Famous physicist Stephen Hawking says the long-term 
future of the human race must be in space
Rodger Bosch AFP/Getty Images file photo
(chron.com)Last Sunday noted physicist Stephen Hawking made his fifth visit to Texas, stopping at Texas A&M University to give a public lecture on the origin of the universe. As part of his visit, Hawking also agreed to answer questions submitted by the Houston Chronicle and Bryan/College Station Eagle. Here are his responses, compiled by Chronicle reporter Eric Berger.
Q: Cosmology has become a precise science during the last 15 years with data from the Hubble Space Telescope, Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe and other satellites, remaking our conception of the universe. What excites you about the next decade of cosmology?
A: I think the most exciting development will be gravitational wave astronomy. This will open a new window on the universe and enable us to see black hole collisions and gravitational waves from the Big Bang.
Q: Samuel Ting and others have spent 17 years preparing for the launch of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer in April. How significant is this instrument to modern physics?
A: I visited the AMS satellite while it was being prepared at CERN in September 2009. It collects primary cosmic rays in the search for dark matter and anti-matter. The results may provide the answer to the question, what makes up the universe's missing mass.
Q: What do you foresee as human evolution, and how do you see the human race progressing or will there ever be a destruction of it?
A: I believe that the long-term future of the human race must be in space. It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster on planet Earth in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand or million. The human race shouldn't have all its eggs in one basket or on one planet. Let's hope we can avoid dropping the basket until we have spread the load.
Q: You have visited Texas A&M several times now. What's the draw for you?
A: It is good to be back. I first visited College Station in 1995 and have visited regularly since 2003 shortly after the Mitchell Institute was founded. The Mitchell family has shown me wonderful hospitality ever since.
Q: Would you trade your intelligence for full control of your body?
A: My intelligence defines who I am. I wouldn't trade it for anything.
Q: If you could with absolute certainty know the answer to one question, what would that question be?
A: It would be the ultimate question of life - the universe and everything - but I don't want to know the answer. There would be nothing left to work for.

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