Stephen Hawking’s Dire Warning: Humanity Won’t Last Another 1,000 Years on Earth

Source: Solon via AlterNet

Author: Johanna Rothkopf

Emphasis Mine

On Monday, renowned physicist Stephen Hawking gave his first Australian speech at Sydney’s Opera House via hologram from his office at the University of Cambridge. And he did not have an overly positive message for the continent down under.

“We must continue to go into space for the future of humanity,” he said. “I don’t think we will survive another 1,000 years without escaping beyond our fragile planet.”

“I want to share my excitement and enthusiasm about this quest, so remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet,” he continued.

After his planned remarks, one audience member asked about the cosmological effect of Zayn Malik leaving boy band One Direction, proving that humanity really is buying time that it solidly does not deserve.

“Finally, a question about something important,” he responded. “My advice to any heartbroken young girl is to pay attention to the study of theoretical physics because one day, there may well be proof of multiple universes… It would not be beyond the realms of possibility that somewhere outside of our own universe lies another, different universe. And, in that universe, Zayn is still in One Direction.”

Perhaps the final nail in the coffin of humanity comes in the form of the media coverage of this event. A very small handful of articles led with Hawking’s warning that we are not long for this Earth. An avalanche of stories, however, celebrated that the physicist had finally weighed in on Malik’s decision to leave the boy band.




The Theory of Everything, reviewed: Stephen Hawking biopic is a beautiful meditation on the universal power of love

Source: National Post

Author: Katherine Monk

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There are no significant revelations, but maybe that’s the beauty of James Marsh’s biopic about Stephen Hawking: The Theory of Everything isn’t looking for answers to the universe.

A slow, steady study of humanity as reflected through two very different souls, this adaptation of Jane Hawking’s memoirs takes us from the very beginning of a love affair to the final nails in a coffin of promises, and in so doing, charts the second law of thermodynamics through emotional space. All things tend to entropy; the disorder of a given system increases over time; there is less energy available to do work — these are realities that govern the laws of physics, but as physical bodies, they also govern our lives.

Marsh, the Oscar-winning director of Man on Wire and Project Nim, is the kind of filmmaker who understands every layer of the material, and so it’s not all that surprising to see him use the abstract force of love to help us understand the underlying narrative arc, and its inevitable descent into chaos.

Opening against the storybook landscape of Oxford, where young Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) and his affable, intellectual family are looking to make a dent in the world for the better, we get a taste of the rigid academic environment that will eventually strengthen Hawking’s rebellious nature. Every one of his professors can see he’s a bright young man with a profound need to question established laws, and so Stephen gets a lot of support. He finds the necessary role models, he joins the rowing team and he even meets a pretty young woman named Jane (Felicity Jones).

It’s a bit of an awkward courtship but we’re entirely there for both of them because they seem incredibly sweet and authentic. Moreover, Marsh is busy playing fairy godmother behind the scenes, ensuring we are seduced by their romance as it unfolds beneath a sky filled with computer-generated stars. Because Redmayne and Jones are both attractive, and because every frame of this movie feels decidedly upscale, it’s an easy surrender. Our curiosity about their love affair sucks us into their solar system, where we’re forced to bear witness to the eventual collapse as the whole thing goes supernova.

Jane remains the loyal wife when Stephen is diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disorder. She single-handedly takes care of their children and struggles to heave Stephen’s heavy body around the house. Bitter about his cruel disease, Stephen also tends to get angry, but we don’t see much of Hawking’s rage. It’s too unattractive and bleeds sympathy for his character in seconds, so Redmayne and Marsh keep Hawking’s genius persona in the safe zone and never push it into the red.

Yet, every so often, we can feel the outline of a darker force rising beneath the soft white blankets of denial. We can feel the growing distance between them, and this is where Marsh manufactures the most tension. Jane finds a much-needed source of support in the local choirmaster, Jonathan Hellyer Jones (Charlie Cox), while Stephen finds solace and a few sexy winks with his new nurse and speech trainer, Elaine Mason (Maxine Peake).

Once the whole romance starts to swirl, it’s unstoppable, and Marsh does a lovely job of choosing the smaller scenes to make us feel the loss of something larger. In so many ways, The Theory of Everything feels like the prettier, but slightly dumber sister of A Beautiful Mind because it doesn’t attempt to go as deep or as dark in its bid to understand genius.

In fact, Hawking’s great mind probably the least developed character in the whole movie. His love and enthusiasm for physics is never fully realized as a concept, let alone a character trait, because Marsh knows theoretical physics can’t be poured into a thimble of movie plot and make any kind of sense.

He is right to focus on the emotional milky ways and the psychological space-time rifts because in the end, we are all part of the same system and subject to the same invisible laws. And like any great scientist, Marsh observes, looking for the small details that suggest a larger source of meaning, and in his wondrously engaging equation, the only answer is love.


Stephen Hawking’s work just might explain our place in the cosmos

Source: National Post

Author: Lawrence Krauss

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Black holes? Singularities? Unitarity? Some might wonder why the public should care about the esoteric, abstract work of Stephen Hawking. None of it will build a better toaster, after all. But Hawking’s work continues to drive physics at the very forefront — and ultimately may push us toward a theory that describes the very origin of our universe.

Hawking’s interest in black holes — which changed his life, and the future of physics — started in 1970, five years after he was diagnosed with ALS. He was collaborating with another noted mathematical physicist, Roger Penrose, to show that the universe had to begin in an infinitely dense “singularity,” much like the final stages of black hole collapse.

Black holes are objects that are so dense that even light cannot escape them. Hawking’s work helped support the claim that only the mass, charge and spin of a black hole could be discerned from the outside, and that no other information about what previously had fallen inside it could ever be discerned.

However, when Hawking began to apply ideas from quantum mechanics to processes associated with black holes in 1974, he discovered something completely unexpected. Black holes can actually radiate particles. And that radiation causes the black hole to shrink, potentially to the point of disappearance.

“Hawking Radiation,” as it came to be known, was a stunning revelation in and of itself. But it also suggested something of larger consequence: If the black hole eventually radiated away all of its energy and disappeared in a final flash, it would violate one of the central tenets of quantum mechanics, that the information associated with material that had collapsed to form the black hole would disappear as well. This violates a principle at the heart of quantum mechanics, called “Unitarity.”

It is hard to overstate the impact of this realization. The effort to solve the “Black Hole Information Paradox” has helped drive much of the current thinking about fundamental physics — including the development of String Theory, an idea which attempted to unify Einstein’s General Relativity (which, prior to Hawking, was largely decoupled from the rest of physics) with Quantum Mechanics.

Attempting to reconcile Quantum Mechanics with General Relativity may suggest — as both Hawking and I agree — that all the space and time of our universe might have arisen from Nothing as a spontaneous quantum fluctuation, without the need for any supernatural shenanigans. This, in turn, could help us grapple with questions that have been around since the dawn of human perception: How did the Universe begin? How might it end? What is our place in the cosmos?

So, no improved toaster. But addressing these, and other fundamental questions about our existence — like art, music and literature — forms the very essence of what it means to be human. And Hawking’s intellectual bravery, his refusal to give up his quest for knowledge in the face of a debilitating illness, provides a remarkable tribute to the power of human will.

Lawrence M. Krauss, a Canadian theoretical physicist and cosmologist, is Foundation Professor and Director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University. He is also the author of bestselling books including The Physics of Star Trek (with a foreword by Stephen Hawking) and A Universe from Nothing (with afterword by Richard Dawkins).


Unlike religions – which come from human imagination – the Universe came from nothing!

Victor Stenger

“In his 2009 book Who Made God: Searching for a Theory of Everything, Christian chemist Edgar Andrews challenges many of the statements made in new atheist writings including my 2007 book God: The Failed Hypothesis. I have placed a point-by-point rebuttal to Andrews’ criticisms on the Internet. Here let me address just a few of his objections relating to proposals for how the universe came from nothing and how complexity arises naturally from simplicity. See also my earlier post “Did the Universe Come from Nothing?”.

Andrews asks, “Doesn’t Dr. Stenger’s idea that simplicity begets complexity totally contradict Richard Dawkins’ argument that God, having created an exceedingly complex universe, must be even more complex and thus highly improbable?”

Here’s exactly what Dawkins said in his 2006 blockbuster The God Delusion:

A designer God cannot be used to explain organized complexity because any God capable of designing anything would have to be complex enough to demand the same kind of explanation in his own right. God presents an infinite regress from which he cannot help us escape. This argument . . . demonstrates that God, though not technically disprovable, is very very improbable indeed (p. 109).

The point Dawkins was making is that if William Dembski, Michael Behe, and other proponents of intelligent design are correct in their claim that complexity can only arise from higher complexity, then God would be even more complex and an explanation would then have to be found for his complexity. But Dawkins does not believe for a moment that this is the case. No one has been more eloquent than Richard Dawkins in describing how complexity arises from simplicity in biology, so it is ludicrous to suggest he supports the ID view.

I have personally checked with Dawkins and he agrees with my interpretation of his words.

Note that when Dawkins says the existence of God is “technically unprovable, he is not disagreeing with the statement made in God: The Failed Hypothesis that God does not exist beyond a reasonable doubt. Of course we cannot disprove the existence of all conceivable gods. However, Andrews does not understand the argument for the non-existence of God. He repeatedly says it is based on the lack of evidence. He misses the whole point. The case is not solely based on the absence of evidence but on the absence of evidence that should be there. The God worshiped by Jews, Christians, and Muslims plays such an active role in the universe and in human life that he should have been detected by now.

Andrews also tries to undermine proposals I describe about where the universe and the laws of nature come from, namely, that they came from nothing — from the void. He distinguishes between two kinds of void: Void-zero is “the eternally pre-existent, non-physical framework in which the physical universe began and must, by definition, lie beyond the reach and remit of science.” He says I confuse this with void-one, which “lies entirely within the material universe” and is “a constituent of the cosmos” that is composed of empty space.

He further adds, “The laws of nature . . . are just part of the created physical order . . . . The symmetries of void-one (if they exist) do nothing to explain the origin of the laws of nature, being themselves simply an expression or manifestation of those laws.”

Andrews is making a metaphysical assumption that this “void-zero” exists in reality. He cannot know that. He is basing that statement on his faith that another world exists, not science which finds no evidence for such a world. He is also making a metaphysical assumption that the laws of nature are something inherent to the universe, part of the “created order” that we scientists discover. He cannot know that either by any credible means.

When theists ask, “How can something come from nothing?” they have the burden of defining what they mean by nothing. Assuming they can, then there are two states of existence: something and nothing. The theist then assumes nothing is the more natural state and so the transition nothing-to-something requires an agent, which is what we call God.

Now, why should nothing be more natural than something? In natural processes, the transition from simple to complex is spontaneous, that is, not the result of any causal agent as in the phase transitions gas-to-liquid-to-solid.

Assuming that, however we define it, nothing is simpler than something, we expect that the natural state of existence to be something rather than nothing–not requiring God. It would take an agent such as God to maintain an eternal state of nothing!

The theological claim that science cannot describe the origin of the universe and its laws in purely natural terms is refuted by the existence of plausible scenarios consistent with all knowledge that are fully worked out mathematically and published in reputable journals. These scenarios need not be proven. And until all conceivable natural scenarios are disproved, they suffice to show that the origin of the universe is not beyond the reach of science.”

Emphasis Mine