Friday, December 01, 2006
Humanity's new frontier might as well be in a new corner of the universe.
Stephen Hawking, the author of the popular and challenging book entitled "A Brief History of Time", encourages humanity to explore the possibility of space conquests.
"Sooner or later disasters such as an asteroid collision or a nuclear war could wipe us all out," said Professor Hawking, who was crippled by a muscle disease at the age of 21 and who speaks through a computerized voice synthesizer.
"But once we spread out into space and establish independent colonies, our future should be safe," said Hawking, who was due to receive the world's oldest award for scientific achievement, the Copley medal, from Britain's Royal Society on Thursday.
Previous winners include Albert Einstein and Charles Darwin.
In order to survive, humanity would have to venture off to other hospitable planets orbiting another star, but conventional chemical fuel rockets that took man to the moon on the Apollo mission would take 50,000 years to travel there, he said.
Hawking, a 64-year-old father of three who rarely gives interviews and who wrote the best-selling "A Brief History of Time," suggested propulsion like that used by the fictional starship Enterprise "to boldly go where no man has gone before" could help solve the problem.
"Science fiction has developed the idea of warp drive, which takes you instantly to your destination," said.
"Unfortunately, this would violate the scientific law which says that nothing can travel faster than light."
However, by using "matter/antimatter annihilation," velocities just below the speed of light could be reached, making it possible to reach the next star in about six years.
"It wouldn't seem so long for those on board," he said.- From Yahoo News
Stephen Hawkings (pic from yahoo news)
Do I hear a clamoring out there? Yea, Trekkies Unite! :)