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Stephen Hawking: Colonize Space or End the Human Race
« on: January 09, 2012, 08:55:49 PM »
Stephen Hawking: Colonize Space or End the Human Race

By Mark Whittington | Yahoo! Contributor Network – 17 hrs ago

Professor Stephen Hawking, one of the most famous theoretical physicists in the world, just celebrated his 70th birthday, despite suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease that has rendered him wheelchair bound and dependent on computers to communicate.

In a radio interview marking his birthday, which covered a wide range of topics, Hawking repeated his oft stated assertion that humanity must colonize space in order to ensure its long term survival.

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Re: Stephen Hawking: Colonize Space or End the Human Race
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2012, 09:00:37 PM »
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What sort of events could destroy the human race if it stays on one planet?

Hawking mentioned the possibility of nuclear war or climate change as being the cause of human extinction.  A recent article in Discovery magazine also suggested that a global pandemic-- possibly as the result of a bio-engineered disease-- or an asteroid or comet strike could end the human race on Earth.  The New Scientist chimed in with the possibility of a gamma ray burst caused by the explosion of a nearby star zapping the Earth with lethal radiation.  Even events that do not wipe out the human species-- say a total economic collapse-- could end civilization and cause the deaths of billions as modern infrastructure breaks down.

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Re: Stephen Hawking: Colonize Space or End the Human Race
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2012, 09:03:19 PM »
How would space colonies ensure the survival of the human race?

The late Arthur C. Clarke often said, as recently as a 1999 interview in the New York Times, that it was dangerous for the human race to have all of its eggs in one basket, i.e. the Earth. The idea is that if human civilization were spread out to several worlds, starting with the moon and Mars, a calamity occurring at any one world would not result in the end of human civilization.

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Hawking on a zero gravity flight.

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Re: Stephen Hawking: Colonize Space or End the Human Race
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2012, 09:29:57 PM »
Are there efforts to colonize space ongoing?

Despite the fact that there is a lot of talk about exploring and eventually settling space beyond low Earth orbit, the answer is sadly no at this time.  The Constellation program, which was envisioned to eventually lead to lunar colonies, was cancelled by President Barack Obama.  That does not mean there are not ideas floating around to settle other worlds.

The moon is an obvious venue for the first human settlement.  A Howstuffworks article describes how a lunar settlement might be set up.  The moon has water, in the form of ice at the bottom of permanently shaded craters at the poles, oxygen chemically bonded with lunar soil, and a variety of other resources necessary for human survival.

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Re: Stephen Hawking: Colonize Space or End the Human Race
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2012, 09:32:41 PM »
Other visionaries point to Mars. Robert Zubrin, in his book "The Case for Mars," envisions the Red Planet as a second branch of human civilization.  Eventually human settlers would use terraforming techniques to turn Mars into an analogue of Earth, with breathable air, running water, and an active biosphere where humans could walk around without need of space suits.

The late Dr. Gerard K. O'Neill suggested, in a book "The High Frontier," a more radical approach to colonizing space.  Instead of going to another world, he envisioned humans-- in effect-- building their own worlds using extraterrestrial resources to build huge, rotating space colonies where people would live inside a rotating cylinder large enough to build small towns in.  Such a colony was depicted in the science fiction TV series "Babylon Five."

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Re: Stephen Hawking: Colonize Space or End the Human Race
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2012, 04:13:47 AM »
Considering the current situation, the colonization of space worlds seems improbable in the near and distant future. The current squabbles between nation states , and regional states will prevent a unilateral colonization program.

Secondly, we do not have the technology to catapult human colonists into the worlds that are habitable. The ones that are considered 'habitable' are millions to billions of light years away.

Humanity will need to discover technology that has the ability to project matter through space, a wormhole propagator, so to say. Currently, we are not able to do that. Only in movies and video games. :)

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Re: Stephen Hawking: Colonize Space or End the Human Race
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2012, 08:28:13 PM »
obviously hawking was talking about future possibilities.  his is just a seed of an idea that may or may not see fruition centuries from now. 

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Re: Stephen Hawking: Colonize Space or End the Human Race
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2012, 05:46:04 AM »

Hopefully in the future... :)



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