April 22, 2008 3:18 PM
Hawking: intelligent life on other planets rare, on Earth still iffy
Astrophysicist Stephen Hawking has a tip if you're confronted by a space alien:
"Watch out if you would meet an alien. You could be infected with a disease with which you have no resistance."
As to the issue of life on other planets, Hawking believes we're probably not alone but the chance of intelligent life is rare.
If there is life elsewhere in the universe, Hawking asks why haven't we stumbled onto some alien broadcasts in space, maybe something like "alien quiz shows?"
Hawking's comments were part of a lecture at George Washington University on Monday in honor of NASA's 50th anniversary. He theorized that there are possible answers to whether there is extraterrestrial life.
One option is that there likely isn't life elsewhere. Or maybe there is intelligent life elsewhere, but when it gets smart enough to send signals into space, it also is smart enough to make destructive nuclear weapons.
Hawking said he prefers the third option:
"Primitive life is very common and intelligent life is fairly rare," he then quickly added: "Some would say it has yet to occur on earth."
Think there's intelligent life on another planet? On this one? In the cubicle next to yours?