Men in Black 3 Men In Black 3 is due for its home entertainment release on Blu-ray and DVD today and to celebrate this fact HeyUGuys were invited to London to explore the origins of the universe and to find out from some real scientists what it would take to actually find real alien life forms.

Never being ones to pass up on such a fabulous opportunity my youngest son and I arrived at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich on a wet, windy and overcast October evening and were treated to not only a spectacular view of London’s Docklands and the O2 from the hill on which the observatory sits but also the prospect of a guided tour led by the superbly named Greg Smye-Rumsby who was at least as interesting as popular TV astronomer Brian Cox.

Astronomer Greg quizzes the recruits

Before everything started we had a quick stroll through the galleries and took in the incredibly impressive photos on display in the photography gallery including some truly stunning ones from the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition. Once the more junior guests were kitted out in their Men In Black uniforms we all watched a superb short video in the “Astronomy Inspires” gallery explaining the history of the universe from the Big Bang to now and then the junior MIBs got down to trying to launch a simulated space mission of their own followed by a chance to explore the interactive exhibits in the various galleries. Dressed in their suits and official MIB sunglasses the junior MIB agents certainly looked the part as they got to grips with their challenges as you can see from the video below. Greg then gathered the prospective MIB agents around the 4 billion year-old meteorite in the lobby and quizzed them to see if they’d picked up enough information during the evening to make the grade and they certainly showed that they’d all  been paying attention.

Next we went to see the observatory’s massive 28-foot telescope with its 28-inch lens and while the poor weather prevented any viewing it was amazing to see this fabulous instrument which will be celebrating its 120th birthday next year and to walk the same steps that Edmond Halley, second Royal Astronomer and he of cometary fame, trod. The culmination of our MIB experience was the outstanding planetarium show with Greg as our pilot zipping backwards and forwards across the galaxy showing us such things as the trajectories of the planets and what The Plough would look like from the other side. If you haven’t seen it before it’s an awesome show in a truly spectacular venue.

MIB recruits hard at work

Getting down to some serious science Greg, our host astronomer, explained that the three key components for life that scientists are looking for are carbon, water and oxygen and that while there are some signs that Mars may have had water in the past it seems to have gone now though it can’t be ruled out that some remnants remain, possibly containing some form of primitive life though nothing that would be capable of communication. More intriguingly it’s not outside the realms of the possible that life on Earth was seeded by an asteroid from another solar system which could mean that rather than fearing an alien invasion we could be the alien invasion!

In reality while the statistical chances of their being lifeforms on planets around other stars is high the possibility of us communicating with them is currently some distance the wrong side of remote due to the truly mind-boggling distances involved, although Greg did mention that a couple of weeks ago some mathematicians worked out that the speed of light could be broken and have left some very perplexed physicists to work out how mathematical theory could be turned into physical reality. I’m waiting to see that one in the news!

While we weren’t going to make contact with aliens during our evening one place where alien life is not in short supply is in Men In Black 3

In MEN IN BLACK™3, Agents J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones) are back…in time. J has seen some inexplicable things in his 15 years with the Men in Black, but nothing, not even aliens, perplexes him as much as his wry, reticent partner. But when K’s life and the fate of the planet are put at stake, Agent J will have to travel back in time to put things right. J discovers that there are secrets to the universe that K never told him – secrets that will reveal themselves as he teams up with the young Agent K (Josh Brolin) to save his partner, the agency and the future of humankind.

With the evening drawing to a close our happy MIB recruits bade farewell to Greg, the observatory and a uniquely memorable and inspirational evening.

Huge thanks has to go out to gifted communicator and astronomer Greg plus all of the kind folks at DNA PR for putting on such a fabulous event! Enjoy the video!

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