I Match Wits with ‘The Hawk’

November 22, 2011 at 7:00 am 2 comments

Stephen Hawking is one of my heroes. He exists in a body that is almost completely paralysed by ALS and is notable for being the longest known surviving victim of the disease. Paradoxically his brain is one of the most profound and active in history. I find it interesting that he held the post of Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University for twenty years; the same post once occupied by Isaac Newton.

Much as I admire Hawking, or ‘The Hawk’ as I fondly call him, I think he is off base in a current comment he made regarding humanity. In an email interview with The Canadian Press heralding his new television series, “Brave New World with Stephen Hawking,” The Hawk says:

“Our only chance of long-term survival is not to remain lurking on planet Earth, but to spread out into space.”  Hawking said this is why he favours manned — or as he puts it, “personed” — space flight and encourages further study into how to make space colonization possible.

“Our population and our use of the finite resources of planet Earth are growing exponentially, along with our technical ability to change the environment for good or ill. But our genetic code still carries the selfish and aggressive instincts that were of survival advantage in the past. It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand or million.”

Space exploration is a natural activity for us humans. We are a curious bunch and want to know what’s around us but exploring for the purpose of ensuring survival I think is a waste of time. Humanity is a very self-important species and being the dominant creature on earth, we’ve had no one to humble us, to slap us down. Mother Nature is fully capable of that and The Hawk acknowledges that by saying we have to escape form here to survive. I agree except I think we have a finite period in the machinations of space and time.

We are such an infinitesimal biological presence in the cosmos that we can disappear and it wouldn’t cause a blip on consciousness anywhere in the cosmos. To transfer our biology elsewhere would be crucial to no one except us. And just how many of us would be able to physically relocate? The most logical idea is to find a planet, then send rocket loads of biological microbes there to establish basic life. It won’t be as simple as jumping on a space ship with a suitcase and getting off on a fresh new planet. It took millions of years to develop life as we know it on this planet.

Consider this: perhaps we are an aberration in creation and the cosmos is waiting for us to expire. Perhaps there are other biological presences in the cosmos that are harmonious with their environment. Has there been alien spacecraft examining planet Earth to determine what kind of cancer we are so they can develop something to eradicate us before we spread?

I can hear the chorus of voices calling me a pessimist or worse. That’s OK. I’m not as smart as The Hawk but in this case I have to disagree with him. Finding another place for humanity to call home would just be spreading our toxicity somewhere else in the cosmos.


© David Jones/ Thunderbridge Productions 2011


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Occupy What Back in the Saddle

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. deepamwadds  |  November 22, 2011 at 7:40 am

    Here here… until we figure it out at home, it really isn’t wise to impose ourselves on our neighbours

  • 2. artybouy  |  April 14, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    The survival of the human species will be of no consequence to the universe at all – but it is for the human species itself. I doubt any other species on earth maintains a collective memory that spans multiple generations. We do, however, and that makes it important to me that we continue as a species.

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