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SETI, Hawking, and Alien Contact

Why astrophysicist Stephen Hawking is saying we should avoid contact with aliens. We hear the debate from leading scientists.

A screen shot from the new Discovery Channel series, "Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking" (Credit: Discovery Channel).

A new warning from astrophysicist and global science guru Stephen Hawking: Do not talk to aliens. 

The brilliant Hawking is wheel-chair bound and speaks through a computer. But he’s thinking about the cosmos. 

With billions of galaxies, trillions of stars, the numbers tell him there’s life out there. The smartest forms could make it here. But we should not want that, says Hawking. Too much danger. 

Other scientists disagree. We’ll hear that debate, and talk to the man who heads Earth’s greeting committee for aliens. 

 This Hour, On Point: alien life, and the warning from Stephen Hawking.


Paul Davies, theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and astrobiologist at Arizona State University. He chairs the SETI Post-Detection Taskgroup, which means he’ll help decide Earth’s response to any first contact with life in space. His new book is “The Eeerie Silence: Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence.” You can read an excerpt. He runs ASU’s Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science. He wrote in the Wall Street Journal that Stephen Hawking’s fears of aggressive aliens are misguided.

Jill Tarter, astronomer who directs the Center for SETI Research and chairs the SETI Institute. The character that Jodi Foster played in the movie “Contact,” which came from Carl Sagan’s novel, was based on Tarter. She served as Project Scientist for NASA’s former SETI program, the High Resolution Microwave Survey. She has conducted observational programs at radio observatories worldwide.

Sean Carroll, theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology. He writes for Discover magazine’s “Cosmic Variance” blog – and he wrote recently that Stephen Hawking’s fears about aliens may be well-founded. He’s author of From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time.”


See Stephen Hawking’s segment on fearing aliens.

Read astronomer Phil Plait’s take on the Hawking debate at his Discover blog, “Bad Astronomy.”

Below is the famous plaque, designed by Carl Sagan among others, carried aboard the spacecraft Pioneer 10 and 11. Our guest today Paul Davies has a copy of it on his office wall. In his new book, “The Eerie Silence,” he writes, “As a symbolic act, it is a great idea…” But, Davies says, it may be “worthless as far as signalling the aliens” and  “[i]t is almost completely irrelevant both scientifically and culturally. To put it bluntly, who gives a damn what we look like?”

What do you make of the image?

Finally, here’s the Drake Equation, which is an attempt to formulate the likelihood of other life around the universe:



N = the number of civilizations in our galaxy with which communication might be possible
R* = the average rate of star formation per year in our galaxy
fp = the fraction of those stars that have planets
ne = the average number of planets that can potentially support life per star that has planets
fℓ = the fraction of those planets that actually go on to develop life at some point
fi = the fraction of those planets that actually go on to develop intelligent life
fc = the fraction of those planets on which technological civilization and communication emerges
L = the length of time such civilizations release detectable signals into space.

(Credit: Wikipedia/Paul Davies)

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  • wavre

    Enough “humancentrism”!Aliens may have been avoiding us like a plague, just look at US, a virus, such a crazy and destructive species!!( Drill and spill baby, drill and spill…)

  • Michael Drew

    Great topic!

  • Gary

    We just have to extend the illegal alien bill from Arizona to a more global approach.

    50,000 MPH in a school zone Mr. Zorn!

    Your papers Zorn! Show me your papers!

  • Rebecca

    I am surprised to hear that someone as intelligent as Mr. Hawking would say something like this (if that is indeed what he did say). Isn’t it obvious that if beings from somewhere in the universe were to visit us, that THEY would be far more advanced than we are? We should welcome them and try to learn from them, not fire our guns at them. If you follow the news on alien spacecraft, then you know the word is that these beings are far more intelligent than we are, and are trying to keep us from destroying ourselves. We are, to them, very primitive beings indeed. The fact that some would try to fight them is proof that we are, intellectually, just babies.

  • Brett

    SO, are we now going to stop someone just because he has an unusually large head, is green, and has hands with suction cups on his fingers as “reasonable suspicion” of being an alien? Jeesh!

  • Gary

    What do you make of the image? -Fedex will deliver your new lemon zester from the third planet to anywhere in two days or less.

    Those scientists kinda missrepresented the size of the sun by a few orders of magnitude.

  • Gary

    Where is the GRB extinction rate in the formula?

  • John

    Would the aliens even recognize us based on that old drawing considering today’s level of obesity?

  • John

    “It is known that there are an infinte number of worlds, simply because there is an infinite amount of space for them to be in. However, not every one of them is inhabited. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near nothing as makes no odds, so the average population of all the planets in the Universe can be said to be zero. From this it follows that the population of the whole Universe is also zero, and that any people you may meet from time to time are merely products of a deranged imagination.” – Douglas Adams

  • Barry Universe

    What no one ever discusses is the millions of events that had to occur on Earth in the particular sequence and order in which they did occur in order to result in the life forms that presently exist on planet Earth. The probablities concerning these chemical, physical, geological, and biological events are astronomical.

    In addition, if other planets and galaxies yielded higher life forms, these may have existed during periods of time that were not coincident with life on planet Earth. These life forms may have existed and become extinct millions or billions of years ago.

    The universe is approximately 14 billion years old.
    Planet Earth is approximately 4.6 billion years old.

  • Mike Flowers

    Barry Universe makes excellent points. There were also extra terrestrial events that also had to occur in particular order and sequence in order to yield the life forms that presently exist on planet Earth.

    Moreover, all that the billions and billions of planets, and galaxies, and stars prove is that there are many stars, planets, and galaxies. The mere existence of these elements does not prove that there is life elsewhere in the universe.

    Hawking demonstrates some very flawed reasoning and logic.

  • rich4321

    I doubt any higher intelligence would ever give a damn of our pathetic planet. As much as we think we are so advance, we are so primitive, we make wars just like the wild animals. The aliens will just look at us, shake their heads and go to another galaxy.

  • Gary

    The Hubble Ultra-deep field revealed that there are more stars in the visible universe than all the grains of sand in all the earths beaches, and deserts.

    It is human nature to have the inability to have meaningful comprehension of large numbers, and great spans of time.

    To believe that life only exists on this tiny planet in this insignificant galaxy is the ultimate expression of the human exaggerated sense of self importance.

    We are part of a very ephemeral biological film on a tiny ball of moist mud… and will pass away unnoticed as have countless other life forms on their mud balls in countless other galaxies in a incomprehensible length of time.

  • gemli

    The universe is a big, big place (and getting bigger all the time). Even with our fledgling planet-finding technology we’re detecting more and more planets circling distant stars. It’s likely that you can’t form a star without a disc of leftover material surrounding it, just ripe for seeding planet formation.

    Planets in the sweet spot, that are not frozen solid or burned to a crisp, would be loaded with the same gasses, water vapor, elements, minerals, etc., that comprised the early earth. Expose them to solar radiation, heating and cooling cycles, lightning discharges and the like, and who knows what kinds of self-sustaining (i.e., living) chemical reactions might result? In the one example we know of, that seems to be exactly what happened.

    I would imagine that life of some kind or another is very common in the universe, with many fewer, but still a substantial number of planets being home to sentient beings. The distances involved are so great, though, that contact seems extremely unlikely.

    If there are some civilizations so advanced that the speed of light ceases to be a real impediment to space travel, we might appear to be cockroaches to them. But this part becomes so speculative that rational discussion of real probabilities is likely to be pointless. A fun thing to think about, though.

  • Jen

    You know, I think Hawking’s guess is as good as mine when it comes to aliens. Is this topic really newsworthy? Or is it just entertainment?

  • M.J. Young

    All talk of extraterrestrial life also uncovers layers of a whole other philosophical subject, one arguably needed for discussion whatever one’s thoughts:

    What, if any, role is there for a God or divine figure in either creating Earth as the sole residence for life or of establishing multiple “outposts” for life across the universe?

  • http://ravenatyournextevent.com Greg

    More compelling about this topic is the implicit acceptance of the likelihood that extraterrestrial life exists. Tom, if you had done this show only ten years ago, I think people would have talked about your tin foil hat.

  • Bill

    If there are species advanced enough to get here (and we’re obviously advanced to make it anywhere significant), then by inviting them this way with very primitive communications methods (although they may seem advanced to us) means we are basically putting ourselves in a position to be taken advantage of. I would not go as far as to assume that any “random” alien life forms that intercept our signals and truck on over here will be nice, and come here to promote our understanding of the universe.
    What if the Native Americans, Incas, etc dropped similarly-primitive information into flaoting objects so that Europeans would eventually receive them when they feared the world was flat. Look what happened when they (we) did eventually make it to America. That is minor compared to what could happen.
    What should we do? Continue to advance our scientific understanding as we are today until we are able to be the ones to accept the signal or visit someone else’s system.
    Who knows? By then we may need to take advantage of others and forcibly take their planet, since we are totally trashing ours.

  • Yar

    On looking for artifacts; after the fall of man, the next society on earth can look for artifacts and maybe find them, will this prove life existed on other planets?

  • Gary

    How would the earth stop transmitting? Are we going to drop all telecommunications and power generation?

    The anthropomorphizing of alien life as per biology or morality is completely incorrect.

  • Ben

    We should be careful about sending those images of humans…The aliens might think that it’s a MENU!

  • Bruce Ishikawa

    We know only one intelligent life form that has the potential to reach out across the universe to contact another civilization – us. That civilization has a 100% record of exploitation and destruction of newly discovered peoples. Upon finding another habitable planet, we of course would want to take it for ourselves, killing anyone who stood in our way. Look what happened to the Americas. Why would we expect any different behavior from aliens?

    Bruce in Marlborough, MA

  • chris

    BARRY UNIVERSE. You make a good point, but remember how many mass extinctions earth has gone through. what if other planets got it right the first time? this would give those planets plenty of time to far surpass our technology…

  • Rob

    Hawking is right!

    Be careful what you wish for! Unless you wanna be enslaved by advanced Ugly creatures comming back to revenge Rosewell…

  • Tom from Boston

    Ask the guest from SETI what the procedure would be if indeed they did hear signals from space. Would that information be kept secret? Or would the public have a right to know about it?

  • http://www.blogtalkradio.com/sawyer stephen sawyer

    Many humans are afraid of not being the greatest thing since sliced bread. The premise of how old the so called Universe is, is preposterous. There is ZERO way to KNOW when we are still very, very, very much IN our Fishbowl studying things from a far. Every day new things are discovered that completely destroy previous so called good theories. Comet’s with two tails, that change speed and direction and come out of nowhere, objects that appear to be in orbit around a sun that are hotter than the sun, which was just seen a couple months ago, thousands of galaxys where we previously thought there was nothing as just documented.

    This is good talk for the primitive condition of most humans who have been programmed to think any talk of aliens is scifi but for those who have opened up to and have had experiences with otherworldly things, it’s childs play, not to put others down as I am at best a child as well, just one that has been opened up to all possabilities for a long time and as a result have had contact with both what we call ET’s and dead human genetic code offloads, in archaic and considered to be religious or paranormal terminology, “spirits”, another area many deny exist.

    Denial that anything exists is unscientific and largely ignoring what we could possibly understand.

    I’ll be talking about this tonight on http://www.blogtalkradio.com/sawyer at 10pm – 12am ET
    but I warn you, I talk in both so called spiritual terminology and scientific though I am an anti-religionist and anti-atheist and anti-spiritualist (in their normal contexts).

  • Andrew Giguere

    I can’t help but wonder if recent “fears” about alerting alien civilizations to our presence reflects our own insecurities about modern life (i.e. financial insecurity, terrorism, climate change, etc). This is clearly the case if we examine some of our current entertainment involving space – for example Battlestar Galactica.

  • Damien

    Hawking’s warning, novel as it may be, is hardly an interesting question for science. Consider physicist Enrico Fermi’s paradox: the high estimates for the probability of extraterrestrial life versus the complete lack of evidence to support its existence. In short, if they existed as abundantly as some have estimated, then why haven’t we been visited?

  • Adam S.

    Sounds as if Hawking is modeling old, European models of colonialism and exploitation onto his idea of potential alien nature. I think that’s a flawed and biased way of looking at it.

  • http://rghoyt1@verizon.net Richard

    Just watch V on ABC on Tuesday nights to get an idea as to how it might go!

  • Gary

    Perhaps we don’t hear them because we are listening to RF, and they are using something more advance like communications based on Bell’s Theorem.

  • Marc Smith

    I would be very interested to know how long Jill thinks we need to go before she would consider us an old Technology? A hundred years? A thousand years? A hundred thousand years?

  • chris

    Damien, Are you sure we haven’t been visited? maybe we are cockroaches to them. Perhaps planets like ours are plentiful so ETs have no need for ours. Perhaps ETs are inherently peaceful given the amount of time they have existed to make this technology without interruption from violence and conflict within their own world. Or maybe they just wipe out life in their way on the way to ruling the universe. we are amoeba compared to them. perhaps they have respect for our youth and are watching us develop. there really is no way to know. But, i agreee with Hawking, what benefit could there possible be in inviting them here? We are putting a “For Sale” sign on our precious (and already overpopulated) planet.

  • http://www.lit.org/author/fritzwilliam F. William Bracy

    Our problem is that we here in one of the most remote outposts of the Universe are not a part of the whole real deal. There are too many missing dimensions for our limited number of sensors — not the least of these is the dimension of time.

    Is time the “fourth dimension?” Well, Einstein said that 3-dimensional space is actually a composition of “space-time.” If that’s true, then “time” is a component of each of the three dimensions of space, and if THAT is true, then time is already THREE dimensional at the very least.

    Add to that the fact that if there is such a thing as “time” then there must such a thing as “no time,” — ones and zeros — a basic tenet of “being” and “not being.”

    So time is not the Fourth Dimension, necessarily, but rather, four dimensional. Our bias toward our own level of existence is so shallow and unimportant that we have no way to even approach this subject, with or without Stephen Hawking.

  • Rick Moore

    What a fascinating topic…I sit here positively riveted!

  • Kirk Morgan

    It is my understanding that when you look at the age of the universe, and with how long it took the stars to create the heavier elements, which are needed to create self-replicating life as complicated as we are, we may be first out of the gates within the Milky Way. Only third generation suns have the complex molecules to create life. We have been broadcasting since the invention of radio, and nothing has been heard back within the sphere of stars that those signals could have reached (and be returned considering speed-of-light limitations) it would appear nothing else popped up, in that number of stars and planets. Consider the number of extra-solar planet found. Nothing is broadcasting within that sphere, divide that out across the rest of the Milky Way, it appears that technological life has only appeared once, and that is us. Sol is one of the first stars to have the chemicals to create us, and the Universe is only 13.7 billion years old. The soup that created us, has not been around much longer than the cooling of the Earth, anywhere in this Galaxy.

    Space may be filled with the chemicals for life now, but not long enough ago to create a supper race that is extremely older than we are. At best there may be someone without a Catholic church not holding their technology back for 500 years, in another Galaxy, and even with supra-luminal travel, is a long way off. (Just one angle on this debate, I do not declare it with the authority of truth)

  • Bill

    Aliens might just as soon want to avoid planets that harbor life: you land on a foreign sphere and you might be a target for all sorts of pathogens.

    All the important resources of Earth are available in abundance in the galaxy: water, metals, carbon, etc.

    The smart reaction might be to avoid living planets like the plague–because a plague is something you might get.

  • http://sawyerhg.wordpress.com stephen sawyer

    What about the idea that some of what are reported as space aliens are actually near space existing humans and/or humans who burrowed underground in some parts of the Earth or moon or mars as a result of Earth’s previous cycles that rendered life on the surface impossible – like due to a meteor bombardment and or volcanic activity and/or flood that deeply buried and changed locations of oceans and simply caused all evidences of civilization to dissolve over thousands of years before life began to develop again to where we are now. Thousands of years is near nothing in the scheme of things yet even steel corodes within that time frame so leaves little evidence except fossils which is the basis for thinking there have been more than one civilization on earth.

  • J Baker

    If your interested and want to help SETI analyze their data to detect a signal, check out the following program.


    BOINC is an open source project used by SETI, and other science projects. It is a project that uses the spare time on a person’s computer to compute and crunch numbers for varied science projects that produce a ton of data. A large problem, like the SETI search for interstellar signals, is broken into small parts, and each of these smaller parts are sent abroad to various computers around the world, to volunteers who have installed BOINC on their home computer. When a user stops using their computer, the program starts up and works. When the person wants to use their computer, the program stops. When a packet is finished, the BOINC program sends the data back to the SETI team, and then picks up another packet. Other science projects include research for climate change, the study of disease trends in Africa, calculating prime numbers, or any project designed by any volunteer science team that endeavors to learn how to set up a BOINC project.

  • http://davidanthony David Anthony

    How do your panelist refute, explain or supposrt the seemingly emperical anachronistic evidence from the Hopi Indians; rock drawings from hundreds/thousands of years ago, illustrating planetary oribital patterns of stellar systems that have only recently been discovered. This planet, Nirubi can not be seen with the naked eye.

    Also, the Giza pyramid lines up exactly with the geological center of the earth?? Really??

    ..Pretty hard to explain that knowledge in context with the time frame.

    Thank You.

  • Clark

    I think the topic is a bit of a distraction and unimportant…although exciting in a sci fi movie way. We have so many issues on earth to deal with and will likely destroy ourselves…e.g. nuclear weapons, climate change, overpopulation, war, etc….long before any other beings find us.

  • Christopher Davis

    We’re not tucked away in an obscure location we are in the outer ridge of the “Goldilock’s zone” and life is probably all around us. We’re probably not important and as best we can tell, 1 out 8 planets has abundant life on it. There are no doubt “resource explorers” are among these civilizations and we should consider that biologic abundance is also a resource. Samples of the biologic abundance on Earth may be a terrifically valuable resource to those who have destryed much of the life on their world. I am forced to agree with Professor Hawking anaysis, but a great deal of respect and admiation for all of the guests.

  • naomi

    I am much more concerned about our own species destroying life on Earth than other life forms doing so. Perhaps in the future, another species will discover this wonderful planet and find fossil evidence that many forms of life once existed.

  • Chris Houghton

    I would like to hear the guests comment, if they haven’t already, about the disparity in “level” of intelligence likely between us and any ETs. Note: we are 3billion years more advanced than bacteria and the galaxy has been stable (and presumably open for life) for a period of time implying that ETs could be billions of years more evolved than us… would we even know if they came to visit any more than an ant recognizes a human?

  • John Gianvito

    This discussion smacks of the parable of the blind men feeling different parts of the elephant and being unable to recognize what is really there. There is such a plentitude of quite convincing evidence of UFO activity on film, video, personal testimony, etc. (one only look at Billy Meier’s photographs) that it takes a really narrow-focused scientific temperament to miss what so many people have known for so long. I personally have a dear friend who has had a personal contact with a visitor from the Pleiades constellation and has evidence to prove it. Aliens move amongst us and those who want to believe that this is crackpot theory can keep their heads in the sand.

  • GMG

    It seems to me that we don’t know what we don’t know. Our current models of space and time put limits on what travel is possible, but those models may or may not be correct. How can we really say anything about what other life forms might be able to do?

  • Mike Peterson

    Exactly who is Stephen Hawking warning? Is he aware of an attempted communication being done by a government or country? Last time I checked, I personally wasn’t trying to contact any aliens. He was certainly aware that anyone trying to contact aliens would have heard his warning.

  • Liz B.

    Why do we suppose that space aliens would be friendly towards us, or that we would be friendly towards them?

    I was amused by the report about Hawking’s latest approach to aliens and I somewhat agree with him.

  • Jason M.

    Why is intelligence being defined in relation to technology? Because that is what we are capable of detecting or because that’s the point we have come to in our own reasoning? As Paul Virilio said, “All science is now techno-science.” And science, over the past several hundred years, has increasingly become the means by which we understand and define ourselves. Intelligent life elsewhere wouldn’t necessarily have developed this cultural framework. Extraterrestrial life is being used (and always has been) as a kind of metaphor for our own imperative, similar to the way that as we use computers to understand the brain we in turn describe the brain in terms of computers (e.g.,being “wired” a certain way). Step back from this search a wee bit and we find more that is human than alien.

  • Bruce Bourdon

    Imagine a very advanced civilizations’ (perhaps misbehaving) juvenile with their version of an ant-farm; with humans. Or a zoo. We could be a source of entertainment or a science class experiment, something like plankton under the microscope or a frog dissection… There are some that believe the first contact we will have will be with machines, because of the distances, hazards and time required even for near light speed travel. Would you want your fate to depend on the calculations of a very advanced machine? Lets stay as quiet as we can for now…

  • http://www.lit.org/author/fritzwilliam F. William Bracy

    There you go — even an “expert” (Ms. Tarter) shows her bias toward biological life as we know it by saying that the internal regions of our own galaxy our (probably) inhabitable. Well, sure … for ourr life form of flesh and blood. But the subject is LIFE. Is it not possible that life would actually feed on gamma rays?

    No one comes off looking good in a discussion of this nature. We all appear to be the fools that we are.

  • Jan Conroy, Bridgewater, MA

    We have pictured invading Martians, ET, Close Enounters, Body Snatchers . . . is our vision of life in the universe perhaps effected by our current anxiety?

  • Will Lahaie

    As author Jared Diamond tells us, any advanced civilization we encounter would most likely do to us what we did to Native Americans. Which means we should think twice about letting our presence known.

  • chris

    MIKE PETERSON: the USA has been transmitting music, text and biological data about Humans into deep space since the 70s in an attempt to receive a response. Google it.

  • Kevin

    We’ve been broadcasting for seventy years. Whether we should or not is a moot point

  • subhash jadhav

    i think if aliens are really there, they will help us to save our planet.and if they are not there….nobody can save our planet. because we humenbeings are going to destroy it very soon.

  • J Baker

    I know this Mr. Zorn, my wife ran off with him in his space ship. Would say more but i’m late for my meeting, Survivors of Alien Affairs Anonymous.

  • Corinna

    While fascinating, I can’t see how we can justify financing a space program while our own planet is still plagued with war, poverty, slavery, & illness. I think this money could be more productively spent. Furthermore, we’re putting the cart before the horse. I pray the next step for humans is the eradiction of human suffering and inequality, rather than the discovery of alien life.

  • Michael

    If we are looking for evidence for alien intelligence, would it be reasonable to search for a marauding plant or star moving contrary to the galactic flow? I believe a billion year old civilization will not build ships but use planets or planetiod bodies and lassoed stars to meander through the universe…;)

  • http://facebook.com Jason Hurley

    Voyager’s plaque was made before the decision to reclassify Pluto as a planetoid. Will extraterrestrials find the satellite, look at the plaque and say, “they can’t mean Sol, that system has 8 planets?” lol

  • yar

    I expect to see a spore with left handed DNA. It grows and nothing we have can wipe it out. It doesn’t have to have advanced technology to kill us.

  • miro

    As the Pretenders song goes,

    “All of us are in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

    I fully support SETI’s mission (even if it only expands our imaginations, it’s highly worthwhile), but one of the more frustrating aspects of this whole discussion, both in scientific and lay circles is an appalling lack of a clear idea of what constitutes “life” and “intelligence”. How can you look for life and intelligence elsewhere in the universe if you refuse to seriously work on the basic theory of life and intelligence?

    Most of our biologists today associate life with carbon-based polymers (and more specifically, DNA-RNA), but there are all sorts of possible non-carbon based self-replicating and evolving systems that could exist in different thermal and chemical realms. Once you can think about life in this broader way, then life elsewhere in the universe is much more likely.

    As for Hawking, I have a great deal of empathy and pity for his sad condition, but this doesn’t change the fact that he is a bit of a looney. Celebrity, because of the uncritical adulation that accompanies it, has a habit of turning perfectly sober people into kooks. Imagination is great, but it’s best when tempered with some connection to reality.

  • jim thompson


    Wonderfully provocative program…per usual. Perhaps WE are actually an experiment of another civilization.

  • Max in West Newton

    This program reminds me of the movie “Other People’s Money,” with Danny De Vito. Are we serious? There are real problems we need to address in this world, get real!

  • Whit


    I volunteer my spare CPU resources for a program called SETI@home. What do your guests have to say about that distributed computing endeavor in particular, and amateur contributions to astronomy in general?

  • Bruce Bourdon

    Corinna, your statement “I can’t see how we can justify financing a space program while our own planet is still plagued with war, poverty, slavery, & illness. I think this money could be more productively spent”

    I think you are forgetting that it is by extending our knowledge and technology that we are better able to care for those you mention. If we took your approach and gave all the money we spent on exploration, research and development, to the poor and sick, where would we be in the coming years? I’d bet there would be many more poor, and much less prosperity to share.

    We need to do our best to do both.

  • http://www.lit.org/author/fritzwilliam F. William Bracy

    If alien life were to require gamma rays and magnetic winds for its sustenance, “they” would be looking out into our remote section of the galaxy, saying,

    “Life couldn’t possibly exist out there in a vacuum without heat and almost totally devoid of ionizing radiation.”

  • Erica

    Mr. Hawking really doesn’t believe that other creatures have been using our planet as a pit stop for millions of years? I can’t believe that someone with his brain would not conceive of that certainty.
    He must be promoting something…

  • Gary

    @Mike Peterson -

    We have sent messages outward. This was just one attempt at a high power directed signal.


  • Andrew Coutant

    I have to disagree with some of the conclusions of the guests. Doubting that there is other life out in the millions of star systems in the universe is somewhat egocentric. The comment that they are looking for the number 2 does not recognize that life has been found in the deepest portions of the ocean in the toxic areas around volcanic vents which uses a completely approach than life in our oxygen rich atmosphere.

    Those same statements also ignore the many claimed, some validated, sightings of UF0s around the earth. Hawkins is right, don’t go looking for trouble, as we are not yet ready for it. Even Roswell has not been considered properly, as a knowledgeable Officer who obviously would have known the difference between tin foil for balloons and metal strong enough to be part of a aircraft or ship. Their view point ignores certain events on earth.

  • Jason M.

    Perhaps at this point we desire (a word which literally means “of constellations,” by the way) an alien encounter in order to unite us together globally. It’s the ultimate leap needed to realize the dream of globalization (in the literal sense of the term). We need an “other.”

  • Bruce Bourdon

    F. William Bracy wrote “If alien life were to require gamma rays and magnetic winds for its sustenance…”

    A very interesting perspective.

    But I believe that we have to operate as close to what we know and understand, as we are extrapolating here and the further we get from real data points the more the considerations become matter for sci-fi novels…

  • F.Mitchell Artrip

    What an out-of-the-box discussion. Has anyone considered that a non-terrestrial civilization may not require planetary resources? There seems to be a vast amount of extra-solar mass out there….

  • stephen sawyer

    Now for those that are relatively sure there are aliens among us, (It’s not that there isn’t a huge body of information according to record books and leaks from government sources and leaks from contractors and military and air force and all sorts of people, that can always be denied but taken as a whole, to ignore is ignorant and NOT scientific), in general I agree with Hawking that befriending aliens is NOT in our interests UNLESS our interests are to acquire any technology they have that we want, which is largely the case with present governments that have had some contacts and alleged joint operations in underground bases like dulce and area 51 and mozano mountain and los alamos and who knows where else.

    BUT there is another major factor here to consider. If there have been aliens here since the first time of our record keeping some 6-7000 years ago in written form and before that in drawings and hierglyphics then have they been considered by those observing them the so called, “Gods”. Could it be the religions all began as a result of early human interface with high tech beings that sought certain things from humans?

    And if so, then are there more than one potential species of aliens in interface with humans and if so do they have varied agendas?

    The reports to date would indicate that aliens are interested in human dna, sperm, eggs ( many abduction scenerios) animal dna as well (cattle mutilations), elements (gold, diamond/crystals), energy (nuclear and elemental highly magnetic materials – many sightings around nuke silos) and genetic manipulations (reports from leaks from Dulce, NM alleged once joint operated us/alien underground base. And other reports would indicate they want humans to live in peace and take care of the environment which would make a lot of sense if they NEEDED healthy human DNA for their own species reproduction, in light of what some of the aliens have said during abductions that their planet is dying and along with the fact that NASA and other space agencies have documented that when living in space sperm counts go way, way down thus they may all be sterile and the only way they can preserve their species is by test tube insemination and or finding human hosts to use to try to reproduce by.

    Therefore some of these aliens may not have any illwill towards humans any more than a human who was farming cows or sheep has ill will to their creatures who provide their livelihood/sustenence yet would stay hidden as most would freak out by their existence and cause all sorts of dismay on earth.

    Then there is another view of those aliens that seem to be trying to create a following of them. Like the Raelians for instance or the arturans or the aetherians or pleidians. By the way way these all appear to be biologically humanly equivilent. They need the same things and they die.

    Some tell humans they are very special – another truth as they need what humans have while they don’t want to frighten them and seek followers so to speak as amabssadors so they can more easily find those humans who may be more compatible with their existence.

    Now, when one looks at all the records that could be construed as alien based, a large body of material demonstrates a group of few members who don’t seem to need or want human dna or cooperation at all. In fact they challenge a small group of humans to begin to sever their human family ties to align with their will, termed submission. They are straight forward about this agenda while the other groups would never say that as they know human’s hate the idea of being submissive to another. So how could they expect to garner support by telling humans they need to qualify for their ranks by demonstrating that they want nothing else, which naturally is an evolutionary process that some might see as a three trimester program, first one being a moses experience, second a jesus experiment and third being a harvest/graduation time experience/experiment.

    I feel I was a part of this program from 1975 to date though I departed the program from 1994-1997. In 1975 they made an international splash as Bo and Peep, the UFO Two (from the Two witnesses of revelations chapter 11 and 12) a woman named Nettles(seedgiver) and man Applewhite(missed goal(non-submittal) fulfilled (made pure) then 22 years later as Ti and Do called by the media the Heaven’s Gate cult, though the evidence is overwhelmingly that their membership voluntarily wanted to show their final committal to the one they considered their Lord incarnate but (non-religious), called Do, who by all indications was the embodiement of the same soul that was incarnate as Adam, Enoch, Moses, Elijah and Jesus that there is a ton of evidence of that I talk about on my blogtalkradio.com/sawyer broadcast every wednesday 10pm-12am ET should any be brave enough to give it an examination.


    My job working for the Level Above Human representatives called Ti and Do (Father and Son) is to simply share what I witnessed of them being with them day and night for 19 years as their student. I don’t work for any organization, have no books to sell and never will (though I would like to see a full length movie produced of the real story as moreorless I remain one of the best or only people to tell it to the degree that it can be told).

    I have given parts of the story to next to all major tv and radio media across the country as I was moreorless a type of spokesman for Ti and Do and you can see my funny face on a video series I participated in 1992 that Do made called Beyond Human, The Last Call, which is viewable on youtube.com under the channel name 1riverofangles, on the first video with Do referring to me as Sawyer.

  • Alan Kreglow

    Stephen Hawking is to be thanked for raising the topic of extraterrestrials to the level of public discussion. However, in addition to SETI, everyone should be aware of Stephen Greer’s CSETI organization, the Center for the STUDY of Extraterrestrial Intelligence. Stephen Greer has had frequent contact with extraterrestrials who physically visit many places on Earth every day. He also teaches anyone who wants to learn how to establish “here and now” contact with extraterrestrial craft.

    The Eisenhower Administration, including President Eisenhower himself had discussions with extraterrestrials of BOTH the benevolent and NOT so benevolent varieties. Unfortunately, because it was felt that we in the U.S. could not afford to do without very “high tech” technologies offered by the NOT so benevolent ET’s, the U.S. government has been working with these NOT so benevolent ET’s ever since. The Intelligence Power of the U.S. has hidden away most of the advanced technologies received as part of that agreement. Among the technologies received in that deal were miniaturized computer chips of the sort that are found in my computer as I write this. However, there are many far more advanced technologies that were received but NOT disseminated into our culture.

    These technologies could end completely our need for petroleum and could give us a start on building a fully conscious Galactic Civilization. The only reason these technologies have not been released is because those who are keeping them under wraps serve mega-wealthy dark elites who would rather be hugely wealthy rather than help create a civilization where EVERYONE has all they need to live a fulfilling life.

    For updates communicated by the Galactic Federation to everyone who cares to notice, go to http://www.galacticmessages.com/blog/ <– There you will learn that we are on the cusp of direct Contact with hugely benevolent fully conscious extraterrestrials who have been working with a formerly dark portion of the superwealthy elites who changed sides in 1998 and decided to work with the forces of Light to create a heavenly situation on Earth.

  • F.Mitchell Artrip

    stephen, chariots of the gods parking is around back…

  • J Baker

    A worth while imaginative benefit of SETI includes the BOINC platform. If I’m not mistaken, the SETI team helped to put the project together to deal with a lack of funds to afford the computer processing power needed to analyze their signal data.

    While some critics of SETI think the project lacks merit to solve real world problems, the BOINC platform has been used by many science teams to tackle real world problems that lack the funds to calculate large data sets.

    Even if nothing is found other than mapping natural occurring events, which is valid science, and the breeder technology is out paced by other projects (but how many projects use math to model such a similar problem, so it’s doubtful other systems will replace it), the SETI project’s morale boosting effect on the minds of young is worth every penny. Since when does an engineer dream, fatigued from toiling away the hours in school doing the math, dream about drafting technology in a ten by ten office buried in an office building, to make a better coffee machine? If it gets kids interested in technology, don’t break it.

  • http://bruceguindon.com bruce guindon

    I am in complete agreement, avoid contact at all costs unless you like the idea of being a food source or enslaved or simply replaced, word

  • Benjamin

    I’m an Astrophysicist too. Let me assure you that study in this field offers no expertise in the field of exo-biology (or biology of any kind for that matter). Granted that Hawking is a brilliant physicist, but exo-biology is a purely theoretical field at the present time which no one can claim expertise in, Hollywood is as reliable of a guide as Hawking in this matter.

    Mr Hawking should restrain himself from making hypothetical proclamations outside the area of his expertise, and the media should learn to descriminate between distinguished options and expert ones.

  • Phil

    Let’s face it. The Earth is extremely unique… unparalleled to anything in the universe. One thing comes to mind… CREATOR! This Earth has been created by an almighty God. Humans and the species of the earth were created by God – Its too ingenues to happen by chance. Think about it.

    There has to be a CREATOR. Who created the earth? Who created the stars? Who created the universe? what holds the Universe? How did it get here? Always been? How? It was CREATED :-)

    I can’t believe that some super smart scientist rule out CREATION by a Creator, God.

  • John

    What created the alleged creator?

  • Whit

    Hey @ J Baker, the BOINC platform is what I was referring to when I mentioned SETI@home earlier. Any lay person interested in actively participating in SETI (in an armchair science sort of way) should check it out!

  • Phil

    God is eternal – He doesn’t operate in our dimension. Time has no effect on God. God’s understanding – no one can fathom. The foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

    The heaven declare the wonders of God – It’s one of His signs that he loves us – He knows each star by name.

  • jeffe

    Maybe Stephan Hawking has been watching Aliens to much.
    If the creature was similar to that alien I would agree with him up to a point. If they are advanced enough to travel the speed of light from another galaxy would they be interested our little rock in the sticks of our galaxy?

    From my part of the galaxy it looks as if we are doing a pretty good job at self destruction without the help of alien species.

    Maybe they are here already and we just can’t see them.

  • jeffe

    Gee Phil maybe God is an alien.

    How do you know that God knows all of this? Been having intimate conversations lately?

    You know it always amazes me how people who profess to the “power of God” are always speaking about this mythic being as if it’s their friend or relative. If God is all powerful and running the universe and all how is it that he/she or whatever has the time or interest in having personal conversations. As you’re more important than the next person.

  • Phil


    How do you know God is myth? I would mention the Bible but I have a feeling you would question that too.

    But for the sake of discussion – God created male and female in his image; which expresses interest in us – God is Holy,so we cannot approach God – Except through Jesus, God’s Son. Jesus is the mediator between God (who created the Universe, got to stay on topic) and Man – which allows us to have a relationship with God.

    God has set things in order or in motion – he’s not “up there” like the wizard of Oz pulling all kinds of levers and pushing buttons.

    It is a great mystery, and I don’t know all the secretes to the universe. But my belief is that God is the creator of the heavens and earth. And God has personally changed my life.

    I just find it amazing that some “great” minds don’t mention the possibility of a Creator. Dump a bucket of bolts on the floor and in 10 million years it becomes a Rolex?

    I find it interesting when I read about the Universe and the stars in the Bible – pretty cool.

  • mobeussobeus

    we are on the outside edge of things in the universe…

    on our planet the groups on the outside edge of things, were the least integrated, least knowing, and generally relative less insightful, knowing, and integrative.

  • John

    The heaven declare the wonders of God – It’s one of His signs that he loves us – He knows each star by name. – Posted by Phil — I thought you could call some 800 number and name them. Did god predict what the names will be? Are the people buying the naming rights exercising free will?

  • Liz B.

    @ Jason M:
    Great insight; yes we need an ‘other’ to realize we are one group, otherwise we, as one group, are going to fall divided and/or continue to cause a great deal of suffering to our own brothers and sisters.

  • Gary

    Well this took a strange turn, vulgar bible trumpery, alien abductees, mystics…Yikes aliens really bring forth the wackos.

  • Phil

    Seriously? With this massive, unending, complex universe, extremely intricate planet and complex human body… you can’t rule out creation – You can… but that’s up to you. That’s all I’m saying.

  • Gary

    Seriously? With this massive, unending, complex universe, extremely intricate planet and complex human body… you can’t really believe in creation – You can… but that’s up to you. That’s all I’m saying.

  • Henry

    Fascinating topic. I firmly believe that given the size of the universe, there has to be life somewhere. But, as of today, everyone’s guess is as good as mine as to what other sentient beings would be like. I like to think that a sentient life form that made it through without destroying itself would not be hostile to other life forms, but like I say, that’s just what I like to think.

    For now, all we can do is wait and see.

  • http://WKYU Steve Ross

    Phil says: “I find it interesting when I read about the Universe and the stars in the Bible – pretty cool.”

    You shouldn’t. The Greeks were much more in tuned with the stars and Universe than the Bible. Heck, the where do you think the Bible writers got the information? Yep, the Greeks. Ever wondered where the names of each day and the months came from? You guessed it right again, the Greeks.

    The Holy Bible, the so called word of the all-knowing, true God, was wrong on many counts regarding the universe and the earth, for example:

    -Genesis 1:1, the earth was made before the sun.

    -plants made before the sun

    -the moon is a source of light

    -man and animals created on the same day

    -the sun orbits the earth

    -the earth is stationary and the sun moves

    -the earth is flat and circular, instead of spherical or round

    -the earth had a great worldwide flood

    -man created directly from dirt, not from lower life forms

    Need more examples?

  • http://WKYU Steve Ross

    Phil also says: “God created male and female in his image”

    Man created god in his own image, Phil. Ask yourself this simple question: Why is god a male? Because man invented him, that’s why.

    Ever studied the history of where religions were started? Religion evolved from ancient man that didn’t understand his surroundings (he didn’t have the Weather Channel or CNN) so he made up god’s to explain the tragic events that would happen in his life (famine, disease, crop failure from drought etc.) These ancient men lived in cultures and in these cultures religions were started, that explains why there have been so many throughout history (yes, the Bible was not the first religion by a long shot, that should tell you somehting about your Bible God being the one true God.)

  • david

    E.T. does not exist, don’t waste your time looking for him.

  • Phil

    -isn’t dirt a lower life form?

    Here is a question
    So where did the lower life form come from? And where did the lower life form come before that? How did the universe start? Where did the first big bang come from? What caused the fist big bang if nothing was around? How did those gasses get there to make a big bang?

    at some point in the past something had to be created – or we would not be here.

    Perfect distance from the Sun
    Perfect tilt
    Perfect rotation
    Perfect air / water and so on
    ONLY planet known to man to inhabit life…
    all by chance?

  • Viv

    A very interesting show. Jill and one of the callers probably made the most important points at the end. Alien life will most likely unite the human race in a fashion never before possible. We will finally realize that we are all of one race and come together. However I see yet another idea. Alien life, even though stemming from a disparate genus still possibly shares a spiritual commonality with man. I realize that this may be above and beyond the concept of most and breaks tradition with science and monotheistic beliefs, but in the end life must be animated by a spiritual essence no matter what planet it is from.

  • Dana S. Leslie

    As far as the reasonableness of Hawking’s warning is concerned, the REALLY important number is not 2 (as Tarter said in connection with the search for extra-terrestrial life of any sort), but @2.7 * 10^10 cm/sec. IF there IS a spacefaring civilization out there, which has used up all its native resources, and is nomadically wandering the galaxy in search of other worlds to exploit, they could only be doing so in a fleet of generation ships. (As of now, we have no good reason to believe that FTL will EVER be more than scientific fantasy.) Designing, building, and launching a fleet of generation ships in the HOPE of conquering and exploiting what Earth’s civilization MAY have become by the time they got here seems a terribly inefficient and uneconomical use of resources, for a civilization in such dire need of a new source of resources.

  • Bill J

    Whatever ideas we can have of ET’s are fleshed out in our rich heritage of science fiction writings…I’m hearing nothing new here. I’ve been steeped since childhood in the works of Clarke, Asimov, Larry Niven and others. Sagan’s “Contact” is among my favorite novels/movies and sums up the whole conundrum beautifully.
    So my feeling is the possibilities have been covered already from all angles. Shame on Hawking–his take on it smacks of TV sensationalism (the film “Independence Day” comes immediately to mind). It’s not changing my thinking on the subject one bit.
    I liked Tarter’s conclusion that our pondering these questions are good for humanity–whether it turns out “the other” exists or not, as a concept it serves a unifying and humbling purpose. And why not search, and reach out as far as possible into the heavens? It’s what humans do; it’s who we are.
    As for that interstellar “hello” plaque: I’ve always found “Eve” quite attractive, and I’m glad they didn’t add fig leafs. ;)

  • http://WKYU Steve Ross

    Phil, interesting comments. Tell me this, if God created Earth primarily as a home for mankind, for what purpose, then, did God create the other planets and stars?

    Earth’s perfect tilt? The current tilt of 23.5 degrees is temporary and variable, and will shift our planet into a new Ice Age within a few millenia.

    Perfect rotation? No planet repeats the same orbit twice and no planet travels around the sun at a constant speed. All planets vary their orbital speeds. Furthermore, no planet travels in a perfectly circular orbit.

    You ask: “ONLY planet known to man to inhabit life…
    all by chance?”

    No, every question you asked answers why life flourishes on this planet, but that doesn’t point to a creator. Even if there were a creator, what makes you think the Bible God is “the” creator, when he clearly gets the fundamentals wrong?

    Do you honestly believe that man was formed straight from dirt, as the Bible claims? I’m sorry, but that is laughable!

    If God created everything in his perfect way, you would also have to agree that anything diorderly or tragic that Nature inflicts upon humanity, is in fact God’s fault. I thought your God was loving, humane and Just?

  • Zinovy Vayman

    Wow! ETs=Jews in terms of the number of responses, a little bit fewer for civilizations from the deep cosmos than for the Jewish civilization from the tiny Judea.
    Do you remember the talk with Mr. Gelentner, a record number of listeners’ entries?

    Jews say “Hawking-Shmawking,there is no hope for any star wars or peaceful contacts, moreover all participants of this show will be vanishing one by one without a long afterglow.”

  • ScienceDave

    Why is everyone touting this as “new” from Dr. Hawking? He’s been saying this for years. Is it possible that Aliens would stumble across our planet with intent to do us harm? Sure, I guess so. But it’s also just as likely that we could be visited by aliens who have learned to overcome their petty bickering, and perhaps show us how to do the same.

  • Gary

    Relax everyone. Even if SETI receives a indisputable alien transmission today, it is likely to be more than 50 LY away. That is a slow conversation.

    As for them visiting, space is a titanic vast almost infinite volume, and we are NOTHING in comparison to the civilizations that exist and have existed in billions of other galaxies.

    We could hold their interest as long as a coffee stain on a counter-top holds ours. Our very short existence will pass unnoticed by countless alien civilizations.

    Religion will doom our species to the rubbish heap of history…and our tiny slice of time on this small ball of dirt. Because hateful prejudicial illogical ideologies will doom any species.

    We are trying to endure it right here in this thread…the unrelenting monotone of destructive acolytes to state that God says this, and God demands that. There are many members of the human species that are intellectually and morally lazy, so they reject complexity, reality, and logic in favor of simplistic ideologies.

    When the doomsday button is pressed…I will not be pressed by an atheist, but will be joyfully pressed by a believer in the Almighty.

  • Gary
  • http://www.lit.org/author/fritzwilliam F. William Bracy

    Except for one thing, Gary. 50 LY is indeed a slow conversation, but not if some aliens aren’t trapped in time as we are. If they’ve broken the time barrier, all bets are off, wouldn’t you agree?

    It could happen. I’ve written about it. I said earlier that if there is such a thing as time, then there must also be such a thing as “no time” — ones and zeros — being and not being. This makes it possible to “shift” in time, thereby making travel in the present an instantaneous affair.

  • jeffe

    Phil recent discoveries from the unmanned exploration of Mars points to the possibility that life on some level might have existed on that planet.

    It’s fine by me that you believe in myths and that your belief system is based on this.

    “I find it interesting when I read about the Universe and the stars in the Bible – pretty cool.”

    Well other civilizations had this knowledge, Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Chinese, Mayan, Aztec and Inca’s all had a very good working knowledge of the night sky way before the Old Testament was written. How do explain that?

  • Lol

    haha those religion nuts reminds me of this pic


    oh humanity and their religioons…

    blame the dark ages.

  • http://www.lit.org/author/fritzwilliam F. William Bracy

    I should have said that the shift would occur in “space-time” since we know from Einstein that we’re talking about a continuum.

  • mike r

    Wow lots of interest in this subject. It’s amazing that there is no “offical interest”. I think Steven Hawkings logic is a bit flawed. Mountains of evidence suggests we are being, have been, and have been from the start, Contacted by alien life forms. We may even be the product of an expiriment by them. If that is the case than we should begin to ask what problems has it caused. I think there are numerous problems and many of these problems are caused by the fact that we have been contacted all along but as of the present time we officially do not ackknowledge it.
    Imagine how different things would be if there was an official ackowledgement. We would have a whole new debate between the Intelligent Design and evolution people. All the religious fundimentalists might go away. Goverments might begin to cooperate, humanity might even begin to advance from the tribal state we are in to a more global state. Imagine,wasn’t that a song by John Lennon? Maybe we are NOT ready.

  • Rob L

    How could it possibly be more efficient for an alien civilization to send physical artifacts to all potential solar systems than to send radio signals? Beaming signals to the nearest 100 or 1000 stars is something within mankind’s potential right now. Sending artifacts to get to the nearest 100 stars is impossible at this point.

  • Rob L

    The idea of “colonizing planets for resources” is just silly. What, they’re coming across the galaxy to steal our oil and coal? The only resource they could possibly want energy from starlight. And if they were capable of using starlight in any vast amount we would see stars blinking out across the galaxy.

    Hawking has descended into a parody of himself on this one.

  • Michael Drew

    Sean Carroll is right – it’s hubris to imagine we know what we’d encounter if extraterrestrials located us. And it’s false to suggest Hawking has said this is more likely than the scientific consensus says it is. He’s merely saying in caseit happens, we should be cautious.

    Mr. Davies’ calling ‘silly’ the concern than alien forms of life could be hostile and powerfully so is itself silly, but his admonition that the distances involved make the probabilities truly astronomical is well-taken. That said, his colleague Ms. Tarter, to who he genuflected throughout, pointedly raised the prospect of ‘creating wormholes,’ which can only be read as a suggestion to think of of such distances as nonabsolute.

  • lance jensen

    I am discouraged, to say the least, that the monitors of this comments section chose not publish my comments and links simply showing that a lot of extremely serious people are taking, and have been taking this topic much more seriously than the main stream media. What is this ridiculous censorship?

    Google the disclosure project, held at the national press club in 2001.

    Google Edgar Mitchell, 6th man to walk on the moon.

    Google Ex Canadian defense minister, UFO.

    Google Dr. Steven Greer.

    Google Jacques Valle.

    What could possibly be the harm in talking about this topic?

    This topic is the biggest hot potato in the history. I am extremely discouraged that these links that I posted were deleted by a radio station that I have supported for at least a decade.

  • lance j

    Anyone who wants to know, can know. You Tube has literally thousands of very interesting video’s on this subject. Granted, most are not credible, but some will literally blow your mind. Dr. Steven Greer is an incredible resource. I urge you all who are interested to search him out on You Tube. at the very least, it beats watching Jersey Shore!

    Main stream media is not the arbiter of truth. Get used to it. The filters are indeed dissolving. Until the start censoring it. Google “Internet 1″ if you are of the paranoid variety.

    Just sayin;

  • martin

    Iam going to make this easy for all of you listen up.
    1.Extraterrestrial or aliens what evers out there & there is.Does not want to be bothered with us./Dummies.
    2.Civilization will not make it beyound earth.Read my lips.
    3.One day,think of a book you read the cover PLANET EARTH open it and when your finished you close it. This is our existence in the universe. God is the arthur of this one book he my have trillions & trillions in the universe you will never know about.
    Make the best of it (you get one shot).Peace

  • http://WKYU Steve Ross

    martin, since you have all the answers, who is the real God?

  • Jason M.

    Liz B., unfortunately I doubt whether our having an “other” would actually do much to unite us–and even if it did, I believe such hegemony would be ethically dubious at best. I suspect that such an extraordinary event (alien interaction with humans) would ultimately result in an immense (genuinely global, in fact) power struggle. Assuming we were “united” by the appearance of an other-worldly being, the impulse would likely be to in a sense “close off” the system of Earth, since it had just been demonstrated how open and vulnerable we actually are (whether through technological defense, intergalactic laws, or other such things–one can only imagine). It would be the most absurdly totalizing coalescence of power ever. Meanwhile, wars and other human conflict wouldn’t end: civil wars, after all, are facts of life. Cultures won’t sit happily together at the table just because the alarm of alien arrival has sounded; differing moralities will still vie to control the discourse of “Truth.” Moreover, the system would still have been opened and therefore our world will no longer be ours alone. In other words, assimilation will have to occur on some level (that is, if humanity or the aliens, one or the other or both, aren’t outright annihilated). Then, what? Humanity’s getting along together (supposing that in spite of everything it actually did happen) is fairly meaningless if we’re just substituting fighting amongst ourselves with fighting unwelcome guests who are now among us. My point is, no Utopia is ever going to come out of defining ourselves in opposition to another. Essentially, life will go on pretty much as usual. Extraordinary as life can be, the mundane is usually the best bet when all is said and done.

    At any rate, my interest and comments are more about why this is even a fantasy we harbor. Like the Hollywood movies from decades past that depict the violent destruction of great American symbols: the White House being decimated in “Independence Day” comes conveniently to mind. Why would we ever dream of such a thing?

    The Western dream of globalization (not just economically, but socially, technologically, and so on) stems from the same developments of the Quattrocento and of the Enlightenment as our ideals of progress, colonialism, utopias, technology and sciences, and so forth. They exist part and parcel of one another. I’m speaking solely of Western culture here and from the standpoint of Westerner trying to think critically of his place in the world. I am in no way advocating such a thing as “united against an ‘other’” occur. I’d much rather it not, in fact. That’s actually how wars get going, not how they’re settled.

    I don’t take alien invasion too seriously, but it makes for a fun way to think about more Earth-bound concerns.

    Appologies for the overly lengthy post!

  • Jason M.

    P.S. When I wrote that we need an other, I did not mean “need” as a prescriptive term. Rather I meant it in an almost psychological sense: we need an other to self-identify. We should not, however, default to this. “Body without organs” and all that.

  • jeffe

    martin I did not know that God’s real name was arthur and he wrote books. Who knew!

  • Amy

    To Jill Tarter:

    One of your comments really hit the nail on the head: “…advanced technology [may] be belligerent or benign… or neither because those are human concepts.”

    Assuming that we could ever prepare for contact with an advanced technology may be human hubris in itself.

  • dontgetit

    too coincidential. this guy, before denying the possibility of existence of alien life that can reach us in meaningful time, and saying we should go to ‘infinity and beyond’ in his words, now comes up saying ‘aliens are there and we shouldnt contact them’. RIGHT at a time when reported ufo cases are on the increase and various countries (france, uk, russia at the forefront) have come out with their secret government ufo files. and then proceeds to promote weapons in space. and in a country which still officially tries to debunk ufos, and keep any kind of ufo talk as ‘kookery’ subject and suppress. WAY too smelly not to be fishy. now i have trust in hawking as much as i trust my lost left sock.

  • johnnyboy

    He’s right. When you send a transmission, it keeps going and bouncing and going until it is stopped by some type of force. All along this path, it can be received and with advanced tech could possibly be identified and tapped from subspace frequencies at great distances. It is dangerous to give away our position. We need intel. Aliens amongst us now or not, I believe that the technology needed to take the next steps into the space age are in our grasp and perhaps even in drill-type exercises daily. USAF?
    Likely. Very likely as I’ve met total strangers (soldiers) who have volunteered information to me about gigantic air/spacecraft they have seen in use by our military. I then started looking around on google.. and here I am. Right now, I’m taking a close look at all this NWO talk and looking at what Obama is doing.. Globalists appear to be committing high treason.. the USA is in a renewed State of Emergency that wasn’t not granted by the Congress as of Nov ’09. The COG (Continuity of Government) Commission basically is above the constitution and all her constituents with the State of Emergency in play. The COG is Obama’s Administration. The houses are separate entities still bound by the Constitution. A national police force is being raised. Advanced crowd control weapons like the “Pain-Ray” exist. Martial law appears to be right around the corner. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lsltxgrr_o

  • Jay

    If humans created God(s), then we are the creators of God. What are we then? GODSS (with 2 esses)

    Hawking-Look at how Japan prospers now, and it was all because of the USA’s landing in Japan.

    Me, I prefer a little bit broader outlook on the universe, than the current one I have now. Welcome Aliens, enlighten me or destroy me!

  • Person

    To all of you that think life in other parts of the universe has the same laws and requirements as we do could be completely wrong think of it this way a fish in the gulf may need a certain amount of food an oxygen in the water to live but to say that a fish in the red sea or off the coast of japan has the same requirements as that other type of fish is absolutely wrong or if a type if cat can run up to x number of miles and hour doesn’t mean that a different cat has the same limits so basically just because we need oxygen an various other chemicals and gases doesn’t mean that aliens need the same also they don’t necessarily have the same limits like faster than light travel and limited life spans so just because we can’t travel elsewhere doesn’t mean it’s impossible everywhere and if there are different limits on earth imagine the differences in the huge universe

  • Uzx441

    The reason why aliens are not contacting us is probably because,just like a lot of humans, they think they are the only ones in the universe. Even if they did attempt to get in touch with Earthlings or inhabitants of other planets, what are the odds that alien technology can allow them to intercept radio signals, that our planet is constantly transmitting into space in hope to be heard, and our technology, in turn, can allow us to communicate with them using the means they have invented and think we might be able to use. Humans themselves invented radio just a hundred years ago.

    Or if the little green men indeed contacted us personally, as many have claimed,it doesn’t necessarily mean that their civilizations are far more advanced than ours. They probably don’t have as much on their planets as we do on ours besides spacecraft building facilities and research centers because they decided to concentrate all their intellectual potential on aeronautic engineering and cosmic exploration. They must be real dreamers and/or total losers! Also, it’s really interesting to note that in all known depictions of extraterrestrials that supposedly visited us, they all tend to look very much alike for some reason and are surprising skinny. Do they eat at all?

  • Joshua Long

    There is no question that aliens exist. I am sure there are good and bad aliens,just like us humans,and someday
    soon,perhaps some of us will meet them. I beleive GOD
    knows this, and will select certain people to connect
    with them, to calm people down some. Perhaps they could help us out, because we are really going the wrong way toward ourselves and our planet. It is time to change things up, to help each other out as a species.

  • Pingback: Is SETI worth it? « Lost in Science

Aug 22, 2014
Attorney General Eric Holder talks with Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol at Drake's Place Restaurant, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, in Florrissant, Mo. (AP)

The National Guard and Eric Holder in Ferguson. ISIS beheads an American journalist. Texas Governor Rick Perry gets a mug shot. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Aug 22, 2014
In this image from video posted on Facebook, courtesy of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, former President George W. Bush participates in the ice bucket challenge with the help of his wife, Laura Bush, in Kennebunkport, Maine. (AP)

The Ice Bucket Challenge: ALS, viral fundraising and how we give in the age of social media.

Aug 21, 2014
Jen Joyce, a community manager for the Uber rideshare service, works on a laptop before a meeting of the Seattle City Council, Monday, March 17, 2014, at City Hall in Seattle. (AP)

We’ll look at workers trying to live and make a living in the age of TaskRabbit and computer-driven work schedules.

Aug 21, 2014
In this November 2012, file photo, posted on the website freejamesfoley.org, shows American journalist James Foley while covering the civil war in Aleppo, Syria. In a horrifying act of revenge for U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq, militants with the Islamic State extremist group have beheaded Foley — and are threatening to kill another hostage, U.S. officials say. (AP)

An American is beheaded. We’ll look at the ferocity of ISIS, and what to do about it.

On Point Blog
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