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Old 06-13-2006, 08:27 PM   #1
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Stephen Hawking on Space Colonisation

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The survival of the human race depends on its ability to find new homes elsewhere in the universe because there's an increasing risk that a disaster will destroy the Earth, world-renowned scientist Stephen Hawking said Tuesday.

The British astrophysicist told a news conference in Hong Kong that humans could have a permanent base on the moon in 20 years and a colony on Mars in the next 40 years. . . .

"It is important for the human race to spread out into space for the survival of the species," Hawking said. "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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Old 06-13-2006, 09:11 PM   #2
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Earth has a built-in mechanism to stop runaway global warming, since we're outside of the "habitable zone" of the solar system (as such, we're only "habitable" because of the greenhouse effect). As such, our worst case scenario is another Ice Age, rather than burning to death.

As for nuclear war and genetically engineered viruses, all of those things will follow whatever colony we might be able to create. Even at that, I question whether sustainable colonies could even be created on lifeless planets like the Moon or Mars. Even if you could terraform an atmosphere, it would take thousands of years; but even then, you cannot modify the gravitational force of a planet. As such, even if you terraformed the atmosphere of Mars, you'd still face the same problem that currently plagues Mars, where its atmosphere leaks out into outer space.

Unless we can master interstellar/intergalactic space travel, I think we're going to find that our best bet is not to fuck up Earth. Otherwise, we'll create our own extinction.

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Old 06-14-2006, 12:07 AM   #3
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Old 06-14-2006, 02:12 AM   #4
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You're excited about zero gravity, aren't you Earnie?
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Old 06-14-2006, 06:33 AM   #5
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And how, precisely, do we master interstellar travel? We can transport two or three astronauts to the nearest planet, with luck. After fifty years of space 'exploration'. I mean, never say never, but I don't see it happening soon.

Also, are we not exceptionally protected here on Earth? If the argument is that we must leave our planet because of the dangers, what of the truly harsh expanses of interstellar space? What would make any eventually-discover habitable planet any safer?

I don't know why I even bother.
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Old 06-14-2006, 06:34 AM   #6
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Old 06-14-2006, 08:16 AM   #7
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Quote:
"It is important for the human race to spread out into space for the survival of the species," Hawking said. "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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Old 06-14-2006, 08:26 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by Kieran McConville
And how, precisely, do we master interstellar travel? We can transport two or three astronauts to the nearest planet, with luck. After fifty years of space 'exploration'. I mean, never say never, but I don't see it happening soon.

Also, are we not exceptionally protected here on Earth? If the argument is that we must leave our planet because of the dangers, what of the truly harsh expanses of interstellar space? What would make any eventually-discover habitable planet any safer?

I don't know why I even bother.


I think some people watch too much Star Trek.
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Old 06-14-2006, 08:30 AM   #9
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Interstellar travel is not out of the realm of reality. The solar sail has the realistic potential to revolutionize the notion of space travel. What's holding us back right now with this is construction materials. The ideal solar sail material can be constructed in the laboratory, but is too fragile to be unfolded. Undoubtedly, as nanotechnology continues to advance as it is currently, this problem will likely be solved.

I would say that "interstellar travel" is less of a long-term problem as much as it is a matter of finding a habitable planet within a reasonable time frame. That, I think, is asking too much.

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Old 06-14-2006, 08:58 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by melon

I would say that "interstellar travel" is less of a long-term problem as much as it is a matter of finding a habitable planet within a reasonable time frame. That, I think, is asking too much.

Interstellar travel is only part of the problem. Even if we find a habitable planet; construction, materials, labor training it's almost an impossible timeline. Imagine the timeline of establishing a brand new city today in the States. Now take into consideration the closest manufacturer of materials and labor is another planet away. Also consider that the materials, construction methods, and labor will be completely different than that on Earth. Let's not forget about cost, security, etc.

And we can't even make an alternate fuel source available to the public.
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Old 06-14-2006, 09:04 AM   #11
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China has mastered the art of fast construction projects. It makes American construction seem lazy in comparison.

Of course, that "speed" comes at the price of safety generally, so adopting China's pace and methods of construction are not necessarily advisable.

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Old 06-14-2006, 09:10 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by melon
Of course, that "speed" comes at the price of safety generally, so adopting China's pace and methods of construction are not necessarily advisable.


it's amazing what central planning, combined with no democracy, can do.

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Old 06-14-2006, 09:50 AM   #13
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Interstellar travel is just not feesible, but limited colonisation of other planets and moons in our solar system is not beyond the realms of possibility - provided we could make money out of it.
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Old 06-14-2006, 10:35 AM   #14
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Maybe we should just perish eventually?

Maybe that's our destiny. We are certainly stupid enough to ensure it happens.

Nobody says the human species has to endure no matter what.
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Old 06-14-2006, 10:37 AM   #15
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The ability to precipitate mass extinction is no mere feat, the ability to harness the energy of the stars is a pretty damn smart way to end civilisation.
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