Is there anybody out there? Stephen Hawking joked with and teased a receptive audience at the Royal Society last night about the dangers of aliens.
Introducing a screening of his new TV documentary about the universe, he ruefully remarked on recent coverage of his warnings about looking for life in outer space: “Some have suggested that I am an alien. I can assure you I am not.”
Professor Hawking hoped the series would explain to viewers how they fitted into the cosmos and maybe it would change their opinions. He believed alien life was common in the universe but, added to laughter, “intelligent life less so”. Aliens might want to compete with us rather than play with us, he warned.
Professor Hawking told invited guests awaiting the preview from the Discovery Channel in the Society’s rooms in Carlton House Terrace: “All that leaves is for me to beam myself back to my mother ship.” With thoughts to the headlines, he quipped: “I should not have said that!”