Print 133 comment(s) - last by bigdawg1988.. on May 4 at 9:00 PM

Intelligent life is more likely to be like the Borg than Vulcans, according to Stephen Hawking. Hawking says humans should try to avoid contact with intelligent aliens.  (Source: National Geographic)
Don't count on friendly aliens, like ET, says Hawking; they're likely looking to conquer, colonize, and exploit

Stephen Hawking, 68, has long suffered from a motor neurone disease that has extremely limited his powers of communication and movement, but that has never stopped him from  making important contributions to scientific theory.  Hawking just finished up a three-year project, a TV series called Stephen Hawking's Universe, which will air on Sunday May 9 at 9 p.m. on the Discovery Channel.

In the show he will offer up some controversial assessments on extraterrestrial life and what it might be like.  

Hawking is a firm believer that alien life does exist.  The universe contains hundreds of billions of galaxies, each with hundreds of millions of stars, many which have been shown to have planets in orbit.  Numbers virtually guarantee that life has evolved elsewhere, Hawking believes.  He states, "To my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational.  The real challenge is to work out what aliens might actually be like."

So what might these extraterrestrial species be like?  Hawking believes that most are likely "simple" species, similar to those that have evolved on Earth; ranging from microbes to land animals.

However, Hawking believes there is likely intelligent life out there.  And he's frightened by that possibility.

The aliens in Hawking's vision would be much like the malefic beasties in the blockbuster science-fiction flick 
Independence Day.  He describes, "We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet. I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonize whatever planets they can reach."

He says that humans should try to avoid alien contact as we colonize space.  He states that such contact would be "a little too risky".  What would result?  He states, "If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans."

In addition to his theories about vicious aliens, Hawking suggests that based on examples of life surviving on Earth in extreme environments, life could be found in unbelievable places, such as in the center of stars or even floating in interplanetary space.

Hawking's colleagues concur on this point.  Lord Martin Rees, a British royal astrophysicist, told his students in lecture earlier this year that humans might not be able to recognize or understand forms of life they stumble across in space.  He states, "I suspect there could be life and intelligence out there in forms we can’t conceive.  Just as a chimpanzee can’t understand quantum theory, it could be there are aspects of reality that are beyond the capacity of our brains."

How close could primitive life be?  Professor Brian Cox, University of Manchester's "rockstar physicist" suggests we look in our own solar backyard.  He says that Mars, Europa (a moon of Jupiter), and Titan (a moon of Saturn) are likely places to find it.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: Disagree
By Ard on 4/26/2010 10:50:17 AM , Rating: 2
I would say the numbers are against you. Even if we surmise that the chances of life forming are one in a billion, that still leaves a billion times life will form/evolve (and that's taking the low estimate, as the high end estimates that there are a trillion, billion planets in the universe based on what we've observed so far).

As to the ability of sentient life to reach us, I would simply look to the anthropic principle (taken out of context for this example but useful nonetheless). If aliens were able to reach us, it is undoubtedly the case that they would have the technological means to do so. It also goes without saying that they would be far more intelligent than our species. And, when you get right down to it, if an alien species developed closer in time to the formation of the universe (there's about a 9 billion year gap between the age of earth and the age of the universe), it makes sense that they would be more intelligent because they would potentially have millions to billions of years of a head start on us.

While it's certainly delving into the realm of science fiction at the moment, who says that there isn't an ability to bend (or warp to use Star Trek parlance) space to effectively travel faster than light without breaking that "law". Just because we can't fathom, now, how to traverse ridiculous expanses of space in a reasonable time period, doesn't mean that we won't be able to someday.

All that to say, I think it's definitely more likely than not that there is other life in the universe of some of that life will undoubtedly be sentient. Is there any proof yet? Of course not. That's why I don't say it in absolute terms (nor do you in taking the opposite position). It's simply more likely that there is than there isn't based on the numbers. For me to think otherwise is to take a very egocentric and irrational approach to the sheer vastness of the universe.

"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il

Related Articles

Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki