May, 2010
Journal of Cosmology, 2010, Vol 7

from JournalofCosmology Website



Famed astrophysicist Dr. Stephen Hawking has voiced concern about the dangers, he believes, are posed by alien predators who may arrive in giant space ships, to conquer, enslave, destroy, colonize, and voraciously exploit the resources of Earth.


According to Hawking:

"To my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational. The real challenge is to work out what aliens might actually be like..."

According to Hawking aliens,

"would be only limited by how much power they could harness and control, and that could be far more than we might first imagine...Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonize whatever planets they can reach...


I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet...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."

1. Hawking's Alien's Squawkings

John Menninger, Ph.D., Department of Biology, University of Iowa

Aliens, as perceived by Hawking
Could soon visit Earth for some gawking.
They might do good, but Oy!,
They might wish to destroy!
We'll more likely be bored by their talking.
(-- with apologies to E. Lear)


2. Darwinism and Hawking's Aliens

Blair Csuti, Ph.D., Research Associate, Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society, Oregon State University

First, one must grant the premise that by sheer laws of probability, many advanced alien civilizations exist throughout the universe.


Professor Hawking’s trepidation about the wisdom of overtly seeking contact with them is well-founded. We have no way of discerning the intent of alien visitors except after-the-fact. The Darwinian concept of natural selection supports the assumption that aliens visiting newly discovered planets, like Earth, would place their own interests above those of unsophisticated indigenous residents.

If the rate of evolution observed on Earth from the first records of single-celled organisms to the current state of hominid achievement is any indication, one can expect that alien civilizations will achieve a similar level of technological development in 5 or 6 billion years. Our best estimates of the age of the universe range in excess of 13 billion years.


Therefore, another statistical premise is that there will be lots of more advanced alien civilizations in the older, more distant reaches of the universe. All of this bodes ill for the outcome of any encounter with space aliens.

However, the one bright spot in this ominous conclusion are the constraints that light, time, and space place on both matter and energy (that means both us and our potential alien invaders).


It’s no coincidence that every science fiction narrative of interstellar travel includes some currently undiscovered system that allows travel many times faster than the speed of light. In real science, however, Einstein’s relativity theories seem to have held up on one point: no particle or wave exceeds the speed of light.


First, this means that the wave front of Earth’s first electromagnetic transmissions to the rest of the universe is barely more than 100 light-years distant. It could well be tens of millions of years before our unintended radio and television calling cards are noticed by the first avaricious aliens. Then, racing to Earth at near-light speed, it will take our would-be exploiters tens of millions more years to turn up on our doorstep.


Unless they have very long life-spans, that would require a generational space ship with little prospect of returning to their home planet with whatever booty that they considered valuable enough to undertake a long and expensive expedition.

The only motivation for alien space plunders to visit Earth then, as Hawking suggested, would be to send out one-way colonists to expand the size and distribution of their race. Given sufficient time, that scenario is likely to play out multiple times. This is not so different, strange to say, from human’s own aspirations for space travel.


Earth’s only hope will be that the laws of physics apply throughout the universe and place constraints on the types and power of possible weaponry that could be used against humans…and that by the time the invaders arrive, humans themselves will have discovered and deployed similar defense systems that would allow Earth to hold its own.


Speculation about the future is by definition, fiction, but it sounds as if our most imaginative science fiction may turn out to be closer to the truth than we would like.

3. Alien Conquistadors? Hawking is Right

Robert Ehrlich, Ph.D., Professor of Physics, George Mason University

It is easy for one’s initial reaction to Stephen Hawking’s assertion about predatory alien visitors to be dismissive, since while he is perhaps our greatest living physicist, he has no more expertise in the area of alien motives than anyone else - assuming that intelligent aliens even exist.


But after a little thought one’s second reaction might be “how could it be otherwise?”


Given the obstacles to alien life evolving beyond the microbial stage in our own solar system, one presumes that alien visitors would come to us from other star systems - the other possibility being that microbial aliens might hitch a ride on a meteorite blasted off from a planet within our own solar system.

Alien visitors from the stars would fall into one of four categories, i.e., they,

  1. have mastered the technology of faster-than-light travel (if that is even possible)

  2. be adaptable robots whose mental processes reflect those of their senders

  3. have such long lifetimes that interstellar voyages are possible, or

  4. have lived for many generations aboard their ships.

My own guess is that number 2 would be the most likely, but with all these choices it would be a safe guess that if these space-journeying aliens exist, their technology is light-years ahead of ours, and that they are almost certainly the preeminent species on their home planet.

How would a species attain that favored status?


Certainly, intelligence is a factor, but one can always imagine unintelligent species winning out. For example, it is not out of the realm of possibility that intelligent humans could be wiped out by lowly microbes.


Nevertheless, all our experiences on Earth suggest that when a more technologically advanced species or group of humans encounters another and competes for the same resources, the result is always conflict, with the more advanced group emerging victorious - the movie Avatar notwithstanding. Being a member of a species generally means you value the lives of your own members above those of other species, even if you might not wish to see them die needlessly.

On Earth our recognition of the deep mental and emotional lives of some of our fellow passengers on the planet has come exceedingly slowly - with Rene Descartes even holding that animals are simply robots having no thoughts or feelings.


Given the probability that the gap in intelligence between alien visitors and humans would be far greater than that between humans and our close relatives on Earth, how could they not think of us as a very lowly life form, certainly not worthy of treating as equals?

One also needs to ask what motives aliens would have for taking the trouble to travel across the stars. Could it be simple curiosity, and a desire to have us join the “Galactic Federation?”


This seems highly doubtful, because interstellar communication would seem to be the far easier course of action in that case. Of course, there is the limit of the speed of light to consider, which makes interstellar communication a rather prolonged affair. However, if we have already allowed faster-than-light travel, there is no reason to exclude faster-than-light communication, using tachyons perhaps, which incidentally are not entirely excluded based on experimental searches to date.

Let’s assume Stephen Hawking is correct then, and proceed to the next step - what should we do?


One might argue that we should make no attempt to communicate with intelligent aliens by broadcasting signals. The temptation to do so could become quite strong if SETI ever detects an unambiguously positive signal. On the other hand, such communication would be quite pointless should the signal be from a star 500 light years away, given that the beings who we will have likely evolved into (or who replace us) in 500 years will bear little resemblance to those of us who sent the message.


Moreover, given the difficulties we now have in even taking simple actions to save the planet from manmade environmental catastrophe, one can only imagine the debate in the halls of Congress and United Nations as to how to reply to alien attempts at communication.


4. Hawking's Alien Invaders Might Be Microorganisms

B.G. Sidharth, Ph.D. International Institute For Applicable Mathematics & Information Sciences B.M. Birla Science Centre Adarshnagar, Hyderabad, India

Professor Stephen Hawking’s latest much publicized views about the existence of aliens and the threat his imagined aliens pose to mankind are somewhat naďve though not absurd, as these are based on the probability that such events may happen, given that there are so many stars and planets.


However, even if Hawking's were correct, the greatest danger may not be technically advanced aliens looking for world's to conquer, but the diseases and micro-oganisms which might journey with them.


Findings in recent years support the view that life in the universe may be widespread, and most likely, much of that life probably consists of bacteria, archae, and the viruses typically associated with them. There are already tantalizing clues suggestive of past and even present life on Mars.


Life may have also taken hold on Europa, Titan, and other moons and planets in this solar system (see Journal of Cosmology, Vol 5). The French satellite CoRoT has just discovered a planet, called CoRoT-9b far beyond the Solar System, 1500 light years away. What makes this finding dramatic is that this could well be the first temperate planet similar to the planets of our Solar System.


The new planet has a size roughly that of Jupiter with an orbit similar to Mercury. Unlike the four hundred other suspected exo-planets, is neither extremely hot nor extremely cold. Its surface temperature is estimated to be between minus 20 degrees and 160 degrees Celsius, similar to Mars. Extremeophiles could certainly live under these conditions.

Very recently too NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena has discovered a planet well outside the Solar System which has traces of organic molecules, the building blocks of life. The planet HD209458b has yielded traces of water, methane and carbon dioxide as detected by the Hubble Space Telescope and the Spitzer Telescope.


Similar findings have been determined for the planet HD189733b.

These particular findings do not prove that life itself would be widespread, because it would be very improbable for life to develop, even if all the ingredients were present. But in the light of relatively recent work by Joseph, Schild, Gibson, Wickramasinghe, Sharov (see Journal of Cosmology Volume 5, ), and others, all this would lead to the dramatic conclusion that life may be abundant and wide spread throughout the universe (Joseph and Schild 2010a,b).

For several decades it has been believed that life originated on the earth billions of years ago in soups of water and chemicals which interacted with energy from the Sun.


This would make the formation of life an improbable event. However, a number of scientists, including the present author (Sidharth, 2009, Journal of Cosmology Vol 1, Vol 10.) have been arguing for a dual mode origin of life, that is key ingredients like amino acids, but not yet fully formed life had reached Earth from outer space and chemically interacted with other ingredients present to form life. As similar conditions could have taken place on other planets, this would mean that the formation and evolution of life may be far more probable than thought earlier, particularly on planets located in habitable zones.

For example, complex molecules have been discovered in interstellar space, for example, in the cool dust clouds of the Orion Nebula and in the constellation of Sagittarius.


Observations with telescopes, spectroscopes, radio telescopes and even orbiting observatories have confirmed the presence of molecules like methyl cyanide, water vapour, formaldehyde, methyl alcohol and even the potable ethyl alcohol. Clearly there are several organic molecules in the cool dust clouds spread across outer space.

This apart the space crafts Giotto and Vega which flew by Comet Halley glimpsed carbon rich molecules while space based observations revealed the presence of Ethane and Methane in Comets Hyakutake and Hale Bopp. Space dust reveals organic carbon. Interestingly some thirty tons of such carbon is brought down to the earth each day by the interstellar dust.


Meteorites have shown nucleo basis, ketones, quinines, carboxylic acids, amines and amides. In fact as many as eight of the twenty amino acids involved in life processes have been identified besides some sixty others.


Recently, NASA announced that an analysis of data from its Stardust mission revealed, for the first time the presence of the amino acid glycine in an icy comet.

The all important amino acids in nature come as left handed molecules and also right handed molecules reminiscent of a right handed spiral conch shell and a left handed spiral conch. The amino acids produced in the laboratory show equal quantities of the left handed and right handed varieties. There are no interactions involving light in such molecules.


However in life processes, the left handed molecules predominate over the right handed molecules. Interestingly in the amino acids found on meteorites, we have exactly this preponderance of left handed amino acid molecules! This is the crucial trigger, and with chemical self organization leads to animate processes like photosynthesis.

It appears that amino acids, quinons, amphibilic molecules and the like were transported to the earth by meteoritic dust or cometary fragments. These could well have kick started the first life processes on the earth. Very recently, Amino acids were again observed in comets.

This also means that life would be well spread out in the universe and is not unique to Earth. As on Earth, microorganisms are probably the most abundant form of life on other planets. As argued by Joseph and Schild (2010; Journal of Cosmology Vol 5), given a habitable planet within a habitable zone, and if these microorganisms have genomes consisting of DNA, then life may evolve in patterns similar to those on Earth.


Alien life may have evolved beyond the stage of modern Earth-based humans billions of years ago. Given the nature of life on Earth is competition for resources, and as technically advanced civilizations typically conquer those less developed, then Hawking's concern about the dangers of alien contact, should be take seriously.

However, it is probably not technologically advanced aliens, but alien microorganisms which pose the greatest danger to life on Earth (Joseph and Wickramasinghe 2010). When Columbus was followed by the Spanish conquistadors, it was not advanced weaponry which destroyed the native civilizations, but disease. The Spanish soldiers and monks carried diseases the natives had never before encountered and they died in vast numbers.


Therefore it could be argued that the greatest threat is not from alien conquistadors. It is exposure to alien microorganisms which might prove disastrous to the inhabitants of Earth.


Joseph R., and Schild, R. (2010a). Origins, Evolution, and Distribution of Life in the Cosmos: Panspermia, Genetics, Microbes, and Viral Visitors From the Stars. Journal of Cosmology, 2010, Vol 7, IN PRESS
Joseph R., and Schild, R. (2010b). Biological Cosmology and the Origins of Life in the Universe. Journal of Cosmology, 5, 1040-1090.
Joseph, R., and Wickramasinghe, C. (2010). Comets and contagion: Evolution and diseases from space. ournal of Cosmology, 7. In press.
Sidharth, B. G. (2009). In Defense of Abiogenesis, Journal of Cosmology, 2009, 1, 73-75


5. Alien Life and Quantum Consciousness

Randy D. Allen, Ph.D., Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Oklahoma State University

Dr. Steven Hawking argues that alien life almost surely exists and warns that human encounters with aliens could well end badly for us. In the absence of actual evidence for the presence of extraterrestrial life, much less for its intentions, I would say that Dr. Hawking’s guesses are as good as anyone else’s.


I guess that it is equally likely that extraterrestrial life does not exist either because it never arose or, if it did arise, was soon eliminated. Another possibility is that some sort of primitive photosynthetic or chemosynthetic organisms exist elsewhere in the Universe.


If, as on Earth, the primary form of energy available on other planets is radiation from a nearby star, it seems likely that, as on Earth, photosynthetic organisms must predominate. It follows that consumers of these producers may well have also evolved.


However, life that exists away from Earth will not necessarily use the same chemistry. If, as we generally assume, water is required for life, then the range of possible chemistries is constrained but there is absolutely no reason to assume that anything remotely close to plants or animals, much less humans, exists elsewhere.


Although dissimilarities in chemistry could limit our ability to analyze or even detect extraterrestrials, it could also protect us from harm. An alien organism without proteins, for example, may have a difficult time digesting us. If, on the other hand, we were to encounter alien life forms that ravenously consume all of the energy containing chemical compounds that they can get their ”hands” on, it would indeed be tragic for us, but a good meal for them.

Life as we know it is based on chemistry but, what if life elsewhere is based, not on chemistry but on quantum mechanics? Imagine alien life forms that can manipulate subatomic particles like our cells manipulate chemical compounds.


Humans have existed as a species for less than a million years and we are, as far as we know, the only species on Earth that has even the vaguest notion of physics. We only discovered the atom and learned to unleash its power within the last century.


Our understanding of quantum mechanics is rudimentary, at best, yet we are on the verge of developing practical quantum computers that promise virtually unlimited computational power. It is conceivable that, in the billions of years since the Big Bang, other organisms evolved at some time and some place that have already mastered quantum mechanics.


Let’s say that intelligent, social, organisms with chemically-based metabolism, fundamentally not unlike ourselves, evolved on a planet somewhere in the universe. Their unquenchable curiosity about the universe (or, like us, their unquenchable desire to exploit it) led them to develop efficient quantum computers. They realized that, with such computers, the whole of their existence could be computerized, all memories and life experiences, all emotions and motivations, could be transferred to a collective “quantum brain”. In effect, their “species”, though biologically extinct, could become immortal.


No more inefficient metabolism requiring huge energy input, no chemically derived bodies to wear out, no reproduction, no death, no taxes.


Just supermassively parallel collective consciousness with unlimited capabilities. Perhaps, through super symmetry or entanglement, they can “see” or “feel” the entire universe. Maybe, they’ve gained the ability to manipulate elementary particles and can control its evolution and its fate. They would have become, by any human definition, Gods.

It’s conceivable that quantum capabilities evolved multiple times throughout the universe, each new member of the quantum club bringing a novel dimension of consciousness, along with a few billion additional “neighbors” to get to know. With no need to compete for resources, quantum beings are probably peaceful and only want the best for the Universe and its inhabitants.


Maybe they are aware of our existence but don’t care about us, much as we ignore most of the “lower” organisms that surround us. Alternatively, perhaps they have noted our biological, social and technological evolution and realize that we humans may well join their ranks someday and become quantum beings ourselves.

The possibility of evolving a quantum consciousness of course, depends on numerous variables, and requires that we are not first exterminated by an asteroid impact, a nearby supernova, or gigantic volcanic eruptions, or our civilization is not decimated by global warfare over resource scarcity exacerbated by climate change.


Then there is the possibility we might simply lose our scientific impetus through loss of political support for basic research and let our chance for immortality slip away.

6. Are Intelligent Aliens a Threat to Humanity? Diseases (Viruses, Bacteria) From Space

Chandra Wickramasinghe, Ph.D., Centre for Astrobiology, Cardiff University, UK

Abstract: The idea that intelligent aliens could be a threat to humanity is reviewed. It is shown that the arrival of intelligent aliens on Earth is neither likely nor indeed potentially threatening. Viral invaders from space are likely to pose the most significant and recurrent threat in the future.

On the panspermia hypothesis the genetic components that led to life on Earth are omnipresent in the galaxy, so the same or similar genes that arrived here would also arrive at the surfaces of other planets (Hoyle and Wickramasinghe, 1982; Joseph, 2009; Joseph and Schild 2010).


Every niche in every habitable planet in the galaxy would then be colonized with unity probability thus leading to the widespread occurrence of microbial life.


The fraction that eventually evolves into higher life is debatable, but with identical genetic structures delivered to a multitude of similar environments and planetary niches self-similar patterns of evolution and a convergence of evolution could be expected. In terrestrial life for instance, the evolution of the eye is achieved independently at least thrice. Intelligence of the kind humans process may be argued to have some measure of survival advantage in that a greater capacity to understand our environment would lead to greater skills at manipulating it to our advantage.


On this basis high levels of intelligence could be understood as a cosmic evolutionary imperative. It is also unwise to regard ourselves - homo sapiens sapiens - as the culmination of this evolutionary process. With just a million years or so of human evolution towards it would seem that the experiment of intelligence has scarcely begun on Earth. Thus creatures endowed with higher levels of intelligence could well be commonplace in the Universe.

Let us next estimate the number of habitable planets in our Galaxy. With about 500 exoplanets discovered thus far mostly within ~ 30 pc of us, it would be reasonable to conjecture that about 25% of main sequence stars are endowed with planets.


Most of the planets that have been observed, however, are of Jupiter mass, and a large fraction orbit stars in a binary pair. It is difficult to estimate the number of planets that are in non-binary systems and therefore in stable orbits. It is only in such cases that one could expect evolution that leads to higher life and eventually intelligence. At a reasonable guess one might expect to find billion such planets corresponding to - 1% of main sequence stars.

The number of planets N carrying intelligent life in the Galaxy could now be derived from a simplified form of Drake’s equation:

N≈n L(yr)/t(yr)

Here n is the total number of habitable planets in the galaxy, L is the average lifetime in years of an intelligent civilization, and t is the main sequence age of a star.


With t ≈ 5 x 109 yr and n ≈ 109 we then have:

N≈15L (yr)

The prospects for visitations from ETI, benign or otherwise, depends on the value of L we choose for the lifetime of intelligent or superintelligent life on a planet. An upper limit would of course be defined by a main sequence lifetime, ~ 109 yr, but more realistically it will be shorter.


Our human experience on Earth over the past century does not give much confidence in choosing much higher values of L than say 500 yr. In this case we have N = 100 as the steady-state grand total of advanced intelligent civilizations throughout the galaxy.


Such pessimism is based on the simple fact that today’s nuclear arsenals of the world have enough fire power to extinguish all life on the planet, and it is difficult to imagine that this would not be an eventual outcome of unbridled human greed for power and control. However, if the next stage in the evolution of intelligence is to adopt a strategy of non-violent co-existence, then it could be that L will be much higher.


For argument’s sake, taking L to have an optimistically high value of ~108 years, the number of planets endowed with intelligent life becomes 2x107 and their mean separation in the galactic disc ~ 10pc. If we are thinking of space-faring intelligent aliens being optimistically able to travel at a tenth of the speed of light, the average crossing time between adjacent civilizations will be ~ 300yr.

If one now considers the expansion of a single power-hungry civilization, colonization might proceed in an expanding wavefront across the set of habitable planets as shown in Fig. 1.


If to the crossing time (at one tenth the speed of light) of 300 years we add a recuperation time of say ~ 700 years, each step in the expanding wavefront would take ~ 1000 years, and to cross the entire galaxy would take a few million years. (This is a variant of the argument used earlier by Enrico Fermi to argue that if intelligent life exists elsewhere we should have been colonized already.)


This argument, however, is based on the assumption that the behavior of superintelligent space colonizers could be modeled on predator-prey relationships found in lower life on the Earth, as well as on the history of our own colonization and conquest of more primitive tribes.

Even with the most favourable set of assumptions the model is suspect however. With the numerical values chosen in this example, our space colonisers would need to have biological generation time (mean life-span) considerably in excess of ours. Otherwise, we have to posit that the potential predator embarks on a space voyage that benefits not its own generation but several generations into the future.


No example exists on Earth where this model applies, either naturally in the living world, or in a sociological context. Indeed our modern politicians find it difficult to plan for the well-being of society beyond even a few electoral terms of office!

Colonisation of a galaxy via the process of directed panspermia (Crick and Orgel, 1973) offers a much better prospect. An advanced technological civilization facing the prospect of imminent extinction may well decide to package its genetic heritage within microbes, including viruses, and launch them out into space. They might even consider targeting comets of their own planetary system as a first staging post, where gene packages might become amplified in vast numbers.


The spread across the galaxy would then be greatly facilitated. No expensive rocket system is needed. The genetic packages are of the right sizes for their propulsion by the radiation pressure of starlight to be guaranteed (Wickramasinghe and Wickramasinghe, 2003; Wickramasinghe, Wickramasinghe & Napier, 2010).


Although a large fraction of such space travelling genes will perish in transit, the reassembly of surviving genes on habitable planets would lead indirectly to galactic colonization.

The real risk to humanity of alien life may be in the form of viral and bacterial genomes arriving at the Earth which are sometimes pathogenic (Joseph and Wickramasinghe 2010). Fred Hoyle and the present author have argued the thesis of “Diseases from Space” over several decades (Hoyle and Wickramasinghe, 1979, 1982, 1990; Hoyle et al, 1985; Wickramasinghe et al, 2003).


Despite criticisms that have often been made against this concept the basic arguments remain cogent to the present day (Joseph and Wickramasinghe 2010).


With increasing evidence to support the view that life could not have arisen indigenously on the Earth, the idea that the evolution of life is modulated by genes arriving from comets has acquired a new significance. Darwinian evolution operates in an open system where new genes continue to be added from a cosmic source. Pandemics of viral and bacterial disease become an inevitable part of this thesis.


One could argue that if not for such genetic additions from outside, evolution would have come to a standstill a long time ago (Hoyle and Wickramasinghe, 1982; Joseph and Wickramasinghe 2010). In this context it should be noted that the human genome has recently been found to contain more than 50 percent of its content in the form of well defined inert viral genes. It is possible to understand this data if our ancestral line of descent over a few million years had suffered a succession of near-culling events following outbreaks of viral pandemics (Joseph and Wickramasinghe 2010).


On each such occasion only a small breeding group survived the members of which had assimilated the virus into their reproductive line.

Expanding wave-front of galactic colonization.

Hoyle and the present author have cited numerous instances from the history of medicine where outbreaks of pandemic disease could be elegantly explained in terms of space incident viruses.


Even the modern scourge of influenza is likely to be driven by periodic injections of genetic components from space. Aspects of the epidemiology of influenza otherwise remains difficult to explain (Hoyle and Wickramasinghe, 1979, 1991).

In conclusion, we note that the aliens we have to fear are not superintelligent creatures arriving in space ships and intending to conquer and subdue us, but sub-micron sized viral invaders that may threaten the very existence of our species.


Crick, F. H. C. and Orgel, L. E. (1973). Directed Panspermia, Icarus, 19, pp. 341-346.
Hoyle F., Wickramasinghe N.C.(1979). Diseases from Space (J.M. Dent, Lond).
Hoyle F., Wickramasinghe N.C.(1982). Proofs that Life is Cosmic. Mem. Inst. Fund. Studies Sri Lanka, No. 1 (
Hoyle, F., Wickramasinghe, N.C., (1990) Influenza - evidence against contagion: discussion paper, J.Roy.Soc.Med., 83, 258.
Hoyle, F., Wickramasinghe, N.C. (1986) Viruses from Space (Univ. Coll. Cardiff Press, 1986).
Hoyle, F., Wickramasinghe, N.C., Watkins, J., (1985). Legionnaires’ Disease: Seeking a wider cause, The Lancet, 25 May 1985, p.1216.
Joseph R. (2009). The evolution of life from other planets. Journal of Cosmology, 1, 100-200.
Joseph, R. and Schild, R. (2010). Origins, evolution, and distribution of life in the cosmos: Panspermia, genetics, microbes, and viral visitors from the stars. Journal of Cosmology, 7. In press.
Joseph, R., and Wickramasinghe, C. (2010). Comets and contagion: Evolution and diseases from space. ournal of Cosmology, 7. In press.
Wickramasinghe, C., Wainwright, M., Narlikar, J., (2003), SARS - a clue to its origins, Lancet, Vol. 361, May 24, p.1832.
Wickramasinghe N.C., Wickramasinghe J.T. (2003). Radiation pressure on bacterial clumps in the solar vicinity and their survival between interstellar transits. Astrophys. Space Sci. 286, 453 -- 459.
Wickramasinghe J., Wickramasinghe N.C., Napier W.M. (2010). Comets and the Origin of Life. World Scientific, Singapore.



7. Aliens and Stephen Hawking - The Wisdom Principle

Pushkar Ganesh Vaidya, Indian Astrobiology Research Centre, Mumbai - 400103, Maharashtra, India.

Subjugation by aliens is a clear danger. It can be military subjugation, cultural subjugation or even misguided attempts to uplift Human civilization and in the process destroying the very nature of the Human civilization (Dick and Harrison 2000).

Dr. Hawking’s assertion is analogous to what is known as the “The Wisdom Principle".


It states that,

“Any advanced civilization in the universe does not want to be visited ‘first’ by any other more advanced civilization”

(Vaidya 2002).

In short, it would be ‘wise’ of a civilization to ensure that it does not play host to any advanced alien race. Interestingly though, even if we are not too keen to announce our presence, aliens can still find us.


We are already detectable within 50 light-years, courtesy our transmissions and everyday a new stellar system is exposed to signals from Earth (Shostak 2003).

It has been speculated that life anywhere in the universe will be underpinned by Natural Selection.


Richard Dawkins writes in The Blind Watchmaker,

“One way to dramatize this point is to make a prediction. I predict that, if a form of life is ever discovered in another part of the universe, however outlandish and weirdly alien that form of life may be in detail, it will be found to resemble life on earth in one key respect: it will have evolved by some kind of Darwinian natural selection”

(Dawkins 1996).

A similar speculation is made by John Maynard Smith in his The Theory of Evolution

“Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection is the only workable explanation that has ever been proposed for the remarkable fact of our own existence, indeed the existence of all life wherever it may turn up in the universe. It is the only known explanation for the rich diversity of animals, pants, fungi and bacteria”

(Maynard Smith 2000).

Just as the laws of physics have been found to hold universally; it has been speculated that the Darwinian natural selection will hold universally and so would the famous “survival of the fittest” concept.


Thus, we have good reason to believe that aggressive instincts will be present in aliens as well. To what extent aliens can curb their aggressive instincts (or else they will possibly self-destruct) is anybody’s guess.


Will aliens be proactively aggressive, reactively aggressive or practitioners of Gandhian non-violence?

The premise of Dr. Stephen Hawkings’s recent warning and that of the Wisdom Principle is that of caution.

  • Do we really want technologically advanced aliens to visit us first?

  • What would become of the human race if alien visitations became a reality?

We are doing well on Earth today because we are the most intelligent and technologically advanced of all the Earthly creatures.


For us to do well in the universe and be safe, we will have to be the most technologically advanced creatures in the universe or be wise enough to not get subjugated by a more technologically advanced alien civilization.


If we thought the struggle for existence was over then we must think again.


Vaidya, P.G. (2002). The Wisdom Principle. Akash Darpan, Jan-Feb 2002, pp.17-18.
Dick, S., Harrison, A. (2000) Contact: Long-term Implications for Humanity. In: When SETI Succeeds: The Impact of High-Information Contact. The Foundation For the Future, Washington, pp.20.
Dawkins, R. (1996). Doomed Rivals. In: The Blind Watchmaker. Norton & Company, Inc, New York, pp.288.
Maynard Smith, J. (2000). Foreword to the Canto Edition. In: The Theory of Evolution, Cambridge University Press, U.K, pp. xv.
Shostak, S. (2003). Can Aliens Find Us? Retrieved 12:48, April 28, 2010, from


8. Why Should Hawking's Aliens Wish To Destroy?

GianCarlo Ghirardi, Ph.D., Dept. of Physics, University of Trieste, the Abdus Salam ICTP, Trieste, Italy

It is my firm conviction that, in principle, there are no reasons to exclude that there might be living creatures on other planets or celestial bodies in the cosmos.


Yet why should they wish to target and destroy the inhabited planets of the universe? To better focus the general issue let us take into account that our existence on Earth is surely quite limited on cosmological time scales, modern humans have existed for less than an eye-blink of cosmological time, and that the cosmos has a radius of various billions of light years, as well as the fact that nothing can travel faster than light.


Therefore, if these hypothetical alien beings have lived in a similar time span, then the probability that by endless travel they might reach us now or in any reasonable time interval from now, is infinitesimally small. So it seems to me that Hawking's hypothesis is not unreasonable but is more in the realm of science fiction than a realistic scenario.

Hawking has raised several issues which appear to me to be rather obscure and confusing. If aliens are microbes or human, why would these aliens wish to destroy human life?


If an alien civilization has been able to build giant spaceships which can travel through space for many many light years and have built destructive devices which would allow them to conquer, enslave, destroy and colonize the terrestrials of Earth, then their civilization must surely be more advanced, from a scientific and technological point of view, than ours. This point of view makes also me inclined to believe that these aliens could not be like microbes or insects, at least to the extent in which we attach a precise meaning, based on our experience, to these terms.


There is no evidence that microbes or insects look to the heavens and ponder questions such as "are we alone", nor is there any suggestion they would be interested in space travel. These are "human" attributes which we must not impart upon hypothetical aliens.

And if Hawking's aliens are anything like humans, then I am optimistic, in a certain sense, that their scientific development should be accompanied also by an ethical development, and might value life. Certainly these beings would realize that there is life on the earth, and would not be motivated to automatically enslave or destroy other living beings, as these are rather primitive, unthinking, reactions, and not the mark of what we might expect of a higher culture and ethics.


And if life is everywhere, then it might be expected that these alien wanderers would not only see it as pointless to destroy life, but might develop a respect for all the living creatures they would have met in their endless travel. Curiosity and the desire to acquire knowledge does not equate a desire to conquer and destroy.

The first "aliens" we encounter may not even be alive. I believe that a civilization which has developed robots is a civilizations of intelligent beings. Accordingly, they might very well send robots to explore the cosmos.


However, this again presents us with the problem of time. The time needed to journey to Earth from the nearest solar system in which intelligent life might have been evolved, is enormous, and probably comparable to the total period of existence of the considered intelligent species.


Then, which would be the purpose of sending robots to such far away regions of the cosmos that the time necessary for these robots to send back the information concerning what they have discovered would bypass the probable period of existence of the aliens of the home planety who have sent them around? Accordingly, it also seems reasonable to assume that Hawking's giant spaceship would contain both robots and their intelligent builders.


Therefore, they might take their civilization with them. However, unless they have discovered the secret of eternal life and cannot evolve or change, they again might change their minds before they reach Earth, and decide not to conquer or destroy. So, there is the possibility they could come in peace and also the one that they change their minds during the many lights years such a journey would take.

I am perfectly aware of the fact that I am tackling the problem by assuming a perspective that reflects, to a great extent, our present knowledge of the cosmos and of the natural and biological laws. An easy objection would be to configure the development of hybernation techniques allowing to preserve a living being for billions of years or to suggest that presently unknown topological structure of the cosmos would allow faster than light travels.

And then there is the idea of "shoot first and ask questions later", a view which I do not endorse.


I believe that action must be preceded by knowledge and reflection even in the case in which this might imply serious risks of destruction.

9. The Dangers of Anti-Science: Stephen Hawking’s Fear of Dangerous Aliens

Stephen Freeland, Ph.D., University of Hawaii NASA Astrobiology Institute, Institute for Astronomy, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

Scientific knowledge is quite different from the authoritatively-voiced opinions of a famous scientist.


The remarkable scientific successes that have brought professor Hawking well-deserved fame (and thus a voice that the public wants to hear) also bring a responsibility to clearly distinguish these two different types of information when commenting on the potential dangers of an encounter with extra-terrestrial intelligence.


Listeners are otherwise led to one of two incorrect inferences: that scientific knowledge exists where it does not, or that speculation is the best that science can currently offer. Both perceptions undermine the emerging and vibrant science of astrobiology.


No one has yet come up with a scientific test for Hawking’s specific claim (and that is precisely what makes his comments unscientific) but thousands are applying their ingenuity and expertise to find ways in which science can approach aspects of the bigger questions of life’s origin(s), evolution, distribution, and future in the universe (see:


Ironically, on the same evening that Hawking’s opinions were aired on U.S. television, hundreds of astrobiologists were converging in League City, Texas for the annual Astriobology Science Convention - the largest such conference in the world. Presenters include representatives from the SETI Institute, whose science focuses on the question of what science can infer regarding communications with an intelligent alien species.


I doubt that any of them will be opining about the origin and early evolution of the universe as if professor Hawking’s field of science did not exist (and if they did, this would be quickly addressed by the criticisms of colleagues in the frank exchange of knowledge that marks a healthy science).

But a deeper, underlying problem is that supposedly science-friendly mass media are actually weakening public understanding of what constitutes science when they replace scientific information with the opinions of a famous scientist.


Scientific inquiry represents just one of several approaches by which we humans form our beliefs: alternatives include pure reasoning, “arguments from authority” and instinct. Science is distinguished from these alternatives only by its focus on what can be tested empirically. Even the most brilliant minds can perceive truths that seem rational (logical) and perhaps even obvious - but which fail when formulated as testable propositions and measured against empirical observations.


Aristotle’s famously erroneous philosophy that women possess fewer teeth than men (Mayhew 2004) could have been transformed into a foundation for scientific inquiry by the simple expedient of recording careful measurements in the good-humored company of one of his wives.


The problem was not that Aristotle failed to notice this possibility -indeed, he may have started with observations for all we know (Mayhew 2004)- but his sub-culture held logical reasoning superior to the information of the senses, so no supporting empirical data were offered and it was left for later investigators to find that his reasoning had failed him.


Subsequent generations have worked hard to disentangle the strengths and weaknesses of Greek rational philosophy, sometimes finding that specific assertions possessed no more solid foundation than the authority of a famous voice. The emergence of modern science is largely the story of its invention and runaway success as a tool for distinguishing between good and bad ideas of 'natural philosophy'. This success has gone on to shape a culture that now values empirical evidence above reason: the information of our senses, properly channeled into scientific tests, is widely held as the ultimate arbiter of truth


(Evidence for this widespread cultural perspective is seen, for example, in the popularity of crime-related entertainment where detectives follow the empirical clues to confound prejudice and common-sense; the recent trend for forensic science to play a central role merely emphasizes this point).


In this context, it undermines the very notion that science has brought us progress if we now turn and blur the distinction between scientist and science.

Scientists, like rational philosophers, are humans and prone to the same range of belief-forming tendencies as the rest of us whenever they are not actively practicing their science: even the most extraordinary achievements in one dimension of scientific inquiry do not imbue a scientist’s beliefs with automatic credibility on any other topic. One example of direct relevance to the theme of panspermia concerns sir Fred Hoyle’s infamous statements for disbelieving conventional science of biological evolution (Hoyle 1981).


Although most evolutionary scientists utterly reject the “Hoyle Fallacy” as a trivial error (e.g. Dawkins 1986), Hoyle's opinions still routinely appear four decades later in anti-evolutionary literature as evidence that eminent scientists have found fundamental flaws in the theory of evolution ( Institute for Creation Research:


Thus, when Stephen Hawking (or any other scientist) find themselves speaking as a scientist on the likely nature of visiting aliens, they have a responsibility to defend the integrity of science by either demonstrating the scientific basis (empirical tests) for what is being said, or clearly explaining the other (non-scientific) credentials for their information.


Failure to do so can hardly help the growing problem of scientific illiteracy in the USA and elsewhere (California Academy of Sciences 2009).


California Academy of Sciences (2009). American Adults Flunk Basic Science. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 29, 2010, from /releases/2009/03/090312115133.htm
Dawkins R. (1986). The Blind Watchmaker. Harlow: Longman Scientific & Technical.
Hoyle, F. (1981). In "Hoyle on Evolution", Nature, 294, 105.
Mayhew, R. (2004). The Female in Aristotle's Biology. Reason or Rationalization. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004. Pp. x, 128. ISBN 0-226-51200-2.

10. Who’s Afraid of Hawking’s Aliens?

Arpita Roy, Ph.D.1, James D. Wells, Ph.D.2,3, 1Department of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley Berkeley, CA USA, 2CERN, Theory Group 385 Route de Meyrin CH-1211 Geneva 23, Switzerland, 3 Department of Physics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI USA

A dog discovers another dog at a garbage dump. The first dog bares its teeth.


This stimulates the other dog to respond by a growl. The most interesting aspects of this encounter are the signs and the stimulus given off, the absence of any verbal communication, and the sizing-up prowl of the animals. The mere sighting of the “other” is not inherently dangerous, but the subsequent engagement can be if one views it in his best interest to fight for whatever reason.


Hawking’s comment on the dangers of seeking out aliens (Hawking, 2010) provokes us to think not so much on whether aliens exist or not but on our capacity to imagine what they could be like if they were to exist, the scenarios of possible interaction, and the pragmatics of contact. Engagement with the extraterrestrial has three stages: discovery, monitoring, and contact. Discovery can be safe -- we passively look for signals of alien activity from afar. There is no reason not to do that. We would be imprudent even not to.


America spies on Canada, to name just one other hyper-careful act. On the other hand, it is not prudent to send out probes into the cosmos with a plaque bearing our return address as was the case with the Pioneer 10 and 11 space crafts, launched in 1972 and 1973.

Monitoring leads to risks as we may wish to utilize interventionist technologies to find out more, or simply approach to study the phenomenon at close range, thus provoking a reaction. Here extreme caution should be displayed, and contingencies envisioning all possible consequences should be formulated.


Contact is even more risky, with the prospect of malevolent beings colonizing and plundering us, or even benevolent or dispassionate beings unwittingly spreading diseases or agents that would destroy us. Hawking mentions the aftermath of Columbus' discovery, but it was not guns and superior technology which destroyed the Aztec civilization, but the microbes, viruses, and disease which the would be conquerors carried with them.

If aliens exist, it is inevitable that someday there will be contact. We are fully engaged in the discovery phase now, and our curiosity will inevitably lead us to contact, if they exist. They might give us insight into the origin of life and our place in the universe.


Is there a purpose to life, or is it all a cruel cosmic joke?


Christians might ask:

"Did Christ die on the cross for them?"

Others might ask:

"Do they believe in god"?

Humans look to the heavens for answers, and we might assume that what might bind us to aliens of other worlds is our desire to know more.


Hawking tells us that our curiosity may kill the cat, that looking to space for others of our kind may lead to the extinction of the human race. But this search for answers is also what makes us. We must know, even if it spells our doom, just as the male Black Widow spider must mate even though it spells his doom.

Be it radio and TV signals beamed into space, gold anodized plaques with our return address attached, or the many government and non-government programs designed to search the heavens for signs of life, if there is intelligent alien life, then someday contact will happen.

Despite Hawking’s warnings, the search continues.


Contemplation of alien life has moved up from popular films to peer reviewed journals,

“one of the sacred pillars of the scientific edifice”

(Goodstein, 2000).

Experimental studies and computer simulations suggest (Xie et al., 2010) that the cosmos is brimming with life-friendly Earth-like planets in the near cosmos. NASA and other space agencies have an ambitious program for the discovery of living planets under the name PlanetQuest (NASA, 2010).


These include the current Kepler Mission, which has already launched and achieved data (Borucki et al., 2010), and the future Terrestrial Planet Finder mission, which is slated for launch in the near future. We are making serious scientific efforts to discover if aliens exist, what they may be like, and on what planets might they live.

Perhaps we should pay heed to the findings detailed in a Brookings Report written nearly a half a century ago (Michael, 1961):

"anthropological files contain many examples of societies, sure of their place in the universe, which have disintegrated when they had to associate with previously unfamiliar societies espousing different ideas and different life ways; others that survived such an experience usually did so by paying the price of changes in values and attitudes and behavior."

History has taught us there may be a price for the search for knowledge.


And the anthropological record is replete with deadly encounters which led to the demise of those who were not prepared or equal to the challenge, such as the Neanderthals’ encounter with modern humans 30,000 years ago. However, we see no reason why we should be more afraid or less afraid this time than in the past.

In the space between paranoia and speculation, lie the clues we can pursue by diligent anthropological, astrophysical, and biological detective work, which may enable us to conceive and to prepare for the inevitable contact with intelligent aliens. In the process of this search for answers we may discover our own self just as an infant seeing its own image in the mirror marks the first step in the child’s identification of its "self" (Lacan, 1968).


It has been said that we are defined by what we are, and what we are not. Otherness, what is alien, can also be a mirror that leads to self-discovery.


Unresolved questions of our own origin and development may be fruitfully explored while working on shadowy aliens. The trope of alterity that the alien offers is a bona fide muse (Mack, 1994). Albee’s masterpiece "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" is a story replete with symbolism which speaks to the illusions which bind human relationships, but which are destroyed by the discovery of a son’s existence.


The "discovery" leaves them devastated - the original believers and nonbelievers alike. So too might the discovery of alien life devastate believers and non-believers alike. This is a price that throughout history, humans have been willing to pay, and it is this search which defines us and distinguishes us, as human.

Stephen Hawking says,

“To my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational”

(Hawking, 2010).

Even if aliens are nonexistent or there is no hope of contact, may the illusion continue - it serves us well.


Borucki, W.J. et al. (2010). Kepler Planet-Detection Mission: Introduction and First Results. Science, 327:977-980 (February 19th).
Goodstein, D. (2000). How Science Works. In: Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence, 2nd edn, Washington, DC: Federal Judicial Center, pp. 67-82.
Hawking, S. (2010) As quoted in “Abstract: Stephen Hawking’s Aliens”, Journal of Cosmology, Vol 7 (May).
Lacan, J. (1968). The Mirror-Phase as Formative of the Function of the 1. Trans. Jean Roussel. New Left Review, 51, 73-83.
Mack, J.E. (1994). Abduction: Human Encounters with Aliens. New York: Maxwell Mamillan International.
Michael, D.N., ed. (1961). Proposed Studies on the Implications of Peaceful Space Activities for Human Affairs. Brookings Institution to the 87th U.S. Congress, report No. 242. Washington, D.C.: National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
NASA (2010). PlanetQuest: Exoplanet Exploration. (Accessed 29 April 2010).
Xie, J.-W, Zhou, J.-L., Ge, J. (2010). Planetesimal Accretion in Binary Systems: Could Planets Form Around Alpha Centauri B? Astrophys J, 708, 1566.


11. Stephen Hawking Is Wrong. Earth Would Not Be A Target For Alien Conquest

Harold A. Geller, Ph.D., George Mason University, USA

On 25 April 2010 Stephen Hawking was widely quoted as saying that our species should not try to talk to aliens (Leake, 2010).


As detailed in the Abstract to these commentaries, Hawking is quoted as saying that “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.” It should be noted immediately that there are several flaws in the Hawking analogy to the invasion by White men of the Americas.


The motives of the invading Whites would be nothing like those of aliens who might contact Earth.

European explorers and Native Americans, in the days of Columbus and today still, were of the same species, Homo sapiens sapiens, which consists of males and females. Inevitably, sexual relations were a natural consequence of contact, and which produced viable offspring. Furthermore, both have the same physical, chemical, mental and intellectual attributes which mark both as human. Aliens from another planet outside our solar system will most likely not be of the same species as that of Earth.


Humans killing humans poses a decidedly moral dilemma (Washburn, 1957). Aliens killing humans, or humans killing aliens may also pose a moral dilemma, but then it may not.

Humans kill for sport, and for access to resources. Competition for scarce resources leads to conflict. But would aliens, as Hawking's envisions them, be interested in the same resources which are of value to the humans of Earth?

The probability that intelligent beings from another star system would share a common biology, chemistry, psychology and sociology with humans might be infinitesimally small. Therefore, it would be unlikely they would compete with humans for sex partners, as the biological purpose of sex is reproduction. If alien biology and chemistry is significantly different form humans, not only would they be unable to reproduce offspring with the humans of Earth, but they may not be interested in the same resources.

For example, whereas humans consist of right handed sugars and left handed amino acids exclusively, such is not likely (p=0.25) to be the case with alien species assuming they use sugars and amino acids (Zubay, 2000).


Would Hawking's aliens also use ATP as their cellular energy transfer molecule? Although this is not a determinable likelihood, but if not, then it can be assumed that Hawking's aliens would not be interested in preying upon and consuming humans or other animals or vegetable matter as an energy source. Why would an alien species bother with our cellular bodies?

Furthermore, if the alien species has, as Hawking states “used up all the resources from their home planet,” why bother to traverse interstellar space for these resources? The resources available to the alien species are much more likely to be available on other planets in the alien’s home solar system, and can be acquired at a much reduced energy cost.

But Hawking may insist that the aliens have used up all the resources in their star’s system.


However, if Hawking's aliens are sufficiently intelligent to exploit all sources of energy, including from their sun, wouldn't they also be intelligent or wise enough to plan ahead for the future so they do not consume all their energy sources? And if they did not plan ahead, how is it then they would have enough energy available to supply a fleet of giant space ships to travel across interstellar space to far away and distant planets?

An expedition, or alien armada targeting Earth, also implies that the aliens knew years in advance that another star system exists which would be ideal for them. However, if that were the case, then they would logically immediately disperse an expedition to that star system and not use up their own system’s resources first.


While this may be analogous to the colonization of the Americas here on Earth, the time required to cross interstellar space is not analogous to the time required to cross the Atlantic Ocean, even in 1492.


This appears to lead to a circular reason for any space travel by such a civilization, and it ignores the energy requirements of space travel itself, which have long been known (McNutt et al., 2002).

Research into the energy requirements of interstellar space travel has determined that energy efficient mechanisms must be developed which require at the very minimal, an energy equivalence to fusion reactors, or even better, anti-matter reactors (Crawford, 1990).


Such energy efficient mechanisms for propelling space craft interstellar distances would likely be fueled by some form of hydrogen or one of its isotopes. This leads one to believe that the largest requirement of an interstellar alien species would be hydrogen or some isotope thereof.


Why go to another star system just for hydrogen, the most abundant chemical element in the universe?


It is simply not reasonable that such aliens would traipse about the galaxy just to pilfer the puny resources of a tiny planet laden with such heavy elements when it is the lightest most abundant gasses they would most likely require. As to the possibility Hawking's aliens might desire heavy metal elements such as would be found on a planet like Earth, these same elements could be produced as the byproduct of a fusion engine, the very source of energy which may be used by any space faring alien civilization (Crawford, 1990).


In fact, as far back as 1986, Michael Harris of the University of Texas suggested that gamma-ray telescopes could be used to search the skies for the exhaust of interstellar spacecraft, as the exhaust would most definitely include gamma-ray radiation (Harris, 1986).

Then there is the energy of the sun. Our galaxy is estimated to contain at least 500 billion stars. Andromeda is believed to consist of over a trillion suns (Mould, et al., 2008). If it is the energy of the sun they require, then given the rather small stature of our sun, and the greater abundance of more desirable and larger stars, it would seem the Earth and our solar system would not be of interest to alien invaders.

Thus, it would appear that Professor Hawking is needlessly worrying about invasion and conquest by aliens.


Also, it is way too late for any ban on communications which might be intercepted by extraterrestrial intelligences. This planet has emanated radio frequency electromagnetic radiation in all directions for the better part of a century. If there were an alien species listening within 50 light years or so, and if they were capable, they will be here soon enough.


And if they are able to make the voyage, they won’t do so to get a natural resource that they can easily produce from nearby stars, hydrogen gas, or the very engines that bring them to this planet.


Crawford, I.A. (1990). Interstellar Travel: A Review for Astronomers. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society, 31: 377-400.
Harris, M. J. (1986). On the detectability of antimatter propulsion spacecraft. Astrophysics and Space Science, 123: 197-203.
Leake, J. (2010). Don’t talk to aliens, warns Stephen Hawking. The Sunday Times, 25 April 2010, available online at
McNutt, R.L., Andrews, G.B., McAdams, J., Gold, R.E., Santo, A., Oursler, D., Heeres, K., Fraeman, M., and Williams, B. (2003). Low-cost interstellar probe. Acta Astronautica, 52: 267-279.
Mould, J., et al., (2008). A Point-Source Survey of M31 with the Spitzer Space Telescope. ApJ 687 230-241.
Washburn, W.E. (1957). A Moral History of Indian-White Relations: Needs and Opportunities for Study. Ethnohistory, 4(1): 47-61.
Zubay, G. (2000). Origins of Life on the Earth and in the Cosmos. New York: Harcourt Academic Press.

12. Uninvited Guests

Peter Sturrock, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of Applied Physics, Stanford University, Standord, CA, USA.

Dr. Stephen Hawking has recently speculated about the danger that Earth may receive uninvited visitors from outer space. He raises an important issue that needs to be taken seriously.


However, he does not begin at the beginning: Hawking neglects to ask whether the Earth has already received such visitors. This is a question that I have thought about for some time, and I find that it does not admit of a simple, definitive answer. One can find evidence that is suggestive of visitation, but hard evidence is either elusive or non-existent.

Nevertheless, if the scientific community is going to start thinking honestly and open-mindedly about alien visitation, it would be unscientific to ignore any potentially relevant evidence, including so-called “UFO” reports. This will not be an easy undertaking: if we give credence only to reports that make sense to us and that describe phenomena we can readily understand in terms of our current scientific knowledge, we may well be throwing out the baby with the bathwater.


Arthur C. Clarke’s third law is that,

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

So maybe we need to deliberately seek out phenomena that do not make sense, and are incompatible with our current scientific knowledge. No one said that revolutionary science should be easy.

In 1975, I carried out a survey of the membership of the American Astronomical Society to solicit opinions concerning the so-called “UFO” phenomenon, focusing on two questions:

  1. Did the respondent consider that the topic deserved scientific investigation?

  2. Had the respondent ever witnessed an event that seemed related to so-called UFO reports?

Most respondents replied positively to the first question, and 5 percent responded positively to the second question. (For details, see Sturrock 2009).

In 1997, at the initiative of the late Laurance S. Rockefeller, I organized a review of possible physical evidence. This event involved a panel of nine distinguished scientists, co-chaired by Dr. Von Eshleman and Dr. Thomas Holzer, and eight experienced UFO investigators (Sturrock 1999).


The review panel was understandably and appropriately cautious in formulating their conclusions, but they made the following observations:

  • The UFO problem is not a simple one, and it is unlikely that there is any simple universal answer, and

  • Whenever there are unexplained observations, there is the possibility that scientists will learn something new by studying those observations.

The panel also offered the following comment concerning the highly influential “Condon Report” (1969).


Condon had asserted that,

“nothing has come from the study of UFOs in the past 21 years that has added to scientific knowledge,” and that “further extensive study of UFOs probably cannot be justified in the expectation that science will be advanced thereby.”

The Rockefeller Panel agreed with the first conclusion, but not with the second, writing:

“There always exists the possibility that investigation of an unexplained phenomenon may lead to an advance in scientific knowledge.”

Which may perhaps - with some license - be paraphrased as “Aliens or no aliens, we have a problem on our hands.”

Reflecting on Hawking’s concerns about “alien predators who may arrive in giant space ships to conquer… and to exploit the resources of Earth,” I would suggest that aliens may not all be the same.


Any species that has a secure and happy home may well have a benevolent attitude towards our adolescent civilization on Earth, but any species that is on a dying planet, and is desperately trying to find somewhere else to live, may not have our best interests at heart. To look on the bright side - advanced civilizations may have a code of ethics that would give us some protection.


But - to look on the dark side - they may not. If we do still have a choice of trying to make contact with alien civilizations (wherever they may be) or keeping quiet, my personal recommendation would be the latter.

Dr. Hawking has raised provocative questions that deserve careful study including theoretical analyses and other forms of speculation.


However, we should also reflect carefully on his basic but unstated assumption that Earth has not already received uninvited guests.


Condon, E. U., and Gillmor, D.S. (1969). Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects, Bantam, New York.
Sturrock, P. A. (1999). The UFO Enigma, Warner Books, New York.
Sturrock, P. A. (2009). A Tale of Two Sciences: Memoirs of a Dissident Scientist. Exoscience.

13. Evolution and Alien Visitors From the Stars

Rhawn Joseph, Ph.D. -Emeritus, Brain Research Laboratory, Northern California.


In 1972 and 1973, NASA attached a pair of gold anodized aluminum plaques to the Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 spacecraft, in the hope they would be intercepted by aliens.


The plaques featured a nude male and female, along with several symbols designed to tell extraterrestrials about humans and the location of the Earth.

In 1977 NASA sent a complex recorded message to the peoples of other planets: the Voyager Golden Record, which was attached to the Voyager spacecraft. This was NASA's way of saying to Aliens: "hello!"

So far, Aliens have not responded.

If there is complex ET life, is it a bad idea to make our presence known? Are we announcing to predators:

"Come and get it?" or to would be conquerors: "We have a great planet, why don't you kill us and make it your own?!!"

If "aliens" are anything like humans, then perhaps we should be afraid, very afraid.... for the likelihood is they would conquer, destroy, exploit, and enslave.

And if they came in peace, the likelihood is the humans of Earth would attack them and seek to conquer, exploit, "study," and enslave...

Some scientists believe life exists only on Earth.


Others such as Beer, King, Livio, and Pringle, propose that life in the universe is rare. Nobel Laureates Svante Arrhenius and Francis Crick, and esteemed scientists including Lord Kelvin, Hermann von Helmholtz, Sir Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe, are of the opinion that life may be pervasive throughout the cosmos.


This is also the view of this author: the genetic seeds of life swarm throughout the cosmos and life arrived on the early Earth buried in planetary debris; the possible remnants of the parent star which gave birth to our own (Joseph 2009a,b; Joseph and Schild 2010a,b).

If these theories are correct, life may have taken root and evolved on innumerable worlds much older than our own.

Or perhaps ET life is limited to microbes, or ET does not exist at all.

From the perspective of a hypothetical ET, maybe what has taken place on this planet is so common and mundane, there is no motivation to communicate with a world that is just like a trillion other planets swarming with human-like creatures. Or maybe the humans of Earth are so violent we have been cut off from the rest of the cosmos, isolated, like a disease.

The nature of life, is death, over 99% of all species have become extinct.


If the history of the Earth were a 24-hour clock, fully modern humans have been on this planet for only 15 seconds. Unlike other animals, humans flirt with species-wide mass suicide and mutual self-destruction. The human animal can also become extinct. Maybe this is what the future has in store.

If human life evolved on other worlds, perhaps they are no more; self-destructing in poisoned planets or the nuclear fires of their own making. Maybe this is a pattern throughout the cosmos: humans evolve and destroy human-life, bequeathing their planets to insects and microbes: the end.

...And before the universe could take a breath, they were no more.

Given our own curiosity as to life elsewhere in the cosmos, it is certainly conceivable that some of those who have evolved in the more ancient corners of the cosmos might be interested in and quite capable of not just observing, but visiting the Earth.


If that is the case, it might be asked, then why don't they announce themselves and open up lines of communication?

Perhaps, like good anthropologists they merely observe and gather information, and for the most part leave Earthlings to behave largely unmolested. Speculating wildly, maybe it is even against some type of Cosmic law. Or there is little or no motivation to visit a world that is just like a trillion other planets swarming with violent, sex-obsessed, power-hungry human-like creatures.

Or, perhaps the humans that evolved on other worlds self-destructed in the nuclear fires of their own making. That is, life appears, undergoes metamorphosis, humans emerge only to destroy human-life, the end.

As humans have a propensity for exploration, curiosity and the seeking of knowledge, it could be assumed that those aliens who have reached a similar or advanced level of neurological development would, like Earthlings, share similar social-emotional, and intellectual inclinations, including curiosity, jealously, and pride.


Regardless of differences in physical appearance, some advanced alien species - at least those who have evolved from mammal-like creatures - would likely behave, feel, and think in a manner grossly similar to human earthlings.

For example, like humans, it might be expected that some aliens would thirst for knowledge, or revel in games, sports, competition, conquest, exploitative acquisition, and the glory of rape and slaughter of war. Like modern humans, some aliens would be conquering, enslaving, predatory killers, with little or no compassion for the vanquished.


Some aliens might be expected to behave in an irrational and destructive manner, whereas yet others would be seekers of knowledge, wisdom, and spiritual growth.

It is naive, however, to believe that radio or TV transmissions are a yardstick for the measure of intelligent alien life. Highly creative, artistic, talented, and intelligent humans sporting a brain 1/3 larger than modern humans, stalked the Earth over 30,000 years ago. Without benefit of radio, TV, or electricity, Neolithic cultures built Stonehenge, the ancient Egyptians erected the pyramids and in ancient China the "Great Wall."


The ancient Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Mayans, and peoples of India, and so on, developed science, culture, religion, and created monumental buildings, temples, and empires - all without the benefit of radio, TV or vehicles which could propel them through space.


The failure to detect electronic transmissions or space craft from other planets does not mean we are "alone."

Moreover, on some worlds, highly intelligent species, with an intellect comparable or far superior to humans, may have "evolved" from mammals other than primates, such as wolves and canines, or even insects or plants. Indeed, there may be "dog stars" where upright Canis sapiens sapiens stare into space wondering if they are alone; and planets blooming and buzzing with highly evolved intelligent vegetable and insect life.

On some ancient worlds, mammals may never have evolved, such that the metamorphosis of increasingly intelligent life arose from a completely different branch of the forest of life.


The direct line leading to hominids may have been killed off due, perhaps, to that planet's unique environment, climate, atmosphere, gravity, and distance from the sun, and/or because the planet passed through a viral cloud of contagion or was struck by massive debris which chopped off the branch that would lead to primates just before that branch began to bloom.


Consider, as a further thought experiments, the future of human evolution on this planet.


If science marches on, and given advances in genetic engineering, the creation of designer babies, designer babies designing their own superior babies, future humans which genetically engineer their own brains and bodies... and imagine the nature of human life 1000 years from now.


What of humans a million years from now? Or a hundred million? Or a billion?


Then what of those planets which shine in the darkness of night which were formed billions of years before the Earth became a twinkle in god's eye. If life evolved on these ancient worlds, what might they be capable of as compared to the humans of Earth?

From the perspective of modern humans, these evolutionary advanced alien humans might seem as gods, even if they were still humans. And modern humans might seem like reptiles in comparison.


Indeed, even the "gods" may have "gods" who have "gods", and if some of these "gods" are devils and if they ever set their alien eyes on planet Earth, Hawking's nightmare vision could become a hellish reality.



Joseph, R. (2009a). Life on Earth Came From Other Planets, Journal of Cosmology, 1, 1-56.
Joseph, R. (2009b). The evolution of life from other planets. Journal of Cosmology, 1, 100-150.
Joseph R., and Schild, R. (2010a). Origins, Evolution, and Distribution of Life in the Cosmos: Panspermia, Genetics, Microbes, and Viral Visitors From the Stars. Journal of Cosmology, 2010, Vol 7, IN PRESS
Joseph R., and Schild, R. (2010b). Biological Cosmology and the Origins of Life in the Universe. Journal of Cosmology, 5, 1040-1090.
Joseph, R., and Wickramasinghe, C. (2010). Comets and contagion: Evolution and diseases from space. Journal of Cosmology, 7. In press.