If Stephen Hawking could talk with Albert Einstein, what would he say?
“I would ask him why he didn’t believe in black holes,” says Hawking from Time magazine. “The field equations of his General Theory of Relativity implied that a large star or cloud of gas would collapse in on itself and form a black hole. Einstein was aware of this but somehow managed to convince himself that something like an explosion would always occur to throw off mass and prevent the formation of a black hole. What if there was no explosion?”
The famous cosmologist, theoretical physicist and author of the bestseller A Brief History of Time made the remark in late 2010, when he agreed to take part in the Time’s “10 Questions” series. The magazine invited readers from around the world to submit questions for Hawking, but because of the scientist’s disability–he is fully paralyzed due to motor neurone disease and has to painstakingly compose his answers using a single cheek muscle to operate his word processor–the interview was pared down to seven questions.
One reader asks if Hawking thinks civilization will survive long enough to extend itself into deep space. “I think we have a good chance of surviving long enough to colonize the Solar System,” says Hawking. “However, there is nowhere else in the solar system anything like as suitable as the Earth, so it is not clear if we would survive if the Earth was made unfit for habitation. To ensure our long-term survival we need to reach for the stars. That will take much longer. Let’s hope we can last until then.”