Alien from 'Life' Invades! (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

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 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."

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. 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. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.