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Do famous physicists (Kaku and Hawking) pass off asumptions as fact?

  1. Jun 5, 2014 #1
    Hello all,
    I will freely admit I suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and now that it is well managed I tend to attach my obsessions over interest. One thing I tend to obsess about is the possibility of aliens. I think about the fact that us humans are the only technological creatures on this planet, that we know of at least, with a deep understanding of natural laws and a language used to describe it, physics, calculus, etc. Then we use this as an immensley powerful language to manipulate raw elements into technology... cars, aircraft, cities, electronics etc. Essentially, we are a technological civilization with engineering. It really bothers me that our technological advancement is all relative, we are living in a magical miracle world to our great ancestors of the past but we won't seem quite as impressive in the future.

    I kind of enjoy marveling at modern technology, but it does bug me that there is a real possibility of other technological civilizations, possibly some that are more advanced then ourselves. I usually just think about the shear size of the universe, the amount of stars in a single galaxy, and how many galaxies exist, and even the shear size of a galaxy alone and the life that could fill a single galaxy.

    But when it comes down to it, my mind is just speculating, just assuming and imagining probable possibilities. Most people could do the same thing as me. In fact, my best friend in mechanical engineering school and I discuss possibilities alot.

    But at the core, Fact is we don't know whats all out there, we don't know how common life is and how common technological civilizations are. And I don't think we can say with much certainty at all where us humans fall in terms of technological capabilities relative to other possible civilizations.

    It seems like physicists like Michio Kaku and Stephen Hawking just freely speculate about aliens being far more advanced than us, and I suppose to reach us they would have to be, but it seems like they dramatize their assumptions like "Oh all aliens are more advanced than us by a long shot and will come and kill us all" when we simply have no idea what is out there. Not to mention we really have no idea what intentions are of other civilizations. Seems like if we can mine asteroids for resources and are already starting to plan to settle new societies on Mars than, for a superior race, what is the point of taking over a world that already has advanced life with all this infrastructure built into it like major cities with militaries that will put up resistance. Even if they could easily wipe us out, seems like for the kind of society Kaku and Hawking speculate they could easily just settle on planets lacking of technological life. But like I said I don't think Michio Kaku or Hawking should just sound so sure with these bold assumptions when we haven't even found evidence of life yet. And I could speculate just as well that humans could be one of the most technologically advanced life but we simply don't yet know whats all out there. The other thing that bothers me is that Kaku titles us a "type 0" civilization to make us sound extra primitive when all it is is an arbitrarily made up scale when we don't even know of the characteristics of other life.

    I believe there is probably an abundance of alien life, but we don't know if it is rare or common and technological life may be extremley rare or quite common, but we don't know.

    I had a physics tutor at school tell me that alot of these physics TV shows about space are heavily dramatized. Is this true?
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 5, 2014 #2


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    Personally, I have never heard of Michio Kaku or Stephen Hawking saying anything about "aliens" much less asserting that they exist! Could you give a specific reference? In any case, the existence or non-existence of aliens, or whether they are more advanced or not is NOT a matter of physics which is their area of expertise.
  4. Jun 5, 2014 #3
    I think the level of aliens depends on what batch their planet was created in, and if said batch had planets which contained enough useful metals and rare resources.
  5. Jun 5, 2014 #4


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    I agree. We have only got one astronomical object with life in our sample selection. Because of this, I'm personally very cautious regarding speculations about alien life. Another thing to keep in mind is that we don't know how big the entire Universe is (compare observable universe with the Universe).

    Yes, and not only physics TV shows about space, there are many quite speculative and dramatized science programs in general. I'd say it's actually a range, from very good to ok to really bad (and it can also sometimes be somewhat subjective what is good or not, depending on the scope and topics of the show).
  6. Jun 6, 2014 #5


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    Human history shows that when an advanced civilisation meets a less advanced civilisation the latter comes off badly (The discovery of America wasn't good for native Americans).

    In order for aliens to visit earth today they would need to be more advanced then we are (we aren't advanced enough to visit them!). So it's reasonable to assume that if aliens visited us today things might not go very well for us.
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