back to article Hawking: Aliens are out there, likely to be Bad News

Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has repeated his long-held belief that intelligent aliens are likely to exist, and that a visit by them to present-day humanity would probably have unfortunate consequences for us. Publicising a new documentary he has made for the Discovery Channel, the legendary boffin told the Times at the …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Keep broadcasting!

    I for one welcome our new reptilian overlords. Tosev 3 will be safer in their (slightly colder and scalier) hands.

  2. Ian Stephenson Silver badge
    Alien

    I for one...

    welcome our OCP overlords.

  3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Grenade

    Why is Hawking pontificating on Aliens?

    Is off base and his ideas are rather childish. Has his quest to find the ket of the Universe run aground?

    Let's hear Charles Stross on the question. He's infinitely better at this:

    http://subterraneanpress.com/index.php/magazine/spring2007/fiction-missile-gap-by-charles-stross/

    >>They order, and Gregor waits for the waiter to depart before he continues. “Suppose there’s an alien race out there. More than one. You know about the multiple copies of Earth. The uninhabited ones. We’ve been here before. Now let’s see…suppose the aliens aren’t like us. Some of them are recognizable, tribal primates who use tools made out of metal, sea-dwelling ensemble entities who communicate by ultrasound. But others–most of them–are social insects who use amazingly advanced biological engineering to grow what they need. There’s some evidence that they’ve colonized some of the empty Earths. They’re aggressive and territorial and they’re so different that…well, for one thing we think they don’t actually have conscious minds except when they need them. They control their own genetic code and build living organisms tailored to whatever tasks they want carrying out. There’s no evidence that they want to talk to us, and some evidence that they may have emptied some of those empty Earths of their human population. And because of their, um, decentralized ecosystem and biological engineering, conventional policy solutions won’t work. The military ones, I mean.”

    Gregor watches Sagan’s face intently as he describes the scenario. There is a slight cooling of the exobiologist’s cheeks as his peripheral arteries contract with shock: his pupils dilate and his respiration rate increases. Sour pheromones begin to diffuse from his sweat ducts and organs in Gregor’s nasal sinuses respond to them.

    “You’re kidding?” Sagan half-asks. He sounds disappointed about something.

    “I wish I was.” Gregor generates a faint smile and exhales breath laden with oxytocin and other peptide messengers fine-tuned to human metabolism. In the kitchen, the temporary chef who is standing in for the regular one–off sick, due to a bout of food poisoning–will be preparing Sagan’s dish. Humans are creatures of habit: once his meal arrives the astronomer will eat it, taking solace in good food. (Such a shame about the chef.) “They’re not like us. SETI assumes that NHIs are conscious and welcome communication with humans and, in fact, that humans aren’t atypical. But let’s suppose that humans are atypical. The human species has only been around for about a third of a million years, and has only been making metal tools and building settlements for ten thousand. What if the default for sapient species is measured in the millions of years? And they develop strong defense mechanisms to prevent other species moving into their territory?”

    “That’s incredibly depressing,” Sagan admits after a minute’s contemplation. “I’m not sure I believe it without seeing some more evidence. That’s why we wanted to use the Arecibo dish to send a message, you know. The other disks are far enough away that we’re safe, whatever they send back: they can’t possibly throw missiles at us, not with a surface escape velocity of twenty thousand miles per second, and if they send unpleasant messages we can stick our fingers in our ears.”

  4. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Alien

    Nasty FSM's

    I don't really see why an alien race, even one which has used up its resources, would single us out amongst the billions of others which could be more suitable for harvesting. If they are roaming the universe scooping up resources they'll probably get here eventually anyway, SETI or not.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    Can I be the first to say

    Can I be the first to say I welcome our alien overlords....

  6. Tom Cooke

    Bird singing on a branch

    Greg Bear's "Forge of God" and "Anvil of Stars" go into considerable detail about the strategies required to survive in a universe populated by many races with variable intentions - worth a read.

    1. DaveyDaveDave

      No...

      You can be third :)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        welcoming bunch

        Good to see us Humans are such a welcoming bunch though.

    2. Blofeld's Cat
      Alert

      Why single us out?

      >I don't really see why an alien race, even one which has used up its resources, would single us out amongst the billions of others which could be more suitable for harvesting.

      But free-range humans are so much more tasty than the frozen, battery-farmed ones you get in supermarkets. It's always well worth travelling the extra thousand or so zels and picking your own.

    3. Marvin the Martian
      Unhappy

      "infinitely better"

      seems to be mostly in the eye of the beholder.

      But maybe if your mind is a vastly large and subtle as Hawking, the difference between trivially obvious and scientifically advanced can be difficult to spot, and here we ended up in the first half...

    4. Matthew Anderson

      no

      You can be the third to say it, and no doubt more to come. It's starting to be the ell reg equiv of spamming the boards or being first to comment. Why don't you just write, "I'm a retard" and be done with it?

    5. Anton Ivanov
      Grenade

      Are you located somewhere in the middle east?

      I would not be so sure for this if I was German ya know... Getting my arse nuked out of existence by our new reptilian overlords is not a good way to end. Not that the French or Japanese fared much better in the book.

      Also, they took of to come to Tosev 3 (Earth in reptilian speak in the WW2/Colonisation series by Harry Turtledove) when they thought that all they were going to meet will be the mighty warrior of Tosev 3 - a knight from the crusades. They might come considerably better prepared if they hear a radio first. In fact they may not come at all. A couple of comet cores accelerated to fraction of C velocities aimed straight at Earth may come instead.

      1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        Prepared or not prepared

        Stock up on ginger, I'd say...

    6. Misoriented
      WTF?

      They have telescopes, right?

      Plus, us sending signals out doesn't make us any more noticeable. I'm sure they can see us. Hell, we'll be able to find Earth-like planets in the next few decades and we're so primitive that we invented digital watches only 40 years ago. It doesn't take a rocket scientist. Er, well you know what I mean.

      They can see what chemicals Earth (and the rest of the Sol system) is made of, they can see some of them are sentient-made, so they know if we have any resources they want. If they're looking for places to harvest, they've either not noticed us, which seems unlikely, or there's other places more attractive and as Jason Bloomberg said, they'll get here eventually.

  7. Andrew 13
    Thumb Down

    Stick to the knitting

    Physicists should do physics. Speculating on the sociology of space civilisations is not their forte. I am put in mind of Penrose's stab at explaining why artificial consciousness could not exist (a computer cannot answer the question "how do you feel"). Hawking also made the bold statement that if we could find the grand unified theory we would "truly know the mind of god". Try defending that argument in an undergraduate level philosophy course. If this theory was the only justification for the spending money on NASA, I'd pull the plug.

  8. Pete 43
    Alien

    Well we've dropped the "pizza" leaflet throught the door...

    Indian or Chinese tonight? BOGOF (collection only)

  9. Filippo

    active seti

    I don't think anything we can do to "attract attention" matters much in terms of our security. Advanced aliens are likely to use self-replicating probes to explore space. With that method, you don't need to know there's something interesting on the third planet of that specific yellow star, because you're exploring each and every solar system anyway.

    IOW, if hostile advanced aliens exist, we're screwed, even if they don't know we're here. They'll find us eventually, and even if we get to their same level of technology, they'll be backed by the resources of thousands of planets and therefore be unbeatable.

    Our only chance is that either the intergalactic empire is good, or that we're the first intelligent species to develop and therefore *we* get to be the evil intergalactic empire.

  10. Sven
    Terminator

    Defence

    What if we just arm every flying object in space now with a couple nukes, go to the moon and mars and but some defenses out there too ... and wait. Once the aliens come into our solar system we'll hijack them, take there ships and use it against them (maybe uploading a mac virus or something).

    We would the "bad part of the neighbourhood" of the milkyway.

    I wouldn't mind seeing more money flowing into the space industry, not just for robotics but getting humans up there (incl the moon and mars).

    Terminator: we could build T800 to do the killing for us?

  11. envmod

    already happening

    already happened, they're already here, we've already got the technology to defend ourselves (plus sort out all the world's problems to boot), we already know (most of) their intentions.

    we just need to hear all that from one country. unfortuately it has to be the USA as if any other country "admitted" the alien situation it would likely not be taken at all seriously. even the UK or Western Europe generally - imagine if France suddenly said "OK, we know all about aliens and have proof they exist" - no one would give a shit. If America said exactly the same thing, the world would change overnight (possibly for the worse).

    never going to happen though anyway...

  12. Chemist

    I can only quote Douglas Adams

    "Space is big. REALLY big...."

    The actual quote in full is ""Space,is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly hugely mindbogglingly big it is. I mean you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space"

    I suppose some would call it "Security by obscurity" - I just think it's a dickens of a long time to anywhere.

    Also : "Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      the

      The key to winning the war is developing jump 3 drives so we can jump 3 hexes to their 2 and devestate their rigid caste based society!

      1. Alex 79

        Solomani rule

        Aliens probably never played Traveller - we Solomani were always the nastier of the humanoid races. Built a Black Globe generator and envelop the planet in a shield.

    2. The BigYin

      There is no defence

      If there is alien life...

      If that life is intelligent...

      If that life has technology of any kind...

      Then, considering cosmic time-scales, it will either be too primitive to get here...

      Or so mind-boggingly advanced that it could get here and we not know one damn about it...

      And if it got here with malice, then there'd probably be feck all we could do about it.

      "Ah puny human, a nuclear bomb. How quaint. I'll see your nuclear arsenal and raise you that moon. Yes, the one now dropping towards you. Toodles!"

    3. IanPotter

      RE: I can only quote Douglas Adams

      Might as well get the most relevant quote in:

      POPULATION OF UNIVERSE : None.

      It is known that there are an infinite number of worlds, simply because there is an infinite amount of space for them to be in it. However, not every one of them is inhabited. Therefore, there must be a finite number of inhabited worlds. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near to nothing as makes no odds, so the average population of all the planets in the Universe can be said to be zero. From this it follows that the population of the whole Universe is also zero, and that any people you may meet from time to time are merely the products of a deranged imagination.

      1. smudge Silver badge
        Boffin

        but DNA got it wrong

        Much as I love the Hitchhiker's Guide, this one is wrong.

        If there are an infinite number of worlds, and some of them are uninhabited, there are still an infinite number of inhabited worlds. Just a "smaller" infinity, that's all :-).

      2. Chemist
        Thumb Up

        @IanPotter

        Spot on !

        1. Mr Grumblefish
          Alien

          No doubt

          yours is the one with "I trust the Guide" emblazoned across the back in large friendly letters.

      3. Jean-Luc Silver badge
        Boffin

        Uh... no.

        Just because there is an infinite amount of space does not imply an infinite amount of worlds. The universe is expanding which implies that it is moving into areas that are hitherto empty. Not that there are infinite worlds. The actual numbers may make my pedantry irrelevant though ;-)

    4. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Is that some kind of free-association drivel?

      The "Truly known the mind of God" statement he made was a bit of tongue-in-cheek fun - but then you seem a bit sour to know that concept. And I think your final statement meant to say SETI, not the unrelated NASA, but I doubt you actually think about what you say...

    5. Daniel Garcia 2
      Heart

      hahahahaha

      /pointing at tinfoil hatter

      hahahahahahahaha

  13. Graham Bartlett
    Alien

    One question?

    What's Earth got that's valuable enough to them? To put it another way, what do we have on Earth that's worth a bunch of aliens going down the gravity well, fighting it out with human defenders, and hoisting themselves and their stash back up the gravity well again?

    We're certainly rich in water, but if you're out in space anyway and you're tatting around in the solar system, you've already flown through the Oort cloud and Kuiper belt with uncountably many "dirty-water" asteroids and comets. Metals? Oort cloud again, or there's a perfectly good asteroid belt before you get to us, and Mars has plenty of resources too with less gravity. Hydrogen or hydrocarbons? Easier to send scoops down into the upper atmosphere of any of the gas giants. Sulphur? Venus. Iron? Mars again. The only thing really special about Earth is artificially-created elements like plutonium, and I suspect pretty much any government would be happy to *give* the stuff to them, in as large quantities as they like. But for that matter, if you're advanced enough to run a starship then you've figured out nuclear fission already, so mining/refining/reacting uranium yourself is a trivial exercise.

  14. Pete 2

    Rather depends on how many arrive

    The thing about the european colonisation o f N. America is that there were bloody millions of them who turned up. Not just a Mayflower-full. If our first contact with aliens results in them phoning home and saying "Hey, look what we've found ... come on over and bring your friends" then we may well be the subject of an invasion. Although if the indians had had nuclear weapons, the story might have been different.

    On the other hand, if we come across a single individual, or a spaceship that has taken hundreds of years to get here then the balance of power could well be tipped in our favour. Simply by strength of numbers (readers of Footfall will be familiar with this situation) as the aliens couldn't be everywhere, all the time.

    Personally, I think if aliens did come here, they'd either not notice us, or would react the way we do to an ant-hill when out walking: something to be ignored and avoided, unless it becomes a nuisance.

  15. Smallbrainfield
    FAIL

    Even if they did reach Sol...

    ...the rest of the solar system has massive resources that would be far easier to gather for a spacefaring species than what Earth has to offer. Comets, asteroids, gas giants are full of stuff you might want for your journey. Unless they wanted some trees or something to brighten up the place, why would they bother with us? More likely we would attack them for nicking our stuff.

    I'm sorry, but bright as Steven Hawking is, duh. Stick to physics, Steve.;

  16. M7S

    "I really dont think they flew 90 billion lights years just to pick a fight"

    Not long to July 4th

  17. ShaggyDoggy

    "They're made out of meat." "Meat? ...

    Brilliant short stiory by Terry Bisson

    1. Ottoman

      "What's Earth got that's valuable enough to them?"

      Meat. Lot's of meat.

    2. lglethal Silver badge
      Pirate

      I would say...

      ... its more about being able ot freely strip the more abundant planets without the annoyance of pesky humans.

      If aliens came and started strip mining the other planets, im sure the inhabitants of Earth would take it upon ourselves to defend our solar system (we'll need those resources for when we start strip mining whole planets!). Therefore, whilst it might take a few years of development, we would eventually become a pest. Much simpler, to just wipe out makind from the start in one quick attack, and then strip mine until your hearts content...

      1. The Fuzzy Wotnot
        Thumb Up

        Yeah!

        So what are Cameron, Brown and Clegg going to do about it eh?! Oh yes, bang on about the NHS, privacy concerns and proportional representation, won't do you much good when a slimy skinned, yet beautiful and slightly soft-focused alien ( thinking 80's V here! ) is about to chow down on your soft squidgy bits!!

      2. Anonymous John

        Or cheap labour

        I wouldn't mind washing dishes on a luxury interstellar cruise ship for a couple of years.

    3. Volker Hett
      Alien

      You're right

      we're not interested in your technology, your minerals, metals and stuff, but we're looking after proteins and such. So if you could stop smoking, don't drink alcohol and take up a healthier diet this would be largely appreciated.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Boffin

      Re: One question?

      This is a very good response, and I feel that Hawking's imagination is too severely constrained by the usual human impulses and motivations: people/aliens would only ever justify going anywhere to "conquer" or for "resources". If intelligent extraterrestrials have managed to engineer something to let them (or their descendants) travel across interstellar space, either they've done so at a stretch and may not have any capacity to do much more than crash into the Earth, or the whole project required such resources and knowledge that in making a voyage (or by merely preparing for it), they are in a technological state that means that they hardly need to pop down, elbowing Exxon Mobil out of the way, in order to suck out the last drops of Earth's oil, all because "the aliens are running out of gas".

      The only kind of extraterrestrials that would come along to mess around with humankind are some breed or other of space perverts. All the others would probably see no merit in interfering.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Paris Hilton

      What's Earth got that's valuable enough to them?

      That's fucking obvious. Paris Hilton AND Britney Spears!

    6. Liam Johnson
      WTF?

      no titlerequired

      I will reply to this post at random - but there are a hell of a lot of posts here with the same sentiment :

      "bright as Steven Hawking is, duh. Stick to physics, Steve:" and they all have one thing in common:- written by a load of numpties who think science fiction books are somehow the best the human race can offer.

      Read what he said for gods sake. They might, just want resources, they might just want a little holiday in the galactic outbacks, but how the f*ck to you know what they want? Please explain to me how you know they want asteroids or commets or gas giants or anything else out in the oort cloud or just floating around in space.

      They are aliens! Your "smallbrain" cannot know what they want.

      They might just want to build a luxury holidy resort, but they need to send the pest control in first.

      All Hawking is saying is they we cannot know what they want, so lets just keep our heads down until we get a better idea. If you do fancy calling all an sundry over for dinner, could you please find another planet to do it from?

    7. DrunkenMessiah
      Alien

      Yeah...

      Because no-one's ever pissed on an ant hill just because they thought it would be funny...!

  18. james 68

    exterminate

    he just doesnt want them to recognise him for what he is -

    a dalek minus the outer cover that can only repeat 3 sentences over and over and....

  19. Scott Broukell

    Well ...

    we all get along just fine with each other down here on Earth don't we, what could possibly go wrong bumping into some space peeps ? Intelligent life my arse. Survival of the fittest maybe, but that's another matter. Survival by means of smelling the coffee and being rational, noooo, not going to happen. Survival of some itty bitty remnants left behind by humins for something / body to find in the distant future and mull over, that's more like it. The potential for other sentient beings to exist in the universe cannot be denied, but co-existing within communicable time / distance, no, I don't think so. Let's get back to putting our heads in the sand until the party is really over then.

  20. AndrueC Silver badge
    Alien

    Also worth reading..

    ..Vernor Vinge:"A Fire Upon the Deep". It does a very good job of conveying just how vast our galaxy is and how isolated we might be. Anyone worried about the consequences of alien contact might get some comfort from that :)

    You should also read "A Deepness in the Sky" because it's a sort of prequel and, frankly, a bloody good book.

    But back to the article - I think he makes a valid point. I think visiting aliens will only do one of two things:

    * Avoid contact but perhaps leave some kind of probe/alarm system behind that can detect if/when we ever grow up enough to be worth talking to.

    * As Prof. Hawkins says - they'll take what they want and we'll be lucky if we survive.

    If we were friendly and rational then a third option would be to open dialogue and maybe send a small population down to co-habit. Unfortunately no-one is going to want to co-habit with us for the foreseeable future. We can't even live with ourselves at the moment - stupid sods that we are.

  21. Random Noise

    Reservations

    Might not be so bad... Maybe after a few hundred years they will let us run our own casinos. Before you know it we'll be swimming in gold pressed latinum.

  22. Philip Nicholls Silver badge
    Boffin

    Artificial consciousness?

    What?

    I thought all consciousness was artificial.

  23. Alex C
    Welcome

    Time matters

    Mathematically there's every chance of alien life out there somewhere. It's very probable indeed.

    However the chances of meeting any are still pretty slim as (if they're like us) they'll be a tad self destructive, and so won't last that long, relatively. Think in terms of shooting stars in the night sky. If you're into sailing at night and are keeping an eye out on a 4hr watch you might see half a dozen on a clear night. I've never seen any collide though.

    Also they'd have to want something pretty specific to go to the bother of dragging it up through our gravity well, when there's a lot of material floating about in space or on moons.

    1. breakfast
      Boffin

      While we're on that probability

      So the probabilities of meeting them are quite low, but what are the probabilities of - if we were to meet some - having the same birthday?

      1. Trevor 10
        Happy

        Same birthdays

        The chances of having the same birthday are exceedingly small because it would assume they are from a planet with the same number of days in a year as we do :)

    2. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

      survival of the fittest?

      What the hell does that mean? Fittest for what, exaclty? To survive?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Joke

      title

      "We can't even live with ourselves at the moment - stupid sods that we are."

      You and your stupid snoring!

  24. Fubar75
    Happy

    Aye Capn'

    If we are truly to be intergalactic lords...it's more of a case of sayin..."Cap'n to Engineerin', more power juices please and oh yeah, pedal a bit faster an' harder"....transwarp drive yeah right...where's the dilithium crystals....instead of using bikes to generate transwarp....pppfffttttt http://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/graphics/icons/comment/happy_32.png

  25. Peter Kay

    I'm not sure why we're in danger, really.

    There are two scenarios assuming hostile resource mining/conquering aliens exist - either they have faster than light technology, or are moving at substantially less than the speed of light.

    If they have FtL flight then the only possible advantage Earth offers is that it's a pleasant place to live, astronomically speaking. Plenty of other moons/planets offer resource that could be mined. The assumption is also that Earth like planets are also rare, which is undoubtedly true in terms of our local cosmic neighbourhood, but perhaps not so accurate given FtL travel and an almost infinite universe.

    If they don't have FtL flight, then it's not a problem for anyone currently alive and probably not their grandchildren either, due to the distances involved. You also have to consider the thinking of a relatively slow colonisation ship - taking a punt on a planet broadcasting a SETI signal still being in a decent shape by the time the colonisation ship arrives. I would have thought it would be more sensible to have a self sustaining ship and a load of researchers on board working on terraforming and suchlike..

  26. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge
    Alien

    "Step in my Parlour", said the Spider to the Fly Merchant.

    "and that a visit by them to present-day humanity would probably have unfortunate consequences for us."

    Err.... Professor Hawking would do very well and better to stay well clear of the Alien debate, lest it render his lead cosmic position and his life's work in support of planetary models in tatters and subject to a more objective reexamination and total annihilation and completely different reappraisal.

    To consider that present-day humanity is in any way in a fortunate position which an alien visitation and manifestation could not both materially and virtually enhance beyond the wildest of primitive dreams, is typical I suppose of Man's limited intelligence capacity and Lack of Imaginative Ability.

    Whether though that is to remains the case in the Immediate Future, for just some or nearly all, is directly related to a native ability and decided willingness to listen to and process new information as it is fed to them via Media and IT Networks InterNetworking Novel Intelligence Feeds ........ Raw Virgin Source for Revised Global ProgramMING. ........ which, if it is any easier for you to imagine, you may like to consider is a Special Intelligence Service Project with the Full Might and Majesty of C,M, and Q Bonding to Deliver the Public, Advanced IntelAIgent Goods, rather than any Political Party Policy Product which doesn't Present Pretenders Pratting about like Precious Prima Donnas Pontificating in a Pantomime.

    And as it is a Quantum Field of Communication, would it seem to be ideally suited to Professor Hawking's eleven dimension Mind, even should it suggest that there is no limit to the number of available dimensions in which to Work, Rest and Play in Command and Control of Creative Cyberspace for Computers and Communications and Global Operating Devices, ..... which if they don't play dice, sure as hell play a mean game of poker.

    And further brief views with some history on such Future Time Space Projects and Programs is shared in a readily available chronicle, zerodDaily ........ http://tinyurl.com/C42QuantumControlSystems ....... [well, available until such times as the servers are nobbled again to have NEUKlearer HyperRadioProActive Ideas and CodedD Transmissions removed from Global Online for All GO Systems.]

  27. Jolyon Ralph
    Terminator

    Won't be a problem if Hawking is the one doing the talking.

    As long as Hawking himself is the one broadcasting out to the aliens they'll assume we're a planet of bad-ass robots and leave us well alone.

    1. M Gale
      Alien

      So that's your game..

      ..making us think all Martians are fairly amiable, slightly dotty but ultimately harmless.

      And then you send in the tripods.

    2. oddie
      Boffin

      Robot? Surely you mean....

      Half man, half machine?

      Also, it speaks without moving its lips.. the species appears to be telepathic... dum dum duuuuuum!

      Lets just have have mr. Hawking at them!

      1. Captain Thyratron

        This could go awry.

        Great Scott! He's a tnuctipun cyborg! We have to nuke the blue planet from orbit--it's the only way to be sure!

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    I Knew it!

    The ever increasing number of Mobility Scooter users are realy Daleks on the scouting mission!

  29. Alazarin

    Time to build the defenses

    I've been discussing things along these lines for years with people. In order to beat the 'Captain Cook and the South-Sea Islanders' syndrome we, as a planet, need to not only get our planetary defenses up pronto, but the get 'out there' as fast as possible to mark out and defend our territory. At a very minimum that would include our solar system as far as the periphery of the Oort Cloud.

    Time to stop bickering amongst ourself and start pointing those nukes outwards where they might at least be useful.

    1. Trygve

      Captain Cook?

      What, you mean the boss alien explorer is going to be reasonably OK and well-meaning (up until the point where we murder him with a pointy stick), but the crew give everyone a fatal dose of the clap and the greedy boss aliens back at Prime Base decide to send out expeditions to assimilate us?

      Personally I think the arrival of aliens would immediately trigger the SquabblePocalypse as every extreme religious group on the planet declare Holy War on each other, themselves, Richard Dawkins, the aliens and whatever else is in sight.

      If an alien wants to depopulate the planet all they have to do is put in a personal appearance while wearing a hijab with a yarmulke on top, brandishing a cross and eating a pork chop. We wouldn't last a week.

  30. Nigel 11
    Unhappy

    Another defense mechanism

    No-one has mentioned H G Wells "The war of the Worlds". I suspect that should biological aliens arrive on another planet with biology, there are only three possible outcomes, none good:

    1. Their microbes overcome our immune systems and reduce the Earth's biosphere to goo.

    2. Our microbes overcome their immune systems and reduce the invaders to goo. Their home planet likewise, if any make it back home.

    3. Both of the above, followed by a very long war (hundreds of millions of years, or billions) while two competing microbial biosystems evolove their way to victory or a peace treaty (symbiosis).

    But of course, the real universe appears to have a speed-of-light limit. Perhaps we should be thankful for that. I suspect interstellar travel has to wait until biological life works out how to upload itself into robotic bodies. At that point they can go exploring, by slowing their clocks down enough to make interstellar journeys tolerably short in subjective time.

    Post-biological life plausibly poses no threat to us, because it will prefer vacuum (almost all the universe) to nasty corrosive biospheres (a negligibly small part), and the tops of gravity wells to the bottoms. It might even be here already, if it's ethical enough to leave primitive bio-life alone and just watch our evolution quietly from the comfort of the asteroid belt!

    The nasty alternative -- exponential growth, conversion of every solar system it reaches into smart matter, etc. -- can probably be ruled out in this galactic heighbourhood by astronomical observation. We'd have noticed mature stars surrounded by smart-matter dust clouds that should not be there, and most especially a patch of all-atypical stars characteristically different from the rest of the galaxy.

  31. Rod MacLean
    Joke

    "Aliens are out there, likely to be Bad News"

    As soon as I read that, I imagined the aliens would be something like this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bad_News

    ... maybe Hawking will be wrong and the aliens will be more like Spinal Tap?

  32. copsewood
    Alien

    Reservations

    How can we be sure the Solar System (or observable parts of it) are not a reservation already, with the observable universe arranged to appear to be what the technically more advanced colonists of our sector want us to see ? E.G. if they don't want us to contemplate interplanetary travel yet, why not make the local speed of light and locally observable distances make it look as if it would take too much energy and time for us to escape the boundaries placed upon our reservation ?

    Use of extraterrestrial explanation icon somewhat obvious !

  33. warworlder

    Not very likely Stephen

    Sorry Stephen, I think that's about as likely as them coming to steal our women. Have you been watching Independence Day, which was wrong from beginning to end? Any aliens with the technology to travel the stars have no need of going to the bother of invading a populated planet for resources. As has become perfectly clear in recent years, our galaxy, indeed our local solar system, teems with materials that are unclaimed and free to exploit. Much easier to target uninhabited planets or indeed asteroids. The old idea of aliens stealing our water is a classic of the genre, but pretty dumb when you consider how much free water is out there. Don't get me wrong, the idea of alien invasion is a fun one and I've even written a book on the subject, Waging the War of the Worlds, but we've got very little to worry about on this score, with one exception. If the aliens are like us, there might be purely xenophobic reasons for them to attack!

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    Vegetarians?

    If they're not vegetarians, what happens when they come here and develop a taste for human meat?

  35. Tieger

    worth considering

    i think the point is, its the agressively expansive aliens that are likely to be out there looking around - and those are precisely the ones we dont want to run into.

    sure - its unlikely aliens would attack us for resources, but its entirely possible they'd want a pre-emptive war of annihilation, to stop these bastard humans (who are polluting the airwaves with their hippy filth!) from being a threat to their beloved grandkids in 3000 years time.

    not to mention the problems if we attract some form of haegemonizing swarm of robots (nano or otherwise), fresh from wiping out their creators, and hungry for more biological life to exterminate!

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      The Perfect Portal

      "Sorry Stephen, I think that's about as likely as them coming to steal our women." ..... Tieger Posted Monday 26th April 2010 12:43 GMT

      Given that Man is so totally useless at fulfilling the needs of women with feeds to their satisfaction, I can imagine it being a very likely avenue of entry for world takeover and makeover.

      And should Aliens have no Untoward Physical Form but be of a Powerful MetaPhysical Meme and have Morphed into Bodies of Advanced and Highly Developed and Developing Thought Patterns, would they easily Infect and take over Human Hosts for a Perfectly Stealthy Invisible Force of Super IntelAIgents.

      Which is definitely Juicy Lucy Hawking Field?

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    But what if...

    They are like the aliens out of Signs?

    All you need are some doors which we have and water pistols and we can defeat them easily then take the fight back to their planet.

    But seriously, the chance of other life forms existing at this specific point in time is slim. Has Mr Hawking forgot to factor in that there may have been life forms on other planets previously that have long died out or yet to exist? I think that is more likely.

  37. snafu

    Solving the Fermi Paradox

    http://www.projectrho.com/rocket/rocket3aa.html#fermiparadox

    If we ever develop antimatter-based rockets, then:

    -We will be abe to build relativistic missiles able to snuff whole biospheres.

    -These engines will produce unmistakable radiation signatures.

    If we don't happen to civilizationally fritz ourselves, building those engines is mostly a given. For us and for any other technological race out there. So then you have several players, us included, able now or in the future to get the means to exterminate each other. Would we risk it, or would we hit first? Would they risk it, or would they hit us first?

  38. The Indomitable Gall
    Headmaster

    Percentage point?

    "*NASA, the best funded space agency of the human race, boasts a budget of less than $20bn - a small fraction of a single percentage point of US government spending"

    Surely "a small fraction of a percent". Percentage point is meaningless in this sentence....

    1. MacroRodent Silver badge
      Boffin

      PROBABILITY ONE

      "But seriously, the chance of other life forms existing at this specific point in time is slim."

      Depends on what you take as the sample. You are possibly right for the local portion of our galaxy, which SETi efforts and telescopes can examine, but there are billions of more stars in our galaxy, and if that is not enough, billions of other galaxies. This is Hawkins' reasoning. The probability that the universe contains other intelligent beings besides us is 1.0, but they may be situated on another galaxy, and communication with them is impossible.

  39. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    The Sticky Sweet Hot Spot for Achilles Heel Arrows/Toxic Pointed Barbs.

    Beware and be aware and prepare yourself for the aliens with an insatiable appetite and immaculate taste for crashing systems with love for money honey. Who then would want to be human whenever they share those memes/float that methodology?

    And without the control of money, would you be defenceless, for is that not your remote slave driver?

    And re: ..."already happened[1], they're already here[2], we've already got the technology to defend ourselves[3] (plus sort out all the world's problems to boot[4]), we already know (most of) their intentions[5]." ..... envmod Posted Monday 26th April 2010 10:55 GMT

    How about we speculate on the truths in that statement with a simple binary straw poll for perceived accuracy/hope/wishes.

    [1]Yes, [2]Yes, [3]No, [4]Yes, [5]No.

  40. No, I will not fix your computer
    Flame

    What are you on about Davros?

    OK, probably missed something completely here, wasn't it Hawking that said "I think the human race has no future if it doesn't go into space", just as long as nobody spots us when we're out there?

    I would note that he's is being misquoted, he actually said that some *may* pose a threat, and *could* wipe out humanity, he makes no effort (or it has not been reported) how likely he thinks it could be, but for me, any species that has managed to conquer energy production, has the technology to roam space and can sustain themselves for the time it takes to cross vast distances in space has probably solved most of the things that cause such abberant behaviour on earth (perhaps their gods are the real ones, or perhaps they are atheists having evolved socially as well as technologically).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Happy

      Dude!

      You rule!

      And the doctors said the voices were imaginary! It is good to see you posting again!

  41. Blackadder
    Pirate

    Preemptive strike anyone?

    An alien race could motivate an attack on earth (all it takes is a BIG rock and boom we´re gone) because WE may one day end up being the trash of the universe. We certainly lack humanity and sympathy for our own species - just imagine what we would do to others...

  42. Matt Siddall
    Unhappy

    it's not about what they want from us

    Sensible intelligent aliens wouldn't wipe us out so that they could take our resources/real estate. They'd do it so that we could never pose a threat to them...

  43. Richard Scratcher
    Alien

    Holy Zarquon's singing fish!

    It's true that our solar system has nothing special in terms of resources. There's nothing here that you can't get elsewhere...except maybe an iPad or three.

    However, intergalactic travellers might be dangerous religious fanatics who view our population as a large group of infidels who need converting and/or exterminating. It may be that our primitive way of life is an abomination to them.

  44. boltar Silver badge
    FAIL

    @warworlder

    "Any nations with the technology to travel the seas have no need of going to the bother of invading a populated country for resources."

    Does that paraphrasing of what you said make you realise what a load of nonsense you spouted?

  45. james 68

    welcome

    i for one welcome the arrival of beings who dont give a shit what the latest celebrity douchbag ate on some piss pot jungle island - that alone proves their advanced intelligence - if they in turn eat the celebrities.... BONUS!

  46. Antoine Dubuc
    Pint

    We are a reservation

    Wankiness behold:

    We are a reservation. Go to a zoo. There's always a kid that doesn't read the sign or can't and messes with the caged animals and gives them food or what not.

    The only reason I see why there's no alien kid with his daddy's car messing with us is because we are the caged animals. We are in an actively protected reservation unbeknownst to us. They have to do that otherwise we'd have alien kids pretending to be Gods and what not. It also makes, in this goofball of a post, perfect sense. Of course you protect the babes that can't walk yet. Its like a galactical U.N. charter deal.

    And to goof off more, their base is on the moon and that's why we are not going back there: the first time they drive the point home.

    Ah, what speculative and unfounded fun:)

    1. Matt Newton
      Joke

      another HHGTTG

      'Unfortunately I got stuck on the Earth for rather longer than I indended',

      said Ford. 'I came for a week and got stuck for fifteen years.'

      'But how did you get there in the first place then?'

      'Easy, I got a lift with a teaser.'

      'A teaser?'

      'Yeah.'

      'Er, what is...'

      'A teaser? Teasers are usually rich kids with nothing to do. They cruise around

      looking for planets which haven't made interstellar contact yet and buzz them.'

      'Buzz them?' Arthur began to feel that Ford was enjoying making life difficult

      for him.

      'Yeah,' said Ford, 'they buzz them. They find some isolated spot with very few

      people around, then land right by some poor unsuspecting soul whom no one's ever

      going to believe and them strut up and down in front of him wearing silly antennae

      on their head and making beep beep noises. Rather childish really.

    2. DrunkenMessiah
      Jobs Horns

      iPad or three?

      You can only get two iPads buddy and I doubt Cupertino would make an exception for that black market peddler Quark.

  47. Riquin

    Very limited view of Extraterrestrials.

    Very limited view of Extraterrestrials. The probability is that several extraterrestrial civilizations already exist and they are probably organized into some kind of federation. The federation, chances are, has experience dealing with civilizations like ours. They will probably propose to us some kind of membership but not before we eliminate wars and nuclear bombs. It is very probable that the federation already has bases in the moon and already has contact with the US government. The reason Obama is not going to the moon is that the federation already have bases there and for sure they do not want us around. I think the federation is also slowly feeding us technology to improve our lives and the federation will push for some kind of global government to make it easy to negotiate with us as a whole.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Go

      puff puff pass

      Whatever you are smoking, I want some. Don't be selfish, pass it along.

  48. Huntsman
    Black Helicopters

    They're already here,

    hiding in plain sight.

    Did no one see the end of the Transformers film, bloody Optimus Prime sent a message to all Autobots taking refuge among the stars.

    I just hope I get a chance to see Megan's fox before it's too late.

  49. T-Bo
    Pint

    Nature imitating art?

    "I don't know," said the voice on the PA, "Apathetic bloody planet, I've no sympathy at all." ... It cut off ...

  50. Naughtyhorse
    Happy

    another hypothesis...

    they could have heard about out magical and revolutionary tech! and be after some of the same.

    just to be on the safe side i suggest strapping 'jobs-neesh' to a rocket and shoot him into space

  51. Fred 4
    Alien

    Indistinguishable

    if a civilization exists which can travel the stars - a quote of Arthur C Clark comes to mind.

    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

    any civilization capable of interstellar travel, will own one or more magic devices. We will have no effective defense if they desire to colonize Earth.

    Why would they want too?

    While there are innumerable stars 'out there', so far, of the planetary systems we know of ( just a very few admittedly) we have found only 1 (other than our own) which resides in the habitable zone around it's star. It may well be that planets such as ours - reasonable gravity, reasonable temperature, reasonable atmosphere (not consisting of sulfuric acid for example) are few and far between.

    Imagine we figure out interstellar travel.

    We travel to some star system, and find a planet that is habitable (by our own standards) what do you think will happen?

    1 - we will carefully examine it looking for existing life/intelligence avoiding all possible contamination. Then and only then upon finding no existing life we colonize this planet

    2 - assuming there are no civilizations. we immediately start building habitable structures and start colonizing.

    3 - given that there is a civilization at some level of development, that we immediately start to colonize AND either wipe them out or push them into reservations (as was done in the US to the native population).

    Why should we expect anything different from any other civilization contacting us here??

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Joke

      Didn't you read the memo?

      We don't do #3 anymore. Instead, we go in guns blazing and liberate the country from its evil dictator and bring democracy.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Party on dude!

    Ok, they want what we've got, all the more reason then to burn through our remaining stocks of gas, coal and oil ASAP so there's nothing left for them thieving alien scum. Sod climate change, this is more important!

    Mines the one with the keys to a Hummer, towing a whacking great trailer with a speedboat on top.

  53. awomanfromVenus

    See....

    There're here already, amanFromMars is posting on the forumn

  54. Cartman
    Big Brother

    offer them gifts

    If the alien overlords do come, offer them gifts: Gore, Galloway, and Chavez. Throw in the book How to Serve Humans.

  55. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Crikey ....... what a hash.

    Err... ooops .... sorry

    That "Heavenly Brothels for Practising Perfect Creative Techniques and Seductive Adddictive Methodologies" post was in Homage to "That's fucking obvious. Paris Hilton AND Britney Spears! ... What's Earth got that's valuable enough to them?" ... Anonymous Coward Posted Monday 26th April 2010 13:26 GMT.

    It might not make a great deal of sense without that additional information. :-)

  56. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

    Captin Cook?

    Eh, didn't he get killed by the south sea islanders........

  57. Eddy Ito Silver badge

    Of course

    It assumes other "civilizations" didn't figure out better ways to kill each other and go extinct before they decided to come here for a bit of exotic nosh.

  58. LookAbout

    He's more right than wrong - PAY ATTENTION

    The reality of interaction with intelligent life in our universe is already stranger than we imagine it will be, and it is coming at a very bad time - when we are already experiencing resource depletion and conflict between our nations. Professor Hawking is more right than wrong, though at this point if alien races wanted to take this planet, they would not need weapons to do it. They would just have to persuade and manipulate us to do what they wanted, as we are divided and ignorant of life beyond our world. Go to www.alliesofhumanity.org or www.greatwavesofchange.org to learn more. This is not an intellectual exercise. It is an event and phenomenon of the utmost importance, not mystical or out of a scifi series, and it is happening right now.

  59. adrian sietsma
    Coat

    From Gustible's Planet

    Maybe the alians will be like Apicans, ie very tasty when roasted whole ?

    My coat is the one with a complete Cordwainer Smith collection in the pockets.

  60. M. Burns
    Boffin

    Hawkings True Biggest Fear

    Is summed up in Terry Bissom's classic short story:

    http://baetzler.de/humor/meat_beings.html

    1. Peter Simpson 1
      Alien

      Great Waves of Nonsense

      "...we are divided and ignorant of life beyond our world."

      Thus this thread?!

      "Go to www.alliesofhumanity.org or www.greatwavesofchange.org to learn more."

      If *you* can't explain your theory in a paragraph or less, why should I subject myself to overlong web pages full of multicolored large font nonsense with blinking backgrounds? [don't need to go there, all those pages are alike]

  61. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Alien

    I saw the documentary

    It was on TV last night, here in the U.S. It's pretty good!

    That being said, here are my thoughts:

    1. What makes us think that we are so interesting to talk to? Given the scale of time the universe developed over and the relative youth of our solar system on that scale, any intelligent life out there is probably going to be millions or billions of years more advanced than us. So advanced, that we may not even perceive it as life. Or it may be so powerful that it can alter our perception of the broader universe (think of a whale or fish living in an aquarium tank), so that we don't even perceive them out there or the fact that we have already been captured and penned. Maybe all that "dark matter" stuff is the real universe, with space fleets rolling around and engineering going on at the solar system level, and we have been relegated to the fish tank/wildlife sanctuary with the other primitive specimens.

    2. As an insurance policy, I like anonymous cowards idea of using up all our consumable resources before any dirty aliens can put their grubby tendrils on them. Pass me a beer and let the party begin!!

  62. Stuart Halliday
    Alien

    How to Conquer the Earth in one day

    First engineer a virus that harms humans by removing the gene for reproduction.

    This is easy to do as we backwards race already can get a virus to put a gene into our own DNA. So a bunch of Aliens will have no trouble with this.

    Then place virus into the atmosphere and then go at 10x light-speed for a day and then return to discover that 150 years have past on Earth and there are no people left.

    One ready to be occupied planet - no need to dress up as humans or fight them.

    Easy.

    Mind you to clean up the mess left behind by us will take a while. :-)

  63. Wolf 1
    Grenade

    Or, more likely...

    ...there's a series of alien beacons around our system just outside the Oort cloud broadcasting a message like:

    "STAY AWAY! The inhabitants of this system are freaking psychopaths! If in distress you'd be better served to blow your ship up right now rather than try landing there!

    YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!"

    Or perhaps the beacons might use more emphatic language... (laughing)

  64. ian 22
    Alien

    Close encounter of the worst kind

    "May I be the first to welcome our.." <BZZZT!>

  65. Superhair

    Perhaps they are more advanced than we think...

    I think in order to travel long distances through space you would have to give up your physical body in the first place. No need for ships (as we think of them at least)... so no need for colonizing planets or organic resources.

  66. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    damn these killjoy scientists

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/mean-scientists-dash-hopes-of-life-on-mars,1423/

  67. Stevie Silver badge

    Hah!

    That's all well and good but I want to see their smug alien faces when they try and buy their 11th iPad.

    Flash extra terrestrial gits. Serve 'em right.

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I disagree with Hawkins...

    It strikes me that any extremely advanced race would not be able to exist with a violent /selfish trait. Since it’s that trait that generally promotes the destroying of each other and prevents the working together in blissful harmony trait that would be required to move past the point of self annihilation in order to get to such a evolutionary stage.

    After all, once you hit a technology level where by it is relatively easy to destroy your own planet or similar levels of destruction such like – you need to be dam sure there is not one single being on your planet who would not under some misguided religious or power crazed mindset want to make use of that technology in such a way.

    For example, humankind reached the point of nuclear fusion – and then proceeded blowing each other up with that technology. We best hope we don’t do that when we start playing with antimatter or fiddling with space and time itself!

    1. Chemist

      Re : I disagree with Hawkins...

      "For example, humankind reached the point of nuclear fusion – and then proceeded blowing each other up with that technology"

      May be pedantic but who exactly was blown-up by nuclear fusion ?

      Also we've been 'playing' with antimatter for a while but I don't think we'll see a lot of it (e.g. micrograms) anytime soon.

  69. John F***ing Stepp

    We have been assuming that they are more advanced.

    Brighter than us, two billion year old civilization and gave up flying cars because they "Were so back then."

    If FTL was possible in any way shape or form it could be the only breakthrough they had.

    Perhaps they hang out around our planet now awaiting the newest Intel, Apple or (who was that other chip manufacture, you guys never mention them.)

    And thinking to each other "If Adobe doesn't get to this patch rather quickly, I am going to kill a cow."

    It would only take one breakthrough, well perhaps two; seat belts come to mind.

    And I would say Just Land Already; we won't hurt you, but don't land in Oregon; not right now.

  70. bruceld
    Alien

    More likely...

    Humans are just too much trouble to bother dealing with. We're far too primitive a species that we aren't work even keeping around. I think aliens would just destroy us without hesitation. Carrying on...

    Mr. Hawking is way off the mark. Aliens that are capable of interstellar travel would be far more advanced than we are in such ways that are not even fathomable by our puny primitive human brains. The fact that they'd have to figure out the restrictions of time over vast distances where every planet/solar system/galaxy are all completely out of temporal sync with each other poses another significant problem. Humans assume that since WE live in this particular dimension of time, then it's therefore obvious that the entire universe and all its inhabitants live in the same time. This is false. We our out of sync with everyone and everything that exists off of our planet.

    So, aliens would have to be compatible with our time otherwise we'd never even know that either of our species even exist. In addition, we also assume that aliens can live within our 'life sustaining zones' of temperature, radioactivity, gravity, pressure and other relative factors. Just by sheer calculations alone it is possible that alien species could be living in a different time dimension in severe temperatures of radiation within an intense gravitational field, making Earth an unlikely place for them to live.

    As far as a species being exactly like us being able to live in our time dimension and environment, this is possible. But time is a factor in the equation that poses severe uncertainty for everyone. For all we know they are already here but have already arrived, existed and gone extinct within only a nano of a nano of a nano second. it is also possible that for them 1 second = 1 billion of our own Earth years making our planet an unsuitable place for them to live. Lastly, it is possible that they are not even in our time dimension and we already occupy the same space, but not the same time.

    Just because we see and understand things a certain way doesn't mean it's the way of life for others in the universe. We don't really know anything about anything yet, but due to our immense arrogance we just think we do.

    With all due respect Mr. Hawking, I'm surprised you haven't thought of all this. Tsk, tsk.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re : More likely..

      I think Professor Hawkings has forgotten more about the universe than you'll ever know!

  71. ravenviz
    Stop

    What do they care?

    "We pose no threat to them. It would like us going out of our way to destroy a few microbes on some ant hill in Africa. ... And how guilty would we feel if we went and destroyed a few microbes on an ant hill in Africa?" -Contact, 1997

  72. IntelPatriot
    Headmaster

    Our only hope is to become libertarians

    Reasonably we can assume that any advanced alien species will be libertarian. We'd be flying to the stars ourselves if we had John Galt's electrostatic engine.

    Given that this is the case the only way to prevent ourselves from being summarily homesteaded by an advanced alien race is to respect natural libertarian property rights ourselves.

    It's food for thought isn't it? Every song you pirate is a nail in coffin of humanities future.

    1. Rattus Rattus
      WTF?

      re: "Reasonably we can assume..."

      What? Why? I could just as easily assert that we can assume any advanced alien species will be made of chocolate. I have every bit as much evidence for that assertion as do you for yours.

  73. Bounty

    They already know and we're too far away for it to matter.

    http://planetquest.jpl.nasa.gov/index.cfm . . . . We can already detect planets around other stars down to 2x the size of earth (probably smaller as the data comes in this year/next.) We can also detect the gases of some exoplanets. Gases like CFCs (these don't happen naturally,) oxygen, which doesn't stick around unless something is making it etc. Translation, any civilization that's anywhere nearby that's as advanced as us or more, probably already know we're here. We'll know they're there regardless of their silent radios. In the next 50 years we're going to have a massive database of planets and their vitals. We can already detect planets 20,000 light years away in the center of our galaxy using chance opportunities with gravitational lensing. Imagine the database of planets aliens have. One day someone is going to do a facepalm when they look at SETI data slighty differently or in a different range etc.

    " They'd do it so that we could never pose a threat to them..." I agree, which is why I go around killing children, dogs, monkeys, immigrants and lizards.

    "However, intergalactic travellers might be dangerous religious fanatics who view our population as a large group of infidels who need converting and/or exterminating. It may be that our primitive way of life is an abomination to them." . . . . That is about the only feasable doomsday scenario, and the way I see it, is we're stranded on a tropical island. Sure there may be pirates, but I'm gonna go ahead and signal any boats I see. The don't talk to strangers strategy is counter productive, they're going to see us first anyways.

    p.s. I'm 25% American Indian and thank FSM Columbus brought civilization, otherwise I'd have a life expectancy of 40 years and squirrel for lunch.

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    at the center of it all? egos.

    Hawkings is wrong more than he is right and here he is talking out his butt, AGAIN!!...Whats next, noble prize for encouraging spaced based weaponry...(I think spacecraft should have a particle defense weapon against wayward astreroids anyways....but that could just be a water toy to darth vader and company)....the little microbes, surely already raining down on us for a couple of billion years, at least from the ice geysers of the saturaninan moons and jovian moons, are the greatest statistical threat to terrestial life....and like all the other things that have came and passed into history, the little microbes would eventually find an ecological balance, whatever that maybe!!...back to physics....trees have a form which follows thier function....we will find this form all over the damn galaxy.....ALL OF US can safely assume that multipeds will outnumber monopeds as the dominant method of mobility.....but circumstance may allow the lower order statistics to appear as the order of the day via happenstance.....beaming out seti signals is neither good nor bad...first if we have been beaming out signals for what, a few decades now???how far have they gone? what percentage of space have they traversed towards the nearest star??....hell we are so dumb we blast out signals at SUB light speed in the direction of a star that has not been in that targeted location for HOW MANY MILLIONS OF YEARS????..Let alone where the targeted star will be WHEN AND IF the intended signals arrive....so many parsecs away the hope for success is only supported by serendipity.....hopefully they are looking for nanowatt or femtowatt signals in the HF spectrum.....a few million years from now!!!...our own historians are statistically more likely to hear seti than KUBLA KAHN FROM KLAKATU or whatever....quit asking that geek questions about social anything!!....and start checking his damn facts!!!....onwards.....maybe the big bad green guys came here to TALK to an intelligent being....WHAT THE HELL MAKES ANYONE THINK THAT WOULD BE US????....damn ignorant of any species in general to be that foolish......statistically, we do not have ANY information on what an alien civilization would think of us....just a bunch of biased guesses that, like stephens, change from day to day depending on personal social biases......perhaps they were already here, surveyed, mined, left a few escaped slaves on the surface, took a few as replacements, off they went, same thing happens over and over again....personally I would avoid large groups of anything unknown, keep a safe distance from any race that purposefully tossed strontium 91 around like it was pixie dust, keep the gamma detector of high so as to avoid large groups of organisms that liked banging different rocks together to see if they could duplicate the really cool glowing mushroom cloud effect, and of course, at all costs, AVOID WITH DEAR LIFE IN TOW, ANY CIVILIZATION THAT DOES NOT WASH IT"S HAND'S AFTER GOING TO THE BATHROOM!!!!....surely a least common denominator among all species......Steve is a good guy, I hope will go back and work on some quantum entanglement stuff, I need to know if any of the axions are ftl theory possible or not....I don't believe in axions nor fiction from outerspace or megamedia....good luck, thanks for all the fish...forget the vogans, they ran out of money and no one want so come near this swamp infested part of the galaxy anyways...they are all hanging out at vantage points near the great hole...watching the greatest show of the galaxy (no, sorry freud, it ain't us) and feeding the monster that keeps it all spinning fractionalized dust particles.

    ray smith

    n3twu

  75. Bobster

    No worries...

    Most likely, any spacefaring alien life that comes here with an intent to destroy/enslave us all will be running Windows in their massive mothership... a simple upload of a virus will suffice ;)

  76. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    Hmm...

    I want them to arrive. Then perhaps I might get my anti-gravity flying car.

  77. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Probability

    Most of the arguments in favour of the exitence of ET intelligence seem to rely rather heavilly on probability.

    Take a look at us. How long have we had the capability to fly into space? A few decades. And so far are we able to travel interstellar distances? Nope. Indeed the likes of Hawking can't even tell us how we're going to manage that and when we will have the capabilities.

    So considering the age of the universe what are the probabilities that there are aliens out there now (or in the next century or so) who have the capability to fly to earth and actually want to fly to earth? Aggregate the probabilities and I suspect that you end up with something that is very unlikely indeed.

    Oh and you can bear in mind that we haven't had any confirmed contact with ETs yet. So we're not only looking at the likelyhood that there is somebody out there now who has the ability and inclination to come here, but we have to weigh it against the fact that even though they can do it they haven't chosen to do it yet.

  78. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As much as I respect the man...

    I have to disagree. I mean why would an alien race risk casualties and a conflict just to come here and stomp us out? Taken in the context of an entire universe they could explore why would they stop here for our piddly little resources? They need oil to power those super-interstellar space ships of theirs? From my lay man understanding the universe is essentially a big cosmic soup made up of every imaginable element. Given that idea you could find almost any resource out on uninhabited planets and not risk any conflict in gathering them. Seems like a hell of a lot of effort when you could just go find a uranium asteroid to gobble up. And I agree with other posters that to advance to this stage you'd have to move past things like nationalism that cause all those wonderful wars. Case in point look at the US's defense spending versus its space exploration spending. We're ready for that unknown time in the future when the USSR rises from the ashes and once again threatens freedom! But hey, we don't even have gas money for a trip to the moon. I suspect they have already been here (dons tinfoil hat) and saw no reason to return. If they landed anywhere near Texas I can virtually guarantee they will not be back for some time!

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