Stephen Hawking believes that one of the major factors in the possible scarcity of intelligent life in our galaxy is the high probability of an asteroid or comet colliding with inhabited planets. We have observed, Hawking points out in Life in the Universe, the collision of a comet, Schumacher-Levi, with Jupiter, which produced a series of enormous fireballs, plumes many thousands of kilometers high, hot “bubbles” of gas in the atmosphere, and large dark “scars” on the atmosphere which had lifetimes on the order of weeks.
It is thought the collision of a rather smaller body with the Earth, about 70 million years ago, was responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs. A few small early mammals survived, but anything as large as a human, would have almost certainly been wiped out.
Through Earth’s history such collisions occur, on the average every one million year. If this figure is correct, it would mean that intelligent life on Earth has developed only because of the lucky chance that there have been no major collisions in the last 70 million years. Other planets in the galaxy, Hawking believes, on which life has developed, may not have had a long enough collision free period to evolve intelligent beings.
â€œThe threat of the Earth being hit by an asteroid is increasingly being accepted as the single greatest natural disaster hazard faced by humanity,â€
according to Nick Bailey of the University of Southampton’s School of Engineering Sciences team, who has developed a threat identifying program.
5 thoughts on “Stephen Hawking: “Asteroid Impacts Biggest Threat to Intelligent Life in the Galaxy””
it would be a bad thing if a asteroid would hit our planet. Never before has it been more obvious that we need to get off this rock to prevent the destruction of our species.
I vote we move into the moon, and then infest mars. Then set our sights on venus, and then look outward from our solar system.
@tiki god: But we can’t even get rid of the common cold, or travel into space without blowing up a rocket every now and then. Good luck with that.
@Puulaahi: Pfft. Trifles.
in regards to the ‘common’ cold, there’s nothing common about it, that shit is constantly mutating away from any cures that we create.
And not going to mars because rockets blow up? That’s like saying you can’t drive cross country because cars get into accidents. Sure it’s a statistical certainty that accidents will happen, but you can’t stop progress simply because of scary things 😉