A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking is Written from Wrong PerspectiveThat book, On the Origin of Time: Stephen Hawking's Last Theory, will be released in the UK the following month, five years after Hawking's passing.
on Mar 20, 2023
In 2002, Thomas Hertog got an email inviting him to Stephen Hawking's office. The young scientist hurried to Hawking's Cambridge apartment. Hertog remembers, "His eyes were gleaming with joy.
The cosmologist communicated by typing on the computer-controlled speech system, saying, "I have changed my mind. The viewpoint from which my book, A Brief History of Time, is written is incorrect.
As a result, the author of one of the best-selling scientific books in publishing history—with more than 10 million copies sold worldwide—threw it away. The two then set to work on a fresh method for distilling their most recent ideas about the cosmos.
That book, On the Origin of Time: Stephen Hawking's Last Theory, will be released in the UK the following month, five years after Hawking's passing. On March 31, Hertog will discuss its genesis and topics during a Cambridge festival talk.
Hertog, a cosmologist presently stationed at KU Leuven University in Belgium, claims that Hawking's issue was his inability to comprehend how the cosmos could have produced circumstances that were so ideally favorable to life.
One example of life-supporting circumstances is the delicate balance between particle forces that enables chemistry and complex molecules to exist. In addition, stable solar systems may develop and serve as homes for living things since there are only three dimensions in space.
Some cosmologists contend that life as we know it would not have developed in the cosmos without these characteristics.
Although Hawking concluded his prior attempts were insufficient, Hertog and Hawking were determined to come up with an answer for this stellar ambiguity. To create a new theory of the cosmos that could more adequately explain the genesis of life, Stephen and I worked side by side for the following 20 years after he admitted he had been mistaken.
While challenging, the teamwork was outstanding. Hawking was diagnosed with a motor neuron disease at age 21 that had an early beginning and a sluggish progression, progressively paralyzing him.
By the time he started working with Hertog, he had already achieved several notable achievements, including being named the Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge University, one of the most prestigious academic positions in the world (Isaac Newton had previously held the position), and writing his best-selling book A Brief History of Time. But, things had become worse for him. He was in a wheelchair and could only communicate by selecting words from a little computer that a speech synthesizer would speak.
Hertog claimed that he slowed down, going from a few words per minute to several minutes for each word. Finally, the exchange of words ceased. "I used to stand before him and ask him questions, watching his eyes to see whether he agreed or disagreed. By the end, I could distinguish between many degrees of yes and no with a few in between.
These "conversations" gave birth to Hawking's ultimate idea, which, together with Hertog's analysis, served as the foundation for the book On the Origin of Time, which borrows its title from Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species.
In the end, we both developed similar perspectives on physics and biology. Physics and biology are now on equal footing.
Hertog claims that On the Origin of Time addresses our location in the cosmos and what makes our universe suitable for life. "In our scientific articles, these problems were constantly in the background, and I decided to make these topics the focus of my book and explain our journey from that angle.
"Stephen and I figured out how physics can return to the big bang. In our perspective, the decisive factor is not the laws themselves but their ability to change.
This provides fresh insight into the fundamental purpose of cosmology.
Hertog claims that the new perspective he has developed with Hawking flips the order of physical laws and reality and is "profoundly Darwinian" in nature. It results in a new philosophy of physics that rejects the notion that the universe is a machine governed by unchanging laws with a prior existence and replaces it with the idea that the universe is a sort of self-organizing entity in which all different emergent patterns appear, the most universal of which we call the laws of physics.
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