Scientists Are Ignoring This Grave Warning Stephen Hawking Made Before His Death

Today, everybody on social media seems to be an authority on everything. From science to finance and history, there's no breaking news story that isn't torn apart by would-be experts around the world within moments.

This is nothing new. Sports fans have long been declaring themselves more knowledgeable than professional coaches since time immemorial, but the Internet has simply allowed people to instantly tell the whole world how right they are. So obfuscating can all this be at times, we sometimes tend to lose sight of the words of true authorities on a given topic.

There was no more qualified authority on matters of science than late great Dr. Stephen Hawking – though people didn't always listen to him. As Britannica reports, Hawking's research focused on the seemingly impossible and baffling subject of black holes, which he attempted to decode for non-genius minds with publications like 1988's iconic "A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes." On the subject of the mysteries of space, then, Hawking was a man to listen to. It seems, however, that his warning about seeking contact with aliens has gone unheeded.

The most detailed message we've sent to space yet?

Naturally, there's still no evidence that aliens are truly out there. None have popped over for harsh words about what exactly we're doing to our planet just yet, so the jury is still out on this most fascinating of topics. One thing we do know, however, is that space is mind-bogglingly vast. The European Space Agency suggests that the Milky Way is home to around 100 thousand million stars, and when you consider the sheer millions of universes beyond, the scale of it all is simply incomprehensible.

Surely there's something else, somewhere out there? Whether we'll like the answer or not, it's a question that scientists just can't help asking. In 2023, Ars Technica reports that humanity will make its greatest effort yet to contact beings from other planets. The "A Beacon in the Galaxy" message, per Jonathan H. Jiang et al (via Cornell University), is described as "an updated, binary-coded message ... for transmission to extraterrestrial intelligences in the Milky Way galaxy." The intention of this message is to "establish a universal means of communication followed by information on the biochemical composition of life on Earth ... as well as digitized depictions of the Solar System, and Earth's surface."

Ars Technica goes on to explain that this information-laden message is intended to be sent via China's Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST). Should we be sending all this information out into the reaches of space? Stephen Hawking thought not.

Who's listening?

In his 2010 Discovery Channel Documentary "Into The Universe With Stephen Hawking," per The Guardian, Hawking discussed his fear that any extraterrestrial visitors may well not come in peace. "The numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational," he said, musing on the absurd scale of space. Would beings intelligent enough to interpret such messages as FAST's pose a threat? Hawking feared it's a real possibility, stating that they would have "perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonize whatever planets they can reach."

Newsweek reports that the iconic physicist shared this view again five years later. Speaking at the beginning of Breakthrough Listen (a scientific endeavor to potentially discover radio waves of alien origin), he reportedly said that "If you look at history, contact between humans and less intelligent organisms have often been disastrous from their point of view." Any prospective aliens encountered, he went on, "may not see us as any more valuable than we see bacteria."

Matthew Chong, who worked on a paper detailing the proposed project for Cambridge University, reportedly stated to Newsweek that it is "extended from the 1974 Arecibo message and the 1999/2003 Cosmic Call." In short, we have been reaching out to space for a long time, but this is exactly what Hawking was warning us about. Listen, study and learn like any scientist should, yes, but calling out for a response may be asking for trouble.