Stephen Hawking: How Space Could Save Humanity From Extinction

19/01/2016 09:58 | Updated 19 January 2016

Professor Stephen Hawking has outlined why humanity could be at risk from the all the progress we have been making in science and technology.

In an interview with the Radio Times, he said we have created "new ways things can go wrong" but also explained how space could save the day.

stephen hawking
Professor Stephen Hawking announcing a new award for science communication in London on December 16, 2015.

Explaining what could happen over time, he said : "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 thousand or ten thousand years."


However, his predictions did carry some hope. According to a report from the BBC, he said: "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.

"However, we will not establish self-sustaining colonies in space for at least the next hundred years, so we have to be very careful in this period."

"We are not going to stop making progress, or reverse it, so we have to recognise the dangers and control them," he added.

"I'm an optimist, and I believe we can."

This is not the first time Professor Hawking has warned humanity of dangers stemming from science and technology.

In October he told El Pais that if aliens were to visit other planets, they would most likely look to colonise and conquer it.

Speaking ahead of his first Reith Lecture that will be broadcast on in two parts on 26 January and February 2, the eminent theoretical physicist also offered advice to up and coming scientists in the audience, emphasising the need for them to clearly communicate the purpose of their research.

"It's important to ensure that these changes are heading in the right directions. In a democratic society, this means that everyone needs to have a basic understanding of science to make informed decisions about the future," he said.

"So communicate plainly what you are trying to do in science, and who knows, you might even end up understanding it yourself."

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