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Hawking's Warning

Science

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Famed British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking is going to be interviewed on an exclusive TV program in a month.  At least part of the interview will concern the search for extraterrestrials.

According to sources, Hawking warns against trying to contact them.  He thinks they surely exist.  They may, however, be bent on colonization and earthlings may not like the results.  What is the crux of his idea?  It's clear that he is not concerned with weak binary communications captured by an array of radio telescopes as depicted by Hollywood.

He feels that aliens, whatever that means, most certainly exist due to the vast diversity of the Milky Way not to mention the Universe.

His thought process goes something like this:

  • 13.7 billion years or the history of the Universe is a long,  long book.

  • The probabilities certainly point to the existence of aliens.

  • Further thought says that some of them may be millions of years more advanced than we are and could have been out and about for a very long time.

  • It is possible that they have produced spacecraft that would allow generations of them to travel deep outside their original origins, perhaps traveling for millions of years in breeding colonies.

  • If they've invested that much time and effort, it could be that they'd like to drop off a few of their siblings on a planet that suits them.  This is the ultimate in forward unselfish planning.

So, Hawking postulates, why try to contact them?  Any message we receive from a distant planet is not an issue.  It's not time travel either, because whatever they do or are, they can't disobey the laws of physics.  If, however, they have taken a very long view  of things, their view might not suit us.  He is not worried about the near term, but as always he takes the long view.

It's a fun way to look at the future and certainly Hawking is to be taken seriously in anything he says or does.

It may be a little too late, however, because our little rather ordinary planet is broadcasting 24/7 to space like it or not.  All these personal social sites like Twitter do Tweet to the universe.

What would an alien think decoding Twitter Tweets that are only 140 characters long.  Might it not conclude that these earthlings are parsimonious with their garbled ideas or would it not think we are not worth Tweeting to at all?  Might they not some day tune into a recitation of War and Peace and then take us seriously -- Probably not


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Sunday, May 02, 2010