Hawking: Mankind has 1,000 years to escape Earth
Published time: April 11, 2013 18:12
Edited time: April 12, 2013 09:03
Stephen Hawking (AFP Photo / NASA / Paul E. Alers / HO)
physicist Stephen Hawking warns human beings won’t survive “without escaping”
from the “fragile” planet. His gloomy forecast is people will become extinct on
Earth within current the millennium.
Speaking at the
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles the 71-year-old scientist called for
further exploration of space to guarantee the future of mankind, the Belfast
"We must continue to go
into space for humanity. If you understand how the universe operates, you
control it in a way," Professor
Hawking said, adding that "we won’t survive another 1,000 years without
escaping our fragile planet."
Space exploration has
however been struggling with the global financial crisis and has too proven
subject to spending cuts. In particular NASA’s planetary science budget, which
is seen as crucial to finding habitable planets, was slashed by $300 million
At the same time, the
Mars race has not been abandoned.
On Monday NASA
concluded from Curiosity Rover’s findings that the red planet is gradually
turning cold after losing a large part of its original atmosphere.
Russia, in its turn, has signed
a deal with the European Space Agency to become a full-fledged
partner in the ExoMars project, a new attempt to discover if there is life on
Mars and eventually send a manned mission there. In 2010 and 2011, the Mars-500 experiment was carried out in Moscow: a
group of six volunteers were locked inside a simulated spacecraft for 520 days –
the time it would take to make a round trip to the planet.
Back at the LA Medical
Center, Hawking was touring a stem cell lab, which is focused on trying to slow
the progression of Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral
sclerosis. He’s been suffering the incurable ailment, which attacks nerve cells
in the brain and spinal cord that control the muscles, for 50 years.
Cedars-Sinai’s ALS program, Dr. Robert Baloh, has admitted that he is unable to
explain Hawking’s longevity, because people rarely live more than a dozen years
with this diagnosis.
“But 50 years is
unusual, to say the least," Baloh
Hawking was diagnosed
with the neurological disorder while a student at Cambridge University at the
age of 21. He is confined to a wheelchair and needs permanent assistance. The
only movement he is able to do on his own is to twitch the cheek. He
communicates with the rest of the world by means of the built-in wheelchair
computer, which conveys the owner’s thoughts by a monotonous robot’s voice.
"However difficult life
may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at," Hawking
added speaking of dealing with his health condition.
Despite his grave
diagnosis, Professor Hawking has remained active. In 2007, he floated like an
astronaut on an aircraft that creates zero-gravity by making parabolic dives.
Hawking spent his
career on decoding the Universe, working on black holes and the origin of
matter. The Professor brought his esoteric physics concepts to the masses
through his books, including “A Brief History of Time” published in 1988, which
was sold 10 million copies worldwide.
Reuters / Sheryl Nadler