Renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking said in a speech at Oxford University Union that humanity only has about 1,000 years left of viable existence if it doesn’t leave the planet and colonize the stars. The professor argued that humanity is unlikely to survive all of the different crises we will face over the next millennium. But humans can avoid extinction, he said, if we have colonized other planets by that time, giving humanity a fighting chance away from our “fragile” Earth.

Dr. Hawking’s prediction may seem gloomy, but much of his speech took an optimistic tone. After all, a thousand years is a long time to figure out how to colonize space, and plans are already underway for humans to visit Mars with an ultimate goal of colonizing the red planet. Scientists continue to discover potentially habitable exoplanets elsewhere in the galaxy that could potentially be new homes for humans – if we can make it there.