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Professor Stephen Hawking has warned mankind will destroy the Earth, turning it into a blazing fireball, within the next 600 years.
The renowned physicist believes soaring population sizes and increasing demands for energy will lead to the catastrophe.
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Humanity should begin looking to the stars to avoid this fate, he argues, with our nearest neighbour Alpha Centauri the best candidate for our escape.
Hawking urged potential financial backers to get behind a project that could one day lead to manned flights to the system.
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Hawking made the comments while speaking via video link at the Tencent WE Summit held in Beijing.
The British cosmologist, who was diagnosed with motor neuron disease aged 21, is backing the Breakthrough Starshot project.
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It would see a nanocraft probe sent to Alpha Centauri in just over 20 years.
Speaking at the conference, he said: 'The idea behind this innovation is to have the nanocraft on the light beam.
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'Such a system could reach Mars in less than an hour, or reach Pluto in days, pass Voyager in under a week and reach Alpha Centauri in just over 20 years.'
The Alpha Centauri star system is 25 trillion miles (4.37 light years) away.
Today - Spacecraft - Years
With today's fastest spacecraft, it would take about 30,000 years to get there.
Breakthrough Starshot aims to establish whether a gram-scale nanocraft, on a sail pushed by a light beam, can fly over a thousand times faster.
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Astronomers estimate that there is a reasonable chance of an Earth-like planet existing in the 'habitable zones' of Alpha Centauri's three-star system.
It has been a busy few days for Hawking, with not just one, but two doomsday predictions for the future of the planet.
Humanity - Intelligence - Robots - People - Web
Humanity must also be prepared to tackle artificial intelligence to stop robots replacing people, he warned at the 2017 Web Summit, held in Lisbon and attended by around...
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