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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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By Milliamp on 12/3/2006 11:12:32 PM , Rating: 1
Not true, the friction alone created by traveling at that speed would disintegrate you.

Even in a vacuum if you were to make contact with a small particle, even the size of sand it would destroy your ship.

The best short-term solution would probably be to set up base and begin terraforming mars. Maybe we could put our greenhouse gases to good use on mars and kill 2 birds with one stone.

By rushfan2006 on 12/4/2006 8:54:04 AM , Rating: 2
While read all the arguments here on what happens at the speed of light...we may never REALLY know what happens. Science is great, Hawkings and Einstein and the rest of the great minds are definitely "uber" geniuses in their fields.

But as we probably NEVER will have the ability to propel any manmade vehicle carrying any biological occupants anywhere close to the speed of light -- we can't be 100% of what will/would REALLY honestly happen.

Even many of these great minds state the amount of power alone, aside from all the other issues to do with, for propelling a vehicle the speed of light is more power that all the world's electric and nuclear power plants can provide even if you multiplied it all by 1,000 times.

By Sungpooz on 12/8/2006 10:43:42 AM , Rating: 2
Even in a vacuum if you were to make contact with a small particle, even the size of sand it would destroy your ship.

The ship would destroy the particle. getting hit with something traveling that fast would probably smash it into sub-atomic particles.

and sub-atomic particles won't destroy a ship.

By Milliamp on 12/10/2006 5:56:02 AM , Rating: 2
It would destroy the small sand/pebble to sub-atomic particles but not damage the front of the ship?

The material of this ship is light enough to be pushed to these speeds, but armored enough to withstand that?

If you have ever read about a SABOT tank round you will know that the reason it penetrates armor is because it delivers so much force to such a small surface area.

It is said that getting hit with a SABOT is like getting hit by a train spread over the surface area of a dime.

Although this is not necessarily 100% true, the same applies to the sand/pebble. What it lacks in mass, it makes up for in speed.

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