Author 193954

Stephen
Hawking
1942

English Theoretical Physicist, Cosmologist, Author, Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States, Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, Research Chair at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario

Author Quotes

That multiverse idea is not a notion invented to account for the miracle of fine-tuning. It is a consequence of the no-boundary condition as well as many other theories of modern cosmology. But if it is true, then the strong anthropic principle can be considered effectively equivalent to the weak one, putting the fine-tunings of physical law on the same footing as the environmental factors, for it means that our cosmic habitat?now the entire observable universe?is only one of many, just as our solar system is one of many. That means that in the same way that the environmental coincidences of our solar system were rendered unremarkable by the realization that billions of such systems exist, the fine-tunings in the laws of nature can be explained by the existence of multiple universes.

But humans are a curious species. We wonder, we seek answers. Living in this vast world that is by turns kind and cruel, and gazing at the immense heavens above, people have always asked a multitude of questions: How can we understand the world in which we find ourselves? How does the universe behave? What is the nature of reality? Where did all this come from? Did the universe need a creator?

In the early universe?when the universe was small enough to be governed by both general relativity and quantum theory?there were effectively four dimensions of space and none of time. That means that when we speak of the beginning of the universe, we are skirting the subtle issue that as we look backward toward the very early universe, time as we know it does not exist! We must accept that our usual ideas of space and time do not apply to the very early universe. That is beyond our experience, but not beyond our imagination, or our mathematics.

The Greeks? Christian successors rejected the idea that the universe is governed by indifferent natural law. They also rejected the idea that humans do not hold a privileged place within that universe. And though the medieval period had no single coherent philosophical system, a common theme was that the universe is God?s dollhouse, and religion a far worthier study than the phenomena of nature. Indeed, in 1277 Bishop Tempier of Paris, acting on the instructions of Pope John XXI, published a list of 219 errors or heresies that were to be condemned. Among the heresies was the idea that nature follows laws, because this conflicts with God?s omnipotence. Interestingly, Pope John was killed by the effects of the law of gravity a few months later when the roof of his palace fell in on him.

A high proportion of space scientists say their interest in science was sparked by watching the moon landings.

Consideration of particle emission from black holes would seem to suggest that God not only plays dice, but also sometimes throws them where they cannot be seen.

Government works best under the glare of public scrutiny. Absent such scrutiny, abuses occur.

I have sold more books on physics than Madonna has on sex.

If there really is a complete unified theory that governs everything, it presumably also determines your actions. But it does so in a way that is impossible to calculate for an organism that is as complicated as a human being. The reason we say that humans have free will is because we can't predict what they will do.

Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.

Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny.

One could say: The boundary condition of the universe is that it has no boundary. The universe would be completely self-contained and not affected by anything outside itself. It would neither be created nor destroyed. It would just BE.

Science predicts that many different kinds of universe will be spontaneously created out of nothing. It is a matter of chance which we are in. [Answer to question: You've said there is no reason to invoke God to light the blue touchpaper. Is our existence all down to luck?]

The intelligent beings in these regions should therefore not be surprised if they observe that their locality in the universe satisfies the conditions that are necessary for their existence. It is a bit like a rich person living in a wealthy neighborhood not seeing any poverty.

The zero-G part was wonderful and the higher-G part was no problem. I could have gone on and on. Space, here I come!

We could call order by the name of God, but it would be an impersonal God. There's not much personal about the laws of physics.

When the star had exhausted its nuclear fuel, there would be nothing to maintain the outward pressure, and the star would begin to collapse because of its own gravity. As the star shrank, the gravitational field at the surface would become stronger and the escape velocity would increase. By the time the radius had got down to 10 kilometers the escape velocity would have increased to 100,000 kilometers per second, the velocity of light. After that time any light emitted from the star would not be able to escape to infinity but would be dragged back by the gravitational field. According to the special theory of relativity nothing can travel faster than light, so that if light cannot escape, nothing else can either. The result would be a black hole: a region of space-time from which it is not possible to escape to infinity.

A lot of prizes have been awarded for showing the universe is not as simple as we might have thought.

Disorder increases with time because we measure time in the direction in which disorder increases.

Hello. My name is Stephen Hawking. Physicist, cosmologist and something of a dreamer. Although I cannot move and I have to speak through a computer, in my mind I am free. Free to explore the universe and ask the big questions, such as: is time travel possible? Can we open a portal to the past or find a shortcut to the future? Can we ultimately use the laws of nature to become masters of time itself? Time travel was once considered scientific heresy. I used to avoid talking about it for fear of being labelled a crank. But these days I'm not so cautious. In fact, I'm more like the people who built Stonehenge. I'm obsessed by time. If I had a time machine I'd visit Marilyn Monroe in her prime or drop in on Galileo as he turned his telescope to the heavens. Perhaps I'd even travel to the end of the universe to find out how our whole cosmic story ends. To see how this might be possible, we need to look at time as physicists do - at the fourth dimension. It's not as hard as it sounds. Every attentive schoolchild knows that all physical objects, even me in my chair, exist in three dimensions. Everything has a width and a height and a length. But there is another kind of length, a length in time. While a human may survive for 80 years, the stones at Stonehenge, for instance, have stood around for thousands of years. And the solar system will last for billions of years. Everything has a length in time as well as space. Travelling in time means travelling through this fourth dimension. To see what that means, let's imagine we're doing a bit of normal, everyday car travel. Drive in a straight line and you're travelling in one dimension. Turn right or left and you add the second dimension. Drive up or down a twisty mountain road and that adds height, so that's travelling in all three dimensions. But how on Earth do we travel in time? How do we find a path through the fourth dimension?

I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.

If we can unscrew the front panel of the universe and look behind, we might be able to figure out how the little wheels work and feel that we have some control over what is going on. Fortunately we aren’t called upon to put the universe back together again.

It has certainly been true in the past that what we call intelligence and scientific discovery have conveyed a survival advantage. It is not so clear that this is still the case: our scientific discoveries may well destroy us all, and even if they don’t, a complete unified theory may not make much difference to our chances of survival. However, provided the universe has evolved in a regular way, we might expect that the reasoning abilities that natural selection has given us would be valid also in our search for a complete unified theory, and so would not lead us to the wrong conclusions.

Many people do not like the idea that time has a beginning, probably because it smacks of divine intervention. The Catholic Church, on the other hand, seized on the big bang model and in 1951 officially pronounced it to be in accordance with the Bible.

One does not have to appeal to God to set the initial conditions for the creation of the universe, but if one does He would have to act through the laws of physics.

Author Picture
First Name
Stephen
Last Name
Hawking
Birth Date
1942
Bio

English Theoretical Physicist, Cosmologist, Author, Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States, Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, Research Chair at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario