11 September 2014 by Annabel Grosssman
- It’d be a good way to go!’: Professor Stephen Hawking reveals he’d be happy to die in space after being offered a trip on Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic
- Astrophysicist said he would love to go to the moon or outer space
- But he fears that doctors will not allow him to make the trip
- Will be speaking at the Starmus festival later this month
- Has also expressed his concern that there are not more women in science
- But he is ‘encouraged’ to see number of women in astrophysics increasing
He has dedicated his life to uncovering the mysteries of the universe and has unearthed some of the greatest scientific finds of our time by studying outer space. So it is perhaps fitting that Professor Stephen Hawking should want to spend his final moments drifting among the moon, stars and planets he has always been so fascinated by.
The astrophysicist has revealed that he’s been offered a trip into space aboard Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic – and far from being daunted by the prospect, he added that he would be quite happy if this was the way he died.
Professor Stephen Hawking would like to spend his final moments drifting among the moon, stars and planets
Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, he said: ‘I would love to go to the Moon, or to go into space. I was due to go into space with Virgin Galactic, courtesy of Richard Branson, but I fear the doctors won’t allow it. It would be a good way to go.’ In fact, the astrophysicist reckons we should all start thinking about making the trip to space if the human race has any hope of surviving the next thousand years. He added: ‘The human race faces great dangers. I don’t think it will survive another thousand years unless it spreads out into space, so that all its eggs are not in one basket, or on one planet.’
Professor Hawking, 72, who is widely considered the most famous living scientist, was speaking ahead of the Starmus 2014 Festival, which brings together some of the most brilliant minds in astronomy.
He said: ‘I would love to go to the Moon, or to go into space. I was due to go into space with Virgin Galactic, courtesy of Richard Branson, but I fear the doctors won’t allow it. It would be a good way to go.’
Professor Hawking, 72, who is widely considered the most famous living scientist, was speaking ahead of the Starmus 2014 Festival, which brings together some of the most brilliant minds in astronomy. He will be speaking about quantum theory, and how this allows for the extraordinary idea of the existence of many possible universes.
‘In a sense, they all exist together,’ he said. ‘Many of them are unsuitable for any form of life. Thus our presence selects the small subset compatible with our existence. This is called the Anthropic principle.’
The festival will see Hawking joined by the likes of Richard Dawkins, Brian May, Nobel Prize winners Robert Wilson and Sir Harold Kroto, and astronauts Walt Cunningham and Charlie Duke from the Apollo 7 and Apollo 16 missions.
With past speakers including Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, Starmus – which this year takes place in the Canary Islands between 22 and 28 September – has become one of the most important dates in the astronomy calender.
But it’s not all hard work. Hawking revealed that – with Brian May and Rick Wakeman among their numbers – the scientists would have plenty of time to kick back and relax with some live music in the Spanish sunshine.
He said: ‘The science community is dedicated and serious, but it can let its hair down, and enjoy itself. [At Starmus] we will unwind by listening to rock music, and watching dance grounds. I like rock music. It is extreme, like Wagner of whom I’m also a fan.’
Brian May and Rick Wakemen will be two of the
live music acts performing at the Starmus festival
Astrophysicist Garik Israelin, founder and director of the Starmus, said he couldn’t quite believe it when Hawking agreed to speak at the festival and credits him with raising the profile of the event.
‘People love Stephen Hawking, everyone knows him,’ Mr Isralian said. ‘He is a symbol of someone who can fight.
Astronaut Neil Armstrong made a one of his very rare appearances at the first Starmus festival in 2011 Astronaut Neil Armstrong made a one of his very rare appearances at the first Starmus festival in 2011 Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin is another famous astronaut to have spoken at the inaugural Starmus festival.
But although Starmus will see some high-profile speakers take to the stage, Mr Israelian explained that amateur astronomers were at the heart of the festival. He said: ‘There are no events like this where we can get amateurs and huge names all together. It’s important to remember that it’s a festival not a conference. ‘It’s just a big party where you learn. We have tried to combine pleasure with education and make sure everything is fun. We let people enjoy their time during the day and then they are invited to listen to four really high profile speakers each evening.’
Professor Hawking agreed that this was the aim of Starmus and insisted that he will be directing his talks at an amateur audience. He said: ‘I hope the non-specialist audience takes away the idea that the origin of the universe did not require the hand of God, but can be explained by the laws of science.’
A Starmus book with a foreword by Stephen Hawking is being published in time for the festival.