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Across Species

Willofeywa September 26, 2010 User blog:Willofeywa

There is a growing buzz in the media community, enough to rival the surging interest in 2012 activities (which I will for the time being leave out of this discussion), and that is the idea of interaction with other species and civilizations. Two of the leading experts on extraterrestrial interaction in particular have been getting an increased amount of attention because of their widely varying opinions on the matter: the brilliant Stephen Hawking, and the late Carl Sagan (1934-1996).

Hawking is one of the highest regarded scientists alive today and has left an indelible impact on modern astrophysics. He has become popular as the "inventor of the black hole" and is known for best selling book "A Brief History of Time". He has re-entered the spot light recently over his assertion that the concept of God logically may not be the creator of the universe, viewed from a scientific perspective. However, I wish to look more closely at his recent critically acclaimed television mini-series "Into the Universe" on the Discovery Channel. Among the many brilliant thoughts he introduced the idea that a meeting with extraterrestrial life would not be favorable, basing his conclusions on logical assumptions. If aliens do actually seek us out, we would first consider their motives. Hawking claims it is much more likely that they would come with hostile, malicious, or manipulative intentions. They might be seeking our resources (Humanity vs. Navi), our home, or even ourselves to subvert us as as colony or worse as slaves.

Carl Sagan, astronomer, researcher, humanist, and activist had a different take. His view was a much more optimistic one, in that any signals or contact we would get from an extraterrestrial intelligence might be sent in peace. Perhaps the aliens are merely looking to find other intelligent species. His fictional book "Contact", later made into a film, paints a scenario that species across the cosmos have been contacting each other for immense lengths of time, and that we are merely the next in line.

Alien contact with us is also mirrored in our conctact with them. Avatar paints us as the cruel invading species, because our intentions for the planet have been the primary motivator for our travel there. The unfortunate irony is in the truth of James Cameron's masterpiece, that modern humans would only travel interstellar distances because something required it. To humans, the value of unobtainium outweighed the costs and risks of traveling all the way to Pandora. Now consider it differently: imagine that humans had the patience, intelligence and peaceful intentions to reach out and collaborate with another species. In the end, we have not even progressed to the point where we are capable of doing that with each other, let alone an entirely different species.

I have hope however, because I believe we are beginning to learn. Nature dictates that we cannot survive unless we figure out a better way, and when faced with extinction, humanity has proven itself capable time and time again. But for the first time in human existence, our problems are no longer biological, but moral and ethical. The Na'vi were painted as the perfect species, living in harmony and peace, content with their world. So what does it take to turn us from the savage invaders, to the noble explorers, extending a hand in peace? Irayo Willofeywa 17:34, September 26, 2010 (UTC)

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