Why we don’t need to worry about being ‘The Breakfast of Aliens’
It’s 1988 and the Blob has crash landed outside of Small Town, USA. Instead of a space ship, the blob travels inside a meteor that cracks open as it smashes into the ground. An old hobo who saw the meteor crash down comes to check it out and poke the pink slime that oozes out with a stick starting a chain of events that leads to the blob eating everyone it comes into contact with and growing larger by the second.
This makes sense though, right? Alien thing eats people, digests them and uses their proteins and everything to grow larger itself.
After all, that’s what we do with bacon double cheese burgers, isn’t it?
But the reason we can eat cheese burgers is because the cows (and pigs) they’re made of are, themselves, built from the same amino acids, nucleic acids, fats, and carbohydrates that we are. We chew them up, digest them down to these building blocks and then rebuild them into our own cells.
So, why would aliens do anything differently?
For one thing, even if we can accept that amino acids are used to make proteins on this planet and on others, the group of twenty amino acids we use is by no means the only way life could have worked out.
Amino acids can be incredibly variable. The core structure, as seen below consists of an amino group, a carboxylic acid group, and an ‘R’ group that can be just about anything. Further, this structure creates a type of symmetry known as chirality (which, frankly, is just Greek for ‘handedness’). This is described very well in a page describing the work of NASA researcher, Stephanie Getty.
What I’m getting at is, there’s no reason that aliens would be able to use our amino acids (and possibly not other molecules either, but the case for Amino Acids is cleaner). This doesn’t mean they can’t hurt us, kill us, and chew us up. But it does mean that we probably could not be digested well, resulting in an awful case of alien colitis.
About an hour into the film, we find out that the blob is no alien, but a biological weapon. Some sort of bacteria sent into space where it mutates into a super-organism hell bent on eating all the Earth. – Let’s just say that there are a hell of a lot of easier ways to induce mutations into bacteria than sending it into space.
Because this thing started as an organism from Earth, then everything I said above is moot and there’s no reason why the blob can’t eat us.
If the blob was an alien, one thing I do like about the blob is its willingness to accept that aliens probably don’t look like us. There’s nothing to say that they couldn’t, but it would be pretty surprising if evolution designed two completely separate life forms into a similar shape with no relationship whatsoever.
The Blob 1988: Funny enough to merit watching despite how bad you might find it otherwise.