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Stephen Hawking: Aliens probably exist !

Stephen Hawking, the world's best known scientist, says that he believes that aliens lurk elsewhere in the cosmos, but that they probably are not very smart.
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We are certainly not alone, says Prof Hawking, who was speaking at George Washington University in honour of the 50th anniversary of the US space agency, Nasa, and called for new investment in manned space exploration.

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In his address, he tackled the big questions about extraterrestrial life.Why has humanity not stumbled onto alien broadcasts, maybe something like "alien quiz shows?"One option is that there likely is no life elsewhere. Or maybe there is intelligent life elsewhere, but when it gets smart enough to send signals into space, it also is smart enough to make destructive nuclear weapons.He concludes: "Primitive life is very common and intelligent life is fairly rare," but adds: "Some would say it has yet to occur on Earth."
So should people worry about aliens? Alien abduction claims come from "weirdos" and are unlikely.
However, because alien life might not have DNA like earthlings, Prof Hawking warned: "Watch out if you would meet an alien. You could be infected with a disease with which you have no resistance."
The Cambridge University cosmologist suffers from motor neuron disease, speaking by activating a voice synthesiser with a cheek muscle, believes "if the human race is to continue for another million years, we will have to boldly go where no one has gone before."
Writing only a few weeks ago in the Telegraph, he said: "At the moment we have nowhere else to go, but in the long run the human race should not have all its eggs in one basket, or on one planet. I just hope we can avoid dropping the basket until then."
The scientist, who did pioneering work on black holes and on a theory of everything, compares people who do not want to spend money on human space exploration to those who opposed the journey of Christopher Columbus.
"In a way, the situation is like Europe before 1492. People might well have argued that it was a waste of money to send Columbus on a wild goose chase."
"Yet the discovery of the new world made profound difference to the old. Just think, we would not have a Big Mac or KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken)," he added referring to the ubiquitous US fast food outlets.
"Spreading out into space will have an even greater effect. It will completely change the future of the human race and maybe determine whether we have any future at all," added the 66-year-old.
Hawking envisages a long-term space exploration project that would include building an experimental base on the moon within 30 years, and devising a new propulsion system to take us on a planetary hunt outside our solar system in 200-500 years.
"It will not solve any of our immediate problems on planet Earth," he said, "but it will give us a new perspective on them and... hopefully, it will unite us to face a common challenge."
"Going into space will not be cheap, but it will take only a small portion of world resources," he added.
He himself wants to be part of the adventure. A year ago he floated about in a state of zero gravity aboard a special plane.
He hopes to repeat the experience in space, above the atmosphere, aboard the maiden, suborbital flight of the Virgin Galactic of British billionaire Richard Branson's venture company Virgin Group, whose first flight is planned for next year, and the first space wedding too.
By Roger Highfield, Science Editor

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