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Stephen Hawking: We must explore space to ensure human survival

The world’s leading physicist says our existence depends on finding a new planet to live on. No pressure, then.

Image: Anthony Devlin/PA Archive

PHYSICIST STEPHEN HAWKING has urged the world’s governments to remain dedicated to space exploration – believing that humans will die out unless they find another planet to live on.

Hawking, now 71, told an audience that humans would not make it into the next millennium unless they found somewhere else to live – saying the ‘fragile’ planet Earth would be unable to sustain our existence.

“If you understand how the universe operates, you control it in a way,” he said, saying space exploration could not be allowed to fall down the lists of government priorities.

The British physicist made the comments while touring a stem cell laboratory at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles, where staff are working on slowing down the progression of motor neurone disease, a condition he has suffered from for 50 years.

The condition is irreversible and many people diagnosed with the condition live for longer than a decade. It attacks nerve cells in the brain and spiral cord, and as muscles weaken, most sufferers begin to encounter difficulty breathing.

Hawking remains able to communicate only by twitching his cheek – which he uses to control the computer that operates his trademark, monotone artificial voice – but still remains active in academia.

Additional reporting by AP

Video: Why Stephen Hawking was (slightly) unhappy about the Higgs boson

Read: Stephen Hawking turns 70: Here’s 7 of his best quotes

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Gavan Reilly

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