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Hawking Says Humans Must Go Into Space 843

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the purple-belly-push dept.
neutralino writes "The Associated Press reports that astrophysicist Stephen Hawking wants humans to establish colonies in space in order to ensure the survival of the human race. At a news conference in Hong Kong, Hawking said that 'It is important for the human race to spread out into space for the survival of the species. Life on Earth is at the ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as sudden global warming, nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus or other dangers we have not yet thought of.'"
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Hawking Says Humans Must Go Into Space

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  • Right now? (Score:5, Funny)

    by ewg (158266) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @01:05PM (#15525949)
    Do we have to go into space right now? Do I have time to go home and change?
    • Re:Right now? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bsartist (550317) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @01:13PM (#15526077) Homepage
      Do we have to go into space right now? Do I have time to go home and change?
      This joke, like many, is funny because there's a grain of truth in it. Do we have time? No one knows. The Big Disaster could happen tomorrow, or it might not be for a thousand years. If we wait until we *do* know about it, it may be too late to avoid it.
      • by Dr Tall (685787) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @01:49PM (#15526493) Journal
        But I've watched enough 24 to know that the Big Disaster can only happen at the top of the hour. If you survive to 1:01 you're good for another hour!
      • by kesuki (321456)
        you can live your live in a cave with a rock covering the mouth in fear of the end of life, or you can embrace each day for all there is to enjoy about it. or you can just cry about all your sorrows and bitch about how much life sucks, whatever floats your boat man, it's not going to make a super virus infect the human race or whatever.

        Personally the idea of floating colonies appeals to me not to 'flee' the earth, but simply as a platform from wich to launch giant mecha suits to have a massive war with the
        • Re:Right now? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by 0xABADC0DA (867955)
          You have made a certain kind of valid zen-like point. Some kinds of dangers, like that the world is running in a simulation and quantum cryptography are causing the sim to run slower as it factors primes for us and we resume billions of real-world years later, are competely unavoidable. You either do it or you do without.

          On the other hand, wtf are we doing creating a black hole [futurepundit.com] anywhere near us? Sure scientists "expect" it to dissapate faster than it sucks in matter, but knowing human nature I fully expe
          • by Anonymous Coward
            ...but YANAPTMCI (you are not a physicist, though my cousin is) - he works at Brookhaven, and takes occasional duty on the "big red button", as in, "crap! there's something wrong! push the big red button to shut it down!"

            You're afraid of something hundreds of thousands of times less dangerous to your health than a dozen risks you blithely take every day, such as walking down the street, drinking tap water, eating cooked meat, flying on a commercial jet, etc.

            Your comment reminded me of my gra
          • any blackhole we can make will dissolve due to hawking(see ontopic :P) radiaiton long before it can do any damage.
          • Re:Right now? (Score:3, Informative)

            by JohnFluxx (413620)
            Oh jeez, give me a break. They are made naturally all the time in our atmosphere. Do you have any idea how much energy cosmos radiation has?

            Not to mention the hot plasmas that jump between the North and South poles - the particles travelling so fast that they go from one end of the Earth, to hundreds of miles out, then back in to the other end of the Earth all within a few seconds. Imagine that. Seriously.

            We can't yet approach the energies that we see around us.
        • Re:Right now? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by vertinox (846076)
          you can live your live in a cave with a rock covering the mouth in fear of the end of life, or you can embrace each day for all there is to enjoy about it. or you can just cry about all your sorrows and bitch about how much life sucks, whatever floats your boat man, it's not going to make a super virus infect the human race or whatever.

          Well... On the brightside... If the end of the world does happen... We won't be around to bitch about it.

          But seriously, if you haven't noticed the rest of the universe is not
        • Re:Right now? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by siriuskase (679431)
          I know I'm going to die. My opinion isn't going to change that fact. Whether I care about the future of the human race is a different matter. For all I know, God might replace us with something better.

          You are so right to recognize that preparation to survive the big disaster isn't enough to motivate us. Just look at New Orleans for an example of how not to prepare for something everyone knew was going to happen. When Carnival markets a cruise, they spend more on telling us about the nightclubs, arcades
      • Re:Right now? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @02:15PM (#15526756) Homepage
        Yeah... too bad things like "money" and "power" are more important. We can't seem to do anything without money being involved and no one is willing to give up all they have in order to change the way things are done.

        Maybe I'm just a Star Trek geek (and if I am, not I'm not a particularly good one... I haven't memorized any episodes or anything like that and it was only yesterday that I got the joke of Data telling Scotty, "...it is... green...") but the idea of a world where things like money are obsolete? A simply amazing thing. There are people like that from time to time such as Nikola Tesla... he wanted to give the world free power, but J.P.Morgan put a stop to that pretty quickly. There's always someone ready to shamelessly stand in the way of mankind to make a buck.

        Given that we seem bent on such things as placing the value of a dollar above the hunger of our neighbors, do we really deserve to be able to infest the rest of the universe?
        • Re:Right now? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by bsartist (550317)

          Given that we seem bent on such things as placing the value of a dollar above the hunger of our neighbors, do we really deserve to be able to infest the rest of the universe?

          I agree, we've made a mess here on Mother Earth, and probably don't really deserve to do the same elsewhere. But really, being deserving has nothing to do with it. We were either created or evolved (depending on your philosphy) to be two things: Curious and prolific. That combination virtually guarantees that sooner or later, we will

        • Re:Right now? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by amliebsch (724858)
          The Federation is a military dictatorship. Deal with it.
          • The Federation is a military dictatorship. Deal with it.

            Look, the Federation may have been a military dicatorship, but it worked for some people...

            All I'm saying is that if humans need to spread out into the galaxy to ensure the survival of the species, Will Shatner and I are ready to go out and sleep with all the alien babes it'll take to make that happen. We'll take one for the team - that's just the sort of guys we are.

            :)

          • Re:Right now? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by MagicDude (727944) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @05:02PM (#15528038)
            I'd like to hear your explanation of that statement. The Federation is likely a government unlike one we have ever seen before, but is probably closer to a republic democracy than anything else. The president and the council of the federation seem to be elected by some means. Starfleet is the military and scientific branch of the Federation (like rolling the marines and NASA into one branch). Starfleet is definately under the control of the Federation, so much so that Starfleet has even attempted a coup on ocasion (http://www.startrek.com/startrek/view/series/DS9/ episode/68250.html [startrek.com]). We've seen federation life through a very limited perspective, through life on Starfleet vessels and stations. Trying to understand the intricacies of federation politics from watching Star Trek episodes would be like an alien trying to understand the US government by watching "JAG".
            • Re:Right now? (Score:3, Interesting)

              by amliebsch (724858)
              It's based on observations, e.g. (these are by the time of TNG):

              - Starfleet commanders repeatedly order civilians around
              - The only civilian space transport ever shown is on federation vehicles, at the discretion of the federation
              - No federation civilian-owned space (or even stratospheric) vehicles are portrayed
              - No private corporations are ever shown
              - Contrary to your assertion, I don't believe any election is ever portrayed.
              - No civilian media organizations are ever shown
              - No legal civilian energy weapons
              • Re:Right now? (Score:4, Insightful)

                by MagicDude (727944) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @12:06AM (#15529999)
                Starfleet commanders repeatedly order civilians around
                In time of emergency or extenuating circumstances, this can be necessary. In the real world it's illegal to disobey the instructions of a police officer, and I presume the same law applies to obeying military officers too.

                The only civilian space transport ever shown is on federation vehicles, at the discretion of the federation. No federation civilian-owned space (or even stratospheric) vehicles are portrayed.
                In DS9, Kasidy Yates (Sisko's girlfriend/wife) was a civilian freighter captain who at one point was a convey leison officer between a convoy of civilian freighters and starfleet. In TNG, when Worf's mother brought Alexander to stay with him on the Enterprise, she mentioned how she got on a transport to get there. It is unlikely that the wife of a retired enlisted cheif petty officer would be given privlidges to use starfleet vessels for personal travel across the galaxy, so it was likely a civilian or commercial transport.

                No private corporations are ever shown
                In the TNG episode "Family", Picard was asked by his friend Louis to leave Starfleet and join a civilian project for terraforming the ocean floor. Picard's family also owns a vinyard. Sisko's father owns a restaurant. Ezri Dax's family owns some kind of mining operation.

                Contrary to your assertion, I don't believe any election is ever portrayed.
                During the changling crisis on earth, the Federation president wishes he had never entered his name onto the ballot for the office.

                No civilian media organizations are ever shown
                There were several mentions of a "Federation News Service" during DS9, something I imagine would be analogous to the AP.

                No legal civilian energy weapons are ever shown (in fact, civilians appear not even to be allowed to have blades!) - yet starfleet personnel are rarely without a powerful sidearm
                Well, first off the Star Trek universe is supposed to be idealic where civilians didn't need to be armed. However, Guinan did own a phaser rifle of some kind. About owning blades, if you're refering to Worf disarming Okana in TNG episode "The Outrageous Okona", it seems a resonable precaution to not allow armed civilians to roam around a starfleet vessel.

                There appears to be no such thing as privacy, except for high-ranking Starfleet officers. The federation appears to have massive databases containing all known information on everyone, used liberally by Starfleet.
                Starfleet is a branch of the government, so it makes sense that they'd have access to government data banks. If the FBI wanted to to a background check on you, how much information do you think they could dig up in various databases? Hell, how much information do you think you could dig up about a person on the internet?

                Actual buying and selling appear to be officially prohibited (Picard didn't even understand the concept of "investment"!), reducing trade to barter and trading bars of latinum on the black market
                The economy of the federation is a matter of protracted discussion, but doesn't exclude the possibility of some kind of modified socialism that actually works. Just because we can't think of how it could work, doesn't mean it can't (Kinda like Warp Drive).

                In at least one case, a civilian is tried by a court with a Starfleet judge!
                You'll need to be more specific of where that happened. However, if a person commited a criminal act against the military or government, I'm sure there's some kind of legal precident where they're tried in a military tribunal as an enemy combatant or something along those lines.

                The most prestigious jobs in the federation appear to be starfleet offices Dr. Bashir talked about how he was offered a position in a civilian hospital in Paris by his girlfriend's father.

                I can't think of examples right now, but the point is that there is sufficient evidence that the Federation is not a military dictatorship.
          • by meringuoid (568297) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @06:28PM (#15528581)
            The Federation is a military dictatorship. Deal with it.

            No, it isn't. The Federation is run by the Vulcan shadow government.

            Think about the situation at the time the Vulcans first contacted Earth. They've had their schism with the Romulans and have fought wars with them, and had the worse of it; and now there are Klingons prowling the dark places of the galaxy. Now the Vulcans contact a planet that's just developed warp technology. A planet full of creatures with a horrific record of murder and mayhem, who are capable of justifying the same to themselves in terms of 'pro patria mori' and similar bullshit, who could easily be a terror on the galaxy to make even the Klingons fear... but who are at a very impressionable stage...

            Bingo! The Vulcans, in a paternal, imperialist sort of way, take Earth under their wing. They help humans build better starships, they advise and guide. In time, they join with Earth to form the United Federation of Planets. Coincidentally, the enemies of the Earth are the same as the enemies of the Vulcans... How did something like that happen?

            So now the Romulans and the Klingons are kept off the Vulcans' backs by Starfleet. By the mighty space navy of the United Federation of Planets. A fleet of ships built at Mars, crewed almost entirely by humans from Earth, now guards a planet of decadent philosophers who are free to pursue their ideals of pure logic and reason. Humans fight and die in huge numbers for the protection of Vulcan. And every Starfleet ship we've ever seen has a single Vulcan, as a highly-ranked officer but not as captain... remember how Soviet ships used to have a 'political officer' to make sure the captain didn't do anything ideologically unsound? Yeah.

            And whenever we see Starfleet command, the concentration of pointy ears is so much higher, don't you notice? Oh yes. It's all humans on the front line, but back at base it's all green-blooded bastards.

            The entire Federation is a sham, concocted and perpetuated by the Vulcans for their own cowardly ends. Deal with it.

        • Re:Right now? (Score:3, Informative)

          by TuringTest (533084)
          The idea of a world where things like money are obsolete? A simply amazing thing.

          Haven't you been paying attention lately? We might already be at that world. Economists are speaking of the Economy of Attention (1 [firstmonday.org], 2 [wikipedia.org], 3 [heise.de]) as the natural economic laws of Internet. As online human attention is a scarce resource, it may actually be more valuable than, say, a bunch of metal discs (or paper rectangles) with a face on them.

          Of course, that can also mean that we will place the value of 15 min. of fame above the hunge
        • Re:Right now? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by timster (32400)
          Nikola Tesla... he wanted to give the world free power, but J.P.Morgan put a stop to that pretty quickly. There's always someone ready to shamelessly stand in the way of mankind to make a buck.

          Everyone WANTS free power, but Tesla was a scientist and inventor, not an economist. Had he found a way to MAKE power for free, then we would be getting somewhere. Unfortunately, as making the power is still expensive, somebody still has to pay for it, and one way or another, it's going to be you (that's economics).
    • by Kagura (843695) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @01:42PM (#15526424)
      What a hypocrite, Stephen Hawking. Why doesn't he take some of his own advice for a change?
  • The irony is (Score:4, Insightful)

    by suso (153703) * on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @01:05PM (#15525954) Homepage Journal
    We'd just start creating things that can wipe out the galaxy.
    • by IgLou (732042)
      Wouldn't irony be more like mankind sets off in giant spaceships to colonize the galaxy and save the planet only to die horrifically in a freak interstellar traffic accident? It could happen easily too, I don't see any stop signs up there! And how do you do right of way in 3 dimensions?? It's madness I say!
    • by Wellington Grey (942717) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @01:20PM (#15526179) Homepage Journal
      Well then we'd better learn how to travel to other galaxies, fast.

      -Grey [wellingtongrey.net]
  • by AmazingRuss (555076) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @01:05PM (#15525959)
    ...otherwise, space exploration is a boondoggle.
  • We're running out of it here.

    Although seriously, everyone still living on earth makes for a giant single point of failure. But my ping time is going to suck if I start gaming from the moon.
  • avoidance (Score:2, Funny)

    by wjsroot (732775)
    Talk about avoiding the problem.

    Instead of fixing our problems and looking for solutions, lets go into space to get away from it all.
    some how this seems like a bad idea, or atleast a bad reason. Why not go into space for some positive reason? like to learn or solve a problem like over population...

    • Re:avoidance (Score:5, Insightful)

      by div_2n (525075) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @01:12PM (#15526069)
      Right. So we don't need to backup data, have spare tires, insurance of any kind or disaster recovery plans. Because, after all, those are just measures that ignore the problems.
    • by machine of god (569301) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @01:14PM (#15526090)
      Hey, if I can put off dealing with something until the heat death of the universe, I call that a problem solved.
    • Re:avoidance (Score:3, Insightful)

      by honestmonkey (819408)
      You hear that "whooshing" sound? That's the whole idea, going right over your head.

      Hawking isn't saying "Earth's toast, let's go screw someplace else up." He is saying that we don't want to put all our eggs in one basket. Let's have a backup Earth somewhere, so that if the huge meteor hits, or global warming drowns us all, or some virus comes along and kills us all, at least some of humanity will survive.

      We can try to fix things that we can here on Earth, but we don't control the rest of the solar sys
    • That's because many of the problems here on Earth have *NO* solutions.

      I know we all like to sit around and pretend that there's a solution for everything out there, somewhere, waiting to be found, but humanity is a seriously broken creature. We could have infinite food, power and resources, but people would still kill, rape, maim and hurt one another endlessly.

  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @01:07PM (#15525983) Homepage Journal
    He later elaborated on the specific humans who should go into space, including several people he went to school with, that one snooty teller at his bank, his obnoxious neighbors with their noisy children, and that little bastard who egged his house last Halloween.
    • by ArmyOfFun (652320) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @01:26PM (#15526239)
      A full transcript of the news conference does go into who Hawkings thinks should go:
      AP Reporter: Professor, you mentioned the ratio 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?
      Hawking: 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.
      Reuters Reporter: I must confess, you have an astonishingly good idea there, Professor.
    • by kansas1051 (720008) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @01:26PM (#15526240)
      Dr. Hawking further elaborated on his suggestion that the space colonies include 10 women for every man:

      "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."
  • We have to leave this rock.

    Even if we don't destroy ourselves, the Earth is doomed. It will not last forever. Mars and moon will not be the answer either. At some point, we will have to leave the solar system if we want to survive.

    But where are we going to go? How many generations will it take to get there?

  • Because by the time your IT manager has learned that that the north tower wasn't sufficiently remote, it's too late.

    Over sufficiently long timeframes, and sufficiently large impactors, the same applies to continents.

  • Life == humans? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Roy van Rijn (919696) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @01:10PM (#15526029) Homepage
    Why do we have to start with humans in space, isn't it a much better idea to start making colonies with animals?

    Those can provide us with a LOT of experience at a lesser risk. If animals die in space (or maybe even bacteria) people will probably make a small fuzz but forget it quickly. If humans die in space it could mean the end of the space project.

    Once we establish a solid base, and knowledge about building a new colonie we can send humans...??
    • by ch-chuck (9622) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @01:48PM (#15526480) Homepage
      I would suggest sending a module of cockroaches and kitchen scraps to Mars. If they can't form a surviving colony there, then nothing could possibly survive.

    • by 1984 (56406)
      The problem with sending animals is that you have to send a functioning biosphere along with whatever creature you send into space. That's a big technical challenge, and for people it's a tradeoff between discomfort and the smartness of the machines against the smartness of the people. For animals, assume that they can't really contribute anything to the (meta) running of the biosphere. If you give them grass they can crap on it and all, but they won't be picking up a wrench to fix a broken water recycling
    • Let the Robots Win (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Vicissidude (878310)
      Both humans and animals are completely too specialized for life on earth. Because of that, it's highly unlikely we'll ever see our universe populated by humans. Our short life spans makes any trip outside the solar system completely unlikely. Even if we do make it to another solar system after a 500 year trip, we require a very specific environment to truely thrive. We need an earth-like environment. We need a good variety of both plants and animals. We need a good variety of bacteria. Hell, to succe
  • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @01:12PM (#15526053)
    I'm not anti-human or anything (in fact, I'm good friends with a number of them!). But why should an individual care about whether or not the drama of humanity continues? For instance, if we permit let every person who currently lives to live out a natural and good life, and somehow do so without creating any new people, would that be acceptable?
    • by ScentCone (795499) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @01:46PM (#15526462)
      But why should an individual care about whether or not the drama of humanity continues? For instance, if we permit let every person who currently lives to live out a natural and good life, and somehow do so without creating any new people, would that be acceptable?

      Because a hardwired, nihilistic, self-destructive (self, including species as self) outlook wouldn't have allowed us to get this far, genetically. The very traits that allow us to nurture offspring that take years to develop simply require us to look at the big picture, and to cherish the future. And to make that more workable, we develop cultures that are built around generational continuity and hope. Anything less than that is a sort of cultural insanity and requires a truly loony willing suspension of disbelief (see 70-virgins-if-I-blow-myself-up-in-a-Zbarro, childish "rapture" fantasies, and related examples).

      We're generally wired to get a warm and fuzzy feeling from passing along our culture and protecting our little broods. Remove that, and you're not going to have people, as a whole, living out a "good" life.

      Reaching out to or making other livable environments (as in, off-world) is just as rational as clearing the bear out of the cave you need to shelter your tribe. Just as rational as using that bear's hide to keep your little naked ape-like offspring warm through the ice age. It's silly to ask if we "deserve" to survive... survival is deserved by rationally taking advantage of the fact that we exist at all. There is no meaning in anything, otherwise. Since we make the meaning in our lives, we decide if we're worth surving or not. The universe doesn't give a crap one way or the other.
    • For instance, if we permit let every person who currently lives to live out a natural and good life, and somehow do so without creating any new people, would that be acceptable?

      For many people a "natural and good" life involves having children and raising a family, then later to have grandkids and so on. Even those that haven't got their own kids would certainly miss them. So we wouldn't choose to, and if forced upon us the whole panic and depression about it would be terrible in itself, even if we were phy
  • by posterlogo (943853) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @01:12PM (#15526058)
    FTA: "We won't find anywhere as nice as Earth unless we go to another star system..."

    Sounds like his solution isn't necessarily based on developing habitats in the solar system (though he did say moon and Mars were the first steps). This seems like an ultra-long term scenario for which the technology doesn't even exist yet. It's almost like he's saying the Earth is screwed, so let's get off this hunk of rock. I think, considering we could be here for a very very long time, the better solution is to develop technology or philosophies dedicated to helping us live where we are. Can't just give up on Earth...we have no other options no matter how many sci-fi shows we watch.

    • by Taevin (850923) *
      It's almost like he's saying the Earth is screwed, so let's get off this hunk of rock.

      Umm, it is. I could easily list off a million and one doomsday circumstances, but I'll stick with the one that's nearly guaranteed to occur: the death of our sun. Eventually the Earth will be incinerated by the sun and long before that living on Earth will be less than practical. Assuming we survive the extremely long time it will take for that to happen, we had better be able to leave Earth or the blip of humankind'
  • by eclectro (227083) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @01:13PM (#15526073)

    How are we going to take cows into space? We need cows for steaks and dairy (milk, cheese and ice cream).

    They have spacesuits for man. Could they make a spacesuit for a cow? A cowsuit?
  • by ganiman (162726) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @01:13PM (#15526076)
    What about that hot nurse of his? Is she coming too?
  • by mikesmind (689651) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @01:14PM (#15526088) Homepage
    Would colonizing space really solve the basic problems that could cause mankind to die out on Earth? The disasters listed above seem to originate with man, and most of these because of man's relentless pursuit for power or profit. If our lives are so fragile now, on the planet we are ideally suited to live on, how much more fragile will the human race be on an inhospitable planet somewhere else in the solar system, not to mention the universe. There is a great gulf to cross through space and it seems that we should solve the root causes of our problems at home before we bring them with us to a more delicate and dangerous place.
    • Would colonizing space really solve the basic problems that could cause mankind to die out on Earth?

      Of course not, but that's not the point. Look, no matter how many health-and-safety lessons the human species attends, there will always be a small probability of a planet-destroying event. If you live on one planet, no matter how safe you make it you will eventually be destroyed.

      Trying to solve all of Earth's problems before going into space is the same as cleaning your whole house before starting your
  • yes (Score:3, Insightful)

    humanity has a dark self-destructive side

    and as weapons become more and more powerful, it will take smaller and smaller groups of people to do more and more damage

    until the truly scary it is achieved: it is not inconceivable that at some future date, just one committed nihilistic person could unleash something which could wipe out most of humanity, and at the very least destroy civilization

    this could be via genetics or nanotechnology or something weirder and not yet discovered

    so indeed, the best way to safeguard from such people is to live in far flung locations, such that a disaster, manmade or not, in one location can lead to recolonization by the other location

    hawking is 100% right, it really is in mankind's best interest to take out a survival insurance policy and get our asses into space in a self-sustainable manner

    i would give us a century or two to achieve this goal, and with serendity and luck, we will get into space before the statistical inevitability of that one demonic person appearing making their vile mark on the world by killing most of us
  • Universe survival (Score:3, Interesting)

    by VincenzoRomano (881055) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @01:18PM (#15526140) Homepage Journal
    Life on Earth is at the ever-increasing risk of being wiped out
    And going to space should allow us to survive from ourselves?
    I think it would be better to remain on the Earth to let the Universe survive!

    • by Have Blue (616)
      It is hubris of the highest order to believe that humanity can destroy or even nontrivially damage the universe as a whole. It exists on a scale we can barely comprehend, let alone affect in a nontrivial way.

      If we destroy our species on this planet, life will survive. Wiping out *all* life (which, considering the variety, adaptability, and ubiquity of life, would require nothing short of physically disrupting the planet, Death Star-style) is something we won't be able to attain for a very long time, no m
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @01:23PM (#15526205) Homepage
    ...just as we need to accept personal death.

    The Noah's Ark story has great appeal, but events capable of destroying the Earth might well destroy nearby colonies in the solar system.

    Or perhaps I should say, if we hypothesize that humankind does not have the wisdom to maintain a stable existence on Earth, the same factors that lead to it destroying the Earth and/or human life thereon might well lead to the same outcome in our planetary colonies.

  • by DanHibiki (961690) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @01:38PM (#15526371)
    There's is little point in escapint to space. After all space and time will collapse within 3,000 Zillion years(aprox.) anyway. You're just delaying innevitability. What we really need to plan is an escape from this doomed dimention!
  • ObBabylon5: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ahmusch (777177) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @01:38PM (#15526382)
    Season 1, Episode 4: Infection http://www.midwinter.com/lurk/countries/us/guide/0 04.html [midwinter.com]

    Reporter: "After all that you've just gone through, I have to ask you the same question a lot of people back home are asking about space these days. Is it worth it? Should we just pull back, forget the whole thing as a bad idea, and take care of our own problems, at home?"

    Sinclair: "No. We have to stay here, and there's a simple reason why. Ask ten different scientists about the environment, population control, genetics - and you'll get ten different answers. But there's one thing every scientist on the planet agrees on: whether it happens in a hundred years, or a thousand years, or a million years, eventually our sun will grow cold, and go out. When that happens, it won't just take us, it'll take Marilyn Monroe, and Lao-tsu, Einstein, Maruputo, Buddy Holly, Aristophanes - all of this. All of this was for nothing, unless we go to the stars."
  • by Runefox (905204) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @02:00PM (#15526588) Homepage
    People keep saying that the human race is fundamentally evil, is doomed to annihilate itself, all those lovely things, and yet the human race has thrived and advanced so far in such a short amount of time (even just one hundred years ago, things like cathode ray tubes, plastics, and any number of modern-day polymers were unthinkable). The very fact that people are aware of the problems we as a species have created means that humanity, at its very core, is not entirely as bad as some of its members make it out to be. It's inevitable, however, that something will happen someday that will threaten the existence of mankind - It happened with the dinosaurs, unless you're one of those people who believe the Earth is 4,000 years old.

    Maybe it isn't feasible to go to space now, but if we, as a species, come together to pool our resources to create interstellar travel or indeed any kind of feasible, long-term space flight, we could just pull it off in a few generations. Things like cancer research, AIDS research, and research into creating more efficient and environmentally-friendly ways of life would all continue on while the project is underway; The world wouldn't stand still for a few centuries while such a project is put in motion. In fact, it could be considered as top priority in the research required for such a thing, since in order for a colony to be sustainable, it must have a higher standard of health than we've ever known, and it must be composed almost entirely of renewable resources. It would require a renewable source of food, a renewable power source, renewable water sources, a renewable source of oxygen, a renewable crew (both robotic and human), military/policing forces, skilled workers, a large surplus of parts and materials to fashion new parts, sufficient fuel to reach its projected destination (preferably with excess), medical services, entertainment services, and so on. It would have to be, in and of itself, capable of functioning as a country on Earth might, with the added disadvantage of the inability to perform trade (and so requiring a mass surplus of supplies).

    I think Hawking is one of the greatest people of our time, and I also think that he's dead-on about this particular issue. However, I also think that wider-scale marine colonization would probably be a better place to start this venture than the Moon or Mars. If we can successfully live day-to-day life in an underwater environment for extended periods of time, with high degrees of external pressure, then it's entirely possible to live in space, where the opposite is true. The preparations for such space travel are right here on Earth; We just need to use it, and I'm sure the extra habitable space wouldn't go unused.
  • by Kjella (173770) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @03:26PM (#15527351) Homepage
    ...if we're talking about just the mere survival of mankind, a tiny fraction to keep our race in existance, I'll take my chances on a deep subterranean nuke-proof bunker with lots of decontamination chambers, perhaps even a self-sustained eco-system.

    Space travel as we know it today is incredibly fragile, and is completely dependent on high-tech from earth. Any disaster of cosmic enough proportions (sorry, mankind would survive global warming, nuclear holocaust and geneticly engineered viruses, if not much of it) like our sun going beserk is quite likely to wipe out any space colony or planetary base. If not, the 250,000 parts of the space shuttle will break down and replacements run out.

    The only thing I can concievably think of that would wipe out earth, yet not qipe out any space base (unless we can go interstellar which takes 73000 years with our fastest spacecraft), would be a massive asteriod hitting earth and cracking it like a giant walnut. However, hundreds of millions of years of evidence say that's incredibly unlikely. It killed the dinosaurs, but us mammals survived. So would mankind today.

    Not you and me, mind you. "Important" people that would be evacuated to said bunkers. But then again, you and me should worry more about being hit by a car...
  • by halfcuban (972832) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @05:28PM (#15528208)
    I've never quite understood the obsession with "continuing" the human race. While I am certainly concerned with the long-term impacts of what humans do,thus a concern for environmental impacts, population control, and the conditions under which my fellow people exist under, I one could care less if humanity survived for a million more years or not. I'm not going to be there, and I have little concern about whether or not our "civilization" still exists. It's this ridiculous sentimental attachment to a non-existant overarching concept, in whatever forms it takes (racial prejudice, nationalism, religious fervor) that leads to the stupid wars and completely preventable human created disasters. As far the ones outside of our control, well, sitting around worrying about a meteorite striking seems like a lot of paranoia.
  • by ChrisA90278 (905188) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @08:37PM (#15529128)
    No matter how BAD the earth gets. Even with run away globl warmming and unbreathable air it will still be easier and cheaper to build an enclosed living space on Earth then to build it on, say, the moon. Even if all the air on earth were is disapear and the Earth were to be in hard vacuum it would still be cheaper to live inside a presure tank here then inside a presure tank on the moon because. Even if you share the gaol of moving people off the Earth, now may not be the right time. If you start today it might take 150 years to build a sutainable industry in space, one that can operate without support from Earth. But if we start in 50 years it might take only 110 years to do the same thing. To be free of Earth you need things like a stell and aluminum industral and plants that make basic metals and machine tools. How long until there is a factory of the moon that makes digial camera and childred's toys. Not this century.
  • by salec (791463) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @05:37AM (#15530902)
    ...the ransack attack of the human space diaspora fraction gone militaristic, technologically advanced and greedy. At first, I thought: "Well, a virus can traverse to colonies, as people will travel to visit relatives or do business", when it suddenly occurred to me that perhaps it is actually ment to be a "never look back" voyage for space emigrants. Here on Earth, thruout history, the groups of humans, of the same specie, were constantly THE ultimate threat to each other, just because they were separated for a while and hence developed distinct group identities. It IS going to happen on the large scale if we colonize the space across large distances. The space aliens will be us.

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