Why So Many Aliens in Pop Culture Look Familiar


Aliens have been depicted countless times in cinema, from Georges Méliès's A Trip to the Moon (1902) to James Cameron's Avatar (2009). But despite the advancements in special-effects technology over the past century, most aliens we see on screen still share a lot of similarities—mainly, they look, move, and interact with the world like humans do. Vox explains how the classic alien look came to be in their new video below.

When you picture an alien, you may imagine a being with reptilian skin or big, black eyes, but the basic components of a human body—two arms, two legs, and a head with a face—are likely all there. In reality, finding an intelligent creature that evolved all those same features on a planet millions of light-years away would be an extraordinary coincidence. If alien life does exist, it may not look like anything we've ever seen on Earth.

But when it comes to science fiction, accuracy isn't always the goal. Creating an alien character humans can relate to may take priority. Or, the alien's design may need to work as a suit that can be worn by human performers. The result is a version of extraterrestrial life that looks alien— but not too alien—to movie audiences.

So if aliens probably won't have four limbs, two eyes, and a mouth, what would they look like if we ever met them person? These experts have some theories.

[h/t Vox]

8 Great Gifts for People Who Work From Home

World Market/Amazon
World Market/Amazon

A growing share of Americans work from home, and while that might seem blissful to some, it's not always easy to live, eat, and work in the same space. So, if you have co-workers and friends who are living the WFH lifestyle, here are some products that will make their life away from their cubicle a little easier.

1. Folding Book Stand; $7

Hatisan / Amazon

Useful for anyone who works with books or documents, this thick wire frame is strong enough for heavier textbooks or tablets. Best of all, it folds down flat, so they can slip it into their backpack or laptop case and take it out at the library or wherever they need it. The stand does double-duty in the kitchen as a cookbook holder, too.

Buy It: Amazon

2. Duraflame Electric Fireplace; $179

Duraflame / Amazon

Nothing says cozy like a fireplace, but not everyone is so blessed—or has the energy to keep a fire going during the work day. This Duraflame electric fireplace can help keep a workspace warm by providing up to 1000 square feet of comfortable heat, and has adjustable brightness and speed settings. They can even operate it without heat if they just crave the ambiance of an old-school gentleman's study (leather-top desk and shelves full of arcane books cost extra).

Buy It: Amazon

3. World Explorer Coffee Sampler; $32


Making sure they've got enough coffee to match their workload is a must, and if they're willing to experiment with their java a bit, the World Explorer’s Coffee Sampler allows them to make up to 32 cups using beans from all over the world. Inside the box are four bags with four different flavor profiles, like balanced, a light-medium roast with fruity notes; bold, a medium-dark roast with notes of cocoa; classic, which has notes of nuts; and fruity, coming in with notes of floral.

Buy it: UncommonGoods

4. Lavender and Lemon Beeswax Candle; $20


People who work at home all day, especially in a smaller space, often struggle to "turn off" at the end of the day. One way to unwind and signal that work is done is to light a candle. Burning beeswax candles helps clean the air, and essential oils are a better health bet than artificial fragrances. Lavender is especially relaxing. (Just use caution around essential-oil-scented products and pets.)

Buy It: Amazon

5. HÄNS Swipe-Clean; $15

HÄNS / Amazon

If they're carting their laptop and phone from the coffee shop to meetings to the co-working space, the gadgets are going to get gross—fast. HÄNS Swipe is a dual-sided device that cleans on one side and polishes on the other, and it's a great solution for keeping germs at bay. It's also nicely portable, since there's nothing to spill. Plus, it's refillable, and the polishing cloth is washable and re-wrappable, making it a much more sustainable solution than individually wrapped wipes.

Buy It: Amazon

6. Laptop Side Table; $100

World Market

Sometimes they don't want to be stuck at a desk all day long. This industrial-chic side table can act as a laptop table, too, with room for a computer, coffee, notes, and more. It also works as a TV table—not that they would ever watch TV during work hours.

Buy It: World Market

7. Moleskine Classic Notebook; $17

Moleskin / Amazon

Plenty of people who work from home (well, plenty of people in general) find paper journals and planners essential, whether they're used for bullet journaling, time-blocking, or just writing good old-fashioned to-do lists. However they organize their lives, there's a journal out there that's perfect, but for starters it's hard to top a good Moleskin. These are available dotted (the bullet journal fave), plain, ruled, or squared, and in a variety of colors. (They can find other supply ideas for bullet journaling here.)

Buy It: Amazon

8. Nexstand Laptop Stand; $39

Nexstand / Amazon

For the person who works from home and is on the taller side, this portable laptop stand is a back-saver. It folds down flat so it can be tossed into the bag and taken to the coffee shop or co-working spot, where it often generates an admiring comment or three. It works best alongside a portable external keyboard and mouse.

Buy It: Amazon

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18 Movies That Left Audiences Completely Confused

Leonardo DiCaprio's character in Inception was nearly as mind-boggled as viewers were.
Leonardo DiCaprio's character in Inception was nearly as mind-boggled as viewers were.
Warner Bros. Pictures

Some convoluted films culminate with a confessional speech, an expository epilogue, or a different method of clarifying what just went down. Others leave viewers with furrowed eyebrows, a racing brain, and the inclination to hop on the internet and hunt for their own answers.

By analyzing search data for film titles paired with terms like explanation, breakdown, meaning, plot, and ending explained, UK-based online retailer OnBuy.com compiled a list of 18 movies that utterly puzzled—and continue to bewilder—audiences. Most of the films are science fiction, psychological thrillers, or some combination of the two, with a few neo-noir mysteries and metaphysical dramas thrown in. And if there’s one director known for baffling sci-fi fans, it’s probably Christopher Nolan; an average of 80,090 people ask the internet to explain 2010’s Inception every month, and his films Interstellar and Memento also made the top 10.

Nolan is far from the only repeat filmmaker on the list. Mulholland Drive (2001) and Blue Velvet (1986), both written and directed by David Lynch, leave enough loose ends to send viewers straight to Google, and sisters Lana and Lilly Wachowski landed on the list for 1999’s The Matrix and 2012’s Cloud Atlas. It’s a testament to Stanley Kubrick’s ongoing popularity that 1980’s The Shining and 1968’s 2001: A Space Odyssey—both released decades before the rise of the internet—are still confounding audiences.

Certain actors seem to gravitate toward confusing movies, too. Leonardo DiCaprio starred in the top two films on the list, Inception and Shutter Island (both released in 2010), and Jessica Chastain appeared in both Interstellar and Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life (2011). Brad Pitt, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Michael Caine, and Joe Pantoliano also feature in at least two films below.

Scroll on to see which other movies made the list, along with their average monthly search volumes.

  1. Inception (2010) // 80,090
  1. Shutter Island (2010) // 55,700
  1. The Shining (1980) // 48,950
  1. Interstellar (2014) // 47,060
  1. Ex Machina (2014) // 32,440
  1. Donnie Darko (2001) // 32,310
  1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) // 31,260
  1. The Matrix (1999) // 27,120
  1. Citizen Kane (1941) // 25,480
  1. Memento (2000) // 24,060
  1. Vanilla Sky (2001) // 22,479
  1. Cloud Atlas (2012) // 22,250
  1. 12 Monkeys (1995) // 19,990
  1. Mulholland Drive (2001) // 18,990
  1. Adaptation (2002) // 18,920
  1. The Fountain (2006) // 15,420
  1. Blue Velvet (1986) // 15,380
  1. The Tree of Life (2011) // 14,440