Acording to this article on Brietbart today, British physicist Stephen Hawking says "'...the human race should reach for the stars to survive as the Earth is at risk of being wiped out by a disaster.' He believes humans should settle in space, predicting a lunar settlement within 20 years and a Martian colony in 40."
Okay, so everybody pick their jaw up off the floor now and say it with us: "WHAAA??????"
Twenty years and we'll be settling on the moon? Like, we'll have our primary residence on earth and our country house 238,857 miles away? Kind of gives new meaning to the old "When are we gonna get there?" whine, doesn't it?
In related news, the space elevator we've been hearing about for years seems to be getting closer to becoming a reality. Not so much a traditional Otis-type contraption as it is a really, really strong cable (made from nanotubes), the space elevator will stretch from the surface of the earth, out to a satellite in geostationary orbit. That way, we'll be able to send payloads up via climbing modules. For more on the story, pick up a copy of this week's The Economist.