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How did Stephen Hawking get to be “world’s smartest scientist”?

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Stephen Hawking  (1942 – 2018)/
Steve Boxall, steveboxall.com

Which is pretty much how popular media treated him:

Yes, he was brilliant. And who could not be inspired by his rising above such a debilitating physical condition that left him wheelchair-bound for decades? But there are other factors to consider.

Many underestimate the place that science holds in today’s cultural backdrop. In pre-modern Christendom, the ultimate statement of authority was “Thus saith the Lord.” Today, the closest statement with that sort of gravitas is “the science is settled,” despite how often that claim is misused to stifle debate and advance ideologies.

And also, Stephen Hawking didn’t stay in his lane. He was a scientist, but in each of his books and nearly all of his media appearances, he ventured into philosophy, masking metaphysical observations and proclamations in language of scientific certainty. John Stonestreet, “Scientism vs. Revelation & the Limits of Knowledge” at Salvo

Yes, he was careful to do science and leave the crackpot cosmology for the long-anticipated dessert. The media loved it because gullible notables loved it.

The comparatively unknown Sabine Hossenfelder is a much more reliable guide to what makes sense and nonsense in theoretical physics. But that’s why she is a comparatively unknown freelance physicist.

Top People need a multiverse. The rewards go to those who can conjure one. Hawking did his best within the boundaries of science and is to be commended for going no further. We have heard and will hear plenty from those who show no such qualms.

Something to watch: Will Stephen Hawking still be compared to Einstein and Newton 25 years from now?

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See also: Stephen Hawking’s final paper, just released, tacked the information paradox

and

The multiverse is science’s assisted suicide

3 Replies to “How did Stephen Hawking get to be “world’s smartest scientist”?

  1. 1
    ET says:

    Seeing that he accepted evolutionism, I doubt his intelligence.

  2. 2
    FourFaces says:

    Anyone who believes that General Relativity permits time travel in any direction is not smart but stupid, IMO. Truth is, as Karl Popper wrote in Conjectures and Refutations, Einstein’s spacetime is a block universe in which nothing happens. Hawking, along with his time-travel-through-wormhole friend, Kip Thorne (2018 Nobel Prize for discovering non-existent gravitational waves), will one day be listed prominently in the Book of the World’s Fakest and Most Worthless Scientists.

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    It is interesting to point out that Hawking’s main claim to scientific fame actually supported Theism rather than atheism. As a team in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, Stephen Hawking, Roger Penrose, and George Ellis were instrumental in refining General Relativity to a point to reveal that not only did mass-energy have a absolute (singular) beginning in the Big Bang, but according to the predictions of General Relativity space-time itself also had an absolute (singular) beginning that corresponded to the origin of matter and energy:

    Big Bang Theory – An Overview of the main evidence
    Excerpt: Steven Hawking, George Ellis, and Roger Penrose turned their attention to the Theory of Relativity and its implications regarding our notions of time. In 1968 and 1970, they published papers in which they extended Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity to include measurements of time and space.1, 2 According to their calculations, time and space had a finite beginning that corresponded to the origin of matter and energy.”3
    Steven W. Hawking, George F.R. Ellis, “The Cosmic Black-Body Radiation and the Existence of Singularities in our Universe,” Astrophysical Journal, 152, (1968) pp. 25-36.
    Steven W. Hawking, Roger Penrose, “The Singularities of Gravitational Collapse and Cosmology,” Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, series A, 314 (1970) pp. 529-548.
    http://www.big-bang-theory.com/

    “Every solution to the equations of general relativity guarantees the existence of a singular boundary for space and time in the past.”
    (Hawking, Penrose, Ellis) – 1970
    http://www.leaderu.com/real/ri9404/bigbang.html

    The Theistic implications of the absolute (singular) beginning for space-time, matter-energy are fairly obvious.

    “My argument,” Dr. Penzias concluded, “is that the best data we have are exactly what I would have predicted, had I had nothing to go on but the five books of Moses, the Psalms, the Bible as a whole.”
    Dr. Arno Penzias, Nobel Laureate in Physics – co-discoverer Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation – as stated to the New York Times on March 12, 1978

    “Certainly there was something that set it all off,,, I can’t think of a better theory of the origin of the universe to match Genesis”
    Robert Wilson – Nobel laureate – co-discoverer Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation
    – Fred Heeren, Show Me God (Wheeling, Ill.: Daystar, 2000),

    “The question of ‘the beginning’ is as inescapable for cosmologists as it is for theologians…there is no doubt that a parallel exists between the big bang as an event and the Christian notion of creation from nothing”
    George Smoot and Keay Davidson, Wrinkles in Time, 1993, p.189. – George Smoot is a Nobel laureate in 2006 for his work on COBE

    “Now we see how the astronomical evidence supports the biblical view of the origin of the world. The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same: the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy.”
    Robert Jastrow – Founder of NASA’s Goddard Institute – ‘God and the Astronomers’ – Pg.15 – 2000

    Hawking, as an atheist, tried to find a ‘work-around’ for the absolute singular beginning of the entire universe. But as William lane Craig points out in the following video, Hawking’s model still implies, despite misconceptions, an absolute beginning for the universe.

    Cosmology: A Religion For Atheists? | William Lane Craig critiques (Hawking’s) “The Theory Of Everything” movie – 28:00 minute mark – Hawking’s model still implies, despite misconceptions, a beginning for the universe
    https://youtu.be/i08-gCue7Ds?t=1687

    Rob Sheldon referred to Hawking’s attempted ‘work-around’ model as “lipstick on the pig”

    The argument Hawking made is really quite simple, and illustrated with some 3-D objects that illustrate the 4-D spacetime.
    a) Einstein’s hyperbolic spacetime is often represented with a horse’s saddle. But since we are also claiming that the universe expands from a beginning, a trumpet bell works even better. So the consensus is that the universe began as a point, and then expanded like a trumpet bell. If you start with two parallel lines drawn near the neck of the bell, you will see that they diverge as they approach the opening. This is the characteristic of hyperbolic spacetime.
    In analytic geometry the distance between two points is written (x^2 + y^2 + z^2) =R^2, , where x,y,z are coordinates. In Einstein’s spacetime we needed to subtract off the fourth coordinate: R^2- (ct)^2 = constant, where “t” is time, and “c” is the speed of light. From trig class in high school, we know that this is the equation of a hyperbola, one of the “conic sections” achieved by slicing a cone with a bread knife.
    Why is time subtracted instead of added?
    Because it is a “special coordinate” that only has the units of length if we multiply by the speed of light, “c”. (e.g. 60mph x 1 hour = 60 miles.) And in order to keep the speed of light constant (Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity), we had to create a distance measure that subtracted “ct.” You’ll have to take my word for it, but Einstein’s fame came from producing this weird geometry where Euclid doesn’t work, but instead spacetime must be hyperbolic.
    b) Now if we replace t –> j*t, where j= sqrt(-1), then we have “imaginary time”, with the “j” making the time imaginary. This has no physical meaning, it is just a mathematical trick. Because when we plug it into the distance formula from Special Relativity, it gives us:
    R^2 – (jct)^2 = R^2 + (ct)^2.
    It changes the sign from subtraction to addition, and the geometry from hyperbolic to spherical. Now spacetime looks like a ball instead of a bell!
    What does Hawking do with this?
    Well, what Hawking hates is the sharp end of the trumpet bell. Recall that the universe had a beginning, so the bell shrinks down to a very sharp needle point. Hawking absolutely hates that beginning, so he cuts the needle off the trumpet bell, slices a ping-pong ball in half and caps the end of the bell with it. Lo-and-behold, a safe and harmless space-time with “no sharp point for the beginning”.
    Uhh, what happens at the border between the ping-pong ball and the trumpet bell?
    Magic, we stitched it together without any seams.
    Umm, the whole contraption is the same length as the one with the needle point, so why doesn’t this one have a beginning too?
    Because the ping-pong ball is a sphere, so there are an infinite number of starting points, Viola, there can be no unique starting point!
    Hmm, and what happens to Special Relativity when you are in the ping-pong ball region?
    Well, obviously special relativity doesn’t work, time doesn’t work, causality doesn’t work, physics doesn’t work—but hey, the universe doesn’t draw blood any more! You can’t have security without taking some liberties.
    Then to address a common question: what is this “eternal quantum state” and is it applicable to “actual infinities”?
    That’s all window dressing to rename the lipstick on the pig. This spherical spacetime is a pig, and whether it is eternal, temporal, finite or infinite doesn’t change the fact it is an ugly honker with no basis in reality or physics. It is right up there with multiverses in its metaphysical ontology, and no amount of adjectives like “quantum”, “imaginary”, or “eternal” can fix it. Because its only purpose, its “raison d’etre” is to avoid a beginning of the universe, and it doesn’t even do that job very well as you can see by staring at the ping-pong ball.
    — Rob Sheldon
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/was-stephen-hawking-1942-2018-right-to-object-to-the-kalam-cosmological-argument/

    Thus, despite Hawking’s failed attempts to blunt the Theistic implications of what his original work on General Relativity suggested, i.e. an absolute beginning for the universe, Hawking’s greatest contribution to science itself still, far from supporting Hawking’s atheism, actually offers one of the most powerful scientific evidences for Theism.

    Rob Sheldon is not alone in his criticism of Hawking’s work subsequent to his initial work on General Relativity. Roger Penrose himself, Hawking’s collaborator in the 1970’s. called Hawkings book “The Grand Design” (where Hawking tried to find a mathematical ‘theory of everything’), “It’s a collection of ideas, hopes, aspirations. It’s not even a theory,,,”

    ‘What is referred to as M-theory isn’t even a theory. It’s a collection of ideas, hopes, aspirations. It’s not even a theory and I think the book is a bit misleading in that respect. It gives you the impression that here is this new theory which is going to explain everything. It is nothing of the sort. It is not even a theory and certainly has no observational (evidence),,, I think the book suffers rather more strongly than many (other books). It’s not a uncommon thing in popular descriptions of science to latch onto some idea, particularly things to do with string theory, which have absolutely no support from observations.,,, They are very far from any kind of observational (testability). Yes, they (the ideas of M-theory) are hardly science.”
    – Roger Penrose – former close colleague of Stephen Hawking – in critique of Hawking’s new book ‘The Grand Design’ the exact quote in the following video clip:
    Roger Penrose Debunks Stephen Hawking’s New Book ‘The Grand Design’ – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dg_95wZZFr4

    Another beef I had with Hawking is that Hawking, via the Copernican principle, once stated that “The human race is just a chemical scum”

    “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,

    Yet Hawking’s own field of expertise, i.e. General Relativity, has now overturned the Copernican Principle:

    Einstein himself stated, The two sentences: “the sun is at rest and the earth moves” or “the sun moves and the earth is at rest” would simply mean two different conventions concerning two different CS [coordinate systems].”

    “Can we formulate physical laws so that they are valid for all CS [coordinate systems], not only those moving uniformly, but also those moving quite arbitrarily, relative to each other? […] The struggle, so violent in the early days of science, between the views of Ptolemy and Copernicus would then be quite meaningless. Either CS could be used with equal justification. The two sentences: “the sun is at rest and the earth moves” or “the sun moves and the earth is at rest” would simply mean two different conventions concerning two different CS.”
    Einstein, A. and Infeld, L. (1938) The Evolution of Physics, p.212 (p.248 in original 1938 ed.);

    Fred Hoyle and George Ellis add their considerable weight here in these following two quotes:

    “The relation of the two pictures [geocentrism and geokineticism] is reduced to a mere coordinate transformation and it is the main tenet of the Einstein theory that any two ways of looking at the world which are related to each other by a coordinate transformation are entirely equivalent from a physical point of view…. Today we cannot say that the Copernican theory is ‘right’ and the Ptolemaic theory ‘wrong’ in any meaningful physical sense.”
    Hoyle, Fred. Nicolaus Copernicus. London: Heinemann Educational Books Ltd., 1973.

    “People need to be aware that there is a range of models that could explain the observations… For instance, I can construct you a spherically symmetrical universe with Earth at its center, and you cannot disprove it based on observations… You can only exclude it on philosophical grounds… What I want to bring into the open is the fact that we are using philosophical criteria in choosing our models. A lot of cosmology tries to hide that.”
    – George Ellis – W. Wayt Gibbs, “Profile: George F. R. Ellis,” Scientific American, October 1995, Vol. 273, No.4, p. 55

    Even Stephen Hawking himself, who I remind claimed that we are just chemical scum on an insignificant planet, stated that it is not true that Copernicus proved Ptolemy wrong,,, the real advantage of the Copernican system is simply that the equations of motion are much simpler in the frame of reference in which the sun is at rest.”

    “So which is real, the Ptolemaic or Copernican system? Although it is not uncommon for people to say that Copernicus proved Ptolemy wrong, that is not true. As in the case of our normal view versus that of the goldfish, one can use either picture as a model of the universe, for our observations of the heavens can be explained by assuming either the earth or the sun to be at rest.
    Despite its role in philosophical debates over the nature of our universe, the real advantage of the Copernican system is simply that the equations of motion are much simpler in the frame of reference in which the sun is at rest.”
    Stephen Hawking – The Grand Design – pages 39 – 2010

    And even more directly contrary to Hawking’s claim that we are just chemical scum, even individual people can be considered to be central in the universe according to the four-dimensional space-time of General Relativity,,,

    You Technically Are the Center of the Universe – May 2016
    Excerpt: (due to the 1 in 10^120 finely tuned expansion of the 4-D space-time of General Relativity) no matter where you stand, it will appear that everything in the universe is expanding around you. So the center of the universe is technically — everywhere.
    The moment you pick a frame of reference, that point becomes the center of the universe.
    Here’s another way to think about it: The sphere of space we can see around us is the visible universe. We’re looking at the light from stars that’s traveled millions or billions of years to reach us. When we reach the 13.8 billion-light-year point, we’re seeing the universe just moments after the Big Bang happened.
    But someone standing on another planet, a few light-years to the right, would see a different sphere of the universe. It’s sort of like lighting a match in the middle of a dark room: Your observable universe is the sphere of the room that the light illuminates.
    But someone standing in a different spot in the room will be able to see a different sphere. So technically, we are all standing at the center of our own observable universes.
    https://mic.com/articles/144214/you-technically-are-the-center-of-the-universe-thanks-to-a-wacky-physics-quirk

    Moreover, Quantum Mechanics itself, which Hawking was also certainly well versed in, overturns the Copernican Priciple even more forcefully than General Relativity does. As the following article states, “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,”

    Experiment confirms quantum theory weirdness – May 27, 2015
    Excerpt: Common sense says the object is either wave-like or particle-like, independent of how we measure it. But quantum physics predicts that whether you observe wave like behavior (interference) or particle behavior (no interference) depends only on how it is actually measured at the end of its journey. This is exactly what the ANU team found.
    “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,” said Associate Professor Andrew Truscott from the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering.
    http://phys.org/news/2015-05-q.....dness.html

    Because of such experiments as this from Quantum Mechanics, Richard Conn Henry stated, “It is more than 80 years since the discovery of quantum mechanics gave us the most fundamental insight ever into our nature: the overturning of the Copernican Revolution, and the restoration of us human beings to centrality in the Universe.”

    “It is more than 80 years since the discovery of quantum mechanics gave us the most fundamental insight ever into our nature: the overturning of the Copernican Revolution, and the restoration of us human beings to centrality in the Universe.
    And yet, have you ever before read a sentence having meaning similar to that of my preceding sentence? Likely you have not, and the reason you have not is, in my opinion, that physicists are in a state of denial, and have fears and agonies that are very similar to the fears and agonies that Copernicus and Galileo went through with their perturbations of society.”
    Richard Conn Henry – Professor of Physics – John Hopkins University
    http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/quantum.enigma.html

    Thus, although Hawking certainly did great scientific work with his initial work on General Relativity in extending it to include an absolute beginning for space-time, I am certainly less than enamored with much of his subsequent work after that initial work. Certainly a high amount of honor is due him, but I can’t help thinking that Hawking’s almost cult like stature in science was overblown in regards to what he actually accomplished, and especially in regards to what he overlooked in his subsequent work because of his a-priori atheistic bias.

    I wonder how much further he would have gone in science had he not been blinded by his atheism?

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