Humans attempting to talk to aliens would be like ants trying to chat to people, boffins say.

They reckon Earthlings will be so mentally inferior any communication bid would be lost in translation.

The only common ground would probably be maths.

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Scientists say as the solar system is only 4.5 billion-years-old compared to the near-14 billion-year-old universe evolution is likely to have pushed ETs’ cognitive skills far beyond humans’.

BBC Two drama documentary First Contact: An Alien Encounter investigates what may happen if humans find evidence aliens exist.

It plays out a scenario in which an extraterrestrial signal has been picked up coming from a moving object which can be traced back to a distant star.

But when it comes to talking back there are bigger issues than just a language barrier.

Professor Michael Garrett, director of the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics in Manchester, said: There might be other things out there that have a capacity that is completely beyond what we can even imagine. It's a bit like ants trying to communicate with humans.’’

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Dr Louisa Preston, an astrobiologist at University College London, said: I bet we are like ants.We have really inflated egos about our ability to think.

If you think about 13.8 billion years compared to our 4.5 billion years the chances are we are the ants.’’

The TV show suggests if signals of extraterrestrial life or UFOs are detected on Earth the chances are the creators will be long extinct.

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That makes the hunt for alien life `celestial archaeology’.

Dr Hakeen Oluseyi, an astrophysicist at George Mason University in Virginia, US, said:Searching for life in our solar system is one thing.

`But searching for life beyond might be closer to archaeology because we are receiving signals from dead civilisations.’’

Dr Jill Tarter, chair emeritus at the SETI Institute in California, US, compared it to a relationship with Shakespeare, the Ancient Greeks and the Roman Empire, where we can't ask questions of them but they have provided a wealth of information’.

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