16 Oct 2001 00:01
LONDON, Oct 15 (Reuters) - The human race is likely to be wiped out by a
doomsday virus before this millennium is out unless it starts to colonise
space, top British scientist Stephen Hawking warned on Tuesday.
Hawking's comments came as the United States teetered on the brink of panic
over possible germ warfare after anthrax-laced letters were delivered in the
capital Washington and the states of New York, Nevada and Florida.
"I don't think the human race will survive the next thousand years unless we
spread into space. There are too many accidents that can befall life on a
single planet," Hawking told Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper.
Hawking, Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge University in England,
said Armageddon threatened not in the form of a Cold War-style nuclear
holocaust but could arrive in a more insidious and invisible form.
"In the long term, I am more worried about biology. Nuclear weapons need large
facilities, but genetic engineering can be done in a small lab. You can't
regulate every lab in the world," he said.
Investigators have not pinned down who is behind the U.S. anthrax attacks, but
fears are growing they could be retaliation for U.S. military strikes against
Afghanistan, which followed last month's suicide attacks on New York and
Hawking, a leading theoretical physicists who hit the best-seller lists with
his book "A Brief History of Time", said the chances of humanity pulling
through looked good.
"I am an optimist. We will reach out to the stars," he said.
A Star Trek-style "warp drive" might be one way to relieve the tedium of
lengthy journeys between stars in spacecraft travelling below the speed of
light, Hawking said. ((Ed Cropley, London newsroom, Tel +44 207 542 7947, Fax
0207 542 7921 email@example.com))
--- --- --- --- ---
Useless hypotheses, etc.:
consciousness, phlogiston, philosophy, vitalism, mind, free will, qualia,
analog computing, cultural relativism, GAC, Cyc, Eliza, cryonics, individual
uniqueness, ego, human values, scientific relinquishment
We move into a better future in proportion as science displaces superstition.
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