Professor Stephen Hawking wrote an article called ‘Brief Answers to the Big Questions’ answering the 10 most received questions. It was published six months after he passed away in March 2018. He was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease but that did not stop him from become one of the Britain’s best cosmologist, theoretical physicist and author.
He answered questions about some of the deepest and most controversial topics such as time traveling, God and climate change.
- Space colonization
“I expect that within the next hundred years we will be able to travel anywhere in the solar system, except maybe the outer planets,” he answered.
Professor Stephen Hawking believes that space colonization is the new era for humans and it will be totally possible with the minds and technology we have today.
“I am optimistic that we will ultimately create viable habitats for the human race on other planets,” he explained.
“We will transcend the Earth and learn to exist in space.”
- The future of artificial intelligence
The British scientist strongly considers that the advanced technology humans built will outstand in intelligence and in practical use the population. He estimated the process of 100 years of wait.
“We may face an intelligence explosion that ultimately results in machines whose intelligence exceeds ours by more than ours exceeds that of snails,” he said.
The solution he provided us with, for not letting artificial intelligence take over all control is: “When that happens, we will need to ensure that the computers have goals aligned with ours.
“It’s tempting to dismiss the notion of highly intelligent machines as me science fiction, but this would be a mistake — and potentially our worst mistake ever.”
- Genetic engineering
But he is more concerned about the modification of the characteristics of an organism by manipulating its genetic material that could eliminate human race due to the political issues that will encounter and “humans will not be able to compete”.
“A nuclear war is still the most immediate danger, but there are others, such as the release of a genetically engineered virus,” he said.
“Laws will probably be passed against genetic engineering with humans. But some people won’t be able to resist the temptation to improve human characteristics, such as size of memory, resistance to disease and length of life. “he added.
- The theory of everything
Will it ever happen? This question came up after Hawking’s “theory of everything”.
The professor answered: “What are the prospects that we will discover this complete theory in the next millennium? I would say they were very good, but then I’m an optimist. In 1980 I said I thought there was a 50-50 chance that we would discover a complete unified theory in the next 20 years. We have made some remarkable progress in the period since then, but the final theory seems about the same distance away.”
“We are also in danger of becoming culturally isolated and insular, and increasingly remote from where progress is being made.
“With Brexit and Trump now exerting new forces in relation to immigration and the development of education, we are witnessing a global revolt against experts, which includes scientists.”
“So what can we do to secure the future of science and technology education? I return to my teacher, Mr. Tahta. The basis for the future of education must lie in schools and inspiring teachers.” He added.
- The future of scientific discovery
Hawking explained the causes and effects of underestimating the scientists, giving them a low self esteem. One of his examples is the fact that this world is kept alive by science and technology but even so not so many young people follow the science path.
“A new and ambitious space programme would excite the young and stimulate them into entering a wide range of sciences, not just astrophysics and space science.”
“I am advocating that all young people should be familiar with and confident around scientific subjects, whatever they chose to do.
“They need to be scientifically literate, and inspired to engage with developments in science and technology in order to learn more.”
- Climate change
Stephen Hawking has come around the climate change problem as well and he believes that it is cause mainly by humans trying to improve their lives. He explained that this global problem might not have any cure.
“The trouble is, by the time people realize what is happening, it may be too late. As we stand on the brink of a Second Nuclear Age and a period of unprecedented climate change, scientists have a special responsibility, once again, to inform the public and to advise leaders about the perils that humanity faces. ”
“As scientists, we understand the dangers of nuclear weapons, and their devastating effects, and we are learning how human activities and technologies are affecting climate systems in ways that may forever change life on Earth.”
- The Moon landing
Professor Hawking is convinced that Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong were the first to land on moon on July 20, 1969, a big step for the human race.
“I was 27 at the time, a researcher at Cambridge, and I missed it. I was at a meeting on singularities in Liverpool and listening to a lecture by René Thom on catastrophe theory when the landing took place. There was no catch-up TV in those days, and we didn’t have a television, but my son aged two described it to me.”
- Time travel
Stephen Hawking hosted a party in 2009 dedicated to all time travelers, but he sent the invitations after the event to make sure that only time travelers join. The event was held in Cambridge and no one showed up.
He wrote that the time traveling will be unsuccessful due to the expensiveness and the lack of founds.
“No government agency could afford to be seen to be spending public money as way out as time travel,”
“Instead one has to use technical terms like closed time-like curves which are code for time travel. Yet it is a very serious question. Since general relativity can permit time travel, does it allow it in our universe?”
“Do I have faith? We are each free to believe what we want, and it’s my view that the simplest explanation is that there is no God.
“No one created the universe and no one directs our fate.
“This leads me to a profound realization: there is probably no heaven and afterlife either.
“I think belief in an afterlife is just wishful thinking. There is no reliable evidence for it, and it flies in the face of everything we know in science.
“I think that when we die we return to dust. But there’s a sense in which we live on, in our influence, and in our genes that we pass on to our children.
“We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe, and for that I am extremely grateful.”