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Stephen Hawkings’ views outside physics were more noted than notable

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That’s a common problem when we ask great figures their opinion about things they haven’t studied. From a review of Stephen Hawking’s (1942–2018) last book (or the last book that could be put together plausibly under his name), Brief Answers to the Big Questions:

Because of the likelihood of a nuclear confrontation or an environmental catastrophe, we should work out how to leave the planet and colonise space, Hawking reckons. “Spreading out,” he says, “may be the only thing that saves us from ourselves.” He concedes that move will involve abandoning the flora and fauna of Earth, but Hawking seems to believe that humans deserve more of a future than other species. Leaving all other life to fend for itself is something humanity will have to have “on our conscience”.

This is strange, since he has said elsewhere that “we will need to consider transporting several thousands of people, animals, plants, fungi, bacteria and insects”. And here we reach the slightly perplexing nature of this book. It was “in development” at the time of Hawking’s death, and has been pulled together from speeches, interviews and essays. It’s unclear where Hawking’s words end, and where the voice of colleagues, collaborators, family and the Stephen Hawking Estate begins. Michael Brooks, “The hawking of Stephen: is Brief Answers to the Big Questions more spin than science?” at New Statesman

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See also: Stephen Hawking’s final paper, just released, tackled the “information paradox”

Did the dying Stephen Hawking strengthen the case for God by reintroducing fine-tuning?

Stephen Hawking’s final theory scales back multiverse

Sabine Hossenfelder: Hawking’s final theory is just one of a thousand speculations

and

Did Stephen Hawking discover a means of detecting parallel universes just before he died?  This sounds a lot like grief talking but we’ll see.

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