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3 Oct 2014
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Interview with Stephen Hawking
Professor Stephen Hawking was born in 1942, exactly 300 years after the death of one of his heroes - Galileo. Despite his love of Maths, he had to study Physics at University College, Oxford. He then went to university rivals, Cambridge to gain his PhD. in Cosmology. He has remained at Cambridge and in 1979 has awarded the post of Lucasian Professor of Mathematics.

Many people would recognise Professor Hawking as the author of 'Brief History of Time'. Despite suffering from the debilitating illness, Motor Neurone Disease, he has appeared on the TV programmes Star Trek and The Simpsons.

In terms of academic life he has contributed to our understanding of the origins of the Universe. His two main theories being that the Universe expanded from the initial 'Big Bang'. He believes that straight after this event the Universe as we know it was the size of a pea for a fraction of time. It then began expanding, and has been doing so ever since. His second, and probably most exciting discovery is that of 'Hawking Radiation'. He proposed that Black Holes existed, and that they actually emit light, before evaporating. It is thought he may win the Nobel prize for this work. Understanding the dynamics of the Universe can help us understand the big questions of the life, the Universe and everything.

There have been many great thinkers in the world of Physics. However not all the equations fit with observations and have had to be redressed over time. There is also a problem with unifying relativity with quantum mechanics. Once we can link the two in a grand equation, we will then have worked out the 'theory of everything'.

Professor Hawking has combated Motor Neurone Disease despite the odds associated with the disease. It is thought he is the longest survivor in the world. He was officially diagnosed at the age of 21 whilst studying at Cambridge. Over the years his ability to communicate has deteriorated, but he is now able to speak through a computer generated computer at the speed of 15 words a minute. Despite the laborious task of replying in this fashion, he has managed to relay books in this fashion, and his wit is as sharp as it ever was.

Other Thoughts
Professor Hawking has made some predictions about our future:
  • There will be an ability to travel though time via 'wormholes'. Although this doesn't mean we can travel back in time and tinker with 'history'.
  • There is a threat to life on Earth posed by humans. The two main causes of concern are global warming and the genetic alteration of vaccines and other micro-organisms.
  • Human intelligence could increase, with the aid of gene therapy. However to improve brain power on a vast scale - human head size would also have to increase. Gestation would have to take place outside of the womb. This would overcome the restrictions of size of the birth canal.
  • Humans may one day inhabit other planets.
Other Publications
*The Large Scale Structure of Space-time with G F R Ellis,
*General Relativity: An Einstein Centenary Survey, with W Israel
*300 Years of Gravity, with W Israel.

Popular books
*A Brief History of Time
* Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays.


The Universe in a Nutshell
Listen - Interview with Stephen Hawking
Prof. Stephen Hawking
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