The famous theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking announced his latest adventure to uncover the secrets of the origins of the universe and discover more about black holes this week. Using a supercomputer, the Center for Theoretical Cosmology of Hawking (COSMOS) sought to find details about the Big Bang, the installation said.
Hawking is no stranger to the deep questions of humanity. The physicist is known for his innovative advances in physics and cosmology and has often raised predictions about the fate of humanity throughout his life. Hawking's prophecies over the years have dealt with the effects of global warming on Earth, the implications of artificial intelligence and what humans should do if they ever establish alien contact.
These are some of Hawking's most notable predictions about life on Earth and in space.
Robots and Humanity
Hawking warned in early November about the possibility of robots becoming obsolete to humans. Hawking said he believed that robots had the potential to be efficient enough to "overtake humans" and take control effectively.
"I'm afraid artificial intelligence can replace humans completely," he told Wired. "If people design computer viruses, someone will design AI to improve and replicate itself." This will be a new way of life that surpbades humans.
Following President Donald Trump's decision to remove the United States from the international agreement on climate change, Hawking predicted that Earth would become a greenhouse planet.
"We are near the tipping point where global warming becomes irreversible," he told BBC News. "Trump's action could push the Earth to the edge, to become Venus, with a temperature of 250 degrees and raining sulfuric acid."
Hawking warned about the potentially catastrophic implications of contact with extraterrestrial life. In a television segment entitled "Stephen Hawking's Favorite Places," Hawking discussed the possibilities of finding life on the potentially habitable planet Gliese 832c, some 16 light-years from Earth. In case the humans make contact, Hawking warned, it might not be so pleasant.
"If intelligent life has evolved, we should be able to listen to it," he said. "One day we might get a signal from a planet like this, but we should be careful to respond." Meeting an advanced civilization might be like the Native Americans who meet Columbus, but that did not work out that well.
Transfer to Mars  Hawking has expressed his conviction of that if humans want to survive, they must colonize other planets. A space colony needs to thrive for humanity to endure, he said. Appearing on Skype at this year's Starmus Festival, Hawking said humans should explore Mars or other locations in space within the next 100 years.
Technology will destroy Earth
Human nature combined with ever-advancing technological capabilities could mean the end of Earth, predicted Hawking.
"Since the beginning of civilization, aggression has been useful to the extent that it has definite survival advantages," Hawking told British newscast The Times in March. "It is embedded in our genes by Darwinian evolution, but now technology has advanced at such a speed that this aggression can destroy us all through a nuclear or biological war."
Hawking did, however, say that instinct could be combated with "logic and reason" and said that he believed that the human race will rise to face the challenges.
Light Beams and Planet Colonization
Hawking has called for the use of light beams as a means for humanity to go to distant planets. At a June science and art convention in Norway, Hawking pointed to the planet Proxima Centauri b, four and a half light years away, or 26 trillion miles away from Earth. Using rays of light, Hawking said, humans could potentially travel to distant celestial bodies.
"To go faster would require a much higher escape velocity than chemical rockets can provide, that of light itself," he said. "A powerful beam of light from the rear could propel the spacecraft forward."
The next 1,000 years
Hawking said that humanity had less than 1,000 years left on planet Earth before mbad extinction occurs. In a speech in November 2016 at the University of Oxford, Hawking said that the only way to avoid annihilation by extinction was to find another planet.
"We must continue going to space for the future of humanity," he said. "I do not think we'll survive another 1,000 without escaping beyond our fragile planet."  Stephen Hawking, who is shown here in New York City on April 12, 2016, has warned about artificial intelligence and the future of mankind. Photo: Getty Images