Other Earths

Are There an Advance Civilization in the Universe

Are There an Advance Civilization in the Universe

The distances separating the stars are so vast that it would take a very advanced civilization—perhaps thousands or even millions of years more advanced than ours—to bridge those distances. In other words, any extraterrestrial civilization that visited us, hypothetically or in reality, would be using a technology that we can only dream about here on planet Earth.

Most life forms in outer space are probably microbial, but a handful of them may be advanced enough to actually reach us. Now, from their perspective, we humans are the microbial life and we would simply not be that interesting to them. I think this is one reason aliens don’t come here and say, “Take me to your leader, Earth man.” An extremely advanced civilization visiting humans would almost be like humans going down to an ant hill and telling them: “I bring you computers, I bring you nuclear power, I bring you knowledge…” Most of the time we simply step on them instead.

Stephen Hawking’s recent statements in his new series “Into the Universe” on the Discovery Channel have stirred up quite a few news stories in the past week. In fact, I will be appearing on Larry King Live tonight (4/30) at 9 p.m. EST to speak about these statements. In the series, Hawking says: “If intelligent alien life forms do exist out in the vastness of space, they might not be the friendly cosmic neighbors the people of Earth are looking for. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonize whatever planets they could reach. If so, it makes sense for them to exploit each new planet for material to build more spaceships so they could move on. Who knows what the limits would be?” Hawking adds: “We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet. I imagine they might exist in massive ships…having used up all the resources from their home planet. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonize whatever planets they can reach.” In closing, he says that all of our efforts to search and contact aliens could ultimately end in our own destruction.

So how many advanced civilizations could there possibly be? Back in the 1950’s and 60’s, astronomer Frank Drake had the idea of searching for radio signals from intelligent life (intelligent enough to make radio broadcasts, that is) in outer space. Drake’s equation is taught in every elementary astronomy course as a reasonable scientific estimate of the probability of intelligent races throughout the galaxy. It tries to estimate (N), which is the number of civilizations in our galaxy with which communication may be possible.

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