Earth’s 50-Light-Year Long Electronic “Calling Card”

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SETI's chief Astronomer, Seth Shostak, has pointed out that 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 of our radio and TV transmissions –everyday a new stellar system is exposed to signals from Earth.


Stephen Hawking has voiced concern about the dangers, he believes, are posed by alien predators who may arrive in to conquer, enslave, destroy, colonize, and exploit the resources of Earth, an assertion that is analogous to what is known as the “The Wisdom Principle," which says that “any advanced civilization in the universe does not want to be visited ‘first’ by any other more advanced civilization."

In short, it would be ‘wise’ of a civilization to ensure that it does not play host to any advanced alien race.

"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" said Hawking. 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."

The Darwinian evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins has speculated that life in the universe will be ruled by natural selection. In The Blind Watchmaker he wrote:  “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."

A similar observation was made by John Maynard Smith in 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."

It has also been speculated that the Darwinian natural selection will hold universally and so would the famous “survival of the fittest” concept, which could naturally lead us to believe that aggressive instincts could be present in aliens as well. The premise of Dr. Stephen Hawkings’s recent warning and that of the "Wisdom Principle" is one 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?

For the human species to explore 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. Based on our experience so far on Planet Earth's ISS, we might make it.

The Daily Galaxy via:

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.

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