Stephen Hawking Claims the Next Century Is Make-or-Break for the Survival of the Human Race

Tuesday, 19 January 2016 - 3:12PM
Science News
Tuesday, 19 January 2016 - 3:12PM
Stephen Hawking Claims the Next Century Is Make-or-Break for the Survival of the Human Race
As a preface to his discussions about black holes on this year's BBC Reith lectures, Professor Steven Hawking is talking about disaster right here on planet Earth. One of the greatest minds in the world believes that scientific and technological advancement have made a human-created apocalypse inevitable, and that the only answer is building self-sustaining colonies in space.

Hawking asserts that humanity is at risk for a series of dangers of our own making. Further progress in science and technology will only create "new ways things can go wrong." While in any given year, the chances for an existential crisis are low, he claims that the odds will rise to near-certainty within the next thousand to ten thousand years. The solution, he adds, will be making the human race interplanetary, so a disaster on Earth wouldn't lead to our extinction.

Opening quote
"We will not establish self-sustaining colonies in space for at least the next hundred years, so we have to be very careful in this period."
Closing quote

It may seem ironic that Hawking, a major scientific figure, cites science itself as one of humanity's greatest existential threats. But he also insists that we will find ways to cope with and counteract these risks.

Opening quote
"We are not going to stop making progress or reverse it, so we have to recognize the dangers and control them. I'm an optimist, and I believe we can," he states.
Closing quote


Though forced to postpone the lectures due to poor health, Hawking did manage to give a talk on black holes on January 7. During the lecture, he claims that it may be possible to fall into a black hole and emerge in another universe. But, he added, it would have to be a large, spinning black hole, and a return trip would be out of the question. He will continue to expound on his opinions regarding black holes in the Reith Lectures, which will be broadcast in two parts on BBC Radio 4, at 9 AM on January 26 and February 2.

Via The Guardian.
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