Stephen Hawking is at it again, with a Sybil-like prediction that’s going viral. But his latest contention – that humans will be wiped out within 100 years and must escape into space – leaves me wondering if the good professor hasn’t already left the planet.
Hawking is a fellow theoretical physicist, known for his research in black hole thermodynamics. I first met him at Harvard circa 1987. The following year – shortly after the publication of his first book,”A Brief History of Time” – he allowed me to interview him, his now ex-wife, and young son for ABC News.
Sad to say, Stephen’s behavior has greatly changed since those days – and not for the better. He’s become a bigger-than-life celebrity, who’s flung off the chains of academic rigor to make sensational pronouncements.
His latest oracular utterance – made in an upcoming BBC documentary called “Expedition New Earth” – is doubly discreditable because just last year he announced with “near certainty” we had 1,000 years to escape. What happened? Did he do an experiment that altered his earlier estimate by an entire order of magnitude?
Of course not. He appears to have divined it. He cites climate change, near-earth objects, disease, and artificial intelligence as some of the reasons for moving up the deadline.
Does Stephen really expect to be taken seriously? I doubt it.
Despite everything, he is too smart for that. My impression is he’s become the Donald Trump of science, given to saying outrageous things for the fun of it and to attract…