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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?



Discussion

  • April 22, 2008

    6:32 PM

    Holier Than Thou writes:

    As it is in the rest of the universe, so it is on Earth. Intelligence is extremely rare.

  • April 22, 2008

    7:22 PM

    Hiram writes:

    "Some would say it (intelligent life) has yet to occur on earth" -Steven Hawking

    Egads people! This can only mean one thing. Mr. Hawking is an avid reader of RTL!!!

  • April 22, 2008

    8:43 PM

    Kevin Jones writes:

    Was that disease line meant to be a joke? It's obviously an allusion to the end of H.G. Wells' war of the worlds.

    I'm not even sure it's true. Wouldn't alien bacteria likely lack both defenses against and capacities to attack earth-evolved organisms?

    Has Hawking done much work in xenobiology? Isn't he a bit out of his field here?

  • April 22, 2008

    9:04 PM

    history buff writes:

    Hawking is absolutely right that any alien invasion would be preceded by transmissions from an alien world. The ability to send messages through radio waves precedes the ability to send objects outside a planet's gravitational force. That presumption is based on the belief that physics as we know it exists in other parts of the universe. Of course, radio transmissions could be on their way, but since nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, it may be light years before they reach planet earth. And, of course we would have to have the technology to receive those transmissions, and maybe the physics of black holes and other phenomena are beyond our ability to understand them from the theory of relativity.

    So, it is still possible that an alien armada could send signals that we can't receive, and one morning we could wake up to find alien hover craft circling over Denver intent on liquidating Douglas Bruce.

  • April 23, 2008

    8:13 AM

    just sayin' writes:

    geez, HB haven't you ever heard of warp speed? According to Star Trek it is the speed of light with factors.LOL I wonder how much of Hawkings science comes from reading the Bible?

  • April 23, 2008

    9:16 AM

    Kevin Jones writes:

    "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?""

    Whoa, I missed this part. Isn't it pretty well established that you'd need an incredibly powerful transmitter to broadcast a radio signal that would hold its integrity over light years of distance and still be distinguishable from background noise? Shouldn't Hawking note this?

  • April 23, 2008

    9:17 AM

    Anonymous writes:

    "Watch out if you would meet an alien. You could be infected with a disease with which you have no resistance." Hawking

    This could be applied to both space and illegal aliens.

  • April 23, 2008

    11:05 AM

    SASQUATCH writes:

    HAWKING MUST BE WATCHING THE PATHETIC OBAMA/HILLARY SOAP OPERA.

  • April 23, 2008

    11:52 AM

    jay writes:

    it is rare

    but with the ginormous number of inhabitable planets out there, it is simply egotistical to think that jebus hasn't put his own image somewhere else in the universe

  • April 23, 2008

    1:22 PM

    just sayin' writes:

    Have you ever read much Carl Sagan Jay? He talks about our solar system being nothing but a drop in a very large bucket. To consider that we are the only intelligent life is the height of egotism. Of course none of that really jives with religious beliefs so we digress. Sagan is not claiming to believe in UFO's or anything but states that believing there could be no other life anywhere is just plain silly. Contact was an excellent book about what might happen if we really did receive some sort of communication from another source of life. Very interesting

  • April 23, 2008

    3:32 PM

    Anonymous writes:

    An Alien would receive a very disappointing impression of life here on earth if they encountered any one of the numerous brainwashed Right-Wing Rush/ Hannity / Coulter sheeple.

  • April 24, 2008

    8:38 AM

    Richard A. Smith writes:

    Hey April 23rd 3:32 PM, try being original in your name-calling. I believe if you do a search of the slang term "sheeple", you'll see it applied to socialist government teat suckling Air America fans like yourself almost exclusively. You're a sort of cultural plagiarist. Speaking of Air America, why is it such a failure compared to Fox, Rush, and all the rest of the vast right-wing conspiracy? You using terms like "sheeple" would indicate that you and other philosophical adolescents spend enough time perusing the conservative media to adopt their slang, at the expense of Air America's success. So who's the sheeple?

  • April 24, 2008

    9:15 AM

    Anonymous writes:

    Mr. Smith. Easy answer. Talk radio is for dweebs.

  • April 24, 2008

    9:15 AM

    jay writes:

    I have a long time ago, js...but don't remember much about it. just finished the raw shark texts...fantastic book.

    i'm with you on the intelligent life...it's hard to believe that we're the only intelligent life in the universe...or whatever contains the universe.

    hawking probsbly does have a point about an alien contagien.

  • April 24, 2008

    10:01 AM

    Typical Brainwashed Right-Wing Sheeple writes:

    I'm not sure how I feel about this issue, neither Rush Limbaugh nor Anne Coulter have sent me my instructions yet.

  • April 24, 2008

    10:50 AM

    L. Bell writes:

    Why do some people keep hoping that there is life somewhere out in the universe??
    Are these the same people who don't want to believe in God? And refuse to believe that God created the universe?

    Why do they continue to delude themselves and many others??

  • April 24, 2008

    12:21 PM

    Matt writes:

    I was watching the History Channel series about the possibility of earth like plants existing and the odds are pretty good that one is out there. But until something is found, Hawking might find it worthwhile to study up on Jimmy Carter's UFO sighting since Jimmy has shown himself to be a very credible character in so many other walks of life.

  • April 24, 2008

    12:23 PM

    jay writes:

    easy there belly...we're not "hoping" there's other life in the universe...just making the case that it's a little egocentric to believe we're the only folks around.

    the skydaddy doesn't have anything to do with it

  • April 24, 2008

    12:57 PM

    Anonymous writes:

    well if jay said it you know it bull*^#!.

  • April 24, 2008

    1:05 PM

    just sayin' writes:

    not that I don't want to believe in God, L. Bell, I just don't. You should read a little more about the Universe before deciding who is being delusional. If our solar system was but a grain of sand in a desert then what are the odds it is the only grain with life? I'm not really hoping that there is life outside of our planet I just recognize that it is most probable.

  • April 24, 2008

    3:35 PM

    Kevin Jones writes:

    Psst... Christians do believe there is non-human intelligent life in the universe. They're called angels.

    How about laying off the blasphemy against God and whacking at angels for a while?

  • April 24, 2008

    3:49 PM

    Hogar De Vuelta (العودة) Republican, because not everyone can be on welfare. writes:

    Cosmos - (Rioters): Extra-terrestrial entities are said to be amused by reports among their tin foil hat bretheren that Stephen Hawking probably exists "but is a whole lot dumber than anybody could ever imagine."

    "We are certainly not alone," one of the advanced life-forms commented today at a convention honoring the 5,000,000th anniversary of searching for intelligent life in Earth's Milky Way quadrant, "and there has been no cover-up.

    "But what if these daft conspiracy theories about the alleged Stephen Hawking are really true?

    "Our tabloid editors would make us into a galactic laughing stock, that's what.

  • April 24, 2008

    7:40 PM

    jay writes:

    you superstitious folks don't have be defensive about science

    reading over the posts by our regulars fundamentalists seems like they're taking pot shots at my man with the bedpan

    he's not trying to piss in your cherrios so try not to take out your feelings of spiritual inadequacy on im.

  • April 25, 2008

    10:30 AM

    just sayin' writes:

    most scientists are atheists or agnostics. I gues they are just wired that way. A different way of thinking and use of a more pure logic.

  • April 25, 2008

    11:55 AM

    joe writes:

    Right wing sheeple- you protest too much.

  • April 25, 2008

    6:31 PM

    Hogar De Vuelta (العودة) Republican, because not everyone can be on welfare. writes:

    Jay,

    Are you saying the Hawk is bladder challenged? I thought you didn't like people who believe in fairy tales. The Hawk says that I should be careful the next time I run into an alien. He might have Alien Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and I might catch it if he or she or it give me a cosmic cough in my direction. I think the Hawk is blather challenged.

    I can tell you one thing, if he doesn't repent, he's going to need more than a bed pan when he meets the God he has rejected. Not that God is vindictive, he is just not going to jump into the fire with you to save you. You jump in, you are on your own.

  • March 31, 2009

    9:23 AM

    Richard writes:

    Hawking has been wrong before correct? If there is intelligent life somewhere in the universe, do you think it would be wise to come out and communicate with a people you know nothing about or observe from a distance?

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