Famed physicist Stephen Hawking warns that trying to talk with aliens could get us all killed. The British scientist notes in the Discovery Channel’s new series, “Into The Universe with Stephen Hawking,” that humans might want to stop attempting to communicate with aliens, because discovering their existence and making contact may not be in our species’ best interest. He noted that aliens discovering Earth might be more like “V” than “E.T.”
Stephen Hawking points out: “We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet.”
“If aliens visit us,” he adds, “the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans.”
And if that scenario isn’t close enough to the storyline in “Avatar,” Hawking also suggests that aliens whose resources are depleted on their home world might become nomadic, looking for worlds to conquer and exploit.
At the same time, Stephen Hawking doesn’t seem to think that humans will discover intelligent life on their own anytime soon, relegating human discoveries to animals or microbes, so if the “Avatar” parallel occurs, it will most likely be humans on the receiving end, he believes.
Is there really a chance that humans might come into contact with aliens — besides in our imaginations and on the silver screen (and not including the possibility that close encounters of the fourth kind have already occurred)? The possibility exists, at least in theory. The Drake Equation, composed by University of California – Santa Cruz astronomer and astrophysicist Dr. Frank Drake, suggests that there could be at least 10,000 worlds just within our own Milky Way galaxy that could harbor intelligent life that might have the capability of communicating with the Earth. And if one multiplies that 10,000 by the 125 billion or more galaxies photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope…
There are passive (receiving) programs like SETI (Search for ExtraTerrrestrial Intelligence) and the Kepler Mission (a space observatory studying a fixed portion of space in order to determine the existence of extrasolar planets) that are engaged in helping search for extraterrestrial intelligence, but there have also been attempts to contact other worlds or civilizations.
In 1974, the Arecibo message (named for the giant radio telescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico) was transmitted toward the globular star cluster M13. It consisted of a binary digit message less than three minutes long that included information about the Earth and Solar System, DNA formulae, important numerical information, and a graphic of a human. Composed by the aforementioned Frank Drake and noted scientist Carl Sagan, the message was mostly symbolic, considering that it is estimated that it will take the message 25,000 years to reach M13.
“Hard” messages in the form of plaques and gold records were launched with probes in 1972, 1973 (Pioneers 10 and 11), and 1977 (two Voyager missions). The plaques contained depictions of the Earth and the solar system and a human form. The golden records held those same depictions, but also contained pictures and sounds from Earth.
In 1999 and 2003, the Cosmic Call messages were broadcast from the Evpatoria radio telescope in Evpatoria, Ukraine. Included in the messages was the original Arecibo Message, along with various other data and messages, including the “Rosetta Stone,” a vocabulary guide of symbols that represent numbers and mathematical functions.
But Stephen Hawking, one of the world’s foremost thinkers, believes that these attempts signaling alien intelligence that they aren’t alone in the universe might bring the Earth unwanted visitors conquerors. The possibility exists that the brilliant physicist could be proven correct.
Of course, he could also be wrong. That possibility exists as well.
“Into The Universe with Stephen Hawking” premieres on the Discovery Channel on Sunday, April 25.