The Starman

Several times over the last several months, Steven Hawking, an astrophysicist and a renowned authority on black holes, frightened the general public with his doomsday prophecies for both mankind and planet Earth. The famous scientist is interested in truly long-term processes that exceed the span of human life by far. Moreover, he is usually not as outspoken as his colleagues, which is why his words tend to be taken seriously.

On barriers

“This is the most dangerous time for our planet” is the title of the scientist’s column published in The Guardian. He argues that there is a growing gap between the elites, including those of political kind, and the middle and working class, and the spreading use of robotics in manufacturing plays a vital role: “The internet and the platforms that it makes possible allow very small groups of individuals to make enormous profits while employing very few people. This is inevitable, it is progress, but it is also socially destructive.” At the same time, many refuse to accept the changes in the society and, as a result, voted for Brexit and Trump to such an extent that it prompted the scientist to remark: “I feel as though my ivory tower is getting taller.”

Bringing the situation back to normalcy would require joint efforts from all countries in the world as well as people from all walks of life: “Perhaps in a few hundred years, we will have established human colonies amid the stars, but right now we only have one planet, and we need to work together to protect it. To do that, we need to break down, not build up, barriers within and between nations”

On the end of the world and our prospects

The end of the world will inevitably occur in the next thousand years, said Hawking addressing Oxford’s student discussion society. It is likely to be caused by a nuclear war, artificial intelligence, or a genetically modified virus. The scientist traditionally encouraged the audience to look for ways to leave the planet and build a technology that make it possible to travel in outer space.

“I think the human race has no future if it doesn’t go to space,” he points out in his book entitled How to Build a Spaceship. In the meantime, while we continue to live on this planet we should be wary of signals from other planets: If we come into contact with an advanced extra-terrestrial civilization it could be capable of colonizing our planet.

The scientist also recognized that over the last half century, science has made great advances (despite the threat of extinction) and came close to understanding the universe; “Perhaps one day we will be able to use gravitational waves to look back into the heart of the Big Bang.”

At the end of his presentations, Mr. Hawking encouraged everyone to look up at the stars and not one’s feet.

On a sedentary Lifestyle

“I am here to address one of the most serious health problems of 21st century,” said Stephen Hawking in a video recorded for GEN-PEP, a Swedish organization. “Today, too many people die from complications related to being overweight and obesity. We eat too much and move too little.”

Mr. Hawking who is suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and is confined to a wheelchair himself, admitted that the reason why a sedentary lifestyle causes every fourth death in the world (according to WHO) was beyond his comprehension. His recipe was more physical activities combined with a healthy diet.

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