Science » Technologies and discoveries
Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

Stephen Hawking: Colonize Space or Die. But How?

The astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, 68, has stated that Mankind faces two options: colonize space and build residential units on other planets or else face the prospect of long-term extinction. His interview was published on the Big Think Forum.

For Stephen Hawking, Mankind has to start thinking of colonizing space within the next two hundred years if he is to avoid the prospects of extinction in the long term. In his interview with the Big Think Forum, which voices the opinions of experts on a wide range of issues, the British scientist stated that “The human race shouldn’t have all its eggs in one basket or on one planet”.

Among the dangers humankind faces, he believes, are the technological capacity to damage the environment, the exponentially growing population and the strain on the Earth’s resources, along with potential flashpoints. Referring to the “increasingly dangerous period in our history” the solution for Professor Hawking is “personed space flight” because “if we are the only intelligent beings in the galaxy, we have to guarantee our survival”.

Regarding contact with extra-terrestrial life-forms, Stephen Hawking stated back in April that it should be avoided at all costs because it could be potentially very dangerous.

Whatever the case, the big question remains, how to get there? The physics of Time and Distance have still not been fully explored and the distances involved to arrive at the nearest inhabitable planets outside our solar system are incomprehensibly vast. Scientists believe that Earth-like planets might exist around one of the three stars forming the Alpha Centauri system, called Alpha Centauri B.

This system, the nearest to the Sun, is 4.36 light-years away (4.36 times the distance that light travels in a year), meaning at the speeds currently achievable, some sixty thousand years. A round trip would be 120,000 years, which is the equivalent of 118,000 years before or after the building of Ancient Rome.

True, there are ideas for faster space travel which would reduce this time substantially, one of these being Albucierre’s hyperspace surfing idea, whereby scientists would take advantage of the distortions suffered by spacetime when affected by energy, creating a warp speed faster that the speed of light. However the disturbance needed to bend these dimensions is merely a matter of conjecture.

A second example is the concept of creating Planck scale bridges, postulated by Dr. Robert Forward. The Planck scale (1.22 times 10 to the power 28) eV is an area of particle physics in which the quantum effects of gravity become more powerful. Dr. Forward envisages enlarging a Planck scale bridge to macro size, building a quantum bridge between two gateways, whereby one gateway is sent via sublight to the destination. The body enters the home gateway and arrives almost instantly at the destination gateway. Basically what he proposes is the creation of two wormholes. You step into one and come out of the other. But who can create and materialise Planck scale bridges?

And will the next craze be the anti-space lobby?



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