You don’t want to know the convoluted mental shenanigans that led to this topic, suffice to say ‘long commute to work’.
The scenario is that a humanoid alien visitor (lets call him ‘Bob’ and him ‘him’ though ‘he’ is not necessarily of obvious gender) has landed and made contact with humanity as a representative of his species. All preliminaries over Bob has intimated that he is quite happy to participate in any tests humans would like to run on him to learn as much as they can about his species.
So, what happens? I imagine there’d be physical tests (strength, endurance, reflexes etc), mental tests (IQ tests, personality tests etc) and so on, but what?
Lets leave aside the ‘Alien Autopsy’ documentary, having no desire to cause a genocidal interstellar conflict humanity has wisely decided to keep Bob in one piece. How much could we physically tell about a live alien without resorting to cutting him up?
Could we stick him in an MRI scanner and hope for the best or are those machines calibrated for humans?
Ideally the ambassador would just hand us a copy of their anatomy simulator for alien med students. I don’t think we would risk subjecting an ambassador to any indignities.
If you’re an evil mad scientist however, you don’t care about diplomacy or ethics. So x-rays and MRIs would certainly be of interest, plus whatever intelligence tests we can create or adapt to the purpose.
Good point, lets assume Bob forgot to bring it with him! Although the question is really about how we’d study any sentient ‘other’, you could assume ‘Bob’ is someone who accidently slipped through a dimensional gate and is stranded here and so on.
We’re trying not to get humanity smeared to a thin paste over the Earths surface by Bobs bastard asteroid-dropping cousins! Though unless Bob was unexpectedly sensitive to X-Rays or MRI scanners I don’t see how they’d be a problem.
How well are we able to communicate with him? Enough to explain about x-rays, MRI, etc., to find out if those tests are a problem?
I’d imagine that researchers would do things like obtain all possible body fluids (as politely as possible) for testing (including finding out if we have any infectious things that are going to cause trouble, try to get a sense of nutritional needs, etc.).
Sadly, I’d assume that the majority of tests we’d run would be to determine exactly what the trick is and who’s responsible for it, i.e., how did they make a human look like a gray, or a puppeteer, or a Xanti misfit or whatever.
Okay, the puppeteer and the misfit would be kind of hard to fake up from a human being, but you get the idea.
How little work we could do in the mines before they zapped us with the pain ray. How much ore we had to produce above our quota before we were given an extra ration of soylent green. That sort of thing.
Seriously, if Bob was our very first specimen of extraterrestrial life, the first order of business would be determining how much his basic biochemistry resembles Earth life. Does he have DNA, how does he metabolize oxygen, can he safely eat and digest the same basic foodstuffs (carbohydrates, proteins, lipids) that we do? This could be done using basic tissue and body fluid samples. I suppose the next order of business would be gross anatomy- is he a para-vertebrate or does he have a novel body plan only superficially resembling terrestrial tetrapods? MRI and ultrasound would be the safest imaging technologies to use, with CAT scans after his tolerance to x-rays was established.
I’d be very, very careful about using an MRI, given that it uses a very powerful magnetic field. What if they have magnetism based senses? What if they have natural metallic organs or implants? I doubt it would go over well if we accidentally ripped out a major organ.