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Hawking: Humans must colonise other planets

Thu Nov 30, 10:25 AM ET

LONDON (Reuters) - Humans must colonise planets in other solar systems travelling there using "Star Trek"-style propulsion or face extinction, renowned cosmologist Stephen Hawking said on Thursday.

Referring to complex theories and the speed of light, Hawking, the wheel-chair bound Cambridge University physicist, told BBC radio that theoretical advances could revolutionise the velocity of space travel and make such colonies possible.

"Sooner or later disasters such as an asteroid collision or a nuclear war could wipe us all out," said Professor Hawking, who was crippled by a muscle disease at the age of 21 and who speaks through a computerised voice synthesiser.

"But once we spread out into space and establish independent colonies, our future should be safe," said Hawking, who was due to receive the world's oldest award for scientific achievement, the Copley medal, from the Royal Society on Thursday.

Previous winners include Albert Einstein and Charles Darwin.

In order to survive, humanity would have to venture off to other hospitable planets orbiting another star, but conventional chemical fuel rockets that took man to the moon on the Apollo mission would take 50,000 years to travel there, he said.

Hawking, a 64-year-old father of three who rarely gives interviews and who wrote the best-selling "A Brief History of Time", suggested propulsion like that used by the fictional starship Enterprise "to boldly go where no man has gone before" could help solve the problem.

"Science fiction has developed the idea of warp drive, which takes you instantly to your destination," said.
Star Trek?
 
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