The Stark, Startling Truths
Stephen Hawking’s posthumous work, Brief Answers to the Big Questions, makes for interesting readingBy Deepti Deepak Varma
In his final work, Hawking leaves us with definitive answers to the biggest questions looming in the face of humankind. He says that if humans do not leave Earth, they risk being annihilated, and that computers will rule over human intelligence in the next 100 years. On climate change, he explains how it will be too late by the time people realise what exactly is happening. Coming to the ever-present question of whether there is a God, Hawking states that God does not exist. In his passionately argued book Hawking also talks about how humankind, in the next 50 years, will comprehend how exactly life began and maybe even discover if life exists elsewhere in the universe. Hawking’s final book is divided into 10 chapters and each chapter is posed as a question, like, ‘How do we shape the future?’, ‘How did it all begin?’, and ‘What is inside a black hole?’. Featuring a foreword by Eddie Redmayne, who won an Oscar for portraying Hawking in The Theory of Everything, a prelude by theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate Kip Thorne, and an afterword from Lucy, Hawking’s daughter, Brief Answers to the Big Questions is nothing but a brilliant parting gift from one of the greatest minds in history to humankind. book \ THE STARK, STARTLING TRUTHS Stephen Hawking’s posthumous work, Brief Answers to the Big Questions, makes for interesting reading By Deepti Deepak Varm.
“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.” These were the words of Stephen Hawking, celebrated theoretical physicist and genius extraordinaire. The fact that he was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease at the age of 20 did not deter him from exploring the depths of science. Hawking was the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honour. Even though doctors gave him just two years to live after he was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease, Hawking went on to live till he was 76 years old. When he passed away in March, he became the only person to have survived the disease for the longest duration. Hawking’s life and battle with Motor Neurone Disease was featured in The Theory of Everything, an Oscar-winning film released in 2014.
Hawking’s final work, Brief Answers to the Big Questions, was published posthumously in October by his children who completed the book with help from his colleagues and publishers. They drew information from Hawking’s extensive personal archive, which included essays, interviews and articles from his career spanning over 50 years. Hawking, who was always asked questions about matters like the existence of God and the potential for time travel, started working on Brief Answers to the Big Questions in 2017. The book was an attempt by Hawking to put forward the most clear-cut answers to all the questions he was frequently asked. And indeed, inthe book, Hawking truly addresses questions from ‘Is there a God?’ to ‘Will artificial intelligence outsmart us?’.