Ming the Mechanic:
Colonies in space may be only hope, says Hawking

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Colonies in space may be only hope, says Hawking2001-10-16 13:01
13 comments
pictureby Flemming Funch

THE human race is likely to be wiped out by a doomsday virus before the Millennium is out, unless we set up colonies in space, Prof Stephen Hawking warns today.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Prof Hawking, the world's best known cosmologist, says that biology, rather than physics, presents the biggest challenge to human survival.

"Although September 11 was horrible, it didn't threaten the survival of the human race, like nuclear weapons do," said the Cambridge University scientist.

"In the long term, I am more worried about biology. Nuclear weapons need large facilities, but genetic engineering can be done in a small lab. You can't regulate every lab in the world. The danger is that either by accident or design, we create a virus that destroys us.

"I don't think the human race will survive the next thousand years, unless we spread into space. There are too many accidents that can befall life on a single planet. But I'm an optimist. We will reach out to the stars."

Current theories suggest that space travel will be tedious, using spaceships travelling slower than light.

But Prof Hawking, Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge, says that a warp drive, of the kind seen in Star Trek, cannot be ruled out.

This method of space exploration and colonisation, apparently the stuff of science fiction, could be one possible escape from the human predicament.

Prof Hawking believes that genetic engineering could be used to "improve" human beings to meet the challenges of long duration space travel.

Cyborgs, humans with computers linked to their brains, will be needed to prevent intelligent computers taking over. "I think humans will have to learn to live in space," he said.

The Universe in a Nutshell, Prof Hawking's long-awaited follow-up to the 1988 bestseller A Brief History of Time, is being serialised in the Daily Telegraph, starting tomorrow.

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(By Roger Highfield, Science Editor, Telegraph Group. © Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2001. )


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13 comments

29 Oct 2001 @ 06:27 by kay : Sitting and thinking again.....
I have been to this page several times and don't quite know what to think let alone what kind of a comment to make. Working in my garden thinking on this topic, I stopped and thrust my shovel into the ground and stomped my foot and said something like.........I've been too long with this planet to buy into this concept. This planet and her people mean to much to me.... Something like that. At the same time, I have no idea what the answers are. I know better what the answer is not. Hit and hit back won't solve anything. I might bring one war to an end but soon there is another as each side regroups.

Biological warfare, accidents, spills. What are the answers.  



1 Nov 2001 @ 18:45 by amrani : Space
I think that Hawking has some good points regarding possibilities but it is still up to the mass consciousness to decide what we are going to do...starting with now. Since we are expanding our consciousness, this includes humanity's awareness that they may not be alone in the cosmos (this is for the majority, not the minority who already know and possibly communicate with ETs and have been to other places), and this will naturally evolve into moving out into our universe to undersatnd more about who we are, what is out there, and so forth.
Life in the body has always been a huge risk, and yet people survived the plagues, and all kinds of disasters. While there are unstable and hostile people in the world, there are a lot more who are not like that, and that energy has to build some more so that we make sure we don't create that fearful scenario as mentioned by Hawking to where we MUST leave Earth for survival. It does not have to come to that.  



3 Nov 2001 @ 02:37 by ming : Expanding into space
I'd certainly not want humanity to expand into space in order to escape our problems, or in order to export our problems. Moving into space to avoid that we get killed by the same virus is not a whole better than moving into space because we've polluted our planet too much. Its all just escaping the problems rather than transforming our way of living so that those problems don't exist. I think (and hope) we'll only really will succeed in moving into space when we've created a sustainable civilization here first. And then we'll discover that we have lots of friends out there who'll be happy to hang out with us more openly.  


5 Nov 2001 @ 00:16 by amrani : oh yeah!
Flemming, have you heard Bashar's latest message? (Channeled by Darryl Anka) It is R.S.V.P., an invitation to become more of a part of the Association of Worlds and embrace more of our intergalactic family, while we're still here. I agree with you 100% about starting while on Earth, first.  


5 Nov 2001 @ 03:54 by ming : Association of Worlds
I haven't heard that one, but that would align with my understanding ... that since the last few years we'd be quite welcome to join up with the community of intelligent planets, but that it is up to us to wake up enough so that we can even decide on that.  


9 Jun 2005 @ 02:03 by someone @84.9.61.155 : Nature, nature
Hawking, like everyone else, makes mankind in his image; his logical view of the world, like everyone’s, is a dictator’s view. In reality, humanity - and the decisions made - are natural, organic, unpredictable and unguided.

It is a cruel trick that his, and our, minds are capable of perceiving brief flashes of clarity, yet collectively we are impotent to act. How many plans are made but not carried out due to lack of willpower?

Nature likes to average behaviour - it spurns radical action. To achieve the immense task of colonising space or reaching for other planets would require an unnatural act of collective self-sacrifice that is simply beyond us.

There could be ways we might survive : 1) We could escape the fair, stifling bounds of democracy and appoint a far-sighted, single-minded dictator such as Hawking, or me, to take control of the world and force humanity to work on the single goal of colonising space. 2) Perhaps a minor disaster occurs. We are shocked into taking action. 3) We discover a major technological breakthrough in the style of “Pandora’s star” that allows us to avoid facing our own nature.

Given the scale of the universe and precariousness of our existence our capacity for self-obsession may be our downfall. Given this situation, the amount of time spent recounting the story of Nero’s final recital seems rather ironic. Given this situation, spending our moments of clarity considering this irony seems rather ironic.  



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