Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking is offering a picture of a very grim future for the earth and the human species.
According to the New York Post, Hawking made a video appearance at the Tencent WE Summit in Beijing on Sunday, November 5, where he claimed that in less than 600 years, planet Earth could be reduced to nothing more than a ball of fire. He went on to say that the human species must "boldly go where no one has gone before" if we want to ensure the survival of our species for another million or so years.
The mastermind went on to appeal to investors at the Summit, asking them to back his plans to travel to Alpha Centauri, which, at 4.3 light-years away, is the closest star system outside of our solar system. Scientist believe that Alpha Centauri may have exo-planets that may be able to sustain life.
Hawking, who has backed a venture called Breakthrough Starshot which aims to reach Alpha Centauri within two decades using an aircraft that could travel at the speed of light, went on to explain the expedition.
"The idea behind this innovation is to have the nanocraft on the light beam," he said. "Such a system could reach Mars in less than an hour, or reach Pluto in days, pass Voyager in under a week and reach Alpha Centauri in just over 20 years."
So when can we expect to see Alpha Centauri or maybe even begin packing our bags to go live there?
"Maybe if all goes well, sometime a little after the middle of the century, we'll have our first picture of another planet that may be life-bearing orbiting the nearest star," Starshot Breakthrough's director said.