Last year, physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking revealed he doesn’t believe our planet is likely to survive all the terrible things we’re currently doing to it. During a speech at the Oxford Union, he explained: “I don’t think we will survive another 1,000 years without escaping beyond our fragile planet.”
His prediction sounds scary, but many scientists agree that our days our numbered thanks to global warming and a whole range of other disasters that could easily wipe us out sooner, such as an ever-expanding sun, wandering stars and gamma-ray bursts.
Of course plenty of advancements could step in between now and Doomsday, like figuring out how to reverse the damage done to the Earth’s atmosphere or change it somehow with planetary engineering. We could even be partially comprised of robots by then and won’t have to pay quite so much attention to what’s going on in the physical world.
But one of the more ambitious answers is that we leave our rapidly heating, ruined Earth behind in search of a better life elsewhere.
Thanks to the commercialisation of space travel and interstellar colonisation stories playing a huge part in sci-fi, from Forbidden Planet and Star Trek through to, you guessed it, Interstellar, the idea of a mass exodus to another planet – or indeed another galaxy – isn’t that hard to imagine. At least not in in theory. But in practice, things are much more complicated.
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