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Stephen Hawking: The afterlife is a fairy tale (but your brain might go on)

Speaking at the premiere of a documentary about his life, the famed physicist said the human brain might be able to be copied and therefore preserved. But the body? No chance.

Not optimistic about more to come after this. Time/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

In the next life, we will all correct the things we got wrong in this one.

We'll be better, nicer people, calmer and more knowing. Or we'll be horses in a field, grazing away our days.

Please, keep fantasizing. But it isn't going to happen. At least according to Stephen Hawking.

He knows that many fantasize about an afterlife. But he'd like to answer that with: "Oh, phooey."

Actually, what he said at a premiere of a documentary about his life was: "I think the conventional afterlife is a fairy tale for people afraid of the dark."

As the Guardian reports, Hawking said he's had to live his whole life with the threat of an early death. So he has tried not to waste time.

Hawking has never been much of a believer in God. Earlier this year, he gave a speech outlining how everything was created without a deity.

In 2010, he explained to Diane Sawyer that science and religion were entirely irreconcilable.

He did, though, offer a tiny glint of hope in his movie speech for those who fancy that they'd like a do-over.

It's not one that will please Celine Dion. For though Hawking believes our hearts will not, in fact, go on, our brains might. At least in some form.

He said: "I think the brain is like a program in the mind, which is like a computer. So it's theoretically possible to copy the brain on to a computer and so provide a form of life after death."

But what kind of a life would that be? We'll soon be living in Googleworld. Google is rather keen to take our brains over and use them for its own devices. (Quite literally.)

So all that will be left of us to preserve is a history of our searches and our mental record of being driven around in a Prius.