressive governments, nuclear
weapons, and other human-created evils. Like in The Martian Chronicles, where humans
flee Earth for various reasons including nuclear war, government censorship, and racism. As its author, Ray Bradbury once famously
said, “Mars is a mirror, not a crystal.” As our science and technology advanced, and
the idea of life on Mars was largely debunked, a belief in Martians became even more of a
fantasy. After the invention of in-space telescopic
photography, and the Mariner 9 and Viking Missions, people pretty much gave up hope
that above ground organisms lived on Mars. Of course this hasn’t stopped people from
creating stories about them. Mars is more visible and more accessible to
us than ever. While many still hold out for the possibility
of life on Mars buried deep below its crust or in the polar ice caps, we are more concerned
with trying to put humans on Mars than encountering some kind of life form there. Today, narratives about Martians have changed. We’ve moved away from imagining Mars as
a pre-existing utopia, populated by a Martian race superior to our own. Now, we envision Mars as a utopia in-waiting,
a promise of hope and a better life, off-planet for Earthlings. PBS is bringing you the universe with SUMMER
OF SPACE, which includes six incredible new science and history shows streaming on
and the PBS Video app, like The Planets from NOVA. There are also many celestial episodes from
PBS Digital Studios creators! Thank you to Draper and its Hack the Moon
initiative for supporting PBS Digital Studios. You know the story of the Astronauts who landed
on the Moon. Now, you can log onto to
discover the story of the male and female engineers who guided them there and back safely. Hack the Moon chronicles the engineers and
technologies behind the Apollo missions. Brought to you by Draper, the site is full
of images, videos and stories about the people who hacked the moon.

100 thoughts on “Martians! How Aliens Invaded Earth

  1. What's interesting about the depiction of Mars and her people in modern sci-fi is that while it's colonized by humans, they are often at odds with humans from Earth, such as in The Expanse where Mars and Earth are the two rival super powers of the Solar System, or in Babylon 5, where Mars' people are oppressed and killed by a dictatorial regime on Earth.
    That trope of Martian humans being distinct from Earthern humans and sometimes being at odds with them can even be seen in works like Warhammer 40K, where the Martian Adeptus Mechanicus' work on Mars is sometimes seen as borderline-heradical by the rest of the Imperium.
    So in modern Sci-Fi the classical, alien Martians who sometimes were hostile, but also more advanced or utopian has become integrated with the more modern concepts of human colonization of Mars with these traits being applied to people who now don't look alien, but behave that way, which I find interesting.

    Further, the Martians of the DC universe are often depicted in the classical way, as aliens who are far more advanced than us and live in peaceful utopia, which is interesting in so far as it is nowadays an anachronistic outlier in its depiction of Martians due to DC Comics' age.

  2. I saw the Tom Cruise War of the Worlds movie as a kid, backtracked to the book, and it's been a favorite of mine ever since. It's a great, if very thinly-veiled, commentary on British imperialism. Not nearly as topical as The Time Machine nowadays, but I find War of the Worlds more entertaining.

  3. I absolutely love the diversity of the video topics! Every new upload is a surprise and I'm always eagerly waiting for the next one! Keep up with the amazing videos!! 😊

  4. I love this series. This episode was especially interesting as it was topical (Area 51), Mars, etc.
    Nod: "My God, it's full of stars" 😊

  5. As much as I love mythical monsters from Earth's past, I'm very happy to see this series also touch upon contemporary fictional creatures, aliens especially. Also… RAT-BAT-SPIDER-CRAB WILL ALWAYS BE THE BEST MARTIAN! 😉

  6. Space! Martians!!! I love that the show went there. I loved it and I'm loving the space theme that's happeneing this summer. Thanks!

  7. If you ever want to really see something from out of this world, just drive to Detroit, Michigan. Might as well be Aliens lol.

  8. Another great video, and hats off to the animators and writers too! Might I suggest the Wendigo as a topic? And more of Lord Socrates Fancy-Pants please!

  9. 0:30 : Huh, I didn't know (or didn't remember) that those guys came from Mars.
    Now I know (YepYepYepYepUhHuhUhHuh! ^_^)
    1:45 : Showing my nerdinenss, those theories gave birth to one of my favorite pencil-and-paper Role Playing Games: Space: 1889 ("Science Fiction Role Playing in a more Civilized Age" ^_^):

  10. Could you do a video on nephlim or fallen angels, I think they're really interesting

  11. 3:55…. Ah, this is very highly debated. The idea that people thought it was real is most likely false. It is possible "some" people thought it was real, but your short line doesn't really explain this enough

  12. I love the Yip Yips too! Do you think an episode on the Loch Ness Monster may be a possibility in the future?

  13. Indeed, there's probably going to be intelligent martians in the future! Mars will doubtlessly become an inhabited planet before 2050.

  14. Although Wells's classic work is the best I am reminded of later but still quite classic sci-fi.

    Old science fiction cover – Gernsback era – has martians "Poodle" like. Big ears (less oxygen so harder to hear) body covered in poofy fluff, long nose for insulation and again less air – dark/purplish skin – overall very intelligent with "Atomic Rifles"… Neat speculation. BUT they later ran a cover, probably set in the fiction's "Past" as the first cover showed them shaking hands with an earth-man. But they looked over images of earth, scientific data (at the time limited to visual telescopes) and constructed a creature that looked like "Creature from the Black Lagoon" kind of…

  15. Considering that recently it has been identified that there is still a form of liquid water on Mars and that due to the presence of saturated salts there were large bodies of saline water at one point in its distant history saying there were canals on Mars wasn't that far from truth. However this is not to say there were any kind of artificial structures, just saying that there were water courses in the far distant history of the planet.

    Additional Interesting thoughts: If you subscribe to the collision theory of how the moon was formed and then the sub branch of that theory that the thing that hit us was from Mars there is also the chance that life on our planet was formed from the exchange of amino acids from that collision and a few comets. So you might actually be looking at a Martian every time you look in the mirror. Not proven and a little far fetched, but still an interesting though to consider.

  16. No discussion of life on Mars is ever complete without the Face on Mars controversy. It's like talking about the Earth and leaving out its oceans.

  17. Now,it's Tic Tac spaceships off the coast of San Diego.
    I still say those are USA secret electromagnetic driven drones. Why the waters were churning.

  18. My high school has the "War of the World's" and I've read the book.
    Some of the tripods were destroyed by artillery or warships and they didn't have any sci-fi force fields
    But they also came from bullet like pods, not on lightning bolts.

  19. I’ve always been curious as to what fossils; primarily similar to dinosaur fossils here on earth exist on Mars or still exist on Mars.

  20. So is this also why aliens overall are portrayed as Humanoid Creatures? It all started with speculation of Mars?

  21. The video is nice overall but I gotta point out that one of your references for the non-humanoid evil martians was a card from 'Mars Attacks!'. The card depicts giant flies eating people. You said it's "similar to earthly insects" but it's not similar at all: they are earthly insects. In the cards, the martians use growing technology to make Earth insects giant and control them.

  22. I am confused? Is there really someone who studies mythology for life? I mean is there mythologist as a professional?

  23. According to Buckaroo Banzai, the Red Lectroids from Planet 10 had manipulated Orson Wells into making the radio broadcast of "War of the Worlds" to cover for their invasion in October, 1938. Those Red Lectroids are devious buggers I tell you.

  24. Hem…
    In Italy the word "canali", wich is plural for "canale", is used to indicate artificial water structures used to irrigate crops or to flow water in the cities…

    Wich is what you call…

    A "canal"…

    Not a "channel"…

    In italy, the word "canale" is used to indicate the irrigational structures and, in recent times, things related to tecnology like, for exemple, television channels.

    In italian, many words are reused and assume different meaning.

    "Canale" is one of them.

    Here is the example:

    "Scusate, sono molto dispiaciuto, ma devo cambiare canale "

    "Excuse, I am very sorry, but I have to change the channel "

    "Pietro, prendi una pala. Il canale si è intasato"

    "Pietro, take the showel. The canal is clogged."

    I am pointing this out because it was a big error on your part.

    It was no minstraslation…

    The word "canale/channel" did not even exist at the time of Galileo…

    In fact.

    The canals described by him made people immagine the existence of aliens even in his time.

    The church was even open to proclaim that the work of God is so immense and great, that he must have created entities in other worlds to reach the same destiny of man.

    These aliens were not realy aliens thought.

    They were just humans who lived on other planets.

    You can see these "aliens" in rare pieces of art of the time.

    Before you ask.
    Galileo was not judged because of these discoveries.

    The church allowed the evolution of science as long as it did not negate the word of the Bible.

    Galileo fell from grace solely because of his Sun hypotesis.

    Before that, Galileo and his MANY other discoveries were approved and encouraged by the church.

    The Pope of the time was literaly his best friend.

    They walked around the pontificial gardens and chatted about science for hours.

    People tend to take the whole "negate the sun centricity thing" too seriously…

    Some time later the church allowed and promoted the eliocentric idea of the universe…

    There's the proof right in front of st.Pietro/Peter

    The design of the plaza is directly based upon the eliocentric system.

    The central mothif is that of a sun, and the two fountains rapresent the points in wich the sun is placed inside the ellitic movement of the planets…

    The plaza is ellititc…

    People tend to think that the ways of one period of time apparently incriminate the whole…
    Wich is dumb…

    The church became strict only in certain periods of stress.

    Saying that the church was ALWAYS against science is just historicaly wrong.
    And undermines the great importance that the church had in the developement of science.

    And medicine.

    The church helped the evolution of medicine too.

    With the first hospitals and so on…

  25. We must go to Mars, its been 50 years sense we went to Moon… Why are we still here ? Its been way too long…

  26. Masculinist fantasy?!? So now we can't even discuss classic literature like Burrough's PRINCESS OF MARS without being told how chauvinistic/misogynistic these sci-fi/fantasy stories are. Whatever!!!

  27. No alcohol!? That's a bummer.

    I thought this was about aliens, not about the dreaded straight, white, males. 😂

  28. Mars as a utopia ? hmm lets see , deadly sun radiation due to thin atmosphere , no water , no oxygen , full of carbon dioxide , not even a single hint that life is supposed to live there at this current state , freezing , mega tornadoes , sand storms , no seasons , basically a dead planet with no geological active elements … thus no refreshing of the soil , nothing can grow , to get there and stay there it's gonna need a lot of work and suffering , no supply from earth to be done easily because the trip is gonna be 2 years long , probability of survival bare minimum if we don't have any accidents until we get there for example on the landing or even worse on launch , a one way ticket to a freezing hell !

    The Utopia is here and we need to preserve it and take care of it as much as possible.
    I understand why mars colonization is important for the history of mankind and i am excited too ! but we can do that and also focus on earth at the same time , we are a multitasking species anyway … am i right ?

  29. Canali in italian means both canals and channels, we deduce the meaning by the context. I think that's Lowell didn't make a mistake but he deliberately chose the wrong word to support his theory 🙂

  30. Hey doc let me tell you a secret….we are martians!!!
    Only humans has severe problems with bones and our sleep cycle is based at 25h day….guess how much hours is a day at Mars???and we are lets say alergic to Sun light…to much of it and we will have burnes…we have been brought here a very vary long time ago….earth is nothing more than a beautiful prison.
    Why is Mars a baren wasteland??? Well life was destroyed by nuclear war and i am afraid that this will happen here too….there were nukes expliding in the history but few….like in the Pakistan or what is known in the Bible as Sodoma and Gomora…both were in that time Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
    Nukes are good in a way….they are keeping us safe from invasions but on the other hand a hot heads and human pride and greed can be our Armagedon….that is why THEY are not allowing us to further explore our celestial neighbourhood….we are not allowed to go further than Moon….and it is also artificialy made…so….we need to evolve or we will be in a prison for a long long time

  31. What about Tikbalang from Philippines, or Kapre, Dwende (elves), Aswang, Manananggal, and so much more!! I want you guys to make a content about Philippine folklore creatures that our country has many to offer. Thank you!

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