Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Steven Hawking, the World’s Smartest Man, Warns Us About Alien Invaders … Should We Be Concerned?

with 17 comments

Steven Hawking, a smart fellow no doubt, though yes, saying he is the smartest man in the world is poetic license. In any event, he is now on record as supporting the idea that aliens may very well exist, and claims we should be trying to avoid contact with them if at all possible. Mr Hawking even explicitly says that aliens, after having exhausted the resources on their home planets, might be roaming the galaxy in search of other planets to strip of their resources. Quick show of a hands, any American readers by any chance recognize that plot element from say, a very popular sci fi movie a few years back? Yes, in the 1996 movie Independence Day, aliens show up over Earth to do just that, blow us all up so they can steal all our stuff. Maybe just a  coincidence, or maybe some sort of inside joke on Mr Hawkings part? It’s possible he made these claims simply to get publicity, but let’s look at them anyhow.

My first thought about alien is this. Boy, for something that there is no evidence for, our culture sure has a tremendous amount invested in the idea. Everyone knows what one means when one says aliens. Books, TV shows, and movies about aliens are such standard fare that I doubt anyone with any exposure to mainstream media hasn’t seen some of them. Depictions of aliens in our entertainment media vastly outnumber depictions of perfectly real historical peoples like say the Romans or the Mongols or Alexander’s Greeks. That’s a pretty neat feat for entirely imaginary beings. I mean, in previous centuries people literally believed in things like angels and demons,  but aren’t we supposedly more advanced than that now? Yet here we are, a planet where no sane person believes that Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny is literally real, yet a huge percentage of those supposedly sane people literally believe that beings from other worlds regularly visit Earth? It’s weird if not downright nuts if one thinks about it carefully. I mean, yes, aliens might exist, but to actually believe in the face of zero evidence? Creepy.

Moving right along, I’ve already made my unpopular arguments that we might indeed be alone in the Universe, so let’s for grins assume that aliens do exist. Do Mr Hawkings warnings hold water? Well, yes and no. My main objection is his specific claim that aliens might have exhausted their home planet and are now roving around looking for other planets to mine. The problem I have with this is very simple, aliens with the resources to travel between the stars looking for more resources, are going to have vastly greater resources at their disposal than the ones offered by planets like Earth. Why bother mining the thinly scattered resources in Earth’s crust when there are asteroids made entirely of metal just floating around waiting to be scooped up? In fact all of the gold, cobalt, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, osmium, palladium, platinum, rhenium, rhodium and ruthenium in Earth’s crust originally came from a rain of asteroids early in Earth’s history. There are single asteroids which contain over a million times Earth’s entire current annual production of these metals. In fact there are single asteroids which contain more of some of the rare metals listed above than even exist in Earth’s crust. Similarly water, Oxygen, hydrogen,  methane, and numerous other resources are easily available in vast quantities in the outer Solar  System’s moons, comets, and asteroids. Why go deep into the Sun’s gravity well and then into a large planet’s gravity to steal thinly distributed resources when they are free for the asking in vastly greater quantities in easier to access parts of the Solar System? I’m sorry, but this scenario posited by Independence Day and Mr Hawking doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

On the other hand, maybe we are talking about aliens so advanced that they could utilize Earth’s core itself as a source of resources. I guess, though one would think that aliens capable of such godlike feats would have made their presence known in a  variety of other ways in the Universe we observe, and so far decades of astronomy and SETI have yet to spot anything even remotely artificial looking in the galaxy around us. Even on the remotest desert island on Earth a short walk on the beach will show that there are artifact producing beings elsewhere on the planet. And we’ve at least glanced at a huge number of the Solar Systems beaches so to speak, and if any aliens with God like capabilities have dropped by, they’ve very carefully cleaned up after themselves.

Then there’s the argument that on Earth, history shows that when primitive cultures meet advanced cultures, the primitive cultures are almost always hosed. So it makes sense that if we actually run across an alien species more advanced than us, it will be bad news for humans. The main problem I have with this argument is that it assumes that any aliens we meet are going to be amazingly similar to humans in their culture and how they interact with other cultures. It’s an incredibly narcissistic assumption to simply assumes that aliens are going to be very similar to humans. I mean, we are talking about aliens. We simply have no idea what an alien intelligent species is going to be like, not only is it entirely possible that we won’t even be able to communicate with aliens when we meet, we might not even recognize them as an intelligent species.

Lastly, the idea that we should try to avoid contact with aliens. This is, frankly, absurd. It’s absurd because there is simply no way we can hide without essentially dismantling our entire industrial civilization. And I’m not talking about what is visible from orbit or our radio/TV transmissions. I’m talking about industrial pollutants in our atmosphere. We are very close to having the ability to study in great detail the chemical composition of the atmosphere of planets light years from Earth, so  at this point any advanced aliens within a few hundred light years of Earth could do the same. And Earth’s atmosphere contains all sorts of pollutants that are going to scream “artificially produced.” So it’s too late to hide, if there are any advanced aliens nearby, they’ve more than likely already detected our presence.

Honestly, I don’t think alien invaders are anything we need to worry about for two reasons. On the one hand, the complete absence of any evidence that such invaders even exist is reasonably reassuring at this point. And if there are aliens with god like powers to suck out Earth’s core so they can make the alien equivalent of key chains out of it, well, it will likely all be over before we even realize there’s a problem.

In a future post, why the idea of defending ourselves against hostile aliens is also a waste of brain cell activity. Sleep tight.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit, it’s central to illustrating the post, and its use here in no way interferes with the copyright holder’s commercial use of the image. The opposite in fact, I urge any American or Israeli who hasn’t seen Independence Day to see it, it’s a lot of fun if you like sci fi and can suspend disbelief about the ghastly physics and science in the movie. Why only Americans and Israelis? Because the movie flopped in the rest of the world, as my Canadian father said “Another movie where America saves the world, yawn.” Credit and copyright, Twentieth Century Fox.)

Written by unitedcats

May 12, 2010 at 8:31 am

17 Responses

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  1. people are no different than they were a long time ago, just better documentation, lol.

    “idea of defending ourselves against hostile aliens is also a waste of brain cell activity”

    yes it is and so the idea of trying to contact freindly aliens, WE should be the ones for lesser liforms to avoid! haha

    I just think we should look to the stars and think not of what could come here, from there, but what from here, could travel there…..

    Peace

    pyrodin

    May 12, 2010 at 9:39 am

  2. LOL well put, or as I like to say, the only difference between today and the Middle Ages is we have fancier gizmos. And there will be a lot of posts about space travel, aliens, space exploration, and cosmology coming up … it’s been a fascination of mine lately. :0)

    unitedcats

    May 12, 2010 at 9:59 am

  3. Doug, what are youre thoughts on the change of direction within NASA away from future maned missions and development of a new maned spacecraft? Might make for a good post.

    Josh V

    May 12, 2010 at 12:01 pm

  4. Good idea Josh, I have added that to my list of future blog topics, thanks. :)

    unitedcats

    May 13, 2010 at 5:37 pm

  5. […] a  prior post I made the case that it seem pretty unlikely that aliens are going to be invading Earth any time […]

  6. Well said! I reached to the same idea when I lurked into that question. Just for publicity. After considering the case for alien life and their culture from various prospects finaly I can guess that there is no alien invasion unless we welcome them with nukes. you can read more of my thoughts on similar issue here
    http://weirdsciences.net/2010/04/30/poor-hawking-you-are-wrong/

    bruceleeeowe

    May 25, 2010 at 6:26 am

  7. frankly Ido admire Mr.HAWKING inteligence in predict our planet destiny

    ricky siswanto

    July 13, 2010 at 12:58 am

  8. I think that any theory about what a super-advanced ALIEN race would do is only mild speculation, at best.

    We have very little success trying to predict what our own culture will do in a year, let alone a thousand, and still don’t have a perfect grip on exactly what our short history as a civilization truly meant.
    How can anyone (brainy or no) attempt to seriously predict what a completely different people will do in a period of civilization we know so little about?

    Samuel

    July 21, 2010 at 11:14 am

  9. I believe that there are aliens out there, and they are simply visiting earth to study our civilization, perhaps for weak points to attack, I think they are most fascinated with the current world dominant force, Us atm but recent articles show more UFO’s in China’s airspace, if there are aliens who want to destroy us, now would be the time to attack before we become incredibly powerful in technological standards

    adam

    October 5, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    • Wow, that goes against everything Doug wrote… The point is that, no matter how advanced we get, unless we are talking a millennia from now, we won’t be even close to traveling thru Space and Time, and if someone other than us is already doing so, they are a millennia more advanced than we are and always will be.

      Unless we make it there first, whoever makes it here, will have us by the Ball$.

      dorian

      November 1, 2010 at 5:12 pm

      • LOL. Thanks, glad someone understands. SciFi movies about Earth defending itself against invading aliens are silly, if they show up tomorrow, we will be in the situation Japan was in when Commander Perry visited Japan in 1853. IE we’d best hope their demands are reasonable, because it’s not like we’d have a choice but to agree.
        —Doug

        unitedcats

        November 1, 2010 at 9:57 pm

  10. I guess Mr Hawking has gotten a bit too old….

    Akay

    December 12, 2010 at 6:29 am

  11. i can only imagine what Dr. Hawking would feel and how he would react in seeing your replies to all this, it’s most interesting how life forms are even based and this is a VERY defensive statement!!

    EVEN HERE ON EARTH there are a FEW Lifeforms that DO NOT need Hydrogen OR Oxygen to Survive, but that’s JUST this planet, well noted that they may need few resources from our planet, but on a completely different planet they may not be able to enter our atmosphere! let alone approach it for something they might need.

    as i fore-mentioned we have a few Known species here on earth that are subject to different mandatory chemicals to survive, on a different distant planet, what’s to say that they even share the same remote chemical make up? what if it’s based on a form of chemical that we haven’t even discovered because it’s limited mostly to a select few planets near them, they would then have No need to come by our planet whatsoever, let alone bother going out of their way to study us.

    so lets make up a chemical! Uberindium ^-^ let’s say it’s a complete solid, not a metal though, just a Very dense rock, (lol) like our Hydrogen based Lifeforms these Aliens are Actually Uberindium Based Lifeforms.

    shaped perhaps humanoid in some extent, the rock could be magnetic, or perhaps just so dense it has a gravitational pull!
    this being might look simply like a pile of rocks if it wanted to hide, but standing up could be 9 feet tall, completely absent joints, no elbows, just the gravitational or magnetic pull to hold their limbs together. they would have a hard time working with small detail projects, Aka building a spacecraft, but the thought of this post remains

    with us being only one of a few billion plants in our own Galaxy, and countless more out there and more gently beginning to gather across the endless universe, you REALLY think we’re alone? that some EXTREMELY Distant being Isn’t out there trying to contact us? or that our own governments aren’t keeping secrets?

    final note:
    think of this! how would you and your friends react if the government told you that Aliens exist among us? excited? scared? would you wish they hadn’t told you ? we all know they keep secrets, but to what extent? have they considered that the world might divide further amongst our own kind in the debate to fight them or accept them? or would they keep it hidden and try to hold what little peace Does exist in the world ?

    Kyle

    February 10, 2011 at 10:06 pm

  12. I believe you guys are crazy panzis because I found an alien once his name was Hectooooor Gandgado and he looked like a fish so you guys should make contact

    El Chorizzo
    FROM THE CITY OF COMPTON

    El Chorizzo

    February 16, 2011 at 9:12 pm

  13. Well, think about this, Aliens? Word we created. We were created. From a more evolved “something”. Spiritual? Magical? Idk.  God?
    I think that’s a word we made up too. We all know there is something more superior. The galaxy is so huge. There is definitely another force out there. I believe dinosaurs were not wiped out by any natural occurrence .  It was the work of some other, more superior, “race”. Then they unleashed a new race onto earth. Us! Now the human race has evolved in every category. Ex. medical, technological, ect.  

    I believe they come and check up on us. We See them as what we believe to be ghosts. Why they appear that way? Idk. Maybe they have discovered a way to move so fast that we only can get a fraction of a glimpse of there presence. Maybe they have ways of emitting different frequencies of color or light in a different spectrum that our eyes cant fully interpret. Therefore we can’t see them or we get distorted views of them. Maybe what they do messes with the atoms in the air making it colder which is what started the stories of it getting cold during “claimed” encounters.
    I’m sure they have rules about making contact w/ us. Maybe the story of Jesus is a slightly modified story of them seeing if we could handle the presence of a more, idk, “superior” life form. Which according to the scripture we failed at miserably. I guess they figure we can not handle something as big as that. Maybe one day in the future? When we have evolved more as a race intelligently? We have come pretty far in the past 100 years. Imagine 1000 or even 10000 more years. We would be much much more advanced! Would they let us get that far? Would they risk it? We could endanger their survival

    Jay

    March 24, 2011 at 6:55 pm

  14. Look guys..I totally disagree to steven’s hypothesis of the aliens
    Firstly..if aliens are living beings, they need 0xygen..in this case, space has no oxygen and aliens would not be alive living there
    Secondly..its a total bullshit to say that spaceships exist cuz humans are people who formed the digital part of the world while in outer space they could not even dredge for minerals due to 0 gravity

    Vicky

    February 5, 2013 at 5:11 am

    • I don’t get your comment. Why wouldn’t another planet have oxygen? Ships create oxygen, as in our own little ships. The vastness of space and time, easily promotes differences in civilizations in the 10s of thousands of years. Which means that another civilization could be thousands of years more evolved than us. Picture us humans surviving the next 2000 years. The last 200 years has seen humans go from practically nothing to harnessing the power of the sun. In 2000 years we could easily have the power of the sun in a single ship. if humans survive this length of time, there is nothing would couldn’t do. And if we could, so can they.

      dorian

      February 5, 2013 at 10:35 am


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