Monday, April 26, 2010
GOOD NEWS...AND BAD NEWS
So there is good news…..and there is bad news. Sometimes it is hard to figure out which is which.
Stephen Hawking is still alive and well, lecturing and thinking up new things, and I do think this is good news. Now unfortunately I can’t understand anything he has been thinking about, being that it has to do with mathematics, in which I am a total, complete dunce. But just as I had to believe that Einstein knew what he was talking about, I tend to give Hawking the benefit of the doubt too. He is a man with a brilliant mind, a British astrophysicist who has not let his awful physical affliction (a neuro-muscular dystrophy related to ALS), defeat him.
But the bad news is that in a new documentary Hawking goes on record as saying that he is almost certain that alien life exists in other parts of the universe and uses a mathematical basis for his assumptions. "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."
So why is that bad? In an April 5 lecture in London he suggested that an alien visit probably wouldn't go well for Earthlings. He posits that a visit by extraterrestrials to Earth would be like Christopher Columbus arriving in the Americas, "which didn't turn out very well for the Native Americans." He speculates most extraterrestrial life will be similar to microbes, or small animals - but adds advanced lifeforms may be "nomads, looking to conquer and colonize."
I read that The Discovery Channel will broadcast "Stephen Hawking's Universe" in Britain next month. I don’t know if we will eventually get it here in the US or not. Furthermore, if we do I’m not sure I will watch it. I likely will not, as I do not like to hear bad news. I tend to wake up in the night and think about them, especially about the longshot of seeing extra-terrestrial aliens outside my bedroom window, which is right beside my bed.
Now I’m not saying I am apt to get nervous about this happening, but I hark back to the mid 1960s when I read the book “Incident at Exeter,” shown above. After reading that book, for several years I could not look out of a car window at night for fear of seeing a UFO hovering nearby. So knowing of Hawking’s prognostications and especially seeing him talk about them is not good for my mental health. In the daytime I can say “Que sera, sera” all I want and put to rest all the stupid things that I think might happen. But in the middle of the night when I wake up and my mind latches on some outlandish thing to mull over, it is a different story.
So I’m truly glad Hawking is still alive and well and thinking big thoughts. That is the good news. However, I am not even going to talk anymore about the bad news.