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How to make interstellar voyages possible for humans

12/03/2014 11:00 EST | Updated 02/02/2015 05:59 EST
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Check back here at 7 p.m. ET to livesteam Cameron Smith's talk on humans and interstellar travel. 

Could a human one day travel through space, past the confines of our solar system?

Anthropologist Cameron Smith thinks so. But first, humans will have to figure out how to make the necessary cultural and biological changes that long-distance space travel would require. 

Smith, a professor at Portland State University, will speak about these issues at the Waterloo, Ont., Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics on Wednesday night, in a talk called "Interstellar Voyaging: An Evolutionary Transition." 

During an interview with Craig Norris on CBC Kitchener-Waterloo's The Morning Edition, Smith said the discovery of exoplanets, or planets outside the solar system, means it's inevitable that humans will try to get those planets. 

"How do we give ourselves a good chance of succeeding?" said Smith.

"We've gone from a subtropical large-bodied primate to a human species that lives in every conceivable environment on the planet. So how did we do that? And there are cultural answers to that and there are biological answers to that in evolutionary adaptation.

Smith says he expects to see kinship systems change, or how we relate to each other, and communications patterns and language changes, depending on the environment. 

But he cautions that the changes humanity would need to make to do long-distance space travel possible won't come quickly.

"We have to be prepared for change and that's difficult for cultures," he said. 

The lecture starts at 7:00 p.m. ET.

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