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Stephen Hawking says universe not created by God

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mdg
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« on: September 02, 2010, 08:48:32 AM »

From the Guardian.co.uk

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God did not create the universe, the man who is arguably Britain's most famous living scientist says in a forthcoming book.

In the new work, The Grand Design, Professor Stephen Hawking argues that the Big Bang, rather than occurring following the intervention of a divine being, was inevitable due to the law of gravity.

In his 1988 book, A Brief History of Time, Hawking had seemed to accept the role of God in the creation of the universe. But in the new text, co-written with American physicist Leonard Mlodinow, he said new theories showed a creator is "not necessary".

The Grand Design, an extract of which appears in the Times today, sets out to contest Sir Isaac Newton's belief that the universe must have been designed by God as it could not have created out of chaos.

"Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing," he writes. "Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.

"It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going."

In the forthcoming book, published on 9 September, Hawking says that M-theory, a form of string theory, will achieve this goal: "M-theory is the unified theory Einstein was hoping to find," he theorises.

"The fact that we human beings – who are ourselves mere collections of fundamental particles of nature – have been able to come this close to an understanding of the laws governing us and our universe is a great triumph."

Hawking says the first blow to Newton's belief that the universe could not have risen from chaos was the observation in 1992 of a planet orbiting a star other than our Sun. "That makes the coincidences of our planetary conditions – the single sun, the lucky combination of Earth-sun distance and solar mass – far less remarkable, and far less compelling as evidence that the earth was carefully designed just to please us human beings," he writes.

Hawking had previously appeared to accept the role of God in the creation of the universe, writing in his bestseller A Brief History Of Time in 1988, he said: "If we discover a complete theory, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason–- for then we should know the mind of God."

Hawking resigned as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University last year after 30 years in the position.
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GCG
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« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2010, 08:58:56 AM »

well, ten points for him then.  cant wait to hear the woos going bananas over that one.
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Brian
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« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2010, 09:42:39 AM »

Maybe Mefiante and Mintaka (or other similar boffs) can explain to us poor plebs what M-theory is...I know they've (the mysterious they) have been looking for a unifying theory for a long time now.
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mdg
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« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2010, 10:05:54 AM »

Quote from: Brian
Maybe Mefiante and Mintaka (or other similar boffs) can explain to us poor plebs what M-theory is...I know they've (the mysterious they) have been looking for a unifying theory for a long time now.

Good idea,Brian. Unfortunately I'm not a boff, I'm a dof  Grin
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Hermes
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« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2010, 12:01:14 PM »

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"If we discover a complete theory, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason–- for then we should know the mind of God."

It appears they've drawn a blank.
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Brian
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« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2010, 12:32:56 PM »

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"If we discover a complete theory, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason–- for then we should know the mind of God."

It appears they've drawn a blank.

That's what he said in 1988, as I understand it he now rejects that God had a mind. Wink
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StevoMuso
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« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2010, 12:52:46 PM »

Yay! Stephen Hawking is well respected (way more than Richard Dawkins, Hitch etc.) and his new book is going to have an enormous impact on the ears that will listen - this is a huge step forward for the cause of critical thinking. I'm a HUGE Hawking fan - read Brief History Of Time - this is awesome.
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Hermes
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« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2010, 13:28:22 PM »

In A Brief History of Time Hawking's repeated references to God puzzled (ever irked) me somewhat.   I got the feeling that he was canvassing acceptance and I would be glad if he has abandoned that angle.
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st0nes
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« Reply #8 on: September 02, 2010, 15:26:08 PM »

An unrelated news item
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Richard Dawkins hacks Hawking's voice synthesiser
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Hermes
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« Reply #9 on: September 02, 2010, 16:17:50 PM »

An unrelated news item
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Richard Dawkins hacks Hawking's voice synthesiser
Grin  Brilliant!
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Mefiante
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« Reply #10 on: September 02, 2010, 21:16:05 PM »

Maybe Mefiante and Mintaka (or other similar boffs) can explain to us poor plebs what M-theory is...
This is a challenge that will seriously tax my abilities to verbalise and translate a complex and interrelated web of highly abstract mathematical notions into ordinary language in a way that is both understandable and meaningful to the layperson.  Truthfully, I think it’s well above my abilities to do that (short of a decent-sized book) without either losing the reader or dumbing the topic down to the point of futility.  Nor have I been able to locate any resources that do not suffer either or both of those shortcomings.

In a nutshell, M-Theory is a variant/extension of string theory which models certain elementary particles not as point-like entities, but rather as ultra-super-tiny, tiny, tiny “strings” (not themselves made of ordinary matter), either open-ended or closed loops, that vibrate both in our customary and also in several curled-up spatial dimensions. The various dimensions, frequencies and superposed harmonics together determine the particles’ more familiar properties such as mass, charge, etc.  M-Theory extends the notion to attempt describing particle interactions and even spacetime itself in terms of “motions” or “stretchings” or “evolutions” of such strings through a higher-dimensional (to be precise, 26 dimensions in its most general conception) manifold.  Thus, a surface (or 2-D construct) results from a string vibrating in just one dimension while sweeping out a path in one other dimension.  Similarly, a 3-D construct arises from a string vibrating in one dimension that sweeps out a path in two, or one that vibrates in two dimensions that sweeps out a one-dimensional path.  It should not be difficult to see how the possibilities expand as the dimensionality grows.  With this flexibility in hand, it was/is thought (hoped, actually) that a suitable formulation could be found for describing particle (point-like) and gravitational (spacetime-like) interactions from within the same overarching framework.

If that actually makes sense to you, dear reader, I’ve done a much better job than I could have hoped for.  If not, that’s okay too: as said, it’s highly abstract and the maths doesn’t port easily into everyday concepts.

String theory in all of its various guises is highly contentious.  It started as an attempt to fuse gravity with the three other forces (electromagnetism, strong and weak nuclear) into a single cohesive description.  So far, it has failed.  Detractors are not shy to point out that despite 30+ years’ sharp focus and effort by some of humanity’s best minds, string theory has yet to offer any new insights or fruitful research directions.  Hawking’s support notwithstanding, I’m fairly certain that string theory will become redundant just as soon as someone hits on the right perspective.  When that will happen is, of course, an open question.

'Luthon64
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Rigil Kent
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« Reply #11 on: September 02, 2010, 22:02:56 PM »

Maybe Mefiante and Mintaka (or other similar boffs) can explain to us poor plebs what M-theory is...

Gosh, thanks for the compliment, but it is totally undeserved. I don't think I've heard of M-theory before, and can barely follow Mefi's already simplified explanations on the best of days! But if you are looking for a good ciabatta recipe, we can talk. Smiley

Mintaka
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Wandapec
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« Reply #12 on: September 03, 2010, 07:10:02 AM »

From the Guardian.co.uk

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God did not create the universe, the man who is arguably Britain's most famous living scientist says in a forthcoming book.

Duh! I like Stephen Hawking, but he's clearly no rocket scientist!  Cool
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Faerie
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« Reply #13 on: September 03, 2010, 07:50:30 AM »

Maybe Mefiante and Mintaka (or other similar boffs) can explain to us poor plebs what M-theory is...
This is a challenge that will seriously tax my abilities to verbalise and translate a complex and interrelated web of highly abstract mathematical notions into ordinary language in a way that is both understandable and meaningful to the layperson. 

I lost you right there, but thanks for trying!  Embarrassed
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mdg
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« Reply #14 on: September 03, 2010, 08:14:18 AM »

Yeah, thanks for trying Mefiante. Even if I did understand it, it wouldn't have stayed in my brain - I have serious memory retention problems  Grin

It's getting so bad that I can start hiding my own easter eggs.

Although, I do seem remember watching a show where Michio Kaku gave a brief explanation about string theory - but that's about as much as I can recall.

mdg
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