Happy stuff from robot-voiced super scientist Steven “Happy Happy Joy Joy” Hawking this week:
Professor Stephen Hawking says a disaster on Earth within the next 1000 or 10,000 years is a “near certainty”.
“We face a number of threats: nuclear war, global warming and genetically engineered viruses,” Hawking told the Radio Times ahead of his BBC Reith Lecture.
“Although the chance of a disaster on planet Earth in a given year may be quite low, it adds up over time, to a near certainty in the next 1000 or 10,000 years.”
The first sad thing about Professor Hawking’s warning is that he tends to be correct on the stuff that he shares with us, his work on the wave function of the universe, singularities of gravitational collapse and cosmology, and the development of irregularities in a single bubble inflationary universe springing immediately to mind.
The second sad thing about his warning is that it was an answer to a question posed by a schoolboy who wanted to know whether the world was likely to end at the hand of humans or from a natural disaster.
Is it just me, or should schoolboys rather not be thinking about that sort of thing? They should be thinking about whose side they’re going to be on in the break time footy match, or – if they’re older – Katie* Chapman in the Lower Sixth. Not impending doom. Not the end of civilisation. No man – something’s up there. This schoolboy needs some sort of assessment before he goes postal on his classmates, especially now he’s had this sort of answer from the world’s leading genius.
The first day back after the long weekend, and the first day of an almost full week. Finally! The kids were looking forward to school and I had a definite spring of productivity in my step as I headed into work. Even the traffic wasn’t too bad.
But that was then.
Now – two failed laptops, a broken centrifuge, a promised delivery that hasn’t been delivered, Afrihost’s DSL authentication issue and a kettle that needed a(nother) punch to get it working, later – any remaining glimmer of positivity has been firmly extinguished. It’s not even ten o’clock and I’m effectively functionally stranded as everything around me falls to pieces.
This obviously isn’t your problem, and I very much doubt you even want to hear about it, but paradoxically, with so much to do, I need a few minutes away from everything just to get my head together. And I need to stay away from equipment and stuff before anything else breaks.
Right. And now, with a clearer mind, it’s once more unto the breach (although I’d still much rather once more onto the beach). Have a special day.
The City of Cape Town wishes to inform residents that a simulated major cruise ship ‘accident’ close to the Port of Cape Town will be conducted on Tuesday 12 March 2013. The exercise will test the preparedness and ability of the authorities and related agencies to respond to an incident involving an international cruise ship running aground. Code-named ‘Beachy’, the joint scenario exercise will be led by the City’s Disaster Risk Management Centre.
Of course, even in these days of modern technology when you wouldn’t expect maritime disasters to even be possible, you don’t have to go too far back to remember the last time a cruise ship ran aground.
So this sort of preparedness is to be applauded.
The accident will take place off-shore from the Mouille Point Lighthouse and a verification and mass-care centre will be established at the Cape Town Stadium to assist survivors of the cruise liner disaster. Residents living in the vicinity are alerted that the exercise will involve a large contingent of armed forces, law enforcement agencies and emergency and disaster management personnel. Helicopters from the SA Air Force and the Western Cape Government Health: Emergency Medical Services will be utilised to evacuate ‘casualties’ from the ship.
If you’ve got a camera and the ability to walk (sadly, I have neither right now), it might be worth going down there and having a look.
But if you can’t get down there, share this post, educate your friends and prevent unnecessary widespread panic on the streets of the Atlantic Seaboard tomorrow.