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Stephen Hawking - Image courtesy
We must leave this planet before we get hit by rocks or become part of a Ben Affleck movie

In a rare interview, Stephen Hawking said to the BBC that humans must move to another solar system in order to ensure the survival of the species. “Once we spread out into space and establish colonies, our future should be safe,” he said. Hawking made a similar suggestion back in June.


He believes that life on Earth could be wiped out by a nuclear disaster or a massive asteroid hitting the planet causing Armageddon with its Deep Impact. He said that, since we have no similar planets on our solar system, we would “have to go to another star” to find a suitable habitat.


Before humans could even dream of such a move, we would need to develop a viable means of transportation. Hawking proposed “matter/anti-matter annihilation” propulsion. He explained: “When matter and anti-matter meet up, they disappear in a burst of radiation. If this was beamed out of the back of a spaceship, it could drive it forward … It would take a lot of energy to accelerate to near the speed of light.”


Even at near-light speeds, it would take six years to reach a new star. While Hawking, 64, may not see our escape from Earth in his lifetime, he still wishes to see the planet from space.  “My next goal is to go into space; maybe Richard Branson will help me.”


Hawking was recently awarded the Royal Society’s Copley medal, their highest honor, for his work in theoretical physics and cosmology leading to classifications and further knowledge of black holes.


Lord Rees, president of the Royal Society, stated “Stephen Hawking has contributed as much as anyone since Einstein to our understanding of gravity. This medal is a fitting recognition of an astonishing research career spanning more than 40 years.”


In a statement issued by Hawking after learning of the award he said “This is a very distinguished medal, it was awarded to Darwin, Einstein and (Francis) Crick. I am honored to be in their company.”

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Antimatter over Fusion?
By TimberJon on 12/1/2006 3:23:27 PM , Rating: 3
Hmph. Antimatter propulsion systems. Fusion would be much faster than conventional methods and a source of nearly unlimited propulsion on a very little amount of fuel. Sure an antimatter engine would get you there MUCH faster, but you still have to slow down. Fusion propulsion is much safer, you would have time to react to dangers within hours and minutes instead of microseconds. I forget what the specific impulse was, but I think it was around 200 or 300,000 for a fusion rocket engine.

And when you have a ship that goes near the speed of light, a dust particle can punch right through your ship. Armor plating? Ok, perhaps. Radiation shielding? We will need an electromagnetic shield or cloak (not to be mistaken as invisibility) for the ships for extended periods of spaceflight. Oxygen recycling? An ark ship large enough to have an ecology area and hydroponics would have to be built. Irrigation, and strict waste, water and air circulation and scrubbing systems would have to be in there.

Its saying alot that we have to find another star system. We will always have to visit Earth. Even if we move out and colonize moons, asteriods and planets elsewhere. Earth would be the birthplace of humankind and would be a reverential cornerstone in Humans history. Perhaps later on we can take Slipspace Cruises and vacation to Earth haha!

RE: Antimatter over Fusion?
By angryhippy on 12/1/2006 3:54:35 PM , Rating: 3
An ark ship large enough to have an ecology area and hydroponics would have to be built. Irrigation, and strict waste, water and air circulation and scrubbing systems would have to be in there.

Some great ideas, but it would probably be easier to have a bunch of sperm and eggs stored for humans and animals, and seeds for crop plants. By then, artificial wombs should be perfected. Computers and robots could probably just grow any humans, animals plants after landing on a suitable planet. You could maybe have a small number of people in suspended animation to wake up for decisions or child rearing if AI isn't perfected by then. By then we'll probably have the technology to manufacture needed equipment on site, so you just include life support equipment for any living humans along for the ride, and store a bunch of components, or the more rare materials needed to make any electronics machinery. You could have some sort of seed ship that lands, manufactures any facilities & equipment needed, then raises and trains people and their food.

RE: Antimatter over Fusion?
By MarkHark on 12/3/2006 9:55:37 PM , Rating: 3
Arthur C. Clarke
"Songs of distant earth"

Really good book, one of his best IMO.
It's all described there, almost exactly as you posted.

"I f***ing cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it." -- Bungie Technical Lead Chris Butcher
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