Stephen Hawking and alien invasions

30th April 2010
Stephen Hawking and alien invasions (iStock)

Professional genius and author Stephen Hawking has this week spoken out on the controversial subject of alien life. While Hawking says that it is “perfectly rational” to believe in the existence of extraterrestrial life he has said that it is something to be avoided at all costs.

"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," warned the fretful astrophysicist. He said that aliens might simply come to Earth, raid it for resources and move on. Hawking explained his fear: “We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn't want to meet." 

Hawking does have a point - imagine how crap Independence Day would have been without Will Smith, or War Of The Worlds without the microbes; humanity has little to no defence when faced with the prospect of alien invasion. There have long been stories of alien invasion in science fiction, so why do we usually assume that our first encounter with aliens would be a peaceful one?
For hundreds of years people have tried to contact aliens- first using geometric patterns burned into the ground, then by sending radio signals into space and scanning for any response; now we send maps and diagrams into space with our satellites and probes, cataloguing the position of Earth and its populous. It seems, however, that Hawking is the first respected scientist to suggest that this might not be the best idea.
For every Doctor Who there is an Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and only time will tell as to how the search for alien life will progress. But one thing is for sure: if alien spaceships start positioning themselves over strategically important landmarks Will Smith had better be ready to spring into action.