What if aliens invaded the Earth?

Humans haven’t explored our own solar system (or the universe beyond) well enough to rule out the presence of extraterrestrials. How cool would it be if we found out aliens did exist? Aliens that could pay us a visit from outside our solar system would possess amazing technology light-years ahead of our own. After all, these travelers figured out how to cross vast distances between stars. But not everyone is ready to welcome E.T. to Earth. Physicist Stephen Hawking believed in extraterrestrials and feared that any alien invaders would likely use their technology to ransack our planet for its resources.He thought Earthlings might be enslaved or wiped out. Maybe those aliens should stay just where they are.

What if you had wings like a bird?

Having wings doesn’t automatically mean something’s capable of flying. Strength and weight are key factors in whether an object with wings can soar. So … if a human had wings, could they take flight? Compare a winged person to the largest animal that ever flew: Quetzalcoatlus (pronounced KET-zul-koh-AHT-luss). This pterosaur (or winged reptile) had the wingspan of a fighter plane. Scientists aren’t sure whether the animal took to the air easily or if it needed a big breeze to take off. But its body had evolved for flight, with hollow bones and powerful wing muscles. Humans, sadly, are bound for the ground, wings or no wings. Our bones are strong enough but too dense, keeping us from ever soaring like a bird—or Quetzalcoatlus.

What if Bigfoot turned out to be real?

Believers insist that Bigfoot could be a surviving member of a long-extinct species, such as Gigantopithecus (an oversize ape that disappeared hundreds of thousands of years ago), a Neanderthal early human, or some ancient undiscovered member of the great ape family. If Bigfoot was real, news shows would scramble for Sasquatch interviews, and sneaker companies would pay the ape big bucks to endorse their size-20 athletic shoes. But scientists would definitely be most excited about the discovery. Evidence of a surviving population of apes or early humans would fill in the gaps of human development and might prompt people to wonder about the existence of a few other similar legendary creatures. In other words: Could the yeti of the Himalayan mountains be far behind?

What if you could wield the Force?

Pretend you’re a Jedi knight who hasn’t succumbed to the evil dark side of the Star Wars galaxy. Extra strength comes with your training, but the real power is telekinesis. That’s the flexing of mental muscles to open doors, lift heavy objects, and chuck tons of stuff with just a wave of your hand. A Force wielder’s second-best trick is the power of suggestion. In many of the Star Wars movies, Jedi knights often get their way just by asking. In real life, you’re better off influencing people with your magnetic personality and the use of the magic word: Please.

What if you were related to royalty?

Look far back enough in time and everyone has someone famous in their family. It’s simple math. Your two parents had four parents, who had eight parents, who had 16 parents, and on and on until about a thousand years ago, when every mother and father who lived in, say, Europe, was the common ancestor of everyone alive with European roots today. And, yep, these common ancestors include kings and queens. People are considered relatives if they share ancestors, so that means if you’re of European descent, you’re probably related to royalty from as recently as a thousand years ago—and quite possibly sooner. Unfortunately that isn’t going to land you a guest room at England’s Buckingham Palace. But the next time you spot a royal on TV, you can say, “Hey, that’s my distant, distant cousin!”

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