The Reason Stephen Hawking Thought Aliens Would Kill Us

World-renowned astrophysicist and all-around "smart guy" Stephen Hawking is in the top three most famous scientists in popular culture, right next to Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye, and he's had a lot to say about a lot of things. He wrote several books, appeared in a multitude of documentaries, and, you know, was involved with actual sciency stuff. Hawking discovered that black holes emit a special type of radiation, which in turn made it possible for scientists to study the invisible phenomena in practice. As opposed to ramming their heads against the wall until they pass out, also known as "theory."

Hawking tackled the idea of singularities, Cosmic Inflation Theory, the wave function of the universe, and all sorts of other things neither you nor we could rationally discuss without a few more years of physics classes. He knew more about the universe than most of us. Basically, we should take whatever Hawking believed with a sense of weight. Even when he suggested that aliens would kill us.

Europeans are the prime example

Hawking didn't see much difference between traveling between continents and traveling between solar systems. The main difference is we can do one but not the other. Not yet, anyway. If we could make that interstellar journey, it might not be the best idea humans ever had. If we find life out among the stars, who's to say they won't simply kill us on contact? As far as Hawking was concerned, Europeans are the prime example for how our interaction with an alien species would play out. Do you remember all those good deeds Europeans performed each time they arrived at a continent for the first time? Yeah, neither do we. Each time there was a new world for Europeans to explore or trade with, they did what Europeans tended to do: They killed a bunch of people, stole land and resources, colonized, and/or outright enslaved them.

Hawking's warning is posted on The Mary Sue: "If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn't turn out well for the Native Americans." The guy's not wrong about that. Did Hawking even believe in alien life? Of course he did. The universe is a big place. There's bound to be life out there somewhere. As the BBC reported, he also believed it was perfectly rational to assume that aliens would plunder Earth's resources and leave us for dead. Such optimism.