Stephen Hawking: The World Is Still Doomed
Just in case you hadn't gotten the message last time, Stephen Hawking thinks you should know we're screwed. Still.
Nope, nothing's changed since his last doomsday prediction, which has become a regular message from the eminent scientist. Hawking's latest pronouncement said that "mini black holes" could be the cause of humanity's ultimate demise.
Hawking made the comment during the BBC's Reith lectures, and to be fair, the part about their potential to destroy the Earth came after he suggested their use as a potential source of energy.
"A black hole of the mass of the sun would leak particles at such a slow rate, it would be impossible to detect. However, there could be much smaller mini black holes with the mass of say, a mountain," he said according to a BBC transcript.
"A mountain-sized black hole would give off X-rays and gamma rays, at a rate of about 10 million megawatts, enough to power the world's electricity supply. It wouldn't be easy however, to harness a mini black hole. You couldn't keep it in a power station, because it would drop through the floor and end up at the center of the Earth."
Fortunately for humans and Hawking, his mini black holes have never been discovered and remain only a theory. The scientist noted with an evident dryness that it was "a pity, because if they had [been found] I would have got a Nobel Prize."
It's hardly the first time the iconic theoretical physicist has electrified the internet with how the end may come. In a previous Reith lecture, Hawking said that humans on Earth are probably screwed anyway.
"We face a number of threats: nuclear war, global warming and genetically engineered viruses," he said. "Although the chance of a disaster on planet Earth in a given year may be quite low, it adds up over time, becoming a near certainty in the next thousand or ten thousand years." In an attempt at a silver lining, he then suggested humans would probably make their way as colonists on other worlds.
In other speeches and lectures, he has cited killer robots and human "aggression" as possible ways humanity may meet its end. He elaborated the point in detail to comedian John Oliver during a recent interview broadcast on Last Week Tonight. "Artificial intelligence could be a real danger in the not-too-distant future," he said. "It could design improvements to itself and out-smart us all."
Sorry, children's children's children's children's children...