Humanity's quest for the stars will be the death of countless alien species if they exist, a scientist has claimed.
Theoretical physicist Alexander Berezin of the National Research University of Electronic Technology in Russia has published a new paper outlining what he calls the "first in, last out" theory of space travel.
"No present observations suggest a technologically advanced extraterrestrial intelligence has spread through the galaxy," he writes in the paper, published online.
This seems unlikely, he says, because of the sheer number of stars and galaxies out there - suggesting humanity might be the first to do it.
And though that sounds like good news, Dr Berezin says it isn't, unless you like the idea of being responsible for a galactic genocide.
"What if the first life that reaches interstellar travel capability necessarily eradicates all competition to fuel its own expansion?" he writes.
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Much like how the Vogons obliterate Earth to make way for a space highway in Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy novels, we just won't care for comparatively primitive species on other planets.
"I am not suggesting that a highly developed civilisation would consciously wipe out other lifeforms. Most likely, they simply won't notice, the same way a construction crew demolishes an anthill to build real estate because they lack incentive to protect it."
Dr Berezin said he hopes he's wrong, but there's only one way to find out.
"We are the first to arrive at the stage. And, most likely, will be the last to leave."