A theory of everything might be impossible to come by — but a theory of humankind’s potential destruction is not, says Stephen Hawking.
The British theoretical physicist fears that human aggression may be the tragic flaw that could lead to our demise.
“The human failing I would most like to correct is aggression,” Hawking said, according to a blog post on the website for London’s Science Museum. “It may have had survival advantage in caveman days, to get more food, territory or partner with whom to reproduce, but now it threatens to destroy us all.”
A major nuclear war could be the end of civilization and possibly the human race, he said.
“The quality I would most like to magnify is empathy. It brings us together in a peaceful, loving state,” he added.
These thoughts were offered in response to a two-part question from Adaeze Uyanwah, a 24-year-old from California.
Uyanwah, who was on a special tour of the Science Museum guided by Hawking, asked which common human features he would most want to magnify or alter.
She beat out 10,000 contestants from around the world to become the city’s “Official Guest of Honor.”
“It’s incredible to think that decades from now, when my grandchildren are learning Stephen Hawking’s theories in science class,” she said, “I’ll be able to tell them I had a personal meeting with him and heard his views firsthand.”
British actor Eddie Redmayne won the Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of the acclaimed physicist in “The Theory of Everything.”