These warnings might make Hawking sound as if he had a dour view of the future of humanity. And indeed, only last year, he suggested that humans needed to get off planet Earth within years and find another planet to call home if our species was going to survive. Indeed, in a interview with NPR, Hawking was asked what he would choose to study if he was starting his career over again in the present. His answer revealed a decidedly Earthbound preoccupation:.
If I were starting research now, I might study molecular biology, the science of life. Crick and Watson discovered the double helix structure of DNA and the genetic code in I did not realize its significance in when I had to choose a science to specialize in. No one has ever done a quint. However, on Mars the gravity is only 30 percent of Earth, so one day we may have an Olympics on Mars where people could do four, five, six, seven rotations in the air, and ballet, or acrobatics, and gymnastics.
A whole new set of athletes could be formed because they are adapted to a new environment where the gravity and air pressure is lower. The astronaut Alan Shepard was the first one to golf— golf— on the moon!
He snuck on a pair of golf irons. NASA was horrified, yet in the Smithsonian Museum now, you can see a replica of the golf clubs he used, to prove that interstellar sports could become a real possibility. The first wave, the Industrial Revolution, gave us the steam engine, the locomotive, and factories. The second wave was electricity and magnetism, whereby we had TV, internal combustion cars, a beginning of the space program.
The third revolution is high tech: computers, lasers, the Internet. Now we have the fourth wave of innovation: artificial intelligence, biotech, and nanotech. We can genetically modify plants and algae to thrive in the Martian atmosphere. We all would like to see futuristic cities on Mars, but robots are going to become much more adapted to working in these harsh environments by the end of this century, so we expect to see robotic construction workers building the fantastic domed cities you see in science fiction novels.
Elon Musk recently launched his old Tesla sports car into space. Space was very expensive back in the s.
Talk us through the problems we will face, and what solutions we might find. Going to the moon took only three days. You could go to the moon on Monday and come back on Friday. Going to Mars is a whole other picture. It takes nine months just to get to Mars, then you have to wait a few months for the planets to realign and then another nine months to come back.
Early settlers who came to the U. But we will have to bring everything to Mars ourselves. Travelling to distant stars will require new forms of transportation. Tell us about the Breakthrough Starshot project and other fantastical ideas being advanced. But the first starship that goes to Proxima Centauri could be the size of a postage stamp—a computer chock full of sensors and cameras, with a parachute on it.
You inflate the parachute by shooting a laser beam at it from Earth, maybe megawatts of energy, which would shoot these tiny parachutes up to 20 percent the speed of light. That is doable, believe it or not. So in just 20 years some of them may reach the nearest star, using off-the-shelf technology.
Looking further into the future, physicists are already dreaming about the post-chemical rocket era when we might use antimatter, fusion power, or ramjet reactors in order to travel at 50 percent the speed of light, which could take us to the stars. Another problem with deep-space travel is that it may take hundreds of light-years to reach your destination. You suggest deep freezing astronauts, then thawing them out at the other end. The stars are extremely far away, but one day we hope to use advanced physics to go faster than the speed of light—warp drive.
This means we have to find the secret of extending the human lifespan or learn how to freeze ourselves. These companies, I think, are bogus. The Greenland shark , for example, lives to be over years of age. So genetics may make it possible to slow down the aging process.
Your own preferred solution is what you call laser porting. Explain what this is—and how the Human Connectome Project may be laying the foundations.
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The first big scientific project was the Manhattan Project , which gave us the atomic bomb. The second was the Human Genome Project , which gave us the human genome. The third could be the Connectome Project.
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