This past weekend was a great time for science lovers in the valley. Scientific luminaries such as Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss took part in Arizona State University's "Origins Symposium." It is a meeting of some of the world's brightest scientific minds, who focused on answering mankind's deepest questions: How did the universe originate, how did life come about, and how did consciousness arise? One of the world's most famous scientists, Stephen Hawking, was scheduled to headline the climax of the symposium last night. However, he had to cancel because of health problems. He did provide a taped lecture on the importance of space exploration and his daughter, Lucy, commented in person. Here are some highlights from last night's event.
I'm very, very honored to be here and to be with you this evening. Thank you to so many of you for turning out to hear him remotely. It will be very heartwarming for him to know that you came to hear him virtually. Without too much further ado, I will pass you over to Hawking senior.
Why go into space? What is the justification for spending all of that effort and money on getting a few lumps of moon rock? Aren't there better choices here on earth? In a way the situation is like at before 1492. People might well have argued it was a waste of money to send Columbus on a wild goose chase. Yet a discovery of the new world made a profound difference to the old. Just think, we wouldn't have had a Big Mac or K.F.C. [Laughter] Spreading out into space will have an even greater effect. It will completely change the future of the human race and maybe determine whether we have any future at all. A new manned space flight would do a lot to restore public enthusiasm for space and for science generally. What will we find when we go into space? Is there alien life out there or are we alone in the universe? While there may be primitive life in our region of the galaxy, they don't seem to be any advanced intelligent beings. We don't appear to have been visited by aliens. I am discounting reports of U.F.O.'s -- why would they appear only to cranks and weirdoes? Can we exist for a long time away from the earth? Our experience would be the international station shows that it is possible for human beings to survive for many months away from planet Earth. So far, we can detect giant planets like Jupiter and Saturn. Some of these will lie in the zone where the distance from the stars -- there are around a thousand stars within 30 light-years of earth. If 1% of these had earth-sized planets, we have 10 candidate new worlds. We can envision visiting them with technology, but we should make interstellar travel a long-term range. If the human race can exist for another million years, we will go where no one has gone before. Thank you for listening. [Applause]