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Nor is it used for Earth Humans who must register with the immigration service.
In general, Aliens fall into two distinct groups, REALLY ALIENS and ALIENS WITH FOREHEAD RIDGES.1) Really Aliens are truly unearthly. The occasional intelligent bear or radish may also appear, or practically anything else.
Exosemanticists have their work cut out understanding them, and exopsychologists in figuring out what they're all about.
Relations between humans and Really Aliens are necessarily limited, since we have so little in common with them.
Is it easy to tell a live seed from a dead seed, or either from a grain of sand?
For that matter, is it always easy to tell whether a man is merely unconscious or quite dead?
The "science" is called Astrobiology, the famous "science in search of a subject". You can keep up on the latest news, but for now if you want aliens, you are going to have to create them yourself.
Suggested reading includes The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction's entry on "Aliens", Steve Colgan's Worlds of Possibility blog, Life Everywhere by David Darling, The Science of Aliens by Clifford Pickover and Aliens and Alien Societies by Stanley Schmidt.[first use unknown, but goes back at least to 1940s]General SF term for an extraterrestrial or alien possessing human-level intelligence (see sophont).
What they all have in common is that they are Really Alien.This is partly because it is not clear what we would fight them over, and partly because they may have an alarmingly high TECHLEVEL, making war with them a dangerously one-sided proposition. See COSMIC BACKGROUND HISTORY.2) Aliens with Forehead Ridges.Much more common - especially in HOLLYWOOD SCIFI - than Really Aliens, these are species that look almost exactly like Earth Humans, except for some distinguishing visible feature such as, well, forehead ridges, or odd-shaped ears, or whatever.Etymologically, and in mainstream English the word means "feeling" but is rare and now archaic.[From Poul Anderson's `Polesotechnic League' stories, going back at least to 1963]An evolved biological intelligence.Implies human-level cognitive and linguistic ability but not necessarily tool use.