Stephen Hawking on Big Think: Go To Other Planets or Go Extinct

by Socrates on August 10, 2010

In this 2 min video interview with Big Think British physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking argues that we must go to conquer other planets or, eventually, face extinction.

You can read the full transcript in the next several paragraphs or skip right to watching the video itself at the end of the post.

“I see great dangers for the human race. There have been a number of times in the past when its survival has been a question of touch and go. The Cuban missile crisis in 1963 was one of these. The frequency of such occasions is likely to increase in the future. We shall need great care and judgment to negotiate them all successfully. But I’m an optimist. If we can avoid disaster for the next two centuries, our species should be safe, as we spread into space.

If we are the only intelligent beings in the galaxy, we should make sure we survive and continue. But we are entering an increasingly dangerous period of our history. Our population and our use of the finite resources of planet Earth, are growing exponentially, along with our technical ability to change the environment for good or ill.  But our genetic code still carries the selfish and aggressive instincts that were of survival advantage in the past. It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand or million.

Our only chance of long term survival is not to remain inward looking on planet Earth, but to spread out into space. We have made remarkable progress in the last hundred years. But if we want to continue beyond the next hundred years, our future is in space. That is why I’m in favor of manned, or should I say ‘personed’ space flight.”

Update: For more info and many amazing videos visit Stephen Hawking’s page on the Discover Channel here.

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