Stephen Hawking has changed his mind.When you have a mind like his, that takes some doing. I've often heard of rooms that were too small to change your mind in. Hawking would be extremely frustrated in such a place.He's the brilliant physicist whose book "A Brief History of Time" opened the minds of many to the mysteries of the origin of the universe, among other things.
His physical disabilities keep him in a wheelchair and he can speak only with the aid of a mechanical speaking device. Finding that amazing intellect imprisoned in such a body is like finding the Hope diamond inside a lump of BS.
If you understand three words in a row in the following brief synopsis of a small portion of his work, go beyond the head of the class to another realm.
Hawking's investigations include: the study of quantum cosmology, cosmic inflation, helium in anisotropic Big Bang universes, the density matrix of the universe, topology and structure of the universe, Yang-Mills instantons and the S matrix, anti de sitter space, quantum entanglement and entropy, the nature of space and time, the arrow of time, space time foam, string theory, super gravity, Euclidean quantum gravity, the gravitational Hamiltonian, gravitational radiation and wormholes.
These are all I can remember off the top of my head.
Most people are aware that Hawking is almost totally paralyzed, thanks to a variation of muscular dystrophy, and can talk only with the help of a mechanical speaking device.
His disabilities didn't prevent him from marrying a beautiful young woman. (Other Half says that saying "blond" rather than woman is sexist and beneath me. But she was.). They were married for 26 years and had three children. She divorced him to marry the scientist who invented his first speaking device. He might be able to develop theories based on quantum physics, but I'd like to hear Hawking explain that one.
He was married a second time, but that only lasted a relatively short time. A beautiful mind goes only so far.
So, what's he changed his mind about? Something relatively simple - God. In "A Brief History of Time," Hawking suggested that it was unlikely the universe began as a spontaneous explosion as in the Big Bang theory. He didn't preclude the idea of creation as opposed to "accident." At least that's what I understood, and you know how bright I am.
That's generally what Sir Isaac Newton said, too. So that's three of us. Those other two are in good company.
Someone has said - it wasn't Hawking, it wasn't Sir Isaac Newton and it wasn't me - that the idea of the universe being the result of an accident is the same as believing Webster's dictionary was the result of an explosion in a printing factory. I'm just throwing it in here as being rather cute.
God may have created the laws that govern the universe, I think Hawking said, but he does not interfere with or break those laws.
I find that to be immensely interesting because I have been saying exactly that for years and years and years. Never once did I suspect that Stephen Hawking was standing behind me writing down everything I said. I'm glad I kept my deeper thoughts to myself.
Now, in "The Grand Design," which came out only weeks ago, Hawking proclaims God had nothing to do with creation. His latest understanding of the laws of physics, he says, leads him to believe the universe can create itself out of nothing, and doesn't require a creating God.
Parting company with both Sir Isaac and myself is one of Hawking's boldest steps ever. It may yet rise up to bite him.
Just as interesting, he contradicts my old Grade 10 general science book. We didn't have chemistry, physics or biology in my high school. We were lucky to have heat (the potbelly stove), paper (the blue exercise book with the king and queen on the front and your times tables on the back) and toilets (built about 20 feet downwind from the school). One couldn't have everything.
My Grade 10 science book stated flatly that matter could neither be created nor destroyed. There were no conditions set out and no exceptions made. No mention was made of anyone named Steven Hawking. OK, so he wasn't born yet. That's a moot point. I was, and I'm telling this.
Hawking has said recently that mankind should avoid all connection with alien beings. It could be, he maintains, totally catastrophic. I have no problem with that. I've often thought those idiots who are trying to establish communications with other beings on other planets are totally out of their gourds.
Our intelligence compared to theirs may be the same as the slug compared to ours. Where will we be then should we meet? Stepped on, is where, and squashed. Brother Hawking and I see eye to eye on that.
I have just this one question - how do we stop them from making contact with us? That's like saying people in Florida should avoid contact with hurricanes and people in California with movie stars. Great idea, but how do you manage it? Professor Hawking is somewhat vague on that point.
Hawking's first wife, Jane, states that he's actually an atheist. That raises the point of just how even someone as brilliant as Hawking could dismiss something he doesn't believe exists. That's my last thought on the subject. No it isn't - I have one more.
If God stops believing in Hawking, he (Hawking) could be in real trouble.
With the approval of my esteemed editor, I would like to point out that my next book, "A Spoonful of Sugar," is due out sometime this month. I'd like to say it's my best to date. I'd like to say that, but I'm not at all sure it's true.
Ed Smith is an author who lives in Springdale. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.