Stephen Hawking, one of the best known theoretical physicist, has recently said that he is not so sure we should communicate with alien societies, warning that humans must be wary in their search for life on planet Earth and think it twice before trying to contact extraterrestrials.

He expresses his reasoning through a newly released online film called “Stephen Hawking’s Favorite Places”, a 25-minute movie that takes us on a virtual tour of the scientist’s five favorite places all over the universe. He said that he is sure life exist out there, but he hesitates about whether it would be a good thing to know for humanity.

In an interview with Larry King, the famous physicist Stephen Hawking spoke about the biggest threats to humanity. Photo credit: Concierto
In an interview with Larry King, the famous physicist Stephen Hawking spoke about the biggest threats to humanity. Photo credit: Concierto

“We should be wary of answering back,” Hawking said, echoing sentiments he has previously expressed.  “Meeting an advanced civilization could be like Native Americans encountering Columbus — that didn’t turn out so well.”

It could be like Native Americans encountering Columbus

Stephen Hawking has always been passionate by the space and how the universe works. He has long supported the search for life outside the Earth, but that doesn’t keep him from warning about how terrible it could be for us to contact outer space civilizations. He said that they could be more advanced than us, and humans know how intelligent life can develop. He also fears that unknown societies might be searching new planets to inhabit.

“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.”

But this idea has found detractors, such as the president of METI International, Doug Vakoch, leading an institute that is dedicated to sending messages to potential alien civilizations.

“The Earth is a wonderful place, but it might not last forever”

Regardless Hawking’s warnings, he continues to express his curiosity about what is beyond our atmosphere and our solar system. During “Stephen Hawking’s Favorite Places”, he shows us the planet Gliese 832c, located about 16 light-years away from our own planet in the constellation Grus. That planet, he believes could be an option for life outside Earth.  He admitted that though ours is a wonderful planet, it won’t last forever, and we will have to look to the stars, and beyond the earth for our survival.

He is also co-working with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Russian billionaire Yuri Milner in the $100 million Breakthrough Listen project to find life across the universe sending thousands of postage stamp sized nanobots to the space, propelled by light.

“There is no bigger question. It’s time to commit to finding the answer – to search for life beyond Earth,” said Hawking.

Hawking also noted that their biggest limit was the immense void between us and the stars but that now we are able to transcend it with light beams and the lightest spacecraft. He added that human nature is to fly.

Therefore while Hawking is worried about how advanced other civilizations in the space might be, and how that could harm us, he is terribly interested and curious about what the humanity can discover.

Source: The Christian Science Monitor