We have 100 years to escape planet Earth

The Spark

12th May 2017

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Alarming news last week warned that we need to find a new home in space within the next 100 years in order to ensure the continuation of the human race. While we are often faced with these scare-mongering headlines prophesising the imminent end of the world, this most recent statement comes from esteemed British physicist Stephen Hawking.

Our planet is becoming increasingly fragile and precarious; climate change, overdue asteroid strikes, epidemics and population growth are all threatening the future viability of where we live. Hawking has repeatedly spoken of these endless dangers that could exterminate us. He has highlighted the relatively realistic possibilities, such as nuclear war (which in recent weeks has felt uncomfortably close to happening), to slightly more hypothetical situations such as a robot uprising.

In an upcoming BBC Two documentary, ‘Expedition New Earth’, Hawking will echo film director Christopher Nolan’s vision in his movie Interstellar and explore the ways in which we can safely depart Earth to populate a new planet.  He will delve into an array of futuristic technologies to showcase the various options we have. Technologies currently being discussed as a possible escape-route from this planet include plasma rockets, human hibernation techniques and closed-system habitats, such as biosphere facilities that are being used to trial climate and plant growth.

These innovations are fast becoming science fact. XPrize founder, Peter Diamandis, believes humans will become a multi-planetary species in the next two decades. “Thousands of years from now we’re gonna look back on the next couple decades as the moment we moved off the planet irreversibly,” he said. “We’re gonna be a multi-planetary species.” Entrepreneurs, including Red Planet-obsessed Elon Musk and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, have been instrumental in driving the next wave of space exploration. And President Trump has signalled his desire for the US to be at the forefront of colonising Mars.

With interstellar travel, the lines between science fiction and real life have become increasingly blurred in recent years. However, if we’re to believe Hawking’s stark warning, time is ticking. We had better get a move on.

 

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