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Stephen Hawking is Still Wary of First Contact with Aliens

Especially if some of our own Earth films are anything to go by.

stephen hawking

It’s no secret that we as a society have developed a fascination with contact from alien civilizations over the years. The concept of meeting intelligent life from somewhere else, either from our galaxy or another, has been the basis of much of our recent research–including the work of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute, which we’ve been avidly following. It’s also been the inspiration for some of the most popular science-fiction franchises out there, from Star Trek to Close Encounters of the Third Kind to the Independence Day films. In much of our fiction, however, meeting alien life for the first time can either go well… or not so well.

With that in mind, it’s no wonder that renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking is personally pretty nervous when it comes to the concept of first contact with an alien civilization. Back in 2010, Hawking posited the theory that if intelligent life exists outside our universe, they may not be as friendly as we would like to believe.

Six years later, he still holds that same belief–and he’s discussing it in a documentary called Stephen Hawking’s Favorite Places, which is available on CuriosityStream:

One day, we might receive a signal from a planet like [Gliese 832c]. But we should be wary of answering back. Meeting an advanced civilization could be like Native Americans encountering Columbus. That didn’t turn out so well.

It’s easy to understand Hawking’s hesitancy–even though other scientists aren’t so sure we need to be erring on the side of caution when it comes to welcoming first contact. Their argument stands behind the fact that any aliens who reach out to us would have likely already learned a lot about us due to the fact that our planet has been sending out satellite signals for years already. So maybe it wouldn’t necessarily turn out like Independence Day. Maybe it would actually be closer to this scene in Star Trek: First Contact that gives me emotions every single time. We could definitely introduce our equivalent of Vulcans to some rockin’ tunes:

(via LiveScience)

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