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Stephen Hawking - Image courtesy GrayWizard.net
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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By peternelson on 12/3/2006 7:00:52 AM , Rating: 2
"Antimatter is still highly theoretical and unproven"

No it isn't.

Places like Fermilab and CERN can make antimatter quite routinely.

Just it costs quite a lot of money to produce (not to mention build those facilities in the first place) and the quantities are very small.

But I agree, if there was a project like Orion that used true fusion rather than conventional nukes... (and if humans didn't get gene mutation from the radiation), that could probably get us there eventually.


By ADDAvenger on 12/3/2006 5:49:15 PM , Rating: 2
The radiation from an Orion ship wouldn't be too much of a problem. First, the pusher plate that catches the nuclear blasts will be about ten meters thick. Second, any Orion-type ship meant for interstellar travel will be so ridiculously massive that throwing on a couple dozen tons of lead won't mean anything.
Also, there is a lot of cosmic radiation, from solar flares and such, which produces much more intense radiation than the bombs would. So by design, if the sheilding blocks out the cosmic radiation, it will also have to work well enough to block the 'propulsionary' radiation.


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