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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.

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RE: Disagree
By Lucid48 on 4/26/2010 12:21:58 PM , Rating: 2
Problem is that most humans beleive that things only existed as long as we have.

Like you said the universe is 13.75+ BILLION years old and there are billions of galaxies and trillions of solar systems.....Wake the hell up and open your minds. We are very likely not the only ones in this and there are probobly many civilisations that have or still exist before we ever were.

RE: Disagree
By wgbutler on 4/26/2010 1:24:41 PM , Rating: 1

Like you said the universe is 13.75+ BILLION years old and there are billions of galaxies and trillions of solar systems

It is true that the Universe is 13.75 billion years old and there are trillions of solar systems. But for a sizeable part of the universe's history any kind of life couldn't have existed for various reasons (the universe was too hot, atoms didn't exist yet, galaxies hadn't formed yet, etc).

Additionally, only spiral galaxies produce the material to make planets, and the vast majority of a spiral galaxy in uninhabitable as any planets near the galactic core (where 95%+ of the stars are) will be fried by galactic radiation while any planets too close to the edge will lack the heavy elements needed to form life. All of the extra-solar planets we have discovered so far are nowhere near being able to support life.

It takes a very special set of conditions for a planet to be habitable for complex life, and the Earth is the only planet we have yet discovered that has these conditions.

For the enthusiasts who love to claim that there are probably hundreds or thousands of intelligent species out there, I suggest looking up "Fermi Paradox" and "Rare Earth Hypothesis". Also read up on the opinions from scientists like Frank Tipler and Francisco Ayala.

What they say makes sense. If you can explain why they are wrong and why things like plentiful Earth-like planets, abiogenesis, advanced macro-evolution from bacteria to intelligent species are probable events in the resources alloted to the Universe, then write up a scientific paper and get published before someone steals your ideas!

And I haven't even touched faster than light travel. If you can disprove the theory of relativity and explain how this is feasible, I'd love to hear it!


RE: Disagree
By Lucid48 on 4/26/2010 1:50:19 PM , Rating: 2
I suppose that you have heard of the multiverse and string theories.

RE: Disagree
By iano80 on 4/26/2010 7:38:51 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is butler, non of what you've quoted (including relativity) really disprove these events. Plentiful earth like planets don't need to exist - that mere 5% of stars is quite frankly a hell of a lot of stars (and I'm not sure where you can say with certainty only spiral galaxies can contain planets)

As for all the extra-solar planets we've discovered so far - we haven't yet got the resolution to detect objects much smaller than Jupiter around a star, it's WAY, WAY too early to say we won't detect earth size planets. Coupled with the fact we've examined a pathetically minute amount of stars and I'd say your assertion was premature.

As for the Fermi paradox and Rare earth hypothesis there are many reasons not to use the absence of contact as proof we will never encounter intelligent life (not least amongst which the infintesimal amount of time we've been looking).

Of-course I'm not going to say I can prove intelligent life exists, nor am I going to say FTL travel is possible - I have no more evidence than you do. That my friend, is the point.

At this point with our paltry knowledge of the universe to say with definity either way isn't science - it's religion.

RE: Disagree
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 4/27/2010 10:24:44 AM , Rating: 2
TextIt takes a very special set of conditions for a planet to be habitable for complex life, and the Earth is the only planet we have yet discovered that has these conditions.

That is if you assume only life forms like us exist. Maybe in other solars systems there are life forms that look like rocks to us, they need no air, and are so slow we can not seem them move (move a mile in two years). They can live in temps sub 5,000 F and up to 750 F. They live for 100,000 years... Now of course this sounds crazy to us but the point is we do not know all forms of life, so do not assume we know all forms of conditions needed to support life.

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