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Stephen Hawking, theoretical physicist, passes on at age 76

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Chicago Tribune:

>>Stephen Hawking, the British physicist whose body was chained to a wheelchair by the ravages of a degenerative neuromuscular disease, but whose mind soared to the boundaries of the universe and beyond, died Wednesday morning in Cambridge, England. He was 76.

His death came from complications of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, from which he had suffered since he was 20.

“He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years,” his children, Lucy, Robert and Tim, said in a statement obtained by the Associated Press. “His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humor inspired people across the world…. We will miss him forever.”

Hawking, whose contributions to theoretical physics are frequently compared to those of Albert Einstein, was the Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge University, occupying the same seat once held by Sir Isaac Newton. From that venerated position, he changed the way the universe is viewed by physicists and laymen alike — the former through his seminal theories about the nature of black holes and the origin of the universe, the latter with a bestselling book, “A Brief History of Time,” which fulfilled his ambition by appearing on the shelves of airport newsstands throughout the world.>>

He was an extraordinary figure, not least because of his half century-long struggle with a deadly, debilitating disease.

Wikipedia highlights some key career points, starting with his succession to the Cambridge chair once held by Newton:

>>In the late 1970s, Hawking was elected Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge.[112][117] His inaugural lecture as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics was titled: “Is the End in Sight for Theoretical Physics” and proposed N=8 Supergravity as the leading theory to solve many of the outstanding problems physicists were studying.[118] His promotion coincided with a health crisis which led to his accepting, albeit reluctantly, some nursing services at home.[119] At the same time, he was also making a transition in his approach to physics, becoming more intuitive and speculative rather than insisting on mathematical proofs. “I would rather be right than rigorous”, he told Kip Thorne.[120] In 1981, he proposed that information in a black hole is irretrievably lost when a black hole evaporates. This information paradox violates the fundamental tenet of quantum mechanics, and led to years of debate, including “the Black Hole War” with Leonard Susskind and Gerard ‘t Hooft.[121][122]

Cosmological inflation – a theory proposing that following the Big Bang, the universe initially expanded incredibly rapidly before settling down to a slower expansion – was proposed by Alan Guth and also developed by Andrei Linde.[123] Following a conference in Moscow in October 1981, Hawking and Gary Gibbons organised a three-week Nuffield Workshop in the summer of 1982 on “The Very Early Universe” at Cambridge University, which focused mainly on inflation theory.[124][125][126] Hawking also began a new line of quantum theory research into the origin of the universe. In 1981 at a Vatican conference, he presented work suggesting that there might be no boundary – or beginning or ending – to the universe.[127][128] He subsequently developed the research in collaboration with Jim Hartle, and in 1983 they published a model, known as the Hartle–Hawking state. It proposed that prior to the Planck epoch, the universe had no boundary in space-time; before the Big Bang, time did not exist and the concept of the beginning of the universe is meaningless.[129] The initial singularity of the classical Big Bang models was replaced with a region akin to the North Pole. One cannot travel north of the North Pole, but there is no boundary there – it is simply the point where all north-running lines meet and end.[130][131] Initially, the no-boundary proposal predicted a closed universe, which had implications about the existence of God. As Hawking explained, “If the universe has no boundaries but is self-contained… then God would not have had any freedom to choose how the universe began.”[132]

Hawking did not rule out the existence of a Creator, asking in A Brief History of Time “Is the unified theory so compelling that it brings about its own existence?”[133] In his early work, Hawking spoke of God in a metaphorical sense. In A Brief History of Time he wrote: “If we discover a complete theory, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason – for then we should know the mind of God.”[134] In the same book he suggested that the existence of God was not necessary to explain the origin of the universe. Later discussions with Neil Turok led to the realisation that the existence of God was also compatible with an open universe.[135]

Further work by Hawking in the area of arrows of time led to the 1985 publication of a paper theorising that if the no-boundary proposition were correct, then when the universe stopped expanding and eventually collapsed, time would run backwards.[136] A paper by Don Page and independent calculations by Raymond Laflamme led Hawking to withdraw this concept.[137] . . . . Along with Thomas Hertog at CERN and Jim Hartle, from 2006 on Hawking developed a theory of “top-down cosmology”, which says that the universe had not one unique initial state but many different ones, and therefore that it is inappropriate to formulate a theory that predicts the universe’s current configuration from one particular initial state.[175] Top-down cosmology posits that the present “selects” the past from a superposition of many possible histories. In doing so, the theory suggests a possible resolution of the fine-tuning question.[176][177] >>

It has been said that Hawking was the most famous physicist not to hold a Nobel Prize.  END

Of related interest to Hawking's view of humanity that we are no more than an 'advanced breed of monkeys', or worse yet we are 'chemical scum', is the just released video podcast of Michael Medved and Prof. Richard Weikart
The Death of Humanity | Richard Weikart https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=92&v=OG52K76gXdU https://mindswithmedved.com/2018/03/15/death-humanity/ In a traditional way of thinking, life is something awesome, sacred – to take life is dreadful to contemplate. Not so much, though, anymore. Why? On a new podcast episode of Great Minds with Michael Medved, Michael talks with historian Richard Weikart about the historical background behind this fall of human life from its once very high pedestal. How did it come about that we now see it as hardly more exalted than animal life?
also of note:
Heaven 'is a fairy story': This is what Stephen Hawking says happens when people die USA TODAY - March 14, 2018 "I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail," he said. "There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark." https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/nation-now/2018/03/14/heaven-fairy-story-what-stephen-hawking-says-happens-when-people-die/423344002/
Ironically, science itself proves Hawking wrong:
Quantum Mechanics, Special Relativity, General Relativity and Christianity - video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKggH8jO0pk
Eugen Awkward I think is an understatement LOL However this is going to be the case for the theist as well. Vivid vividbleau
As far as I know Hawking was an atheist. I imagine meeting between him and our Creator little awkward. Eugen
AK, perhaps. We have seen a lot here over the years. KF PS: On the outdated appeal to the problem of evils (and missing the issue of the good) cf here. kairosfocus
BC, s = k log w is a special case of the statistical approach to thermodynamics with equiprobable microstates/ configurations. A weighted sum approach by Gibbs uses variable probabilities. The stat thermo-d approach has worked well in various forms and seems to fit reasonably well with phenomena. KF kairosfocus
Origenes @ 39: :-) LocalMinimum
The following paper has a table listing many phenotypic traits that are unique to humans:
Comparing the human and chimpanzee genomes: Searching for needles in a haystack – Ajit Varki1 and Tasha K. Altheide – 2005 Excerpt: we have many characteristics that are uniquely human. Table 1 lists some of the definite and possible phenotypic traits that appear to differentiate us from chimpanzees and other “great apes”2. For the most part, we do not know which genetic features interact with the environment to generate these differences between the “phenomes”3 of our two species. The chimpanzee has also long been seen as a model for human diseases because of its close evolutionary relationship. This is indeed the case for a few disorders. Nevertheless, it is a striking paradox that chimpanzees are in fact not good models for many major human diseases/conditions (see Table 2) (Varki 2000; Olson and Varki 2003). http://genome.cshlp.org/content/15/12/1746.full.pdf+html Table 1. Some phenotypic traits of humans for comparison with those of great apes http://genome.cshlp.org/content/15/12/1746/T1.expansion.html
A materialist walks into a bar and orders a beer. The bartender says: “That's weird, I thought I heard someone ordering a beer, but there is no one there.” Origenes
Boltzmann's equation s=k log w which was not grounded in any experimental validation took cosmology into many useless detours. Hawking was one of the physicist that got derailed with this detour. bill cole
Everyone should remember that Stephen Hawking believed that time travel was physically possible according to Einstein's physics. His friend and protege, Kip Thorne, who also received a Nobel Prize for the alleged discovery of gravitational waves, wrote the book on time travel through wormholes, a favorite of Star Trek fanatics. However, as any physicist worth their PhD should know, a time dimension would make motion impossible. As science philosopher Karl Popper once wrote in Conjectures and Refutations, "spacetime is a block universe in which nothing happens." Time travel is simply stupid. Hawking's reputation as a brilliant physicist has been greatly exaggerated. Physics is resting on a Himalayan sized mountain of BS. But then again, what should one expect in a world of lies? FourFaces
Hopefully he has his answers now... ET
Ironically one of Hawking’s early collaborators, Roger Penrose, “who worked closely alongside Hawking in developing gravitational singularity theorems,” was highly critical of Hawking’s later work.
Asked whether science shows that the universe could "create itself from nothing" as claimed in the book, Penrose was strong in his condemnation of the 'string' theory that lies behind Hawking's statement: "It's certainly not doing it yet. I think the book suffers rather more strongly than many. It's not an uncommon thing in popular descriptions of science to latch onto an idea, particularly things to do with string theory, which have absolutely no support from observation. They are just nice ideas." He added that such ideas are ""very far from any testability. They are hardly science."
https://www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=16815 On the other hand, at least Hawking was honest enough try to start his argument with a succinct premise. The problem is that his premise that “the universe can create itself from nothing” is totally absurd. Any theory (metaphysical or scientific) which begins there is DOA. And obviously that doesn’t prove God is unnecessary as Hawking boasted. However, it does prove that there some highly educated and intelligent people who believe some very foolish things. john_a_designer
What is the evolutionary explanation for humor Keith? Tell me a good joke ????
A horse walked into a bar. The bartender asks, “Why the long face?” Allan Keith
What is the evolutionary explanation for humor Keith? Tell me a good joke ;) Origenes
BA77, I will see your two smiley faces :) :) And raise you a wonky face ;) Life is much more pleasant when we stop taking ourselves so seriously and can laugh at ourselves. I am glad to see that you can do this. It appears to be a rare commodity amongst some of the commenters here. Allan Keith
Its all fine and well Allan Keith. Your 'joke' on the moral failings of man actually highlighted another important attribute of human exceptionalism. Which deserves its own double smiley face :) :) I did not know if you were serious or not since the 'argument from evil' is pretty much the bread and butter argument from atheists. bornagain77
Bornagain “And rather than address the scientific evidence, you supposedly “joke” on, of all things, the moral failings of man” This is SOP for KH to never address what’s on the table. Whatever you do don’t ask him a question. Go to the “ Rubbing a materialist nose in” thread to get a good picture of the type of disengenuos person your dealing with. Vivid vividbleau
And rather than address the scientific evidence, you supposedly “joke” on, of all things, the moral failings of man.
Apparently, some people haven’t evolved a sense of humor. Note to self: be sure to put a happy face after a comment if it is intended to lighten the mood. I thought people would catch on when I said that monkeys don’t argue about their exceptionalism. Would it have helped if I said that monkeys don’t argue over objective and subjective morality, self-evident truths and the IS-OUGHT gap? Oops, almost forgot the happy face. :) Allan Keith
Allan Keith, I clearly laid my case out, from the scientific evidence itself, that we have VERY good reason to conclude that we are indeed made in the image of God. And rather than address the scientific evidence, you supposedly "joke" on, of all things, the moral failings of man. Whether you were 'joking' or not, the fact that man is very much a 'moral creature' who is able to readily discern and lament his own moral failings is yet another strong piece of evidence that we are indeed made in the image of God. Man's acute sense of morality is, like our ability to speak language, a characteristic that dramatically demarcates man from the rest of God's creatures.
“The first principle of value that we need to rediscover is this: that all reality hinges on moral foundations. In other words, that this is a moral universe, and that there are moral laws of the universe just as abiding as the physical laws.” - Martin Luther King Jr., A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.
What's more, Andrew, to God the universe, itself, would be 'like the dust on the scales'. Material metrics are meaningless in relation to the infinite and eternal, all-powerful and all-knowing Creator, aren't they ? Knowing the mind of God, my eye ! Given that the universe evidently looms very large in the mind of the astrophysicist, it is surely little wonder that such a distinguished scientist, who, by reason of both his disability and the acclaim he received for his work (not to speak of his secular mindset), should think virtually entirely in terms of it Then of the course, there are the media, whose journalists like to home in on what made the individual newsworthy, to the point of banalising it out of all recognition, and creating 'national treasures' largely of their own making. To compare him to the likes of Einstein, Planck, Bohr et al seems mistaken to me. Axel
AK, no it was not obvious, KF
Would it help if I put a happy face at the end of the comment. Allan Keith
AK, no it was not obvious, KF kairosfocus
AK, monkeys don’t operate at our level so do not face our challenges. KF
It was a joke. I thought it was obvious. Allan Keith
AK, monkeys don't operate at our level so do not face our challenges. KF kairosfocus
Contrary to the propaganda that Hawking had been fed from Darwinists, we most certainly are not “just an advanced breed of monkeys.”
I agree. Monkeys don’t attempt genocide. Monkeys don’t get addicted to narcotics and require rehab. Monkeys don’t argue about their exceptionalism. Who is more advanced? Allan Keith
Although the supposed evidence that man evolved from apes is far more illusory than most people realize, it is interesting to note that leading Darwinists themselves admit that they have no clue how evolution could have produced the particular trait of language in humans.
Leading Evolutionary Scientists Admit We Have No Evolutionary Explanation of Human Language – December 19, 2014 Excerpt: Understanding the evolution of language requires evidence regarding origins and processes that led to change. In the last 40 years, there has been an explosion of research on this problem as well as a sense that considerable progress has been made. We argue instead that the richness of ideas is accompanied by a poverty of evidence, with essentially no explanation of how and why our linguistic computations and representations evolved.,,, (Marc Hauser, Charles Yang, Robert Berwick, Ian Tattersall, Michael J. Ryan, Jeffrey Watumull, Noam Chomsky and Richard C. Lewontin, “The mystery of language evolution,” Frontiers in Psychology, Vol 5:401 (May 7, 2014).) Casey Luskin added: “It’s difficult to imagine much stronger words from a more prestigious collection of experts.” http://www.evolutionnews.org/2014/12/leading_evoluti092141.html
Tom Wolfe was so taken aback by this confession by leading Darwinists that he wrote a book entitled 'Kingdom of Speech' on the subject. The following quote provides an overview of Tom Wolfe's main argument in his book:
“Speech is not one of man’s several unique attributes—speech is the attribute of all attributes! Speech is 95 percent plus of what lifts man above animal! Physically, man is a sad case. His teeth, including his incisors, which he calls eyeteeth, are baby-size and can barely penetrate the skin of a too-green apple. His claws can’t do anything but scratch him where he itches. His stringy-ligament body makes him a weakling compared to all the animals his size. Animals his size? In hand-to-paw, hand-to-claw, or hand-to-incisor combat, any animal his size would have him for lunch. Yet man owns or controls them all, every animal that exists, thanks to his superpower: speech.” —Tom Wolfe, in the introduction to his book, The Kingdom of Speech
In other words, although humans are fairly defenseless creatures in the wild compared to other creatures, such as lions, bears, and sharks, etc.., nonetheless, humans have, completely contrary to Darwinian ‘survival of the fittest’ thinking, managed to become masters of the planet, not by brute force, but simply by our unique ability to communicate information and, more specifically, infuse information into material substrates,, What is more interesting still, besides the fact that humans have a unique ability to understand and create information and have become 'masters of the planet' through the ‘top-down’ infusion of information into material substrates, is the fact that, due to advances in science, both the universe and life itself are now found to be ‘information theoretic’ in their foundational basis. Renowned physicist John Wheeler stated “in short all matter and all things physical are information-theoretic in origin and this is a participatory universe”.
“it from bit” Every “it”— every particle, every field of force, even the space-time continuum itself derives its function, its meaning, its very existence entirely—even if in some contexts indirectly—from the apparatus-elicited answers to yes-or-no questions, binary choices, bits. “It from bit” symbolizes the idea that every item of the physical world has a bottom—a very deep bottom, in most instances, an immaterial source and explanation, that which we call reality arises in the last analysis from the posing of yes-no questions and the registering of equipment—evoked responses, in short all matter and all things physical are information-theoretic in origin and this is a participatory universe.” – Princeton University physicist John Wheeler (1911–2008) (Wheeler, John A. (1990), “Information, physics, quantum: The search for links”, in W. Zurek, Complexity, Entropy, and the Physics of Information (Redwood City, California: Addison-Wesley))
In the following article, Anton Zeilinger, a leading expert in quantum mechanics, stated that ‘it may very well be said that information is the irreducible kernel from which everything else flows.’
Why the Quantum? It from Bit? A Participatory Universe? Excerpt: In conclusion, it may very well be said that information is the irreducible kernel from which everything else flows. Thence the question why nature appears quantized is simply a consequence of the fact that information itself is quantized by necessity. It might even be fair to observe that the concept that information is fundamental is very old knowledge of humanity, witness for example the beginning of gospel according to John: “In the beginning was the Word.” Anton Zeilinger – a leading expert in quantum mechanics: http://www.metanexus.net/archive/ultimate_reality/zeilinger.pdf
In the following video at the 48:24 mark, Anton Zeilinger states that “It is operationally impossible to separate Reality and Information” and he goes on to note, at the 49:45 mark, the Theological significance of “In the Beginning was the Word” John 1:1
48:24 mark: “It is operationally impossible to separate Reality and Information” 49:45 mark: “In the Beginning was the Word” John 1:1 Prof Anton Zeilinger speaks on quantum physics. at UCT – video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3ZPWW5NOrw
Vlatko Vedral, who is a Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford, and who is also a recognized leader in the field of quantum mechanics, states, The most fundamental definition of reality is not matter or energy, but information–
“The most fundamental definition of reality is not matter or energy, but information–and it is the processing of information that lies at the root of all physical, biological, economic, and social phenomena.” Vlatko Vedral – Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford, and CQT (Centre for Quantum Technologies) at the National University of Singapore, and a Fellow of Wolfson College – a recognized leader in the field of quantum mechanics.
Moreover, besides being foundational to physical reality, information, as Intelligent Design advocates have been pointing out to Darwinists for years, is also foundational to biological life. Here are a few references to get that point across:
Information Enigma (Where did the information in life come from?) – – Stephen Meyer – Doug Axe – video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aA-FcnLsF1g Information is Physical (but not how Rolf Landauer meant) - video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H35I83y5Uro
It is hard to imagine a more convincing scientific proof that we are made ‘in the image of God’ ,,, than finding both the universe, and life itself, are both ‘information theoretic’ in their foundational basis, and that we, of all the creatures on earth, uniquely possess an ability to understand and create information, and, moreover, have come to ‘master the planet’ precisely because of our unique ability infuse information into material substrates. Verses:
Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. John 1:1-4 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life, and that life was the Light of men.
Perhaps a more convincing evidence that we are made in the image of God and that our lives have meaning and purpose could be if God Himself became a man, defeated death on a cross, and then rose from the dead to prove that He was indeed God. But who has ever heard of such a thing as that?
“Christianity is not merely religious truth, it is total truth — truth about the whole of reality.” - Francis Schaeffer - Gödel, Infinity, and Jesus Christ as the Theory of Everything https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1Jw5Y686jY Shroud of Turin: From discovery of Photographic Negative, to 3D Information, to Quantum Hologram – video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-TL4QOCiis&list=PLtAP1KN7ahia8hmDlCYEKifQ8n65oNpQ5&index=5 Turin Shroud Hologram Reveals The Words "The Lamb" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Tmka1l8GAQ
As to Hawking's claim that we are just chemical scum, here is an entire video devoted to debunking that notion (a erroneous notion that arose for Hawking and others from the now, believe it or not, falsified Copernican principle)
Humanity - Chemical Scum or Made in the Image of God? - video https://youtu.be/ElBWAwjPzyM
I take exception to this Stephen Hawking quote:
'We are just an advanced breed of monkeys'
I also take exception to this quote from Hawking:
“The human race is just a chemical scum on a moderate-sized planet, orbiting around a very average star in the outer suburb of one among a hundred billion galaxies. We are so insignificant that I can't believe the whole universe exists for our benefit.,,,” - Stephen Hawking - 1995 TV show, Reality on the Rocks: Beyond Our Ken,
Contrary to the propaganda that Hawking had been fed from Darwinists, we most certainly are not "just an advanced breed of monkeys." Although the supposed fossil evidence and genetic evidence claiming that man evolved from apes is far more illusory than most people realize,,,
"Contested Bones" (Part 1 - Prologue and Chapter 1 "Power of the Paradigm") 1-27-2018 by Paul Giem https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6ZOKj-YaHA&list=PLHDSWJBW3DNU_twNBjopIqyFOwo_bTkXm DNA Science Disproves Human Evolution by Jeffrey P. Tomkins, Ph.D. - 2017 Excerpt: 1970s, very crude and indirect techniques were utilized to unzip mixtures of human and chimpanzee DNA, which were then monitored to see how fast they would zip back up compared to unmixed samples.5 Based on these studies, it was declared that human and chimpanzee DNA was 98.5% similar. But only the most similar protein-coding regions of the genome (called single-copy DNA) were compared, which is an extremely small portion—less than 3%—of the total genome. Also, it was later discovered by an evolutionary colleague that the authors of these studies had manipulated the data to make the chimpanzee DNA appear more similar to human than it really was.6,,, So, how similar is chimpanzee DNA to human? My research indicates that raw chimpanzee DNA sequences from data sets with significantly lower levels of human DNA contamination are on average about 85% identical in their DNA sequence when aligned onto the human genome. Therefore, based on the most recent, unbiased, and comprehensive research, chimpanzee DNA is no more than 85% similar to human. 6. Marks, J. 2011. The Rise and Fall of DNA Hybridization, ca. 1980-1995, or How I Got Interested in Science Studies. In Workshop on “Mechanisms of Fraud in Biomedical Research,” organized by Christine Hauskeller and Helga Satzinger. The Wellcome Trust, London, October 17-18, 2008. 7. Tomkins, J. P. 2011. How Genomes are Sequenced and Why it Matters: Implications for Studies in Comparative Genomics of Humans and Chimpanzees. Answers Research Journal. 4: 81-88. 8. Tomkins, J. 2016. Analysis of 101 Chimpanzee Trace Read Data Sets: Assessment of Their Overall Similarity to Human and Possible Contamination with Human DNA. Answers Research Journal. 9: 294-298. http://www.icr.org/article/10016
EA @ 18, Very well put. Thank you. I don't know that Hawking has contributed to anything practical. bb
I'm sorry that Hawking has passed. His battle through an incredibly challenging physical condition that most of us can never even contemplate enduring was inspiring. He was able to live so much longer and do so much more than his doctors ever thought possible. He was a gifted mathematician, a bold theorist, and, from the interviews and interactions I have seen, seemed to have a quick sense of humor. He gave us much to contemplate and much to think about. Like everyone, though, he had some faults. In his case a philosophical attitude and worldview that occasionally intruded into the work. He was often able, with brilliant mathematics and theoretical reasoning, to construct a massive and impressive vessel, one that awed the crowds and promised the ultimate journey into the unknown. Unfortunately, so often the mighty vessel was unable to survive even brief contact with the shoals of basic logic. He gave us to much to contemplate and much to ponder. How much of it to take seriously is a very different matter. ----- I should add that he was a victim of what so many mathematicians are afflicted by, in particular those who spend their time focused on models, namely, the tendency to think the math and the model are, inherently, of importance, even if divorced from reality. He acknowledged with respect to his one of his own models, "I'm a positivist. . . . I don't demand that a theory correspond to reality because I don't know what it is." I don't begrudge mathematicians producing models that are interesting or beautiful, even if they don't correspond to reality. Their is something to be said for beauty and art in their own right. Similarly, I don't begrudge a novelist producing a work of fiction, or a producer creating a work of art on the big screen that transports us to a place of fantasy. But let us then not pretend we are dealing with pure, objective "science." Let us not feel obligated to take the mathematician's work of fiction any more seriously than the latest novel or the latest Hollywood blockbuster. Eric Anderson
"If we discover a complete theory, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason – for then we should know the mind of God.”
Note the implicit assumption that the physical exhausts the real. Hawking says: come up with a complete theory (of the universe) and you will know all there is to know ... I would suggest that an understanding the physical does not extend to an understanding of e.g. free will, morality, consciousness and so on. Origenes
AK @ 12: It reflects on Einstein's belief in a determinism exclusive of free will and many current interpretations of QM. You probably would, if Einstein was the topic. LocalMinimum
AS, a lot of physicists are very poor at philosophy but don't realise it. KF kairosfocus
AK, often? (And besides even were Einstein an atheist that does not change the price of tea -- it would just mean he was not as smart as he should have been.) KF kairosfocus
”The initial singularity of the classical Big Bang models was replaced with a region akin to the North Pole. One cannot travel north of the North Pole, but there is no boundary there – it is simply the point where all north-running lines meet and end.”
A tricky analogy. "One cannot travel north of the North Pole" is suggestive of the shortest route from the South to the North; passing through the center of the earth. Given such a direct route there would be a "North" AND, behold, there would be a boundary as well. Origenes
It’s throwaway. It doesn’t do anything to add knowledge to the database. It’s speculation.
Of course it's a throwaway. Just as Einstein's "God does not play dice with the universe" line was a throwaway. But I have never seen anyone here take offence at that line. On the contrary, they have often used it as proof that Einstein wasn't an atheist. Allan Keith
Another famous British a/mat is in the news today. This one, Richard Dawkins, is tweeting about humans eating human flesh as a way of overcoming the taboo against cannibalism. I just can't take these a/mats seriously anymore. Part of me feels very sad for them, like when I see a deranged person talking to him or herself. Truth Will Set You Free
what is your problem with his statement? I don’t think that he meant it literally.
Allan Keith, It's throwaway. It doesn't do anything to add knowledge to the database. It's speculation. There is a big IF at the beginning. I bet Hawking wouldn't know what a "complete" theory was if he saw it. And I bet he means "imagine" when he says "discover". He's talking in poetry. Triumphing and Mind of God and all that. I want some science. Andrew asauber
But we can understand the Universe
I don't mean to nitpick Hawking, and I hope the mercy of the Lord is upon him. But I have a problem with people who are held up as brilliant scientists making unscientific statements, and this one is a doozy. There is a lot about the Universe (whatever that means exactly) we DON'T understand and may never understand. We can come to understand the things around us, but if science is going to be a useful tool, it has to constrain itself to stuff in its area of relevance. The Universe "we" are aware of is a really big place full of the unexplored and the unknown and the inconceivable. Can it fit into a human mind? Andrew asauber
NL@5: I've worked with information and channel theory all my career and still cannot comprehend what a physicist means when he says 'information'. Maybe it refers to the structure of all matter. In this case, the matter consumed by the black hole. Maybe it is everything you need to know to rebuild Earth as in 'Hitchhiker's Guide'. I think to most physicists it is just something that satisfies the entropy equation(s). At any rate, it does not appear to be closely related to information as we normally think of it. GBDixon
Andrew@3, what is your problem with his statement? I don't think that he meant it literally. Allan Keith
Heartlander @ 4: “We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.” I just don't see any genius in this statement. Truth Will Set You Free
RIP. Too bad the guy was famous mostly for his condition and not for his achievements. How is this possible:
"information in a black hole is irretrievably lost when a black hole evaporates"
when in fact information is entirely separate from matter? The same media (matter) may contain information for one or more users, or random noise data if the bits randomly configured happen to match the information-carrying data. Furthermore, without a deciphering key, one user’s information is random noise to another (like bat sounds to other nocturnal animals). Other blunders: http://nonlin.org/think-like-a-genius-by-stephen-hawking/ Nonlin.org
17 Stephen Hawking Quotes That Will Inspire You
1. "Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious." 2. "However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. Where there's life, there's hope." 3. "People won't have time for you if you are always angry or complaining." 4. "I believe alien life is quite common in the universe, although intelligent life is less so. Some say it has yet to appear on planet Earth." 5. "My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn't prevent you doing well, and don't regret the things it interferes with. Don't be disabled in spirit as well as physically." 6. "We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special." 7. "Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it." 8. "People who boast about their I.Q. are losers." 9. "Quiet people have the loudest minds." 10. "One of the basic rules of the universe is that nothing is perfect. Perfection simply doesn't exist...Without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist" 11. "You cannot understand the glories of the universe without believing there is some Supreme Power behind it." 12. "To confine our attention to terrestrial matters would be to limit the human spirit." 13. "It matters if you just don't give up." 14. "Nothing is better than reading and gaining more and more knowledge." 15. "The universe does not behave according to our pre-conceived ideas. It continues to surprise us." 16. "Mankind's greatest achievements have come about by talking and its greatest failures by not talking. It doesn't have to be like this." 17. "I'm not afraid of death, but I'm in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first."
If we discover a complete theory, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason – for then we should know the mind of God.”
And if I became Superman, I could reverse the rotation of the earth and turn back time. Equal scientific footing. Reason worship. I hope he got his head out of his [SNIP --> Language!] before the end. Andrew asauber
PS: Notice the unintentional irony in the North Pole remark: " The initial singularity of the classical Big Bang models was replaced with a region akin to the North Pole. One cannot travel north of the North Pole, but there is no boundary there – it is simply the point where all north-running lines meet and end." Of course, this really points to: what does "end" or "beginning" mean in the context of our temporal-causal order, given also the logic of being that implies that . . . as non-being has no causal capacity, were there ever utter nothing, such would forever obtain . . . as a world now is, something always was. This raises the issue of a necessary being world root. kairosfocus
Stephen Hawking, theoretical physicist, passes on at age 76 -- condolences to family, friends and others kairosfocus

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