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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 iano80 on 4/26/2010 7:14:57 PM , Rating: 2
At some point you have to go with what is within the realm of probability and not get carried away with hypotheticals. There are some very smart people (I've mentioned some names in my other posts) out there saying that the SETI program is a waste of money and should be shut down because the likelihood of another intelligent species existing anywhere else in the Universe is basically NILL.

Conjecture, a tenuous one at best - given the scale of the known universe (and the fact it's already happened once in abundance).

I don't think physics ever stated this. The fact of the matter is that anyone could look up in the sky and see birds flying around and realize that heaver than air flight was possible.

They looked up at the sky and made the claim with what they knew at the time and were later proven wrong.

Unless Einstein's theory of special relativity is fundamentally wrong (and its been proven correct over and over again in various experiments), anything with mass travelling faster than the speed of light is physically impossible.

Relativity also allows for wormholes and the manipulation of spacetime. You're partially correct that 'anything with mass travelling faster than the speed of light is physically impossible', this doesn't mean it's impossible for space itself to move faster. I said partially as it does not include particles travelling faster than the speed of light by default (i.e tachyons). Of course the technology to exploit this doesn't exist yet - but then neither did an atomic bomb a mere hundred years ago.

But I still hold to my position that we will never leave the solar system. Let's be frank here, we can't even balance our national budget and make social security or medicare solvent. And if we can't do those very basic things, colonizing a planet around Alpha Centauri is impossible.

All of our accomplishments so far have been acheived with let's face it far worse social backgrounds. I hate to be this blunt but this argument is dead before it left the ground (pardon the pun).

"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
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