“We come in peace” is something we would like to imagine would happen to us someday if an alien race were to ever visit us. We might like to think that about ourselves too. But history has taught us that this is rarely the case; even in today’s world. And this is something Stephen Hawking is trying to warn us about. We have to keep in mind that we are barely able to leave the Earth’s atmosphere, and if an alien species were to ever visit us, capable of interstellar flight, we would be at a serious technological disadvantage.
Just look at what happened to the Native Americans when the technologically superior Europeans came to “visit”. The differences weren’t so big to begin with, but even so, Cortez and just a handful of his Conquistadors were able to singlehandedly take down the mighty Aztec Empire.
In any case, our famous astrophysicist makes these comments in an online film called, Stephen Hawking’s Favorite Places, in which he takes viewers on a journey to five significant locations throughout the universe.
During the journey, some 16 light years away from Earth, at the planet Gliese 832c, Hawking reflects:
“As I grow older I am more convinced than ever that we are not alone. After a lifetime of wondering, I am helping to lead a new global effort to find out. The Breakthrough Listen project will scan the nearest million stars for signs of life, but I know just the place to start looking. One day we might receive a signal from a planet like Gliese 832c, but we should be wary of answering back.”
In fact, Stephen Hawking has been warning us about this possibly terrifying prospect for years now. As of last year, he has launched a program called the “Breakthrough Listen Project” which will scan the nearest million stars for any signs of life, maybe to at least have a heads up of what might be out there. He has also told us to look at things from a different perspective, especially in relation to the life of the universe and our Milky Way galaxy. He’s, of course, referring to the fact that other alien civilizations out there could be millions, if not billions, of years ahead in terms of technological and social development, and we could seem to them like bacteria looks like in our own eyes. Either totally insignificant, part of the overall diversity of life, a nuisance, or even a potentially serious threat.
The 25-minute film, which appears on the platform CuriosityStream, starts at the Big Bang, which has been the focus of much of Hawking’s career. Viewers are also taken deep into a super-massive black hole, Sagittarius A*, where Hawking explains his theory of matter, and to Saturn, which Hawking calls “the most spectacular destination in the Solar System.”
Finally, Hawking returns to Earth to Santa Barbara where he talks nostalgically of his early career at Cal Tech and times spent on the sunny California coast with his young family.
“My goal is simple: complete understanding of the universe,” Hawking said. “It’s always been a dream of mine to explore the universe.”