There's been some buzz lately about Stephen Hawking's comments that alien life almost certainly exists, but we should be doing everything we can to avoid it.
[A] few life forms could be intelligent and pose a threat. Hawking believes that contact with such a species could be devastating for humanity. [...] He concludes that trying to make contact with alien races is “a little too risky”. He said: “If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.”This of course raises the age old question, for when our alien overlords arrive:
It seems slightly ironic that Hawking's warnings come at the same time that we celebrate the Hubble Telescope's 20th anniversary - a tool whose breath-taking pictures have undoubtedly inspired many people to wonder what, and who, else is out there.
I've been watching a lot of Doctor Who lately, catching up on the new series, and re-enjoying the old. It's impossible not to revel in his awe and joy and wonder as he travels space and time unravelling mysteries and encountering new species - in a universe he knows to be full of monsters and bad guys. In that spirit, I have to side with optimism and Ethan Siegel:
But what irks me most of all is the cowardice behind a viewpoint that we shouldn't rush to meet a peer in this Universe. It would be like forgetting the best part of being human: our bravery, our sense of adventure, our will to explore, our thirst for learning and discovery, our curiosity, and our desire to experience all that existence has to offer.And if we're swept up and forced into an intergalactic zoo, circus or worse, at least I'll get to ride in a spaceship.