Another Hawking Rebuttal

It seems that Paul Davies, author of ‘The Eerie Silence‘, doesn’t agree with Dr. Hawking’s assessment that advanced interstellar nomads would attack us for our resources.

When British cosmologist Stephen Hawking warned against contact with extraterrestrials in a new Discovery Channel documentary, he was repeating a well-worn argument. “If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.”

But Hawking’s reasoning is flawed on a number of counts. First, we can ask why the aliens would come here with guns blazing. What could they possibly want? Hawking suggests that Earth’s resources might be a reason. “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.”

It is a chilling image, reinforced by science fiction stories from “War of the Worlds” to  “Independence Day,” but the argument doesn’t really wash. A super-civilization capable of making starships would certainly have the means to observe Earth in detail from many light years away, and they would have known all about our planet’s resources for as long as they had possessed advanced technology.Here we hit another common misconception. Earth is about 4.5 billion years old, and there were stars and planets around long before the solar system even existed. Assuming intelligent life is likely, as Hawking suggests, then some alien communities would have emerged a very long time in the past. If resources are the motivating factor, then at least one group of aliens would surely have spotted Earth as a desirable destination millions of years ago, and come here when they could have had the planet for the asking, without pesky humans to complicate the takeover.

Another problem with Hawking’s picture is the sheer distances involved. The galaxy is huge by human standards. The nearest star is over four light years away -– about 25 trillion miles. Within the scientific community, even the optimists believe the nearest civilization could well be hundreds of light years away. Because nothing can travel faster than light, the Hollywood image of aliens plying the vast interstellar voids in star fleets is absurd. It’s far more likely that alien civilizations would limit contact to radio communication rather than engage in the sort of close encounters favored by movie makers.

Here in the defense of Hawking, I have to disagree with Dr. Davies.

Relativistic space travel could be a trigger for an extraterrestrial civilization to do a preemptive strike against mankind, to preserve their own culture.

An interstellar version of the Bush Doctrine? Read ‘The Killing Star‘ to understand this a little better.

Maybe we shouldn’t dismiss Dr. Hawking’s premise so readily?

Alien Invasion: Why Stephen Hawking is Wrong

hat tip

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6 responses

  1. Somewhere in the world, Stephen Hawking is sitting in his chair thinking to himself “I really f***ing hate the internet”.

  2. …Stephen Hawking is sitting in his chair thinking to himself “I really f***ing hate the internet”…

    ROTFFLMAO!!! 😆

    Poor Stephen. He probably wishes there’s really a Hell so Asimov is properly roasted and Davies lives long enough to witness a tactical relativistic strike against Earth so he has to eat his book page by page in Hell. 😆

  3. Bruce Duensing | Reply

    Let’s see..a planet with a polluted atmosphere, a mile diameter pile of plastic litter in the sea..cantankerous and unpredictable humans..a dying wildlife population..folks wanting to blow their heads off as a precautionary statement..several wars always going on..yep, a perfect little gem to colonize. Dr Strangelove meets Mekon the Lizard King..in 3-D!

  4. …Dr Strangelove meets Mekon the Lizard King..in 3-D!

    Mustn’t forget the 3-D Bruce, that’s the money-maker! 😆

  5. Where is the ticket booth for the outbound rocket?
    Fact: Those with lower IQs are more prolific breeders.
    Fact: Progressives want those who have the ability (High IQers) to support those who are poor (For the most part, low IQers).
    Fact: The future looks bleak for the high IQers.
    Soon Darwin’s survival of the fittest theory will be tested.
    I’ll take my chances out there!

    Oops! I forgot, we have to dumb down education for the lowest IQ.
    Now Johnny, can you spell rokett?

    1. Well, social Darwinism aside, I don’t think “low IQ” breeders are going to colonize space anytime soon because just surviving in the environment requires high technology and the smarts to operate it.

      So I’m sure the first space colonists can spell “rocket.”

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