Sunday, April 25, 2010
Stephen Hawking warns over making contact with aliens
Mr Hawking says it is 'perfectly rational' to believe in aliens
Aliens almost certainly exist but humans should avoid making contact, Professor Stephen Hawking has warned.
In a series for the Discovery Channel the renowned astrophysicist said it was "perfectly rational" to assume intelligent life exists elsewhere.
But he warned that aliens might simply raid Earth for resources, then move on.
"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," he said.
Prof Hawking thinks that, rather than actively trying to communicate with extra-terrestrials, humans should do everything possible to avoid contact.
He explained: "We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn't want to meet."
The real challenge is to work out what aliens might actually be like
In the past probes have been sent into space with engravings of human on board and diagrams showing the location of our planet.
Radio beams have been fired into space in the hope of reaching alien civilisations.
Prof Hawking said: "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."
The programme envisages numerous alien species including two-legged herbivores and yellow, lizard-like predators.
But Prof Hawking conceded most life elsewhere in the universe is likely to consist of simple microbes.
In the recent BBC series Wonders of the Solar System, Professor Brian Cox, a physicist from the University of Manchester, also suggested life may exist elsewhere within our solar system.
He said organisms could be present under the ice sheet that envelops Europa, one of Jupiter's moons.
Professor Cox added: "Closer to home, the evidence that life could exist on Mars is growing.
"We will only know for sure when the next generation of spacecraft, fine-tuned to search for life, are launched to the moons of Jupiter and the arid plains of Mars in the coming decades."
Posted by Steve Douglass at 5:53 PM
Tehran, Iran (CNN) -- Iran said Sunday it fired five new types of locally-made coast-to-sea and sea-to-sea missiles in the last stage of its "Great Prophet 5" military maneuvers in the Persian Gulf.
The missiles were fired simultaneously and struck a single target at the same time -- a feat the Revolutionary Guard Corps described to the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting as "very important."
The military exercises on Sunday also included high-speed boats waging a "war" against a warship.
The maneuvers fell on the 31st anniversary of the elite force and were designed to demonstrate new weapons systems.
Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami, deputy chief of the Revolutionary Guard told Iranian media that the exercises were aimed at demonstrating Iran's "strength, will and national resolve to defend independence and territorial integrity.
The U.S. military official noted there have been several Iranian exercises in the past, but this one received attention because the Revolutionary Guard Corps discussed it publicly in advance.
The U.S. Navy currently is operating several warships in the region, and commanders are often reminded not to let any encounters with Iranians inadvertently escalate.
Iran's missile development is being watched closely by the United States, which is pressing for tougher sanctions against the Islamic republic for its controversial nuclear program.
Posted by Steve Douglass at 11:01 AM
Seoul, South Korea (CNN) -- An explosion at close range, and not a direct hit, caused the 1,200-ton patrol ship Cheonan to sink last month, a team of South Korean military and civilian investigators has tentatively concluded.
The investigators' determination was reported Sunday by the Yonhap news agency.
"Instead of being directly hit by a torpedo or other underwater weapon, the Cheonan was affected by a strong explosion that occurred below its bottom at a close range," the news agency quoted a government official as saying.
The explanation matches one that investigators offered shortly after the ship's stern was salvaged 10 days ago.
A final result is not expected for a month, Defense Minister Kim Tae-young told reporters.
He said that the most likely cause of the sinking was a "bubble jet" created by the external explosion under the ship.
A bubble jet effect occurs when an explosion goes off under a ship. The change in pressure causes a huge column of water that strikes the ship with great impact.
On Saturday, recovery crews found the body of a missing sailor in the wreckage of the ship.
The ship sunk in the Yellow Sea near the western sea border with North Korea on March 26.
Forty of Cheonan's 104 crew members have now been confirmed dead, and six more are also believed dead, though they are still listed as missing.
Fifty eight others were rescued before the vessel sank.
South Korea has not ruled out a theory that North Korea was involved.
But Seoul has avoided directly blaming North Korea, which sloughed off allegations it is responsible.
The families of the dead sailors began a five-day mourning period on Sunday.
On Thursday, the South Korean navy will hold a funeral ceremony at a naval command in Pyeongtaek, about 70 kilometers (43 miles) south of Seoul.
The navy has also decided to posthumously promote the dead seamen by one rank and award them a military honor for their patriotism.
Posted by Steve Douglass at 10:47 AM