"Origin of the Universe" Hawking, Stephen (1988)
"Origin of the Universe"
Stephen Hawking (1988)
SITE SUMMARY: Physicist Stephen Hawking is considered one of the greatest scientific minds of our time. This essay, which first appeared in 1988 in his book Black Holes and Baby Universes, gives brief descriptions of various theories of the universe's origin and suggestions on the universe's evolution that describe what scientists theorized through time. Hawking notes how these theories are not quite right or have a bit of the truth to them. He then reveals his own theory as he conceived it for his doctoral dissertation, then provides his new theory, which is controversial yet irrefutable.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS AND ACTIVITIES
- Hawking begins his essay with the common phrase "What came first, the chicken or the egg?" How does he apply it to the essay's subject? Think of another subject, especially a science subject, to which you could apply this question. Describe why.
- Describe one of the theories, from history, of the universe's origin and/or evolution (e.g., Steady State Theory, the Cosmological Constant, State of Infinite Density, the Big Bang). Identify who theorized it. To which of the two main "schools" does your chosen theory belong? Give Hawking's explanation of why it doesn't quite hold up or may have a bit of truth to it.
- What question interested Hawking, which became the subject of his Ph.D. thesis? What did he aim to show? What did he suggest this meant? What happened in the scientific community because of his theory?
- Describe Hawking's new theory, the "No Boundary State" theory. (Hint: It has something to do with one of Einstein's ideas, quantum mechanics, super strings, the Uncertainty Principle, and is related to, but different from, Richard Feynman's "Sum Over Histories" theory.) Why is Hawking's theory a good scientific theory? What profound implications does it have?
- What does Hawking say about being able to predict, not predict, or determine the way the universe should behave?
- Although science may solve the problem of how the universe began, what is the question it cannot answer, according to Hawking? What does he suggest? Do you agree or disagree? Support your comment.
RELATED INTERNET SITE(S)
Stephen Hawking Public Lectures Provided by Cambridge University
http://www.hawking.org.uk/text/public/public.html or http://www.hawking.org.uk/lectures/lindex.html.html
Links go to reproductions of Hawking's past lectures and information on his upcoming lectures. Titles of lectures online include "The Beginning Of Time," "The Nature of Space and Time," "Life in the Universe," "Space and Time Warps," and "Does God Play Dice?" One lecture is in PDF format.
Hawking's Answers to [Scientific and Other] Questions from Journalists and the Public
Stephen Hawking Page—Resources and Links
http://www.psyclops.com/hawking/resources (scroll to, and click, links)
Titles of lectures, essays and interviews online include "The Nature of Space and Time," "Baby Universes, Children of Black Holes," "An Interview with Stephen Hawking" conducted on June 20, 1985 by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's David Cherniack, and "Stephen Hawking's Universe" by Dr. Christopher Ray. Some documents are accessible only in formats that require special software.
Stephen Hawking's Universe at PBS-TV
Features an introduction by Hawking, plus links at the top of this Web page to Universes, Cosmological Stars, Strange Stuff, Unsolved Mysteries (with some answers suggested by experts), Things to Do in the Dark (a resources area), Ask the Experts, About Stephen Hawking, and a Teacher's Guide in PDF format. Annotations with the links can be found by scrolling down the page.
"The Hawking-Turok Instanton" in Quantum Cosmology—An Overview
In this non-technical overview of the astrophysics subject called quantum cosmology, and provided on a Cambridge University of England Web page, note this section on the concept of an instanton as conceived by Stephen Hawking and his colleague Neil Turok. See also the section on the instanton from the viewpoints of S. Coleman and F. DeLuccia.
"Stephen Hawking and the No Boundary Proposal" by Devin Harris
Quoting Hawking's ideas, and Hawking's comments on the theories of Richard Feynman and Albert Einstein, this article's author writes about his idea on the subject, building on Hawking's theory.