“Stephen Hawking: I believe that the long-term future of the human race must be in space. It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster on planet Earth in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand, or million. The human race shouldn’t have all its eggs in one basket, or on one planet. Let’s hope we can avoid dropping the basket until we have spread the load.”
I don’t know about you, but I find Stephen Hawking’s observation to be very motivating. The man is unquestionably brilliant, so it’s worth listening to him.
My take on this is that humanity needs choices including choices of planets on which to live. Stephen Hawking didn’t actually say we needed to abandon Earth. He said we need to spread out to other habitable worlds.
The first piece of good news is that we’re finding other planets that can sustain life. The University of Puerto Rico – Arecibo’s Planetary Habitability Lab currently lists 2 confirmed planets and 28 confirmed planetary moon systems that should be favorable for surface liquid water — and this is the primary criterion for sustaining life. 20 more possibilities, as yet unconfirmed, are also listed. (Note: the Planetary Habitability Lab is due to launch it’s Habitable Exoplanets Catalog later today at 10 AM on the USA East Coast/7 AM on the USA West Coast. Check it out.)
The second piece of good news is that Albert Einstein’s Special Relativity Theory allows human travelers to travel to other stars within a single lifetime if the travelers can sustain acceleration at the same rate (“1 g”) produced by gravity at the surface of the Earth. This happens because time experienced by the traveler slows down as the traveler goes faster. This effect becomes significant after about a year of 1 g acceleration. Based on an earlier MSNBC report relating to Stephen Hawking and colonization of other worlds, I believe that this genius of our time is also well aware of this possibility.
The bad news is that we don’t have the technology to sustain 1 g acceleration today. However, that’s not a theoretical barrier; it’s just a technology problem. Resolving this technology problem is just a matter of investing the resources to solve it.
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