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Stephen Hawking Warns Against Confining Ourselves To Earth 414

Posted by Soulskill
from the universe-won't-mourn-a-mote-of-dust dept.
alancronin writes with this excerpt from CNet: "Stephen Hawking, one of the world's greatest physicists and cosmologists, is once again warning his fellow humans that our extinction is on the horizon unless we figure out a way to live in space. Not known for conspiracy theories, Hawking's rationale is that the Earth is far too delicate a planet to continue to withstand the barrage of human battering. 'We must continue to go into space for humanity,' Hawking said today, according to the Los Angeles Times. 'We won't survive another 1,000 years without escaping our fragile planet.'"
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Stephen Hawking Warns Against Confining Ourselves To Earth

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 13, 2013 @09:34AM (#43439969)

    Humans are. Earth will continue even in an environment not hospitable to us, and life too will probably go on.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 13, 2013 @09:37AM (#43439981)

      Earth, as a system for sustaining human life, most certainly is delicate. Which would be what Stephen Hawking is talking about, and what you should be concerned about. Whether or not there are rotifers once we've managed to murder ourselves is something of an academic question.

      • by gatkinso (15975) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @09:48AM (#43440029)

        So let's just become a horde of locusts jumping from planet to planet consuming their resources and polluting them into lifeless rocks until a coalition of alien species has to band together to eliminate the threat humanity represents to the galaxy.

        Or, learn how to survive on this planet before going out and colonizing another one.

        • Paradox (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          So let's just become a horde of locusts jumping from planet to planet consuming their resources and polluting them into lifeless rocks until a coalition of alien species has to band together to eliminate the threat humanity represents to the galaxy.

          Or, learn how to survive on this planet before going out and colonizing another one.

          And wouldn't the energy, use of resources, and capital that would be necessary to venture into space accelerate the decline of this planet?

          Space travel isn't exactly a "green" endeavor.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by gatkinso (15975)

            >> Space travel isn't exactly a "green" endeavor.

            I agree. I also disagree with the spacer point of view that we need to find a new planet to suck dry as quickly as possible before this one runs out.

            • Re:Paradox (Score:5, Insightful)

              by killkillkill (884238) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @11:49AM (#43440643)
              The Earth is one collision or one solar event away from complete sterilization. When you start considering the scales involved in spreading life over our cold, (At least mostly) lifeless, unforgiving galaxy, the chances of the rare balance currently existing here begin to diminish even without anthropocentric global warming and the like. Maybe ecosystems like earth are abundant in our reachabable speck in the universe, but I doubt it. Humans spreading across the stars is our only know chance of intelligent life sustaining an existence. What's the point of the universe if there is nothing to appreciate it?
              • Re:Paradox (Score:5, Insightful)

                by tqk (413719) <s.keeling@mail.com> on Saturday April 13, 2013 @01:05PM (#43441019)

                The Earth is one collision or one solar event away from complete sterilization.

                Agreed.

                ... even without anthropocentric global warming and the like.

                ITYM "anthropogenic."

                Humans spreading across the stars is our only know chance of intelligent life sustaining an existence.

                Once done (my opinion's mostly based on SF reading I've done), what's the point? All those far-flung human colonies are going to immediately differentiate from each other, leading to "us vs. them" on a galactic scale, so what really is the point of this exercise? Preservation of homo sapiens' DNA regardless? What for?

                What's the point of the universe if there is nothing to appreciate it?

                Now, that's anthropocentric. The Universe managed quite well for aeons before we dropped in and it'll continue to do so long after we're extinct. We're not the raison d'etre (despite many of us being convinced we are).

            • Re:Paradox (Score:4, Insightful)

              by VanGarrett (1269030) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @05:19PM (#43442503) Homepage

              Our population grows at an exponential rate. Strictly speaking, we're not overpopulated now, but in a few generations we will be. We probably won't run out of room before food production can no longer keep up. We may find a more efficient way to produce food that can keep up, but the fact is that this will only slow down the problem. When we do run out of room (or approach that point, anyway), illness will spread quite readily, the end result being plagues, regardless of our collective hygiene. We could solve this by having regularly scheduled mass death events every few hundred years, such as nuclear wars, or maybe we can get playful with it and do some kind of gladiatorial games. Perhaps better yet, is to just get a large portion of our population to colonize new worlds. That's perhaps the only practical solution that doesn't directly involve people dieing.

              This solution doesn't address the environment. This is not meant to be a solution for the environment. This is a solution for human kind. There's no reason why we can't continue to develop environmentally friendly technologies while working toward colonizing other worlds. In fact, I'd say the goals are quite compatible, as technologies which require fewer resources will contribute nicely to founding new civilizations.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I vote we go the locust route

          • by RMingin (985478)

            Seconded. Just watch out for Orks, they're doing the same thing, and have been at it longer. And I guess watch for Tyranids too, they do the same thing down to mid-mantle before moving on.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          People don't need planets to live. Or, at least, not to live on. Lagrange points to anchor habitats are a nice touch. Give me low G, controlled weather, and no Mosquitos any day. Get us out of 'natural' ( ignoring the natural/unnatural false dichotomy) environments and in to ones designed by engineers to handle hard human loving.

          • by Jason1729 (561790) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @10:04AM (#43440131)
            Yes, I'm aware this is slashdot, but not everyone is happy living in their parents basement. For your own sake, try to stay off the internet for a little while and see what the world is really like.
            • by hawguy (1600213)

              Yes, I'm aware this is slashdot, but not everyone is happy living in their parents basement. For your own sake, try to stay off the internet for a little while and see what the world is really like.

              But some people really are happy spending their time indoors, gaming, reading, whatever. You may not have come across them in your well adjusted, adventurous life, but not everyone enjoys nature.

              To each his own, and maybe the introverted basement dwelling geeks will make the best long-term spacefarers.

              • by janimal (172428)

                Basement-dwelling usually does not go hand-in-hand with making useful stuff. There's a certain rough nature to proper engineering and being coddled in a space without a proper shop and ventilation isn't conducive to creativity in the physical dimensions. The builders of our civilizations usually are not basement dwellers; even the introverted asperger types.

          • Bow chicka bow wow!

          • by Smallpond (221300) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @10:12AM (#43440165) Homepage Journal

            People don't need planets to live. Or, at least, not to live on. Lagrange points to anchor habitats are a nice touch. Give me low G, controlled weather, and no Mosquitos any day. Get us out of 'natural' ( ignoring the natural/unnatural false dichotomy) environments and in to ones designed by engineers to handle hard human loving.

            Yes. Because when you think about luxurious comfort "designed by engineers" is the first thing that comes to mind.

          • by JWSmythe (446288) <jwsmytheNO@SPAMjwsmythe.com> on Saturday April 13, 2013 @10:22AM (#43440217) Homepage Journal

                Humans don't actually handle low G all that well.. Vision degrades. Bones weaken. Muscle tone is lost. It would be many generations in that environment before we adapted or evolved to live comfortably in it. We need gravity. We need bugs (and the whole ecosystem). We need changing weather. Without the later two, you won't have well sustained food crops.

            • by hawguy (1600213)

              Humans don't actually handle low G all that well.. Vision degrades. Bones weaken. Muscle tone is lost. It would be many generations in that environment before we adapted or evolved to live comfortably in it. We need gravity. We need bugs (and the whole ecosystem). We need changing weather. Without the later two, you won't have well sustained food crops.

              You don't have to live in zero or even low gravity for long-term space travel - just design the ship to provide 1G of artificial gravity. it would take a large ship, but you'd probably want a large ship if you're going to be living on it for your entire life. You could design it as a large rotating ring, but It needn't be a complete ring, you could have 2 living pods connected by a long beam.

              You'd need a radius of around 225m to provide 1G at 2rpm of revolution.

            • Gravity isn't hard to simulate, and space has no shortage of either energy or raw materials if we want to cultivate foodstuffs.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Mike Frett (2811077)

          Or we can just send Hawking and be done with his babble if he wants to go so bad. You got it right though, Human beings are just a Virus, moving into areas just to consume it's resources, only to move on to another after we've laid barren the lands. Guy down below is right also, at the rate we are going, I doubt we'll survive another 100 years without change.

          The problem is, we can't change because all we care about is money. The day we stop caring about money and start working to better Humanity and our tin

          • Human beings are just a Virus, moving into areas just to consume it's resources, only to move on to another after we've laid barren the lands

            I know where all you are comming from, but that's what life does, all of it. The idea that it's something restricted to virus and people is a romantic illuded idea.

            Now, please explain what is the difference between we "consuming all of space's resources", or we not doing that. Who, or what gets hurt either way?

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by mcgrew (92797) *

            Or we can just send Hawking and be done with his babble if he wants to go so bad.

            Hawking has been paralyzed for decades. It isn't that he wants to go to space, he wants humanity to survive.

            You got it right though, Human beings are just a Virus, moving into areas just to consume it's resources, only to move on to another after we've laid barren the lands.

            Then explain the existence of farms. You have it backwards - we're one of very few species that doesn't do that.

            The problem is, we can't change because all

          • by ScentCone (795499)

            I can't say that we are even worth saving.

            Why are you still typing when you could be jumping off a cliff and improving the world just a bit?

        • by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @11:05AM (#43440431)

          What misanthropic crap. We can survive on this planet just fine, despite this planet's repeated, persistent, and very nearly successful efforts to wipe us out many times throughout history. The realisation of what we were doing to the biosphere has been slow in coming but I'm greatly encouraged by recent developments. Mother nature has done far worse before we humans ever made an appearance, and in case you've forgotten, the fate of the planet and all its glorious diversity WITHOUT humanity is to become cold stellar dust.

          We are also the first and perhaps only living beings to have adapted sufficiently to the environment to be able to go into space, and like it or not that makes us special. We do need to take advantage of that.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by ZoobieWa (513069)

            The planet needs humanity or it will turn to dust? You sound religious.

            We are not the only living beings who have gone to space. Bacteria regularly take trips there encased in their own protective shuttles. Here's an article from a few months ago.

            http://news.discovery.com/earth/weather-extreme-events/loads-of-bacteria-hiding-out-in-storm-clouds-130124.htm

        • by khallow (566160)

          Or, learn how to survive on this planet before going out and colonizing another one.

          Check, We did that. I'm sure you don't actually mean any reasonable definition of "survive", but some bullshit condition that is far harder to achieve. If we only progressed when random people with arbitrary conditions thought we should progress, we'd still be swinging in trees.

        • by Dunbal (464142) *
          To be fair, if we had the technology to "jump from planet to planet consuming their resources", we'd necessarily have a technological advantage over more sedentary xenos. Said coalition would first require that the aliens 1) be in contact with each other and 2) be sufficiently advanced to "beat us" without consuming their own resources... My money is on the civilization with the most advanced industrial base. It's much easier to switch from ploughshares to guns than it is to develop and grow an entire indus
        • by hawguy (1600213) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @11:29AM (#43440559)

          Or, learn how to survive on this planet before going out and colonizing another one.

          There are things that could happen that would make it very difficult if not impossible to survive on this planet no matter how much we've learned about surviving. Like a supervolcano eruption putting enough ash in the air to shade the entire planet, sudden release of ocean methane stores, a large asteroid strike, etc.

          Any of these events are unlikely, but any of them could happen tomorrow. Even if they don't lead to extinction, the collapse of civilization would prevent us from leaving the planet for a long long time.

      • by erroneus (253617)

        it's all about priorities isn't it? Money is far more important than humanity's future. Sure there will be lives lost. But it won't be mine and I don't love my children. So who cares?!

        --the people who keep it going.

        • by Nerdfest (867930)

          The vast majority of humans seem far too stupid too live in a hostile environment anyway. When we need to colonize or things go to hell here, I think a little Darwin-ism will reassert itself. I'm hoping short-sighted people like that are amongst the people that will eventually be thinned out.

    • by JWSmythe (446288)

      In the end, does it really matter? Life will or won't continue on this rock. In time, this rock won't continue, after it's cooked dry to look like Mercury and finally absorbed into the sun.

      If we care about the continuity of humanity, we need to spread to other planets in other solar systems, and in time to other galaxies.

      Life will continue somewhere. We evolved over billions of years. Life has or will evolve in other places. it may be a passing curiosity, or a widespread and ongoing thing in the univers

    • by bfandreas (603438)
      He points out that we put all our eggs into one basket.

      Also the sheer amazing coincident of life is mindboggling. It still is quite fragile. It might be one of a kind we should take life as such very seriously.

      Even tho life on earth still has to produce some level of intelligence. We had some hope on rats and dolphins but they were a bit of a disappointment.
    • by Bengie (1121981)
      So when a catastrophic event occurs that turns the Earth into an asteroid belt, your plan is to adapt?
  • Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nrrqshrr (1879148) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @09:42AM (#43440001)
    "We won't survive another 1,000 years without escaping our fragile planet."
    The sad part is that those who decide where our resources go can't see further than 10 years. (and being optimistic, here)
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Bing Tsher E (943915)

      The sad part is where our resources have gone every time in the last century that somebody decided they had 'figured it out' and knew how to direct everyone else's resources.

      Just as it is dubious to claim that mankind is all-powerful enough to completely destroy the earth, it's dubious to act like any human agency is capable of directing the 'whole show' to fix things.

      Hundreds of millions of people died in the 20th century because of zealous 'leaders' who had the plan all figured out and achieved enough pow

    • "We won't survive another 1,000 years without escaping our fragile planet." The sad part is that those who decide where our resources go can't see further than 10 years. (and being optimistic, here)

      Yes. That's very optimistic. Election cycles are 6 years at most in the United States.

    • Is there a place in our solar system that's more hospitable to human life than Earth, now or in a thousand years? There's your problem right there.

      • by mrvan (973822)

        There could well be a place more hospitable in a couple months, if North Korea, America and China all play there part.

        Mars could be a lot more hospitable than an earth burning with nuclear (and biological) fallout...

  • by gatkinso (15975) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @09:42AM (#43440007)

    ...then we are basically a cosmic cancer.

    • by gerf (532474) <edtgerf@gmail.com> on Saturday April 13, 2013 @09:51AM (#43440045) Journal
      no, entropy is a cosmic cancer.
      • by Hentes (2461350)

        The second law of thermodynamics is only true in a closed system. Planets aren't closed systems.

    • by openfrog (897716)

      ...then we are basically a cosmic cancer.

      Quite right. Furthermore, and this is where I find difficult to follow Hawking's spiel, if we entertain the dream that we will eventually find another place to live, this will be used to keep the lid, the already quite heavy lid, on efforts to properly address environmental issues on planet earth.

      • by khallow (566160) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @10:52AM (#43440367)
        I think that idiots and their "proper" ways to address environmental issues are one of the problems that we can solve by moving into space. There won't be any natural biospheres in most of space to interfere with human endeavors. And we can work out the environmental issues there without input from the people who think we should do that in only a particular way.

        For example, we can continue to have century after century of bad ideas on how to deal with human population on Earth - things like divine providence, eugenics, dictatorship of the proletariat, urban planned development, arcologies, etc. In space settlements, you have to get most of that right or you die.

        So what is better, a comfortable place where we can continue to goof around for many lifetimes to come (that is the true "heavy lid" of which you speak), or a tough environment that forces us to be better? To actually solve the problems that you apparently care about?
        • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

          I think that idiots and their "proper" ways to address environmental issues are one of the problems that we can solve by moving into space. There won't be any natural biospheres in most of space to interfere with human endeavors. And we can work out the environmental issues there without input from the people who think we should do that in only a particular way.

          For example, we can continue to have century after century of bad ideas on how to deal with human population on Earth - things like divine providence, eugenics, dictatorship of the proletariat, urban planned development, arcologies, etc. In space settlements, you have to get most of that right or you die.

          So what is better, a comfortable place where we can continue to goof around for many lifetimes to come (that is the true "heavy lid" of which you speak), or a tough environment that forces us to be better? To actually solve the problems that you apparently care about?

          One would have to be pretty naive to think that social problems aptterns from this planet wouldn't follow people to the stars, unless you are thinking that you would be in command and everybody would just bow down and do things your way.

  • 'We won't survive another 1,000 years without escaping our fragile planet'. Should read; 'We won't survive another 1,000 years without escaping our fragile planet, at current rates of growth and consumption'. It's extremely small minded/short sighted of the worlds most famous physicist, to assume the current system will keep chugging along, with business as usual, for a THOUSAND more years. He should do a little historical research...
    • Re:CORRECTION (Score:5, Insightful)

      by benf_2004 (931652) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @10:14AM (#43440175)

      It's extremely small minded/short sighted of the worlds most famous physicist, to assume the current system will keep chugging along, with business as usual, for a THOUSAND more years. He should do a little historical research...

      You're right. Given the historical precedent, I'd say mankind will probably find faster, more efficient ways to deplete the planet of its resources in well under a thousand years.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      It's extremely small minded/short sighted of the worlds most famous physicist, to assume the current system will keep chugging along, with business as usual, for a THOUSAND more years.

      Well, he's opinionating a little out of his field. Kind of like a sociologist opinionating about subatomic particle physics. Where's Hari Seldon when you need him?

  • Fragile. (Score:2, Insightful)

    The planet is not fragile.
      - The planet is fine - the people are fucked.

    What a load of crap, coming from a idol.

  • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Saturday April 13, 2013 @09:59AM (#43440097) Homepage

    Extinction is such a pressing danger only for biological entities. If humans transcend biology, then they can take a much greater battering and expansion into space is no longer an inevitable development for the human race. In his novel Marooned in Realtime [amazon.com] , which deals with a technological Singularity, Vernor Vinge muses that a civilization might choose to retreat into a virtual reality buried deep below a planet's surface instead of expanding outward. Sure, then one would have to worry about the death of the sun, engulfing the planet in its red giant phase, but that's billions of years from now. And even if a civilzation wants to expand into space, that's much easier done after transcending biology than as a biological race that has to manage fragile ecosystems.

  • Obligitory XKCD (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RyanFenton (230700) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @09:59AM (#43440105)

    http://what-if.xkcd.com/7/ [xkcd.com]

    Basically, this advice either boils down to "get out if/while you can", or else we're going to have to take some amazing steps to even get a small portion of the population out of the gravity well.

    Which is actually good advice from one perspective - it's a very good negotiating approach.

    We know that all paths we see before us seem to lead to epic population tragedies.

    The cost of each of them is almost unlimited, in terms of taking away a meaningful future for humanity.

    The private sector very strongly resists any attempt to do basic non-commercial research that can lead to a solution to any of these tragedies (and in fact is at least the indirect cause of many of them).

    The reasonable answer, without requesting it, would seem to be an increase in funding by many of the nations of the earth for basic research. An increase in space exploration by China, for instance, would lead to a new space race, meaning more research and education.

    More research and education will lead to progress towards solving basic problems, and possible escape from earth.

    But for now in the US, conservatives think it will lead to more liberals, so it will be opposed strongly until they fear China enough to allow some progress.

    Ryan Fenton

  • Then it's up to the physicists and mechanical engineers: without some cheap and easy method to LEO, we're not getting off the planet in numbers and equipment sufficient to survive out there. Say, controlled gravity.
  • by Jonah Hex (651948) <hexdotms&gmail,com> on Saturday April 13, 2013 @10:01AM (#43440121) Homepage Journal
    Thinking a bit further ahead, we're actually doomed as a species if we can't get out of our own solar system. Getting off our own planet is a decent start, but we're still tied to a very small "island" around the sun, with all the other possible places to live generations away. This means Hawking's words are truer than he knows, we must learn to live in the space between solar systems. But still we must spread out, as some have said like a cancer in the universe, or it will all end here.

    Do we dare play for the longest payoff and work for future generations to have the resources and tech they need to spread out, or do we continue to think only of the immediate future? How do we prevent the latter from cannibalizing humanity and resources for their own gain while working on these "blue sky" issues, rely on those few who have "beaten them at their own game" and amassed large fortunes of their own? - HEX
  • by FridayBob (619244) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @10:16AM (#43440183) Homepage
    The way our society operates, we will never feel the need to invest enough money to set up a self-sustaining off-planet colony for its own sake, because it makes no sense economically. That's just the way we think about this sort of thing, even though it may not be good for us in the long term. Therefore, if we do ever create such a colony, it will be for economic purposes. For example, a commercial mining operation that is considered cheaper to operate precisely because it is self-sustaining.
  • I am more worried about the survival over the next 50 to 100 years. Our ability to destroy ourselves is coming to a point where we will likely not make it another 100 years and we will take half of all species with us. http://rawcell.com [rawcell.com].
  • ...the rest of the universe is dying for us to show up.

    Aaaah, all those new cosmic markets of unlimited potential, just sitting there,waiting for our neo-liberalism, our lawyers and our banking system All those rivers to poison, life-forms to exterminate...We'll share with aliens everywhere all the greatest recent accomplishments of human civilization: we'll sell them iPhones, have them have Facebook accounts, invite them on Oprah. And if they happen to have lots of oil...well, even better: we'll prete
  • I recognize elements of string theory in there. Is that the new name for it?
  • by Skiron (735617) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @10:47AM (#43440335) Homepage

    Population.

    To continue at the way we intelligent monkeys are going, the 'earth' will soon give up.

    Lets take a quick look at how quick this could happen:

    In the UK there about 60,000,000 people. Lets suppose only half of that number eat eggs. Lets suppose that only half of that number have an egg (or a product that contains eggs) a day.

    That is STILL 15,000,000 eggs a day that need to be produced in the UK alone ~ let alone the rest of the World.

    Now consider other things in a similar vain: heat(power/fuel et al), water, rice, wheat, potatoes etc.

    It soon gets pretty scary thinking what can happen if/(when) the infrastructure breaks down.

    The only way to get on is to EXPAND into other places ~ but there isn't any left here on Earth now.

    • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

      Population.

      To continue at the way we intelligent monkeys are going, the 'earth' will soon give up.

      Lets take a quick look at how quick this could happen:

      In the UK there about 60,000,000 people. Lets suppose only half of that number eat eggs. Lets suppose that only half of that number have an egg (or a product that contains eggs) a day.

      That is STILL 15,000,000 eggs a day that need to be produced in the UK alone ~ let alone the rest of the World.

      Now consider other things in a similar vain: heat(power/fuel et al), water, rice, wheat, potatoes etc.

      It soon gets pretty scary thinking what can happen if/(when) the infrastructure breaks down.

      The only way to get on is to EXPAND into other places ~ but there isn't any left here on Earth now.

      The problem you describe is not one of capacity, but one of distribution. There is more than enough food and resources to go around. However, when certain countries, who remain unamed, have a minority of the world's population, but consume the majority of the world's resources, then an imbalance is created. Those same countries are now worried about an obesity epidemic while half way around the planet there is famine and starvation.

      In 1972, Pope Paul VI said "If you want peace, work for justice." The firs

  • "God probably has life forms on every planet and star. Earth he has given to the sons of men. He wants us to stay here and don't space travel. We are to live on a perfected earth as perfect humans..God's plan for earth from the beginning..it will be done."

  • by Hartree (191324) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @11:10AM (#43440469)

    It sounds like quite a number of the people answering are quite happy to see those they like go extinct in order to revel in the anticipation of the extinction of those they don't like.

    *shrug* To steal the title of Dan Ariely's book: Predictably Irrational.

    It's a perverse modification of the judgement of Solomon with the mother saying "That's fine, as long as I can be sure her half of the child is truly dead."

  • Hawking is a cool dude, he has a wheelchair that communicates for him.

    Other then that, I don't listen to him, he's a bit unbalanced mentally, IMO.

    Dude is smart, had a brilliant mind. Now though? I think he's feeling old and frail and his fear of death shows in his statements.

    • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

      Now though? I think he's feeling old and frail and his fear of death shows in his statements.

      Maybe he's regretting trying to disprove the existing of God and is concerned that if he was wrong on that account, it may not bode well. Lucky for him, he was born into a european culture that had it's pinnings on a judea-christian belief that you care for the sick and the weak instead of only the fittest survive. Otherwise, he wouldn't have been here to do all of the work he has done.

      Of course, the strength of that culture is much less today than it was when Hawking was born and with the push in modern

  • by mothlos (832302) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @11:29AM (#43440561)

    One thousand years? Seriously? If we think that the planet we currently inhabit is going to become more hostile for human habitation than any other place in the solar system in the next thousand years, what sorts of scenarios are we talking about? Even if we got hit by another major comet, this planet ould STILL be tremendously more habitable for humans than anywhere else. What sort of extraterrestrial habitation do we envision that wouldn't be orders of magnitude less expensive without leaving the gravity well?

    By far, the greatest threats to humanity are certain non-malevolent activities of other humans. Might some extraterrestrial science help in solving some of the problems created by these activities? Sure. However, we need to keep in mind that sending some 'seed' of humanity to space isn't going to improve the lives of other humans here on Earth. Thinking that everyone is better off because of the 'success' of a few is the very sort of thinking which makes it more difficult to solve the social problems which are causing us to think this way to begin with. So, as much as I respect cosmologists and other space scientists, they need to set their egos aside before making policy recommendations to improve the lot of humanity.

  • Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @01:35PM (#43441221)

    That is the question. Why?

    Hawking is a proponent that everything that we know about the universe happened on its own, there is no higher power, no purpose, none of that. The fact that we are here discussing all of this is just because of randomness. As such, what difference does it make if the human race goes on or not? What are we preserving for future generations or even the rest of the universe? Our (the human race) contributions to the universe are no more important than that of an ameoba. We are here because of pure chance and whether we are here a 1000 years from now or not doesn't change anything. It is only our own eqotism that would lead to the conclusion that we must leave the planet because eventually we will become extinct here. Everyone reading this will eventually die, too. That is how the universe works.

    • Some of us believe life is worth living even though we aren't trying to impress a sky-daddy.
    • So? You should notice that people that believe in evolution (which is far from random BTW) are not completely devoid of purpose nor committing mass suicide. You are probably right that it does not matter much in the grand scale of the universe if we live or not. But it matters to ME, and I would very much like MY children to live too. If enough people think the same, then WE certainly care and should do something about it. Importance and purpose, you will find, is completely in the eye of the beholder.
  • by okmijnuhb (575581) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @02:54PM (#43441701)
    We need to bring all the diversity of animals and plants we rely upon for food and resources.
    Good luck with that.
    If we cannot survive on the planet that nurtured us for millions of years, we might be doomed to destroy the habitability of every planet we touch, assuming we find a habitable planet, and export enough genetic diversity, and plants and animals to survive as a species.
  • Wrong (Score:4, Insightful)

    by zmooc (33175) <zmooc@NOSpaM.zmooc.net> on Saturday April 13, 2013 @04:00PM (#43442025) Homepage

    I think he's wrong. While escaping our planet is a great way of increasing our chances of survival as a species in the extremely long run, even if we completely destroy the ecosystem that keeps us alive, planet earth is still a vastly less hostile environment than just about the entire known universe.

    Leaving Earth really won't help us at all. Only finding an exact copy Earth will help us. And chances of doing so are pretty much zero. We might find something that provides us with energy, resources and a magnetic field, though, but finding a place were we'd be able to breathe outside, even after terraforming the hell out of it, is an unrealistic goal. And even then, I'd rather be locked up in a biosphere on a dead planet earth than on some foreign world.

    And even that would be pretty damn hard; possibly the biggest hurdle to take would be to create a proper artificial self-sustaining isolated ecosystem to keep us alive. I don't think we've managed to do that yet, though ESA, amongst others, is working on that.

  • by janimal (172428) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @06:28PM (#43442919)

    Stephen Hawking is probably a good deal smarter than most of us. How quickly most folks here discount that and assume that he hasn't considered some basic and obvious fact or evaluated some assumption. 1000 years is a heck of a long time for a civilization. If this guy thinks on that scale, he's obviously not considering the constraints that are true for us today.

"Life, loathe it or ignore it, you can't like it." -- Marvin the paranoid android

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