The legendary physicist visits a friend and shares a message about Passover and voyaging to the stars
After helping launch the Breakthrough Starshot initiative, Stephen Hawking was a guest at his friend and colleague Avi Loeb’s Passover celebration—and gave this short speech:
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you to Avi and Ofrit, for hosting this evening’s Passover celebrations.
It’s a pleasure to be back in Harvard. I remember visiting in 1990 when I received an honorary degree. I was last here in 1999 when I gave the Loeb lectures, and wrote a paper with Andy and Juan Maldacena. Thanks to Avi, Andy, and Yuri Milner, I am here again, and hope to return one day to see how the Black Hole Institute is doing. I rubbed John Harvard’s shoe yesterday for good luck.
As you may know, last week Avi and I announced a new initiative that is about our future in interstellar space. Breakthrough Starshot will attempt, within a generation, to build a spacecraft that can reach twenty percent of the speed of light. At that speed, my trip from London would have taken less than a quarter of a second. Though longer if you count customs at JFK.
Why do we need to go so fast.
The nearest star to us is called Alpha Centauri. It is four light years away. When we look at it, we see it as it was during the last election cycle. If there is anyone living there, I hope in four years’ time they won’t be watching this year’s election.
The technology that Breakthrough Starshot will develop, light beams, lightsails, and the lightest spacecraft ever built, could get to Alpha Centauri just twenty years after launch.
This marks a new moment in our relationship with the cosmos. Up to now, we have gazed at the stars, studied them, told stories about them. Now, for the first time, we can reach them.
So, ladies and gentlemen, please join us in celebrating Passover. Pesach Sameach.