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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: No Offense
By Reclaimer77 on 4/26/2010 4:40:01 PM , Rating: -1
Name one exploration of new areas of earth (by the supposedly civil and comparatively advanced Europeans) that did not go well for the indigenous rival? Australia? South America? North America? Africa*?

UUGHH !!! Didn't I already make this distinction? Steven is projecting what would happen if an super advanced alien race came to earth, based on how we handled things THOUSANDS OR HUNDREDS OF YEARS AGO when we were less advanced, more ignorant, and less tolerant. Do you understand the problem with this line of thinking??

As for what we have that they might want....

There is no "they".

extended living space on what is a pretty nice planet. Y'know.

A planet who's atmosphere could be as toxic to them as it is healthy for us. A planet full of bacteria and germs they aren't familiar with. Shall I go on?

And think how stupid what you just said actually is. It would take less time to find, or terraform, a planet to their liking than it would take getting to Earth to conquer it in the first place ! And why do you assume they want to come here to take over? Oh that's right, because that's what we did to the Indians!!! That's just brilliant connect the dots logic there...

RE: No Offense
By Frankenshteen on 4/26/2010 6:05:57 PM , Rating: 3
UUGHH !!! Didn't I already make this distinction? Steven is projecting what would happen if an super advanced alien race came to earth, based on how we handled things THOUSANDS OR HUNDREDS OF YEARS AGO when we were less advanced, more ignorant, and less tolerant. Do you understand the problem with this line of thinking??

I must have missed the headline about the global eradication of war for territory.

Hawking was expressing how things might go down based on the only species he is able to use as a frame of reference.

Would things unfold in this manner? Maybe. Maybe not. Noone knows. Not Hawking. Not even you, Reclaimer77.

I don't think Hawking ever claimed to be an expert on extra-terrestrial life.

RE: No Offense
By iano80 on 4/26/2010 6:19:06 PM , Rating: 5
I think the point Stephen is trying to make is that the likelihood of a benevolent race showing up is less than a malevolent one. Imagine the scenarios of 3 advanced (interstellar) races passing by:

Incredibly advanced race A: Neutral - nothing to see here bunch of monkeys, move along.

Incredibly advanced race B: Benevolent - the best thing we can do for these people is leave them alone to develop themselves.

Incredibly advanced race C: Malevolent - nice planet.. useful servile race (if properly motivated).. we'll take it!

Of course you also have to take into account that just because you're advanced doesn't mean you're above hopping across the border if you see something you like (or perceive as a possible future threat). We might have been bad years ago - unfortuntely hundreds/thousands of years later - we're still at it (unless two world wars and several 'minor' conflicts since don't count).

And let's not even start on a 'space religion' - covenant anyone?

It all comes down to who's more likely to make an appearance and why. Stephen seems (rightly or wrongly) to think that maybe we shouldn't stick our heads above the parapet until we can actually compete on something close to a level playing field. I kind-of agree.

"This is from the It's a science website." -- Rush Limbaugh
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