CREATOR OF THE DALEKS, Stephen Hawking, has called on the world to dedicate a meagre 0.25 per cent of all its financial resources in a push towards setting up settlements on the Moon, Mars, infinity and beyond.
The world famous Cambridge University physicist made the comments at a lecture to celebrate NASA’s 50th birthday bash in Washington DC. Hawking claimed that it was essential that NASA increase its budget tenfold in order to ensure that in the event that the human race was wiped out on earth, due to nuclear Armageddon, the effects of global warming or open source software, we’d still be able to find ourselves a new life on Mars; or somewhere else in another solar system.
But, in true astronaut tradition, Hawking agreed that it would probably be better to start with small steps, rather than giant leaps. He suggested first shooting for the Moon again in 2020, and maybe a human mission to Mars five to ten years later.
Hawking reckoned that because the moon is "close by and relatively easy to reach", it would make a splendid stopover on mankind’s journey to the rest of the solar system. From there, Hawking ventured, Mars was "the obvious next target”, being rich in frozen water and weird alien rock sculptures indicating previous life. [Eh? - Ed]
"A goal of a base on the Moon by 2020 and of a manned landing on Mars by 2025 would reignite the space programme and give it a sense of purpose in the same way that President Kennedy's Moon target did in the 1960s" said Hawking.
Obviously a bit pessimistic about the future of mankind, Hawking wheeled out a rather cheesy cliché saying that if mankind as a species were to survive for another million years, we would “have to boldly go where no one has gone before. "
The best chance for human survival, in fact, would be Earth look-a-likes in solar systems nearby, the only snag being that, so far, no one has actually managed to discover any.
[image_library_tag 5269, border='0' vspace='0' hspace='0' align='bottom' alt='An alien, yesterday',default]
An alien, yesterday
But Hawking wasn’t entirely pessimistic, because, according to his calculations, even if only one per cent of the thousands of stars within 30 light years of us has an Earth-sized planet where water could feasibly exist in liquid form, we should have about ten to choose from in our own solar system's backyard, so to speak.
So Interstellar travel is the way to go, and should be mankind’s long-term aim, according to Hawking who clarified that "by long term, I mean over the next 200 to 500 years". Sounds a bit like a local council planning committee.
0.25 per cent of the world’s total GDP would be a small price to pay for conquering space, reasoned the Physicist who asked "Isn't our future worth a quarter of a per cent?". Well, seeing how well we seem to be doing combating global poverty and starvation, the answer to the Professor’s question is uncertain, but maybe governments should have a think about it.
Hawking also offered his two cents on why we haven’t yet been able to detect any signs of intelligent alien life. Firstly, the prof proffered that any kind of life was a rarity in the universe, secondly, simple life forms were more common than intelligent ones, and thirdly and rather ironically, “intelligent” life tends to quickly destroy itself.
With undisguised dry humour, Hawkings noted that he found the second reason to be more likely, “that primitive life is relatively common, but that intelligent life is very rare," adding, "Some would say it has yet to occur on Earth." µ
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