Hey Bill Nye! Would Humanity Make Peace with Aliens—or War?
Once we discover alien life out there, humanity will never be the same.
Bill Nye, scientist, engineer, comedian, author, and inventor, is a man with a mission: to help foster a scientifically literate society, to help people everywhere understand and appreciate the science that makes our world work. Making science entertaining and accessible is something Bill has been doing most of his life.
In Seattle Nye began to combine his love of science with his flair for comedy, when he won the Steve Martin look-alike contest and developed dual careers as an engineer by day and a stand-up comic by night. Nye then quit his day engineering day job and made the transition to a night job as a comedy writer and performer on Seattle’s home-grown ensemble comedy show “Almost Live.” This is where “Bill Nye the Science Guy®” was born. The show appeared before Saturday Night Live and later on Comedy Central, originating at KING-TV, Seattle’s NBC affiliate.
While working on the Science Guy show, Nye won seven national Emmy Awards for writing, performing, and producing. The show won 18 Emmys in five years. In between creating the shows, he wrote five children’s books about science, including his latest title, “Bill Nye’s Great Big Book of Tiny Germs.”
Nye is the host of three currently-running television series. “The 100 Greatest Discoveries” airs on the Science Channel. “The Eyes of Nye” airs on PBS stations across the country.
Bill’s latest project is hosting a show on Planet Green called “Stuff Happens.” It’s about environmentally responsible choices that consumers can make as they go about their day and their shopping. Also, you’ll see Nye in his good-natured rivalry with his neighbor Ed Begley. They compete to see who can save the most energy and produce the smallest carbon footprint. Nye has 4,000 watts of solar power and a solar-boosted hot water system. There’s also the low water use garden and underground watering system. It’s fun for him; he’s an engineer with an energy conservation hobby.
Nye is currently the Executive Director of The Planetary Society, the world’s largest space interest organization.
QUESTION: If humanity at some point in the future discovered another alien civilization, at least mildly comparable to our own, if society as it is now stayed basically the same, how do you think we would react to it, you know: be violent or have a new colonial era, or make peace and advance with everyone or something like that? Thank you.
BILL NYE: What if we found or discovered another alien civilization, would there be colonization? I hope not. I just feel that another alien civilization probably couldn’t live on the earth and we probably couldn’t live there. There’s too many details that wouldn’t work, unless we’re all wearing spacesuits. But maybe. I just don’t think that there would be that much interaction. That is to say, I think it’s much more like we will find an alien civilization on a world so distant, so remote, that there won’t be going back and forth in spaceships. If it’s, let’s say, 40 lightyears, as it is to these TRAPPIST-1 planets, the ones they found around this very cold or relatively cold small star—cool star, then the way we’d communicate with them is by radio or by light, electromagnetic waves. And so there wouldn’t be a chance for colonization or misplaced bank accounts or whatever else would go wrong—or warfare. That just wouldn’t be possible. Instead though, it would be profound. It would change the way everybody feels about being a living thing in the cosmos. It would be extraordinary. And furthermore we do this research looking for alien civilizations at a tiny fraction of our international budget. It’s a worthy thing to always be doing in the background. Listening and looking for aliens.
Finding an alien civilization will change humanity dramatically, but not so much in the obvious ways. Will we interact, trade, learn from one another's technology, or start intergalactic wars? None of that is highly likely, mostly for logistical reasons. Bill Nye thinks that the change will be more of an internal, philosophical, and spiritual change. What will it mean for humans to not be the only living thing in the cosmos? Many of us want to know and so, operating on just a small budget running in the background of all other scientific pursuits, there are astronomers and physicists continually looking and listening for life out there so that we may one day be able to ask ourselves that very question. Bill Nye's most recent book is Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World.
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