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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 tmouse on 4/27/2010 9:10:00 AM , Rating: 2
Why I do not agree entirely with all of reclaimers points I do feel it's too bad Hawkins allowed his personal views to be whored for publicity for his show (he is smart enough to figure out speculating on evil aliens would get allot of news coverage). It happens all too often with celebrities, their public "presence" gives their opinions far more weight than they ever should have. I'm a bit surprised he has this view and cannot see how he could even possibly determine any probability on the motivations of unknown life forms. Extrapolating from our point of reference is pure folly. Yes there is life elsewhere, most will probably be simple forms. Very little will be sentient by our standards. Far less will probably be similar to us and less than that will probably follow a pattern of development that one can extrapolate our experiences onto them to determine their motivations and behaviors (and even within this small population there is probably a complete spread of civilization from tribal to far more advanced). So I think the probability that most of the life we encounter will not be harmful (or really helpful) is far greater.
Why does everyone think if their more advanced than us they will be incapable of recognizing us as intelligent life? We have begun to appreciate the rights of our own primitive cultures in a relatively short period of time and we even protect "lower" life forms far more than ANY other life form on earth (note I'm not saying we do not destroy many more but there is not a single biological example of any other species that actively preserves another species it doesn't get a direct benefit from ,while we have).
The enslavement statements are totally ridiculous, even using our own history. Slavery WAS a necessary evil to advance societies before industrialization, after all there would be little time to develop arts, philosophy and science to the levels the "advanced" cultures of their time did if they had to grow their own food. If we came across an extraterrestrial "primitive" species that had simple societies or anything we could recognize as technology I really do not feel our first thoughts would be lets enslave them and rape their resources (and I should note I am far from a believer in the inherit goodness of man). To me it would be highly improbable for a space faring race to still be using slaves.
As for the colony ship reaching us and finding it too costly to go back, I highly doubt any intelligent race would send massive colony ships out blindly to be surprised by the presence of advance life on the destiny world. First contact will probably be more remote than an invading army, after that the results will run the full gambit from help them, ignore them to destroy them, there is absolutely nothing to base the outcome on. The bottom line is take his view with as large a grain of salt as mine, neither of us has ANY information to draw ANY conclusions, although I wish fellow scientists would stick to speculating only in our own fields where we have at least some knowledge to base our ramblings on.

RE: No Offense
By Anoxanmore on 4/27/2010 10:44:25 AM , Rating: 2

Slavery WAS a necessary evil to advance societies before industrialization, after all there would be little time to develop arts, philosophy and science to the levels the "advanced" cultures of their time did if they had to grow their own food

No, as soon as you said that, you are offically an idiot.

RE: No Offense
By AssBall on 4/27/2010 3:02:18 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know.... it has some truth to it.


Historically he makes a good point. And I wasn't aware that the "official office of idiot christening" was here to disinlighten us. I hope for your sake it pays well though.

RE: No Offense
By tmouse on 4/28/2010 8:35:11 AM , Rating: 2
I do not know if I should even dignify your response with an answer. It's easy for us to sit in our comfortable age and pass judgment while we feel morally superior since we simply do not have to do things other did. In THEORY a civilization could advance by a mutual agreement that some will do the grunt work to provide the basic necessities while others devote themselves to "higher activities" that advance a society above meager substantive existence. In practice it has never happened. Chinese, Greeks, Romans, Babylonians, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Europeans and Americans ALL used slaves (sorry if I left out anyone but it's not exactly a great honor to be on the slavers list). I feel confident we would not be where we are today if it were not for the inspiration of the inventors living off the sweat and blood of an underclass. Hopefully we continue to reduce this process but in many ways we still profit either directly or indirectly from developing nations with cheap labor that employ less than nice methods on their people or use poorer neighbors. The hope is we May someday be in some form of equal and symbiotic relationship with each other, but even though its better today , let's hope others we may meet have worked out the solution (sorry if that's a little Disneyesque)

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