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Stephen Hawking Warns Our Time On Earth May Be Limited

Sounds about right these days

If this election season has got you down, here’s a piece of good news: One of the most talented minds of our generation, Stephen Hawking, says that we have about 1,000 years left on this planet before we’ll have to pack up and leave.


Sounds pretty optimistic, right?

The eminent British physicist spoke on Tuesday at Britain’s Oxford University Union on mankind’s relationship with the universe and possibility of one day dwelling in space. "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 1,000 or 10,000 years," Hawking said in the speech. "By that time 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."

Hawking didn’t seem to specify what would cause the end of our beloved blue marble, but we can imagine the reverberations of man-made climate change, or, perhaps more imaginable lately, the prospect of thermonuclear war. Hawking has also warned of the development of artificial intelligence (A.I.), claiming that the technology could spell doom for we humans.

Luckily for us, NASA has been exploring our solar system for decades now. More powerful telescopes have allowed us to peer further and further away, sometimes finding planets awfully similar to earth. The trick is how to get there. Elon Musk’s SpaceX is also looking for ways in which we can one day inhabit Mars.

But for those of us who’d like to stay put, that’s little comfort.

Despite some of the gloom, Hawking told the debating club, “Our picture of the universe has changed a great deal in the last 50 years, and I am happy if I have made a small contribution.” Hawking, who was speaking to the audience before the annual Reith Lectures, ended on a positive note. "Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, wonder about what makes the universe exist," he said, "Be curious. However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don't just give up."

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