Renowned scientist Stephen Hawking once said he thought earth had about 1,000 years of life left. But, more recently, he's changed his mind. Now he says it could be more like 100 years. Before everyone starts calling him a nut, it's important to remember he is one of the most respected scientists in the world. Google "the smartest man in the world" and his face is the first the thing you'll see. We aren't talking about a lightweight with a blog and a YouTube channel. This is a serious man with serious things to say.
Hawking now firmly believes that the next 100 years are the greatest risk for humans. Every year that passes, he says, increases the likelihood of catastrophic disaster, "Although the chance of a disaster to planet Earth in a given year may be quite low, it adds up over time, and becomes a near certainty in the next thousand or ten thousand years." For this reason, Hawking argues, we should be exploring space and looking for our next home. And because it's unlikely we will be colonizing any far off planet in the next 100 years, it makes them the most perilous. He continued "We will not establish self-sustaining colonies in space for at least the next hundred years, so we have to be very careful in this period." So that eventually "we should have spread out into space, and to other stars, so a disaster on Earth would not mean the end of the human race." Again, this isn't coming from some news site telling you to invest in gold, this is from one of the greatest minds in history. We should be listening.
Like Christopher Columbus in 1492, it is time to set out for a new world. This time though, it must be a literal new world. Astronomers have discovered thousands of planets in recent years and many of them they have identified as being within the so-called "Goldilocks Zone", meaning they are the same distance from it's sun as we are and that they could be "just right" for human living, like Earth is. One such planet that Hawking points to as a possible landing for a future is called Gliese 832c. Yeah, so it's not the catchiest name, but it is theorized to be very "Earth-like", and five times the size of our blue marble in the Milky Way. We need to be careful though, Hawkings warns, "If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn't turn out well for the Native Americans," so let's get out there and find our own new worlds before Aliens show up with more powerful weapons or carrying diseases we can't cure.
So we have 100 years to get this project going. Well, the good news is, some of the smartest minds on Earth are already on the case. Elon Musk and Richard Branson both have space programs they are financing. In fact, Branson has offered one free ticket on his virgin Virgin Galactic flight to who else but Stephen Hawking. In the last decade, we've seen tremendous advancement in space travel. From what we've learned on the International Space Station to SpaceShipOne taking down the vaunted Ansari X-Prize by being the first non-governmental organization to launch a spaceship we've seen huge advancements in the private sector. Unfortunately, governments, especially the US government, have cut spending on space exploration to the bone. NASA ended the Space Shuttle Program in 2011, for example, so it's important that the private sector keep picking up the slack. Otherwise, the human race might not make many more centuries.
Some scientists believe it's already too late to hold back Climate Change. Even if it's not, we are doing less today than we probably should be, like the US pulling out of the Paris Agreement. We may not be able to solve the issues anyway. And even if we do reverse Climate Change, we could blow the planet up in a nuclear holocaust anyway! We could be exposed to a new virus that wipes out everyone on earth or worse even, turns us into zombies! So for Hawking, there is only one solution and it is that the time has come for new digs for humankind. Let's stand with Stephen Hawking in pushing for bold new ideas in space exploration and bring a new hope to the future of man and womankind!
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