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Alien from 'Life' Invades Space.com! (And I Live to Talk About It)

NEW YORK ― The new science-fiction thriller "Life" focuses on the discovery of alien life from Mars that might not be so nice, so what's in this box the folks behind the movie sent Space.com?

First of all, it's not every day you receive a box marked "Biohazard," and I admit it piqued my interest. I called our photographer Jeremy Lips in to document this box-opening in case any creepy xenomorph was hiding inside. So, how to open it?

We use only the most scientific tools at Space.com. No, really.

After steeling my nerves for a close encounter, I open the box. Inside, it's filled with shredded paper to cushion whatever it is that is STILL hiding inside the box. If it's a face-hugger or has tentacles, I'm out. Sorry, space fans.

Hiding beneath the packaging? More packaging. Actually, it's a small foam box hiding a glass cylinder and some magnetic fobs. Curioser and curioser. Internally, I'm stumped. Externally, Jeremy is laughing at my inability to grasp what he already knows.... 

It's the alien from "Life"! Actually, it's viscous magnetic stuff inside a vial of clear liquid that gives a truly eerie twist to lava lamps. I tip my hat to Jeremy, who realized the magnets were magnets in the first place.

Whew! I survived! It was definitely fun to mess with this small-scale version of the "Life" alien that terrorizes the International Space Station in the film, at least based on the trailers so far. And even better to know the science behind the strange stuff.

The science-fiction movie "Life," directed by Daniel Espinosa  and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds and more, opens in theaters nationwide today (March 24). It is rated "R."

Email Tariq Malik at tmalik@space.com or follow him @tariqjmalik and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com.

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Tariq Malik

SPACE.COM EDITOR IN CHIEF — Tariq joined the Space.com team in 2001 as a staff writer, and later editor, covering human spaceflight, exploration and space science. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Google+, Twitter and on Facebook.