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The aliens are coming

The other day I heard that Stephen Hawking thinks there’s probably life elsewhere in the universe, and it’s going to come to Earth with a bad attitude. Chances are, he said, that it will have used up its own planet and will want to conquer us and colonize Earth with its own kind.

Given this likelihood, he says, we should stop trying to make contact with alien life. (Apparently we’ve been beaming friendly messages out into the universe for years, in the hopes of attracting aliens. For example, US probes Pioneer 10 and 11, launched in 1972 and 1973, bore plaques of a naked man and woman and symbols conveying the positions of the Earth and the Sun. More recently, we beamed out the Beatles’ “Across the Universe” to the deep space region of the North Star.)

Leaving aside the question of the appropriateness of trying to attract aliens with naked pictures of ourselves, Hawking fears it is naive of us to try to attract them at all, given the likelihood that they will be predatory. We should just keep our heads low and hope they don’t find us.

I think one positive outcome of having hostile alien life attempt to conquer us and take over our planet, would be an instant sense of solidarity and unity among us. All our petty wars would end immediately. We’d stop fighting with each other, country against country and religion against religion. We’d all be on the same side: Humans against the Aliens.

Go Humans Go.

Hawking also questions whether intelligence is compatible with survival. The human race has put its own future in jeopardy through the misuse of intelligence and the creation of things like nuclear weapons.

“If the same holds for intelligent aliens, then they might not last long,” he said. “Perhaps they all blow themselves up soon after they discover that E=mc2. If civilizations take billions of years to evolve, only to vanish virtually overnight, then sadly we’ve next to no chance of hearing from them.”

Anyway. Let’s do a poll. Do you hope the aliens come during your lifetime, or after you’re gone? (If you’re reading this in a feedreader or email, you’ll need to pop over to knitnut.net to vote in the poll.)


16 comments to The aliens are coming

  • Do you hope the aliens come during your lifetime, or after you’re gone?

    Contact with extraterrestrials during my lifetime would be great, and undoubtedly very interesting. I don’t share Hawking’s concern.

    The energy and effort required to get here across interstellar space is quite possibly greater than what can be looted from the Earth. Also, it would probably be a lot easier to acquire from lifeless worlds closer to home.

  • Leaving aside the question of the appropriateness of trying to attract aliens with naked pictures of ourselves

    I think the Pioneer Plaque is rather classy.

  • After the first paragraph, I’m thinking “V”. (Yes, I am watching it and yes, I watched the first version in the 80s).

    After the second paragraph I had to go play my Rufus Wainwright version of that song.

    After the fourth paragraph, I’m thinking “Independence Day”. (And what is that smell!?)

  • Definitely after death – I have a total unnatural fear of aliens (which makes it odd that I’m a sci-fi fan) so I don’t want to meet any, thank you very much!

  • I clicked “after I die” ‘coz I am a wimp. But I think Milan has it right, and I suspect that Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous With Rama will be closer to the likelier possibilities.

  • Jenny

    During my life… but when I’m really old, so if they decide to kill us all, I won’t have missed as much! :)

  • I prefer the Men in Black theory. Elvis isn’t dead, he just went home…

  • XUP

    Could you add another option in your poll for people who don’t believe in Stephen Hawking? I mean, come on — He’s just some sort of science experiment. They were able to create a somewhat human form, but couldn’t figure out how to animate it, so they came up with this crazy idea of pretending he’s some sort of genius who talks like a robot. That way the science guys who made him can put all kinds of crazy theories out there and see what happens.

  • grace

    After I die. It is all I can do to cope with thoughts of exploding batteries.

  • Milan, me too, I want to be there for it. (As for the naked people, I’m not saying it’s not classy. Just funny.)

    Julia, yup, that’s what they’re saying – Independence Day all over again. (Better than Groundhog Day all over again, I guess.)

    Valerie, you have an alien phobia? For real? What about friendly ones?

    Anna, I haven’t read it. Are they friendly?

    Jenny, that’s EXACTLY what I was thinking. I hope the aliens come when I’m old.

    Lissa, ha ha ha.

    XUP, that’s so crazy I’m tempted to believe it.

    Grace, I know, those exploding batteries are sucking up my brain too.

  • TechWood

    Perhaps if they were to arrive based on our messages they would feel like they had been duped after traveling all the way here.

    They may think it’s a con that we spent endless resources to send out messages of peace into space, while spending many times more resources to build weapons to destroy our planet and selected portions of the human race. Perhaps they’ll think we’re a planet of suicide bombers that are just waiting for them to arrive so we can destroy them along with the planet entirely.

    Definitely, makes a person wonder. I actually subscribe to the theory that all of us are part of the planet and universes early stages of life. That we will grow into something much more beautiful in the very near future and that we are a bunch of cells maturing and growing. Some say that the Internet is actually the nerve bundles and interconnections that will make that happen. It is also believed that 2012 and the age of Aquarius are actually the beginning of that rebirth into something better. That’s not to say many things won’t appear to get worst for us first. But appearance and reality are very different. We wouldn’t have the beauty of mountain ranges, canyons, and waterfalls without some pretty crazy events taking place long before we arrived. And none of those beauties occurred overnight.

    I can’t remember the name of the video I watched – but it was a real eye opener to the possibilities of life, evolution, etc. In the video they show the similarities of all things we consider beautiful as being shaped by a certain naturalness to cell evolution and connectivity between things. At one point they look at rural areas (mostly outside of North-America), their communities look like healthy well developed living cells when they place an overlay of that type of cell. When looking at many of our major cities in North America, the overlay of the cell doesn’t have any similarities and doesn’t fit. But when they overlay cancerous cells, it’s a near exact match.

    I am optimistic about the eventuality of things. It’ll all work out, but that may only be able to occur with us going the way of so many other species.

    Cheers!

  • TechWood

    The video was “The Global Brain” (it’s on YouTube – 4 parts) and it’s by a guy named Peter Russell.

  • Sheila

    There weren’t enough choices on the poll. You don’t have, “I believe they are here already”. It would certainly explain a great many questionable people out there.

  • I voted for during my lifetime, but that’s just because I’m too nosy for my own good…

  • For all the people wondering “Why doesn’t that naked lady have a vulva?” Wikipedia has an answer. As a bonus fact, the figures were drawn by Carl Sagan’s wife Linda.

  • [...] other day on her blog, Zoom  asked if we wanted to live long enough to witness aliens visiting earth. Most people said no. [...]