Aliens may exist but contact would hurt humans: Hawking

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Aliens may exist but mankind should avoid contact with them as the consequences could be devastating, British scientist Professor Stephen Hawking warns. “If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans,” said the astrophysicist in a new television series, according to British media reports.

French news agency Agence France Presse reports the programmes depict an imagined universe featuring alien life forms in huge spaceships on the hunt for resources after draining their own planet dry. “Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonise whatever planets they can reach,” warned Hawking, now 68, an expert on the universe who wrote “A Brief History of Time”, the Daily Mirror adds.

And, in a scenario similar to Hollywood blockbuster movie Independence Day, he fears contact with them might be catastrophic. “We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet.” Hawking says aliens probably will not just exist on planets or be roaming through space but will also live in the centre of stars. He added that with 100 billion galaxies, each with hundreds of millions of stars, Earth is highly unlikely to be the only planet with life: “To my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational. “The real challenge is to work out what aliens might actually be like.”

Hawking believes most of them will be the equivalent of microbes or simple animals. In his Discovery Channel documentary “Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking”, two-legged herbivores are dramatically picked off by flying, yellow lizard-like predators. And fluorescent aquatic animals form vast shoals in the oceans of a moon orbiting Jupiter.

Mankind has already made a number of attempts to contact extraterrestrial civilisations. In 2008, American space agency NASA beamed the Beatles song “Across the Universe” into deep space to send a message of peace to any alien that happens to be in the region of Polaris — also known as the North Star — in 2439. But the history of humanity’s efforts to contact aliens stretches back some years. The US probes Pioneer 10 and 11 were launched in 1972 and 1973 bearing plaques of a naked man and woman and symbols seeking to convey the positions of the Earth and the Sun.

Voyager 1 and 2, launched in 1977, each carry a gold-plated copper phonogram disk with recordings of sounds and images on Earth.

Prof Hawking, who is almost completely paralysed by a form of muscular dystrophy and who communicates through a voice synthesiser, concludes that contact with aliens is “a little too risky”.