Author Topic: Stephen Hawking Says: 100 Years to Find New Home  (Read 8982 times)

Offline sanman

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Stephen Hawking Says: 100 Years to Find New Home
« on: 05/06/2017 12:10 AM »
Physicist Stephen Hawking says that humanity must find a new home to live on within a century, or else face possible extinction - hopefully he's not just trying to upstage Bill Maher:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2017/05/05/stephen-hawking-just-moved-up-humanitys-deadline-for-escaping-earth/

Does that sound about right? Or is it like a Doomsday Clock thing, where the deadline gets moved forward or backward depending on what's going on in the world today?

Hawking is supposed to be signed up for a suborbital trip to space on Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo - so at least he's putting his money where his mouth is.

Is this deadline a realistically achievable goal? I'm assuming that Mars and the Moon would be the earliest targets, and maybe also some choice asteroids.

Can it be achieved with room to spare? (ie. we still get to keep Earth in good shape and have these off-world living spaces - or are we destined to keep overloading things down here until we're literally forced to go off-world?)

Online RonM

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Re: Stephen Hawking Says: 100 Years to Find New Home
« Reply #1 on: 05/06/2017 01:22 AM »
I hate to say anything bad about Stephen Hawking, but this is ridiculous.

Colonies on the Moon and Mars are a good idea. However, fixing problems on Earth is also a good idea. We should do both.

Planetary defense is being looked at, there's a seed bank just in case, population increase is slowing, climate change is being taken seriously by nearly everyone, there's research into stopping pandemics, etc. If the world keeps working on these issues we'll continue on.

Offline colbourne

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Re: Stephen Hawking Says: 100 Years to Find New Home
« Reply #2 on: 05/06/2017 06:59 AM »
I think what Stephen Hawking is saying is that if we don't go soon, we might find we never get the chance to go due to other problems taking priority followed by a collapse of the human civilization.

There is probably no rush according to meteor strikes or natural catastrophes but whether we have an Earth economy which can afford to go is another matter. Religious fundamentalism and wars are a likely problem. Over population , food and energy shortages will all distract us from getting off planet.

Online RonM

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Re: Stephen Hawking Says: 100 Years to Find New Home
« Reply #3 on: 05/06/2017 01:57 PM »
That is similar to Musk's motivation for a Mars colony. Sounds like they believe we're at the height of our technological civilization and this will be our only opportunity to expand into space. Nothing lasts forever, but considering we survived the 20th century, they are being pessimistic.

Trying to convince people by saying "the sky is falling" doesn't work. It's alarmist and doesn't help credibility. They'll get more of the Bill Maher ridicule response, making it harder to get funding.

Offline scienceguy

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Re: Stephen Hawking Says: 100 Years to Find New Home
« Reply #4 on: 05/06/2017 04:07 PM »
Maybe Stephen Hawking said his to inspire scientists and engineers to develop better propulsion technology and power generation technology.
e^(pi)i = -1

Offline WBY1984

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Re: Stephen Hawking Says: 100 Years to Find New Home
« Reply #5 on: 05/06/2017 04:11 PM »
Stephen Hawking says lots of things these days, most of which has nothing to do with theoretical physics.

Offline sanman

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Re: Stephen Hawking Says: 100 Years to Find New Home
« Reply #6 on: 05/06/2017 10:00 PM »
But is it a realistic timeline? Can we get self-sustaining settlement going on Moon & Mars?

Would be quite a sight to behold, if we did.

Offline Proponent

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Re: Stephen Hawking Says: 100 Years to Find New Home
« Reply #7 on: 05/07/2017 03:30 AM »
None of the four types of apocalypses mentions in the article strike me as likely to make Earth less habitable than anywhere else in the solar system.

Offline MATTBLAK

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Re: Stephen Hawking Says: 100 Years to Find New Home
« Reply #8 on: 05/07/2017 04:37 AM »
The Moon, Mars and probably Titan are the three most likely places mankind could live as 'colonies' with the right application of technology and commitment. I think the Colonies on Mars idea is rather overstated at this moment in time - establishing several Antarctica Base analogues on Mars and the Moon first to 'iron out the bugs' of day to day living on other worlds would give mankind enormous practical knowledge of how to do it anywhere else later. I doubt we'll see a manned mission to Titan until at least 25-30 years after manned Mars landings.

The Moons and planets of our Solar System relatively suitable for colonization: Moon, Mars, Titan, Ceres, Jupiterís moon Callisto and possibly Ganymede as well.  Titania & Oberon - largest moons of Uranus, and possibly Triton Ė largest moon of Neptune. Though Triton is extremely cold and has very weak surface gravity less than 8% percent of Earth  and orbits Neptune retrograde. Cere's weak gravity might be a problem for human health, too.

And as for Terraforming worlds in our solar system? Would it be worth it? Maybe not - I'd say it would be cheaper and quicker to send generation Starships to Earth like worlds in close star systems.
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Offline vapour_nudge

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Re: Stephen Hawking Says: 100 Years to Find New Home
« Reply #9 on: 05/07/2017 05:00 AM »
Physicist Stephen Hawking says that humanity must find a new home to live on within a century, or else face possible extinction - hopefully he's not just trying to upstage Bill Maher:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2017/05/05/stephen-hawking-just-moved-up-humanitys-deadline-for-escaping-earth/

Does that sound about right? Or is it like a Doomsday Clock thing, where the deadline gets moved forward or backward depending on what's going on in the world today?

Hawking is supposed to be signed up for a suborbital trip to space on Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo - so at least he's putting his money where his mouth is.

Is this deadline a realistically achievable goal? I'm assuming that Mars and the Moon would be the earliest targets, and maybe also some choice asteroids.

Can it be achieved with room to spare? (ie. we still get to keep Earth in good shape and have these off-world living spaces - or are we destined to keep overloading things down here until we're literally forced to go off-world?)

Theoretical physicist. Well done Stephen. There's a chance I may or may not win the lottery next weekend too

Offline mme

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Re: Stephen Hawking Says: 100 Years to Find New Home
« Reply #10 on: 05/07/2017 08:57 AM »
On the show Cosmos, Neil deGrasse Tyson (NdT) presented the concept that the Earth has survived five apocalyptic events.  So if one ascribes a completely impossible chance of surviving just one event, surviving five should begin to illustrate that there really is nothing to worry about. The system sustains life where it should not exist and may be actively managed thru these disasters.  The system is perfectly designed to give you the results you are now seeing.
...
Earth and life "in general" have survived 5 apocalyptic events. The human species has no track record of surviving such events.

There is no "design" that guarantees the continued existence of the human species. There is no guarantee we will maintain the technological capabilities required nor interest in spaceflight. There is no guarantee that life "in general" will result in one or more species capable of developing spaceflight.
Space is not Highlander.  There can, and will, be more than one.

Online KelvinZero

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Re: Stephen Hawking Says: 100 Years to Find New Home
« Reply #11 on: 05/07/2017 10:44 AM »
I usually put the horizon of predictable future technology at about 50 years. Even if you cannot imagine any significant threat at this moment, look at the sudden advances from discovering DNA to mapping the human genome, the rise of computers, Einstein to the cold war and the world a single button press away from a very bad day. Future threats will probably exceed what we have seen so far.

To me it is just a no-brainer. It is not that big an investment compared to things like the war industry, which are worse than useless anyway. 1% should be enough, if spent effectively instead of on boondoggles, and the spinoffs would be very useful for mastering self sufficient cities on earth.

Offline ThereIWas3

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Re: Stephen Hawking Says: 100 Years to Find New Home
« Reply #12 on: 05/07/2017 01:10 PM »
I am not at all sure that today's modern "growth driven" economy, and the political system it supports, could make it through a massive drop in population along the lines of the Black Death in the 14th century. That is the sort of thing that could happen later this century if the climate models are correct.  (so far, things have been getting worse faster than the models predict)
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Online dror

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Re: Stephen Hawking Says: 100 Years to Find New Home
« Reply #13 on: 05/07/2017 02:09 PM »
That is similar to Musk's motivation for a Mars colony. Sounds like they believe we're we might be at the height of our technological civilization and this will may be our only opportunity to expand into space.
Now that's a valid argument, isn't it?
As long as we have fear of death, poverty and religious persecution and before they materialize...

Once you put an apocalypse mongerer into a spaceship for a 100 year voyage to the planet Utopia, they're probably going to start bemoaning the design (a lot). 

At some point along the journey, they'll turn the craft around for Earth because the trip is so unpleasant that they'd rather risk going extinct on Earth.
Unless they're sleeping  ;)


That being said, we have better places on earth than anywhere on the solar system.
« Last Edit: 05/07/2017 03:21 PM by dror »
"If we crave some cosmic purpose, then let us find ourselves a worthy goal. "
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Online RonM

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Re: Stephen Hawking Says: 100 Years to Find New Home
« Reply #14 on: 05/07/2017 04:41 PM »
That is similar to Musk's motivation for a Mars colony. Sounds like they believe we're we might be at the height of our technological civilization and this will may be our only opportunity to expand into space.
Now that's a valid argument, isn't it?
As long as we have fear of death, poverty and religious persecution and before they materialize...

Yes, going from "we are" to "we might" makes a big difference. It's the "100 years to find a new home" absolute statement I disagree with.

To me it is just a no-brainer. It is not that big an investment compared to things like the war industry, which are worse than useless anyway. 1% should be enough, if spent effectively instead of on boondoggles, and the spinoffs would be very useful for mastering self sufficient cities on earth.

A small 1% investment in preparing for the worst is very reasonable. It's like buying insurance.

Some disasters can be avoided or mitigated. For the ones that can't, it would be nice to have resources in place to prevent the fall of our civilization.

Offline DAZ

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Re: Stephen Hawking Says: 100 Years to Find New Home
« Reply #15 on: 05/07/2017 06:33 PM »
What is probably driving Stephen Hawkingís thinking is the Drake equation and Fermiís Paradox.  Although the Drake equation was not intended to give absolute numbers for the number of technologically advanced intelligent life it can get you close enough to suggest some very real possible outcomes.  We donít have enough information, at this time, to truthfully fill in the Drake equation but we are making very good progress toward filling in all but the last variable.  It is this last variable where Fermiís Paradox comes in.  With the limited information, we have to fill in the Drake equation it is becoming quite obvious that the last parameter is the most critical.  This last parameter is the average life expectancy of a technologically advanced society.  With the limited information we have for the Drake equation if this last parameter is over 10,000 years not only should technologically advanced intelligent life be readily observable but most likely should have visited us multiple times by now.  And this is the Fermiís Paradox.  Where are all of these technologically advanced intelligent societies?  In fact, it has been estimated that if this last parameter is 1000 years with our ongoing SETI surveys we should have seen something by now.  As we fill in more of the Drake equation it is been suggested that this last parameter needs to be in the hundreds of years.  If that is the case then we have used up almost half of this number already.

Nobody really knows what the answer to Fermiís Paradox is.  There are many suggested possible theories to this paradox.  The most worrisome ones in this particular case are not the knowns but the unknown possibilities.  We know enough to calculate things like asteroid impacts but what we donít know is things like bioengineered organisms.  The list of possible unknown unknowns grows every year as we become more technologically advanced.  This opens up the possibility that there might be only a relatively narrow window of opportunity for a technologically advanced intelligence to escape its ultimate demise.  You canít say with absolute certainty which trigger pull will be the one that gets you when youíre playing Russian roulette.  You can say with an absolute certainty that if you play Russian roulette long enough that the outcome is assured.  All you really can say is that the more and sooner this technologically advanced society spreads out the less likely any possible situation can end this society.

The Drake equation/Fermiís Paradox is what I believe is driving many of these people to say we must do these things sooner because most likely there wonít be a later.
« Last Edit: 05/07/2017 08:45 PM by DAZ »

Offline QuantumG

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Re: Stephen Hawking Says: 100 Years to Find New Home
« Reply #16 on: 05/08/2017 04:33 AM »
   Species visiting Earth seeking refuge from their own apocalypse: 0

Maybe you just haven't found the right pair of glasses.

Jeff Bezos has billions to spend on rockets and can go at whatever pace he likes! Wow! What pace is he going at? Well... have you heard of Zeno's paradox?

Offline zodiacchris

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Re: Stephen Hawking Says: 100 Years to Find New Home
« Reply #17 on: 05/08/2017 07:18 AM »
Yes, those five global extinction events haven't been much of a drag for the single cell organisms, bacteria and other really small creatures, but it kinda sucks if you weigh more than a rat.  >:(
At the end of the Permian period, over 90% of all species died, yay. And that was a pretty rubbish time in Siberia, too...

We have used up all the easily accessible ore and fossil energy reserves on the planet. If our current civilisation comes crashing down and we regress to a low technology, post industrial society, it will be extremely hard to bootstrap out of that again.

No more oil in Texas at a depth of 20 feet, no easily accessible copper or iron, apart from the ruins of the cities. We have chewed this planet up pretty good so far, and are not leaving much on the plate.

If we miss this window of opportunity, which could close any day now, if somebody starts a nuclear war or the global economy really tanks, we will not get of this rock. And developing the technology won't cost more than the average little dirty war that we are starting every few years.

War, disease, rapid climate change, economical collapse, totalitarian regimes, AI, oh yes, meteor coming our way while we are to busy staring at our cellphones.

My 2 cents worth as geologist and environmental scientist...
« Last Edit: 05/08/2017 07:20 AM by zodiacchris »

Offline Oli

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Re: Stephen Hawking Says: 100 Years to Find New Home
« Reply #18 on: 05/08/2017 08:10 AM »

No extinction event could render Earth less habitable than Mars or other places in the solar system.

So even if one believes the doomsday cultists (which I don't, I think they're all bonkers), it's no argument for colonizing the solar system.

Offline ciscosdad

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Re: Stephen Hawking Says: 100 Years to Find New Home
« Reply #19 on: 05/08/2017 08:19 AM »
To me, the economy and political instability are the near term threats. This needs to be done now while its possible.
Something that half kills us will confine us here until the real deal arrives.
Elon has it dead to rights. So does Stephen Hawking.

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