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Human Survival Depends On Space Exploration, Says Hawking

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the what's-he-hawking? dept.

Canada 438

thomst writes "The Winnipeg Free Press posts a story by Cassandra Szklarski of the Canadian Press about an email interview with Stephen Hawking in which the astrophysicist and geek hero opines, 'Our only chance of long-term survival is not to remain lurking on planet Earth, but to spread out into space.' The story also covers the upcoming Canadian debut of Hawking's new TV series 'Brave New World With Stephen Hawking,' and his excitement about ongoing work at the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ont. investigating quantum theory and gravity."

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Space ninjas (4, Insightful)

suso (153703) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111286)

So he wants us to explore space, but not talk to aliens [slashdot.org] .

Looks like he dyed his hair.

Re:Space ninjas (5, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111326)

Well, if he would just get off of his butt and work a bit harder, maybe he can figure out this gravity nonsense and come up with a way to work around it.

Then we can talk about getting off this rock.

Ball's in your court, Stevie.

Re:Space ninjas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111444)

Well, if he would just get off of his butt...

Ow. That was kind of low...

Re:Space ninjas (4, Funny)

JockTroll (996521) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111486)

Ow. That was kind of low...

Not as low as he would fall if he tried to get up.

Re:Space ninjas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111592)

There was a special for Star Trek: TNG about the episode that featured Steven Hawking, and when it showed him off-camera, there was this 3 inch-long string of drool oozing out of the corner of his mouth. He would probably drown in his own drool if he were to take the dive.

Re:Space ninjas (0, Offtopic)

Brucelet (1857158) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111450)

Trying to tell how tongue-in-cheek you are when you tell Steven Hawking to get off his butt.

Re:Space ninjas (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111492)

You have to try that hard?

Re:Space ninjas (4, Insightful)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111346)

So he wants us to explore space, but not talk to aliens [slashdot.org] .

Not mutually exclusive. In fact, we should probably colonize space before inviting aliens to the neighborhood.

Re:Space ninjas (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111736)

Just study Torontonians to understand how to ignore and not talk to people when they try to talk to you.

Our solar system ... (4, Insightful)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111408)

So he wants us to explore space, but not talk to aliens

Getting the human race into space does not necessarily mean zipping around from one solar system to another like in Star Trek. Getting the human race to colonize our solar system would be quite sufficient and quite plausible given our understanding of science and technology. We are not likely to run into aliens elsewhere in our solar system so there is no real inconsistency. :-)

Re:Our solar system ... (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111570)

Thinking into going or colonizing other solar system could be unrealistic for some centuries, if ever. For what we know about the universe so far, could be something that not even alien races could afford. In the other hand, terraforming/colonizing other planets in our solar system, or managing to build self sustained space stations is more probable, and doing what is needed to get that goal could make things better here, or at least better prepared for some potential disasters.

Re:Our solar system ... (5, Interesting)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111664)

In the other hand, terraforming/colonizing other planets in our solar system, or managing to build self sustained space stations is more probable, and doing what is needed to get that goal could make things better here, or at least better prepared for some potential disasters.

If you can build self-sustaining habitats, you just point one in the direction of another star and fire the engines. Then who cares whether you take 500 years to get there? Life will be little different to floating in an orbit around the sun here.

Re:Our solar system ... (5, Insightful)

GuldKalle (1065310) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111836)

The difference is, though, that there is no sun to provide energy. We'd need to lug an extra (~1kW/m2 * 500 yrs) with us. And I don't think lithium batteries will cut it.

Re:Our solar system ... (4, Insightful)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111934)

Yes, but Uranium could.

Re:Our solar system ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111734)

Wrong.
Are you gonna tell me we don't have or can't come up with the technology needed to colonize another planet/moon RIGHT NOW!?

Bullcrap.. We 100% could do it right now.
Except it would be expensive..

Money. that's the best reason we've ever been able to come up with for not doing it. Just money. A purely fictional invention of humanity.

I'd say we deserve it if we don't colonize anthing and get wiped out. That's a fine bookend for us.

Re:Our solar system ... (1)

lpp (115405) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111650)

Actually we're liable to find out there are some cowardly aliens hanging out on the moon.

Re:Space ninjas (1)

Taty'sEyes (2373326) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111648)

Obviously! Didn't your mother tell you not to speak to strangers?

Re:Space ninjas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111726)

The whole concept of saving the "human race" is ridiculous. On the scale of millions of years, life will evolve in ways we can't imagine. Shipping humans to some far flung, potentially carcinogenic world is useless, most likely the people would die quicker than virginia colonists. Better to just pollute the world with base seeds of life, and hope we can jump start evolution. There's plenty of people who think that's where we came from anyhow...

Fuck Hawking (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111288)

String theory is bullshit

Re:Fuck Hawking (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111318)

Why don't you bullshit this?

*grabs dick*

Re:Fuck Hawking (-1)

suso (153703) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111500)

Why don't you bullshit this?

Hi kids, Mr. Question Mark here. This sentence is a command because you are telling someone to bullshit your dick, not asking them why they aren't bullshitting your dick. So you don't need to use me. Instead, try Mr. Exclamation Point. But between you and me, he's a real asshole.

Don't be silly (3, Funny)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111290)

We're all going to become happy fluffy hippies and live a sustainable lifestyle in little teepees where we'll end all conflict by singing happy songs and shit.

Re:Don't be silly (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111386)

We're all going to become happy fluffy hippies and live a sustainable lifestyle in little teepees where we'll end all conflict by singing happy songs and shit.

Hey, I was just thinking that [wordpress.com] , except I was thinking that 99% of us would still live in cities and stuff while maybe 1% drops out, tunes in, and gets with the pre-Columbian vibe. You never know, those DIYers who can live (and reproduce) without a whole pile of techno-infrastructure, like the American Indians did, could come in handy some day.

Shitting from happy songs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111442)

We're all going to become happy fluffy hippies and live a sustainable lifestyle in little teepees where we'll end all conflict by singing happy songs and shit.

I'm glad you said that. When I sing happy songs, I shit too. I glad I'm not alone!

After describing my issue with my doctor, he said, "You know, this is the first case of singing causing IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) I have ever heard! I'll have to write a paper and publish this in the NJM - you're going to make me famous!"

"Yes, but it only happens with happy songs."

I'm now experimenting with Irish folk tunes (all that dieing at sea, lover leaving and other tragedies) to see if it makes me constipated. I'll post later about that.

This Just In (1)

masternerdguy (2468142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111306)

Germs cause disease. I thought that the idea that our future was in space exploration was pretty common by now, and that politicians were the ones in the way.

Re:This Just In (5, Interesting)

geekpowa (916089) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111402)

And here's me thinking it is because cost per Kg to LEO is between $5,000-$10,000 : and that is for non man-rated cargo. So the cost to get someone into LEO in their birthday suit, let alone anywhere interesting like an established moon base, currently exceeds the average total asset holdings of most first world citizens.

But it's the politicians fault; its their fault the planet is dying and Armageddon is nearly upon us, it's their fault that we have not colonized space. Rabble rabble rabble.

Q: Guess who killed the Apollo programme? A: US citizenry not the politicians. The programme was deeply unpopular. Tom Lehrer's sentiment represented broad public opinion at the time:

"what is it that will make it possible to spend 20 billion dollars of your money to put some clown on the moon? well, S good old american know-how, that's what. as provided by good old americans like dr. wernher von braun."

Re:This Just In (5, Insightful)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111458)

cost per Kg to LEO is between $5,000-$10,000

But it's the politicians fault...

most likely... what's the cost (including logistics, support, benefit pay, etc.) to deploy a marine to Afghanistan for a year? For every 10 marines deployed "over there" for a year, could we get one up to the ISS?

Re:This Just In (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111542)

And here's me thinking it is because cost per Kg to LEO is between $5,000-$10,000 : and that is for non man-rated cargo.

It's that expensive because we can afford it to be that expensive.

Compare it to for example the price of assault rifles. It can easily cost $3,000+ if you buy them in a store at times of peace when everybody should get their share of the profit.
In times of war the government can just take over the factories and produce them at a non-profit basis which puts the manufacturing cost down below $100.

I don't see the U.S. leading any more manned space missions. The political climate does not allow that. All projects have to be done the "captialistic" way which means that everyone involved has to make a profit but since the project has to be funded by taxes anything more than $0 is too much.
In China everything is different. All manned space programs will have the purpose to show how great China is and the cost may even exceed a tenth of the U.S. war machine if necessary.

Re:This Just In (1, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111630)

I don't see the U.S. leading any more manned space missions. The political climate does not allow that. All projects have to be done the "captialistic" way which means that everyone involved has to make a profit but since the project has to be funded by taxes anything more than $0 is too much.

Uh, what? Are you a member of the Glorious People's Soviet Cryosleep Program who just woke up after thirty years?

Launch costs for the Glorious People's Space Shuttle were around $20,000 a pound. The EVIL CAPITALIST Falcon 9 Heavy is expected to cost around $1,000 a pound.

There are few things government does better than making things more expensive than they need to be. People who are spending their own money care about cost far more than people who are spending other people's money.

Re:This Just In (5, Insightful)

the gnat (153162) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111620)

So the cost to get someone into LEO in their birthday suit, let alone anywhere interesting like an established moon base, currently exceeds the average total asset holdings of most first world citizens.

And it just keeps getting worse from there. Scientists who actually understand this stuff - all of them supporters of manned space exploration! - have come up with some interesting numbers for the expense of long-range expeditions. Ralph McNutt at JHU wrote a good article about exploring the outer planets [jhuapl.edu] using currently feasible technology. He envisions a series of five missions, each designed to avoid lethal radiation exposure, in the latter half of the 21st century. Estimated cost: $4 trillion. There's no colonization involved - this is just for doing flybys of gas giants and their moons. Sustaining a permanent settlement somewhere won't be any easier, because we'd need constant supply runs from Earth. How long does anyone think a moon base would last without a supply line? Think it'll be any easier on Mars?

Now, I actually think we should do all this stuff at some point in the future - but it needs to get at least an order of magnitude cheaper before I'll advocate spending other people's money on it. Maybe with another hundred years' scientific development in the fields of human physiology, nanotechnology, and propulsion systems we'll be able to afford interplanetary travel for relatively large numbers of people. Right now, however, if we try to establish a permanent base (which we can't afford) on Mars, with enough fertile individuals to perpetuate the human race, they're basically equally fucked if the Earth gets hit by an asteroid - they'll just take a little longer to die.

Re:This Just In (1)

bug1 (96678) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111666)

If we cant survive on earth the last place we should go is into space.

Our future is in learning to fix the problems we create.

But your right, the idea that our future lies in space is pretty common, rather unfortunate really.

Exactly right! 100% (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111798)

if the human race can not make life great on this planet then living in space where being even more efficient and much more benevolent is required to survive will never succeed.

humans are just inherently too stupid and greedy to survive for generations in some space ship or artificial planetoid type thing considering the track record we've made here on earth.

or just don't fuck up this planet so bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111322)

Really pretty simple. Kill all the idiots driving SUVs and who have houses over 1200 sq ft.

Suddenly energy use per capita plummets by over an order of magnitude, and the earth and humanity lives on.

Seriously, what we need is a good predator that preys upon the fat and stupid.

Re:or just don't fuck up this planet so bad (2)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111356)

Seriously, what we need is a good predator that preys upon the fat and stupid.

CAD? (Coronary Artery Disease)

Re:or just don't fuck up this planet so bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111468)

You might actually be a psychopath, of the, "you know, Hitler was right" variety. You really should see a doctor.

Re:or just don't fuck up this planet so bad (-1, Troll)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111752)

And you might be a politically correct fag.

Conservation can work, too (0, Offtopic)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111330)

Colonizing space is a nice idea, it has been my dream since I was five. However, I have another suggestion [wordpress.com] that could also work.

Re:Conservation can work, too (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111452)

Conservation can't work. The sun will distroy the Earth regardless.

Re:Conservation can work, too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111462)

Great idea! Let the culling of the excess population necessary for this to work start with you!

Re:Conservation can work, too (4, Interesting)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111724)

Nothing short of zero population growth is going to do anything but slow down the inevitable. Suppose we discover a means of building colony starships capable of moving ten billion people at the speed of light. Further, suppose there is an empty, habitable "class M" planet around every star.

Now, the human race has been expanding exponentially at the historic average of 2% per year. That means that, on average, the number of people doubles every 35 years. It's crowded here, and we've got a starship and an empty planet only 4 light years away. So we load half the population and take them to Alpha Centauri. It took (according to some estimates) 20,000 years for homo sapiens to get where we are today. Do you know how long it will take us to populate Alpha Centauri to today's levels? Only 35 years.

Okay, it's 39 years later (Four years transit time plus 35 years of growth), 2050, and now you have two crowded planets. No problem, Barnard's Star is only 6 years away from Earth, and Wolf 359 is 8 years from Alpha Centari. So we pack up half the population of Earth and send them to Barnard's Star, and we take half the population of Alpha Centauri and send them to Wolf 359. Again, it will only take 35 years to fill each of the planets. By 2093 we will need to find 8 more planets. We now have a colony on each of the stars within ten light years. 35 years after that, and we will need 16 planets, 70 years and we'll need 32, then 64. By 2200 we will have colonized all the stars within 20 light years.

By 2360ish we'll hit a snag. We will have populated all of the stars within 35 light years of Earth. Colony ships leaving Earth at this point will not arrive at their destination before it is time to send out another colony ship. Of course, all the other colonies will be sending out their colony ships as well. We'll need another 512 planets. At the end of another 35 year cycle, we'll need 1024, another cycle and we'll have used up all the stars within 50 light years.

Scientists estimate that there is about one star per 280 cubic light years. In 800 years or so, our empire will need 34 million new planets. However there are only some 19 million stars within 800 light years. In other words, we will have outgrown our ability to travel.

Today we have 7 billion people on the planet. By 2150, your target date, we will have 36 billion people. Your 50/50 by 2150 plan would result in each person having only half an acre of land on which to live and support themself. This [netdna-cdn.com] suggests 2 acres per person are needed. 50/50 by 2150 would result in 3/4 of the population starving to death.

It's basic mathematics. A fixed resource cannot supply an ever increasing population. Any plan that does not include zero population growth and 100% recycling will eventually fail.

Re:Conservation can work, too (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111920)

Any plan that does not include zero population growth and 100% recycling will eventually fail.

The reality is that the people at the frontier will survive because they always have new places to go and new resources to use, while those stuck in the core will die. You cannot build a 'sustainable' society that will survive for billions of years, because one mistake will wipe you out.

Which is why those who choose to stay on Earth are doomed.

Re:Conservation can work, too (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111770)

Because I can't stand living so close to tree huggers. BTW the definition of a tree hugger is 'someone who already lives in the forest but doesn't want anyone else to be able to live there too'.

Why does it matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111338)

Okay, but what's so great about long term human survival? Bearing in mind that long term here means way beyond the point that all of us and our children and great great grand children are dead. Humanity isn't going to survive forever whatever happens so why should we care if it survives a bit longer than planet earth?

Really? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111348)

No shit, Einstein!

Another only chance of long-term survival . . . (5, Insightful)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111352)

"Mr. President, I would not rule out the chance to preserve a nucleus of human specimens. It would be quite easy at the bottom of some of our deeper mine shafts . . . Naturally, they would breed prodigiously, eh? There would be much time, and little to do. But ah with the proper breeding techniques and a ratio of say, ten females to each male, I would guess that they could then work their way back to the present gross national product within say, twenty years."

"Doctor, you mentioned the ration of ten women to each man. Now, wouldn't that necessitate the abandonment of the so called monogamous sexual relationship, I mean, as far as men were concerned?"

"Regrettably, yes. But it is, you know, a sacrifice required for the future of the human race. I hasten to add that since each man will be required to do prodigious... service along these lines, the women will have to be selected for their sexual characteristics which will have to be of a highly stimulating nature."

Re:Another only chance of long-term survival . . . (4, Funny)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111412)

Keeping a Dr. Strangelove quote prepared and ready to copy paste, there has to be some kind of geek badge for that.

Re:Another only chance of long-term survival . . . (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111638)

Like the google badge?

Re:Another only chance of long-term survival . . . (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111472)

What I never understood is that if only a selected number of few can fit in the mines than how will they breed? I mean, the mines are already full.

Re:Another only chance of long-term survival . . . (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111704)

easy, the female workers while not being serviced work to enlarge the mines

Make it a religion (4, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111360)

People are always inventing religions. Most die, but the new (in the span of history) cults Scientology and Mormonism seem to be doing a good business, in the USA at least, other religions elsewhere. Since all religion does is answer the unanswerable questions of life, such as the purpose of it, just found a new religion where the answer to the meaning of life is to get the fuck off this planet. Maybe not using those exact words, I'm sure some more mystic and transcendental and pompous word choices can be arranged.

What motivated people is not cold rational analysis. Motivation is emotional. So just translate the valid motivation into the wacky language of religion.

Re:Make it a religion (4, Insightful)

tragedy (27079) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111518)

The problem with this, is that it's too easy to end up with a Heaven's Gate [wikipedia.org] , where the members end up committing suicide so that their spirits can reach a spaceship hidden behind a comet. Religious frameworks can sometimes herd people into accomplishing great works, but they're volatile and dangerous. If you invent a religion to achieve some grand goal, then you have the problem of what to do with the religion once the goal is achieved.

Re:Make it a religion (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111790)

Space Nuttery IS a religion, for exactly the reason you stated. Cold rational analysis shows that we have neither the technology nor energy resources to even put a family of four on Mars, let alone spread out to other star systems. We *know* that. However, since this clashes with the modern Western notion of ever-expanding population and perpetual growth, to avoid a 1960s-robot-style explosion of the head when confronted with an obvious contradiction, it's far more pleasant to daydream about vast space ships and delude yourself into thinking that a few rockets will allow us all to continue as we are now.

Just as no one lives like medieval peasants now, no one will live like us in a hundred years. There won't be the energy or resources to allow it. We will adapt and change, THAT is our strength. Suburbs, careers and cars will seem as quaint and ridiculous as 18th century clothes to our descendents, right here on Earth.

Like a religion, Space Nuttery is wishful thinking. It's decorated as "science" so that's why there are so many geeks that have this mental illness/religion. Like religion, it's all in their heads.

Re:Make it a religion (3, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111902)

Cold rational analysis shows that we have neither the technology nor energy resources to even put a family of four on Mars, let alone spread out to other star systems.

Thank you for proving that Anti-Space Nuttery is a religion.

Cold rational analysis shows that you could put a family of four on Mars for a few billion dollars. Sustaining them would be more difficult, but probably not cost more than a hundred billion. So long as it was a private venture and not run by NASA, anyway.

You sound like the people in 1900 claiming that we'd never fly a heavier-than-air aircraft, or in the 1930s that the fastest airliner might one day reach 250mph and carry a hundred people.

Only a fanatic could believe that humans won't develop the technology to live in space, because all of our past history shows that we will if we're allowed to do so.

Re:Make it a religion (1)

Palpatine_li (1547707) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111940)

why not cult of singularity?

Hawking's pretext (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111362)

that man is genetically predisposed to be selfish and callous with regard to his environment, and will probably destroy earth's habitation within a few hundred years - is as interesting as his conclusion, that we need to use space travel as a way out.

I realize that Hawking is far from the first to articulate that POV, but maybe with someone of his (scientific) stature, people might take it more seriously as a springboard for investigation and discussion outside of the science fiction-reading community.

Re:Hawking's pretext (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111850)

Does Hawking have a background in behavioral genetics, evolutionary psychology, environmental risk assessment, demographics, or aeronautical engineering? Why is he opining on subjects that he's not particularly expert on?

I wonder if the aliens are tasty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111378)

Just sayin'

Re:I wonder if the aliens are tasty (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111794)

Who's the alien. Ahem. "To Serve Man".

Genesis (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111384)

If Earth is the Garden of Eden and we're forced to abandon it due to poor stewardship, would that make the book of Genesis prophetic?

Re:Genesis (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111584)

No idea, I'm not a huge Phil Collins fan.

What constitutes "survival"? (4, Interesting)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111388)

Is it just the transmission of DNA?

Then if it is, then transmitting our DNA via high powered radio telescopes would be far cheaper than a space program. Next would be including DNA samples on anything leaving the solar system (pioneer, voyager, new horizon).

If it's our cultural heritage, we've been beaming a (lopsided) collection out into space for the last 100 years. We've even sent some physical artifacts.

If it's the survival of our MINDS that we're concerned with, well rather than build space ships capable of crossing the interstellar void (which'll likely take centuries) maybe it would be faster to figure out how to convert them into code and beam THAT.

Of course this assumes that there is someone out there on the receiving end. I don't think that's too unlikely a hypothesis but reasonable people might disagree. So let's get listening! (And maybe we'll figure out the answer to the Fermi Paradox).

(By the way, I'm all for a VERY aggressive space program, it's just that maybe we shouldn't think survival is the best reason for it!)

Re:What constitutes "survival"? (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111540)

Is it just the transmission of DNA? Then if it is, then transmitting our DNA via high powered radio telescopes would be far cheaper than a space program.

But not nearly as fun as the more traditional method. :-)

Re:What constitutes "survival"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111606)

I think it's more basic than the survival of DNA. I think it's the survival of everything you listed, in the form of actual people who could repopulate the earth.

Of course this assumes that there is someone out there on the receiving end. I don't think that's too unlikely a hypothesis but reasonable people might disagree.

There are two responses to this:
1) There's no evidence anyone is listening to anything we broadcast or even knows we exist, or even that any life exists other than on Earth, much less advanced life that could read and decode our broadcasts.
2) God created the universe, and we are the only living beings. (You and me might not agree with this, but there are _A LOT_ of people who would.)

So simply broadcasting our DNA or sending things out in to space does nothing.. it's the equivalent of placing your most valuable possessions in a closet with a hope that someday someone will discover the closet and realize you existed. I don't think that's what Hawking meant.

Re:What constitutes "survival"? (2)

mrclevesque (1413593) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111812)

Sending DNA won't preserve human kind. DNA by itself is meaningless. DNA works within a complex cellular substrate. Human DNA without a human biological substrate cannot produce what we know as a human.

Re:What constitutes "survival"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111848)

What about a 20 lightyear long cock?

Great, another Space Nutter (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111390)

There is no future for mankind in space. As a matter of fact, just as there were no humans a long time ago, there will be no humans a long time from now. Evolution is still happening now, you know. And no, space is not the future. It's empty, hostile, vast, barren and desolate. It's a radiation-blasted vacuum with a few lifeless rocks strewn about. The ridiculous over-optimism and total ignorance of the Nutter crowd (you know the type, calling this planet a "rock", as if the other planets are any different, hell, the other planets aren't even rocks) is hilarious to watch, scary to realize that they're serious.

Tell me Dr Hawking, what do you plan to do about the fact that people, the fittest specimens of humanity mind you, fall apart in space? How does putting a few test pilots in low Earth orbit change a single thing for the 7 billion people we have here?

Get over it, the Space Age is dead. As a matter of fact, Dr Hawking, in the Space Age you'd be dead. You're in the Information Age now and thanks to computers you can still communicate. Think we'd send paraplegics in space?

Just because he's smart in one, tiny narrow hyper-specialized brnach of mathematics, doesn't make his view points on sci-fi delusions valid, or even important. He's not even wrong.

Re:Great, another Space Nutter (4, Interesting)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111478)

Counterpoint:

"The universe is probably littered with the one-planet graves of cultures which made the sensible economic decision that thereâ(TM)s no good reason to go into space â" each discovered, studied, and remembered by the ones who made the irrational decision."

Re:Great, another Space Nutter (1)

JockTroll (996521) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111516)

Ah, the NutterTroll. Wondered where you had been. But just out of curiosity, why hide behind anonymity? If you want to enrage people, get a proper nickname and give them someone to vent their impotent rage against. Come on, man up. And try to bring up some new arguments, I don't even use the old "beat up nerd and shit on their faces afterwards" that much anymore unless I want to do some vintage stuff.

Re:Great, another Space Nutter (1)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111702)

Seriously. He magically appears on every space story, but still remains anon. Lame!

Re:Great, another Space Nutter (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111912)

well why should we even leave the ocean as we all know land is vast hostile empty and barren and it is a radition basted void, why should we leave the tied pool that is where all the evolution is happening... said on premordial fish to the rest,

You know the beach is barren compared to the tied pool, an atmosphere is a vacuum in comparison to a pool of water, it is also blasted with all sorts of UV radiation and electro magnetic radiation that is hostile to life.

Hawking goes beyond our environment. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111410)

The existence of our species is extremely vulnerable if limited to Earth. It's not about nuclear war or resource depletion. It's about an asteroid or comet, a gamma ray burst or God only knows. If life ended on Earth tomorrow, save for a few old spacecraft, it would be as if humanity never existed. At least if we spread out to Mars, those humans on Mars would remember those lost on Earth. If we spread beyond the solar system and something happened to both Earth and Mars, at least humanity would continue!

It's about our first duty, the continuation of our species.

Re:Hawking goes beyond our environment. (1)

the gnat (153162) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111464)

At least if we spread out to Mars, those humans on Mars would remember those lost on Earth

Yeah, and they'd have a few extra months to reflect on the demise of humanity, as they waited for their systems to break down and kill them. Sorry, but independently sustainable settlement on other planets is impossible for the foreseeable future.

Re:Hawking goes beyond our environment. (3, Interesting)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111566)

Sorry, but independently sustainable settlement on other planets is impossible for the foreseeable future.

Settling on other planets would be silly, because they suffer all the same problems as Earth. Any long-term human settlement will be in free-flying habitats, because building them is much easier than terraforming Mars, they can move on if resources become scare and they're much more difficult targets for people who want to kill you.

Re:Hawking goes beyond our environment. (2, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111708)

Yeah, lots of resources in nearly empty space.

Tell you what, lets try some baby steps first - land on an asteroid. Put a research colony on the moon. Maybe a space elevator if your daring. In the mean time, try to figure out how to stay alive on the current space ship for a couple dozen more generations.

Re:Hawking goes beyond our environment. (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111860)

Yeah, lots of resources in nearly empty space.

Approximately 99.999999999999999999999% of the resources of the universe are in space.

the stargate is faster then useing ships (2)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111488)

so we just need to find places to go and then with the stargate we can move to them real fast.

Re:the stargate is faster then useing ships (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111546)

Sure, but with all the chaos in Egypt, how are we going to find the darn gate?

Re:the stargate is faster then useing ships (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111926)

there is one in Antarctica

Humankind not ready for outer space (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111498)

Fact of the matter is that humankind has not put much effort into developing food crops optimized for outer space. Genetic engineering can make growing food much easier in outer space, and survival of humans as well. It is all about sticking humans up in big rockets. Kay Bailey, and many pork coveting Texas House members want their big rocket pork, science be damned. What would Burt Rutan, or John Carmack think of this.

Just stay where you are, and nobody gets hurt. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111526)

I really do think it's better if scum like us stays in our own solar system. Perhaps when we've become fully civilized They'll let us come out and play.

According to hollywood/big media he's wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111552)

No, no. According to Hollywood and big media, the future of humanity depends upon how much of a twit one is (as in twitters) And upon how much PR coverage one can get. You know, the pop-tarts of society: Tarts who are an "important" part of pop culture. Britney Spears, the Kardashian bimbos, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, all "Boy Bands" etc. The more vacuous the more important they are. After all, Farmville is much more important than ensuring the long-term survival of the species, right?
[For the clueless, that was sarcasm.]

not any time soon (3, Insightful)

binarstu (720435) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111564)

While I find the whole "let's escape our problems on Earth by migrating to space" fantasy interesting, I think it's worth remembering that, at our present rate of consumption, we will exhaust our planet's resources long before we're actually able to permanently survive somewhere else. For details, I'd suggest reading this excellent post [ucsd.edu] from physicist Tom Murphy's "Do the Math" blog. It was featured on Slashdot a while back.

The basic point is that, given our current situation, proposing a future in space is essentially a distraction that ignores the problems we will absolutely have to solve here on Earth. Hawking is probably right in that, if we manage to survive long enough, we will eventually establish colonies on other worlds. But if we can't focus on immediate challenges here, we'll never get there.

Re:not any time soon (2, Interesting)

32771 (906153) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111908)

"... we will exhaust our planet's resources long before we're actually able to permanently survive somewhere else."
Precisely.

An interesting aspect is though that if we solve this resource exhaustion problem here on earth, i.e. find a better nearly inexhaustible and dense energy source, we would be able to extract resources on other planets. The do the math blog mentions that we have to stop growing then, otherwise we would heat up the planet too much.

Here is a link about resource concentrations:
http://www.nss.org/settlement/nasa/spaceresvol3/pmofld1a.htm [nss.org]

Here is a quote:
"This discussion of geochemical availability and extractive metallurgy implies that extraction of minor elements in space is questionable unless specific natural concentrations are discovered or energy becomes very inexpensive."

This is so silly, why did no one tell me about this, people know about this issue since the seventies.

We can mine without colonization (3, Interesting)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111588)

Apparently Hawking is worried of our resources running out, but mining other celesatial bodies can be done without colonizing them. And even if we did colonize them, exponential growth would not be feasible indefinitely. I believe it's much easier to change our ways than to colonize space.

Re:We can mine without colonization (0)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111598)

Apparently Hawking is worried of our resources running out, but mining other celesatial bodies can be done without colonizing them.

Mining other bodies to send stuff to Earth makes little sense, because the cost of transporting it here would be far more than the value of the resources. About the best you could do would be to crash asteroids somewhere desolate and then mine them on Earth.

Re:We can mine without colonization (4, Interesting)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111744)

For example, if Bill Gates finishes designing his reactor [wikipedia.org] then we could build one on the Moon, and use the uranium [space.com] there to fuel it. The reactor would power the station and also generate enriched plutonium in the process, wich then could be shot down to Earth using mass driver [wikipedia.org] system to shoot it back to Earth, thus having no need for fuel. Current railguns can already reach the lunar escape velocity, so that shouldn't be a problem.

Re:We can mine without colonization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111826)

Mining celestial bodies is not cost effective - http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/10/stranded-resources/ . I think the point is that if 2 humans are going to survive, those 2 humans will have to be somewhere other than Earth

How Come? (1)

tessellated (265314) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111616)

No "long-term survival / Hawking" jokes yet?

What about adapting the species? (2)

mykos (1627575) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111644)

I think getting rid of as much of our flesh as possible is the key to survival. A more adaptable species is going to be easier to do than hunting through billions of planets to find one that fits our fragile bodies.

wrong time scale (1)

khipu (2511498) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111660)

The "threats" to humanity are pretty easy to enumerate, because we know them from the geological record: glaciation, global warming, pandemics, meteorites, and volcanoes. All of these have extinguished many species in the past, but humans are adaptable enough to survive any of them. Even if they happened, earth would still be a more hospitable place than any planet we are likely to be able to travel to, or any space habitat we can build in the foreseeable future.

If the long term survival of our civilization is a concern, what we should focus on is creating time capsules that will help humanity to rebuilt more quickly after the inevitable collapse of our current civilization. We know that works because it has worked before. The technology is simple, reliable, and predictable. Such time capsules should include things like writings, seeds, tools, and recordings.

Manned space travel, on the other hand, will just happen by itself, or it won't, depending on whether it makes physical and economic sense. It is not a rational thing to bet on or worry about.

Re:wrong time scale (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111680)

The "threats" to humanity are pretty easy to enumerate, because we know them from the geological record: glaciation, global warming, pandemics, meteorites, and volcanoes.

The biggest threat to humanity by far is... humanity. The idea that the human race can sit around a camp fire sitting happy songs and loving each other for thousands of years to come is laughable; if we're stuck on Earth then you have a choice between a totalitarian state that would make 1984 look like utopia, or death.

How about not destroying earth? (4, Interesting)

saibot834 (1061528) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111684)

"Go west" doesn't work anymore. You can't just rest all your hopes on being able to continue life on another planet. It's a romantic idea, but actually doing so would require efforts that are by far much larger than ending world poverty or convincing people to care about the environment. A manned mission to mars would cost $40-$80 billion [newscientist.com] . Here are some problems, each enough to explain why we won't be anything near this in the next 50 years (just some examples, I'm sure there are more):

Space expenses don't scale well. While development costs do scale, things like transport, fuel, assembly of rockets, etc. does not scale very well.

Full Autonomy is extremely hard. If earth goes down the toilet, you can't rely on yearly shipments of equipment and technology. You'd have to build *everything* in your colony, which would require a huge colony indeed (so that you have a factory that makes the robots that manufacturers your mp3 players and *everything else you rely on nowadays*) and thus an even greater effort.

Humans just love earth. Even mild changes to our environment can have extreme consequences on our health. Thinking about going to Europa, that trendy Jupiter moon? Well, it only has 0.134 g, so you need to put *everything* in giant centrifuges. And that's just one factor. Building a huge shell that keeps the pressure of 1 bar earth atmosphere and 10^-12 bar Europa atmosphere separate is another one...

Re:How about not destroying earth? (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111738)

While development costs do scale, things like transport, fuel, assembly of rockets, etc. does not scale very well.

Rocket companies would be celebrating if fuel was actually a significant part of the launch costs, because it would mean that launch costs would be down to a few dollars a pound.

The biggest single requirement to decrease launch costs is increasing flight rate. If your rocket flies twice a year, then there's no benefit to spending money making it reusable, whereas if it flies a thousand times a year there's a huge incentive to do so.

it will never happen (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111754)

the distances are just WAY TOO VAST

Re:it will never happen (1)

CanEHdian (1098955) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111824)

It's only "WAY TOO VAST" if you are thinking in a standard 80-year lifespan. If you could enhance a human's lifespan to 1,000+ years, how "way too vast" is it then (one-way trip; colonization not visiting)?

Re:it will never happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111924)

It becomes "way too boring".

Small minded thinking from Hawking (2, Interesting)

xtal (49134) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111844)

Our bodies are not adapted, evolved, or designed for space.

We are vastly better off concentrating resources into robotics, AI, and technologies that will allow for the imaging and transfer of brain state. Those next creations - or evolution of intelligence - will be free to explore the universe.

Alternatively, mastering genetic engineering may allow us to create organic lifeforms that ARE adapted to those environments, and have or exceed our own intelligence. That is also possible within a short timeframe.

As the Dr. already indicated, it's not likely we are going to make it the next few hundred years as-is. That'll be ok, we'll all be at the feet of (insert deity here) in eternal paradise, right? *laughs*

Either Hawking is out of his league... (0)

scottbomb (1290580) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111846)

... or ALS is starting to get the best of his brain. Sorry, but in my opinion, he's full of crap in many ways. Everything from man-made global warming to depleting all our resources within 100 years to colonizing other planets. All nonsense.

Any here more interested... (1)

No. 24601 (657888) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111852)

Any here more interested in Dr. Hawking's thoughts on the possibility that neutrinos are faster than light ? Seems a bit more timely concern, though I do see his point about human survival.

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