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Contacting aliens could risk ending all life on Earth, a physicist has warned.
Mark Buchanan argued that we should stop trying to contact different life forms as it could be 'extremely dangerous', adding that we should be grateful there has been no evidence of contact yet.
Buchanan - formerly an editor of science journal Nature and magazine New Scientist - said his grim prediction is based on the relative youth of our planet, under a cheery title explaining that 'contacting aliens could end all life on Earth'.
Writing in The Washington Post, he said: "The search for aliens has reached a stage of technological sophistication and associated risk that it needs strict regulation at national and international levels.
"Without oversight, even one person - with access to powerful transmitting technology - could take actions affecting the future of the entire planet.
"That's because any aliens we ultimately encounter will likely be far more technologically advanced than we are, for a simple reason: Most stars in our galaxy are much older than the sun.
"If civilisations arise fairly frequently on some planets, then there ought to be many civilisations in our galaxy millions of years more advanced than our own. Many of these would likely have taken significant steps to begin exploring and possibly colonising the galaxy."
Jeez, you think we're super advanced with our International Space Station, Starlink and parkas for dogs - then you're told the aliens are miles ahead. Quite sobering, isn't it?
Buchanan went on to discuss the mystery of why any alien life forms haven't yet been in contact with us, if indeed their civilisations have been knocking about way longer, and have presumably developed far more advanced technology.
He suggested the bleak history of our relatively youthful planet may hold the answers.
"More alarming is the possibility that alien civilisations are remaining out of contact because they know something: that sending out signals is catastrophically risky," he wrote.
"Our history on Earth has given us many examples of what can happen when civilisations with unequal technology meet - generally, the technologically more advanced has destroyed or enslaved the other.
"A cosmic version of this reality might have convinced many alien civilisations to remain silent. Exposing yourself is an invitation to be preyed upon and devoured."
Wow, bet he's a hoot at parties. To be fair, while his warnings are a little macabre, he makes some interesting points.
After citing counterarguments that claim we must reach out in a bid to learn from these more advanced civilisations - which may have already tackled problems we face - Buchanan concluded more people must be involved in the hugely important decision-making process.
He said: "For obvious reasons, much of the thinking about these issues has to be rather speculative.
"The best way forward, perhaps, is to broaden the discussion. If all of humanity is exposed to the possible consequences trying to contact alien civilisations, then more people should be involved in making decisions about what is wise and what isn't.
"It shouldn't be left to a handful of radio astronomers."
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