Culture

Stephen Hawking: We must leave Earth within 100 years

Commentary: The physicist is making a documentary for the BBC in which he and a former student will explore the possibilities for humans to live in outer space.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Preparing us to leave our sad planet?

NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images

There might be several reasons why you'd like to leave Earth in the near future.

You might be enthralled by anything that moves Elon Musk. You might be troubled by the erratic nature of today's geopolitics. You might have really enjoyed "The Martian."

As far as Stephen Hawking is concerned, everyone had better start making preparations.

The astrophysicist has worried before that the Earth's prospects are finite. He's mentioned that the next 100 years might be the most dangerous for our planet. The threats he saw include nuclear war, genetically engineered viruses and global warming.

Now, though, citing asteroid strikes and overpopulation as well as his previous fears, he seems firmer about leaving before 2117. Indeed, he's making a TV program in which he begins to examine how we might swiftly take a one-way ticket beyond Earth.

As the Telegraph reports, Hawking is making a documentary for the BBC called "Expedition New Earth." It's part of the return of a show called "Tomorrow's World," which was very popular in the last century.

Hawking is to claim that we really do have to colonize another planet in the next 100 years -- although he previously thought we wouldn't be able to make such colonies self-sustaining.

Now, though, he and his former student Christophe Galfard will travel the world, seeking to discover ways in which humans can begin to prepare for life in outer space.

I worry that we're going to do the usual with such things. We'll start a little too late and run out of time.

We'll be too busy arguing about who should go first and whether to make all our spacesuits in China or not. Suddenly the world around us will melt or crumble or simply be blown up by a supremely powerful ray from the Planet Plim.

You can't, though, fault Hawking for trying to warn us.