During the last six months, famed theoretical physicist and science oracle Dr. Stephen Hawking has proposed much to garner headlines. (A suggestion that ‘universe creation’ may be a natural process comes to mind.) However, when looking at the implications of his recent propositions, a hidden space exploration paradigm takes form.
It would seem that in Dr. Hawking’s best estimations, space exploration is inexorably linked to the struggle for humanity’s survival. His astro-colonial challenge is framed between two opposing threats: The first is that if we do not learn to cooperate and start concerted space exploration and colonization, the human race will wipe itself out in two centuries; The second is that advanced alien life is certain to exist, and if we reveal ourselves to the extraterrestrial environment, such life will pose a threat to our civilization (a la War of the Worlds).
What does this mean? Well, this might initially seem to imply a “damned if you don’t, damned if you do” paradox, which I mentioned as this post’s title. However, when developed further, the propositions have a deeper implication: A golden path between the chasms on either side.
By assessing Dr. Hawking’s admittedly apocalyptic predictions in reverse, he essentially states that we’ll make it if we create a synergy of earnest, cooperative space exploration and diligent, even paranoid SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) reconnaissance. In doing so, we engender the maturity of our civilization on Earth, develop resource and environmental security for our perpetual existence about the Sun, and cultivate an advanced awareness of our stellar neighborhood – an early warning system for potentially threateneing ETIs (extraterrestrial intellegiences).
So, it’s possible he’s really saying that we have a shot.
The first step in evading threats is cultivating an awareness of them. In that light, maybe that’s the reason he’s come out with these statements lately – to help us find the razor’s edge between self-destruction and galactic naivety.
Just a thought.