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Stephen Hawking wants you to meet the neighbours - they're a bit odd

* Hawkings spent three years on the series
* Extraterrestrials "almost certain to exist"
* Gives his take on what aliens would look like

THEY aren't just any aliens - they are extraterrestrial life as only one of the universe's best brains could envisage them.

Stephen Hawking has taken advantage of the latest computer graphics to display his versions of alien life forms, based on hard science, for a new documentary series, Into the Universe.

The British theoretical physicist, trapped in a body paralysed by motor neurone disease, and author of the best seller A Brief History of Time, spent three years to finish the series, which airs this weekend on the Discovery Channel.

The 68-year-old suggests in the first episode that extraterrestrials are almost certain to exist.

He points out the universe has 100 billion galaxies, each with hundreds of millions of stars and that in such a huge place, Earth is unlikely to be the only planet where life has evolved.
"To my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational. The real challenge is to work out what aliens might actually be like," he said.

Here is a taste of Hawking's aliens:

1. Gas giants

Planets like Jupiter and Saturn are a common type. But what would survive in such dense and violent atmospheres? If blimp-like creatures such as these roamed the hydrogen-helium atmospheres, one possible source of life-sustaining energy could come from harvesting lightning’s electrical discharges. But the combination of this atmosphere and the lack of a temperate solid surface would make the genesis of life as we understand it a real challenge

2. A sucker for E.T.

On an imaginary Earth-like world, lizard-like predators with limb membranes that allow them to glide use venom-loaded stingers to bring down a two-legged herbivore that has a huge vacuum snout to suck up food. Aliens on such a terrestrial planet would probably feed and move in ways similar to those here on Earth

3. Under the sea

A squid-like creature feeds on the bottom of the salty ocean thought to exist below the icy crust of Jupiter’s moon Europa. The moon is the only large body, other than Earth, that may have large volumes of water capable of supporting life. If organisms exist in this perpetually dark sea, they may exhibit characteristics of Earth’s deep-sea creatures, including the glow of bioluminescence and a nutrient chain based around hydrothermal vents

4. Abominable aliens

Life on planets where the average temperatures are down to the levels of liquid nitrogen (colder than -150C) would require organic components and physiologies radically different than those found on terrestrial planets largely dependent on liquid water. In this imagining, a multi-legged beast with thick fur to ward off the intense cold makes heavy going in the powerful winds that would be a constant on this demanding planet

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Added: Jul-8-2010 
By: biggles9
News, Arts and Entertainment, Other, Other Entertainment
Tags: Stephen Hawking, computer, graphics, alien life
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