We're ready for it
A new documentary series created by Stephen Hawking posits the mathematical certainty of extraterrestrial life — but the brilliant theoretical scientist recommends against trying to establish contact. "To my mathematical brain, the numbers [of planets] alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational," Hawking says. "The real challenge is to work out what aliens might actually be like." That's where the sense of caution sets in, because if they're anything like us — rapacious warlike predators — then perhaps keeping a certain amount of distance is the better part of valor. As Hawking puts it:
"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."
Hey, wait a minute: is he talking about the aliens — or us? Untethered from solid ground — and from reality — rampaging across the known universe, plundering everything in their path. That sounds like our ruling class, all right, and it's certainly no surprise they're extending their hubris into outer space, as the Times of London reports:
"The mysterious X37B, launched successfully by the US Air Force from Cape Canaveral on Thursday … is officially described as an orbital test vehicle. However, one of its potential uses appears to be to launch a surge of small satellites during periods of high international tension. This would enable America to have eyes and ears orbiting above any potential troublespot in the world."
Oh, those troublesome "troublespots" — like Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Texas. No need to worry, however: the US government has got just the fix. The X37B perfectly embodies our rulers' faith in science and technology as the answer to all their problems, including the age-old political and military problem of how to impose their will on an unwilling populace. The Pentagon has a plan:
"The X37B can stay in orbit for up to 270 days, whereas the Shuttle can last only 16 days. This will provide the US with the ability to carry out experiments for long periods, including the testing of new laser weapon systems."
Good old American ingenuity, I see it's making a comeback, albeit in the most malign manner imaginable. At any rate, we're ready for those space aliens. Or are we? Hawking opines:
"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."
April 28, 2010
Justin Raimondo [send him mail] is editorial director of Antiwar.com and is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard and Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement.
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