Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Temper Tantrum Tuesday: Hawking vs. Alien

Rarely do I get a chance to disagree with Stephen Hawkings, that’s my wife’s job (I can’t do math at that high a level). But he recently made a statement that I feel is wrong.

He said that we should avoid getting the attention of any Extra-Terrestrial Life because they might come to Earth to pillage us for our resources.

This might sound strange coming from the author of a book about Aliens taking over the Earth, but an advanced civilization wouldn’t need our resources. The Earth is a rich planet but as far as metals, gems, and minerals it can’t beat the asteroid belt.

A small asteroid 1-kilometer in diameter has more than twice the nickel/iron than we extract from the Earth’s crust in a year. All of the precious metals that we use for our industrial society originally came from asteroids hitting the Earth. So it would be foolish for an Alien society to raid our planet for stuff they would have to fly by to get.

If there is an advanced civilization close enough to worry about us the reason for them to come by and say, “Hi” is a little different. That reason comes from some of the mathematics done by Stephen Hawking.

In Newtonian Physics momentum is the product of the mass and velocity of an object (p = mv). If a one-ton object were to hit a planet the size of the Earth at one-third the speed of light, that planet would be broken to pieces.

Hawking looked at the effects that an object moving at that speed would have on space-time and noticed that it would cause gravimetric ripples. Currently we don’t have equipment sensitive enough to detect these ripples, but there is no physical reason they can’t be built.

Achieving the ability to send a spacecraft at one-third the speed of light would be the inter-stellar equivalent to nuclear power, it has great power that can be used for both good and evil.

In my book, Invasive Thoughts, the reason the Aliens came to Earth was to preemptively prevent us from developing this ability.

If there is an advanced civilization with inhibited planets within 100 light-years of Earth a major concern of theirs will be making sure we don’t use the power to send objects at one-third the speed of light at their planets. The best-case scenario is they will be like the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and force us to abide to treaties we never took part of. The worst-case scenario is they just take over like in my book.

At the moment we are simply not worth the trouble for aliens to invade us, but in the next few centuries we could have the power to get their attention. The most likely way we’ll get the attention of an advanced civilization comes from something Hawking envisioned, a small stable black hole that “leaks” Hawking Radiation to power a spacecraft at near the speed of light.

So Hawking is wrong about Aliens wanting to invade for our resources, but they might invade to save themselves from something based on the equations done by Stephen Hawking.

Darrell B. Nelson author of Invasive Thoughts


Stephanie Barr said...

I'm with you. There are few if any resources that aren't far more readily obtained elsewhere in the solar system or, in fact, anywhere in the universe.

Except for a habitable environment (if they need what we need). Except human ingenuity. Although one could make the argument that anyone capable of extra-solar system space travel is ingenious enough, I truly see humans as the only reason to "attack" the world. But I see more than one reason.

If the aliens are technological thieves, of course, they might be interested in any technology they don't already possess. Being more advanced does not mean they have everything we have; who knows if they're advancement follows the same path? If they covet our technology or inventive minds (because they can't invent but steal), they might reasonably intend to enslave.

If they are threatened by our the potential of our advancement or our different way of thinking (which may or may not be indicative of the larger world)or just want to colonize a habitable planet and consider us so much indigenous fauna, they might try to eradicate us.

It might not have anything to do with space science but instead be medicine or other sciences. After all, just because you broke the sound barrier, doesn't mean you stumbled across antibiotics.

Project Savior said...

I doubt it would be medicine, as space travel will open up that field more than we can imagine as we can see how life evolved independently of each other and find out what in life is necessary and what is just random chance held over because it worked well enough.
But the other stuff I agree with you on. But I do think trade would be a more likely scenario than war, we could turn into the galactic version of the Japanese who were forced into trading with the US.
A few centuries from now pictures of us doing things could circulate the galactic version of the internet and get the caption "Only on Earth" just like we do to Japan now.

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