At a conference in Beijing earlier in the week, famous physicist Stephen Hawking has warned that humans probably have about 6 centuries to leave the planet if we are to have a chance to avoid extinction, according to media reports.
He declared that humans must “boldly go where no one has gone before” if we would like our species to continue for another million years.
If we don’t, according to Hawking, our species will be destroyed from the planet becoming overcrowded and increased energy consumption turning our world into a ball of fire as the population rises, according to The Sun.
Hawking was making a video appearance at the Tencent WE Summit in Beijing on Sunday and appealed to the investors present to back his plans to travel to the closest star outside our solar system, with the hope that a livable planet may be orbiting it.
Alpha Centauri is one of the closest star systems to our galaxy at just four light-years away, with scientists believing it may have exo-planets that could foster life, just like here on Earth.
Hawking highlighted the potential of Breakthrough Starshot to explore the star system. It is a $100 million project that aims to “tiny, unscrewed, sail-equipped probes that will be accelerated to 20 percent the speed of light by powerful lasers.”
It’s theoretically possible that the spaceship could get to Mars in less than an hour and fly to the closest exoplanet to Earth: the possibly habitable Proxima b which is 4.2 light-years from us. Breakthrough Starshot could get there after a space journey of just 20 years, according to Hawking.
“Maybe if all goes well, sometime a little after the middle of the century, we’ll have our first picture of another planet that may be life-bearing orbiting the nearest star,” Breakthrough StarshotExecutive Director Pete Worden, the former head of NASA’s Ames Research Center, said at the summit in Beijing, according to The Sun.
Hawking said: “The idea behind this innovation is to have the nanocraft on the light beam.