Stephen Hawking, Another Einstein


Stephen Hawking – a personal perspective by Terry Henley, FBIS

Professor Stephen Hawking the world-renowned Cosmologist and Theoretical Physicist. was born on 8 Jan 1942 and died on 14 March 2018 aged 76. He leaves three children Lucy, Timothy and Robert, by his first wife Jane.

The Man and His Family

Though Stephen and his two sisters were Born in Oxford during World War 2 the family moved to St Albans in 1950 and at the age of 8 he attended St Albans High School for Girls before gaining a place at St Albans School in 1952. . Here, while recognised as bright, – his teachers sometimes referring to him as ‘another Einstein’ – he was not an exceptional student, but thanks to his inspirational Mathematics teacher, he succeeded in getting to University College Oxford reading Physics at the age of 17. Gaining a first class honours degree in Natural Sciences, he went on to Trinity Hall Cambridge to study for a PhD in Cosmology and there began a scientific career of international repute.

Sadly Stephen was diagnosed as having Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in 1963 when only 21. He married his sweetheart, Jane Wilde, in 1965 and had the three children mentioned previously. With the children to look after, it was not always possible for Jane to follow Stephen on his lecture tours. So she only accompanied him on his early travels. Elaine Mason became his full time carer and accompanied him on his many trips around the world. Although all three got on well, in 1990 he divorced Jane and married Elaine five years later. After the divorce Jane also remarried, but they remained firm friends for the sake of their children. He and Lucy have since co-written a series of children’s books.

Stephen continued his travels and was invited to give talks on a wide range of subjects from Theoretical Cosmology, Gravitation Waves and Singularity to Quantum Mechanics, the Branes Universe and String Theory. He also became well known for his theories on the BIG BANG, when it happened and how it all came about.

Stephen has become a prolific writer and his book, The Theory of Everything was made into a film in 2014. A film I thought at first I would not watch, but in the end, I did. The actors who played Hawking, Eddie Redmayne, and his first wife, Jane, Felicity Jones, were sensational in reproducing the past, a time when our lives seemed to be intertwined. During the making of the film, the four of them got together a number of times and on each occasion; the actors were watching how Stephen and Jane moved and talked, so they could be more like them. The first time Jane and Eddie met, she said to him if you are going to play Stephen, you’ll have to ruffle your hair, and that is exactly what she did. At the time, Stephen and Jane seemed to enjoy watching the film being made.

Stephen is known throughout the world as the man who uses a computer to speak for him and sits in a very high-tech wheelchair. He lost his speech due to an infection after catching pneumonia at CERN in Geneva in1985. He was put on a ventilator in hospital and his doctors asked Jane if they should turn the ventilator off. She said no.  So he was flown to Addenbrooks Hospital, in Cambridge where his doctors managed to cure the infection, but to allow him to breathe, they had to perform a tracheotomy – cutting a hole in his throat and placing a tube in his windpipe.  

Confined to a wheelchair since the late 1960s, Hawking first met Gordon Moore, the co-founder of Intel, at a conference in 1997. Moore asked Stephen if he would like a real computer to help him talk. Since then his computer has been updated by Intel every two years and has made his talking so much easier for him as his condition has slowly got worse.  

During one of his more recent trips to the US, he was taken up in the Zero-G’s Boeing 727, an aircraft which gives weightless conditions for astronauts to experience while still within the Earth’s atmosphere. With his MND, it did not stop him from flying around the world, although he had to take a special plane that could take people with MND.

My Connections

Back in 1970, Prof Hawking had been talking about Black Holes and even had a programme on TV all about them. At the same time I was also very interested in them and wrote to him about my ideas.  I even had a reply, which unfortunately through the years I have mislaid.  But it urged me to write a paper on Black Holes and we both ran more or less along the same lines. I sent him my paper on The Layered Universe and suggested how it might work.  He took it further.   At least, he made the discovery and had the ‘name’ to push the research forward with the instruments that were needed to confirm his, and my, theory on Black Holes. Back then there was no Internet, so we had to rely on snail-mail and it was not easy to find out what Stephen was going to work on next.

However our paths did cross again when he became a Cosmologist.  I had already written my ‘Layered Universe’ paper, which suggested that there is more than one Universe and we are just one of them.  Stephen was not so sure at the time, but a few years later he agreed there could indeed be many Universes with different time lines and different worlds.

Cosmology, Black Holes and Everything

Stephen Hawking did much to push science forward throughout his life. He has written, or has been assisted in writing many papers and books on Cosmology, Black Holes and Gravity. He has been a master at getting people to listen to him, often persuading them to continue his work and move his ideas further than anyone thought possible, finding answers to questions he has put to those who have listened to him.

So what is a Theoretical Cosmologist? It is taking everything we know about our universe and then thinking outside the box – how do stars change from hot to cold, what are the gases that fill the voids between stars? What caused the BIG BANG, why would there be multiple universes and how could we see them? It is one thing to suggest a theory, it is another to prove it and to accomplish this, you indeed need the help of radio telescopes, Gravitationa

l detectors, large reflector telescopes and many other types of instrument to enable us to look back to where it all began. To accomplish this, you need the help of many people and a great deal of time using instruments that are always in demand.

Stephen Hawking met some very powerful people, some who had come from nowhere to rule their country. This is photo of him with Nelson Mandela.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

In 2016, Hawking talked about Artificial Intelligence, AI’s and how far companies have come in creating AI’s. We have an AI aboard the International Space Station and it has helpedon a couple of space walks.

However Hawking is concerned that the better we get at making AI’s, with intelligence that they are allowed to learn as they grow. To become an individual, able to make its own decisions and walk among us as the droids in Star Wars or I Robot, where in the end the AI’s decided they had done enough for humans and they should no longer help them, but destroy them.

This is exactly what he is, or was afraid off. We would allow AI’s to go too far and they would become more than we are and we would become inferior to them and it would end up being an extinction for one of us, and Hawking thought, we would lose. How could we win when we made an AI able to think for itself, be much stronger than us and out-think our moves? The series of Battlestar Galactica is a perfect explanation. The Cylons, as they were called, were originally AI’s that helped the humans of the Twelve Colonies. After a time, they turned on the humans and wanted them all dead.

Hawking is concerned the work being done around the world, and much of it in China and Japan, where you have to admit, they have built some amazing AI’s. I had an AI dog, once it was given its commands, it could walk about, miss objects and do tricks. It may be a long way from a proper AI, but that is how these AI’s start and despite Hawking fearing they may overthrow us if we are to do as he suggests and move the entire human race within a century, we will need AI’s to help us when the first ships land on the new planet.

Climate Change – Finding a new Earth

But if his latest theory is to be believed, that the human race will die out within 100 years, which I also totally agree with, Climate Change will leave us within the next 30 years, everything above 50°N will be too hot to grow food and could be too hot for people to live in. Then slowly, Climate Change gets worse, we will run out of land to live on, and grow food to eat. We will also have very little air to breathe as the CO2 rises and contaminates the air we breathe, and I have been researching this for over 20 years.

Hawking sees it the same as myself, will people take notice of him, I doubt it, especially as now he has died. He has not been given the time needed to even slow down Climate Change we are going through right now. So Yes, I agree totally with what he says, unless we can slow down Climate Change and people will believe this, then humanity will die and it will then be too late.

Demise: Alex Storer

As Hawking sees it we need to move to new planets and we need to move soon. We are not talking about Mars and neither is he. Hawking expects us to build huge ships, these are called World Ships, which some of our BIS and I4IS members, including Kelvin Long, are taking very seriously and Kelvin is hoping to take a prototype to the US at the end of this year or the beginning of next. He needs help and there are many among us who indeed may well have the experience and time to help him. Time is something humanity does not have in abundance.

These huge ships will cost trillions upon trillions of dollars and they need to be built. This means that the world governments must plough as much as possible into these ships and give everything they have on spacecraft to each other. We must all join together and move forward at a colossal speed. We cannot continue to use solid or liquid filled rockets to get us into space. We must move from liquid fuels to engines that will get the ships off the ground and then into orbit and fly at light speed to the new planets. Is this impossible? It is until it is done!

But these World Ships, according to Hawking, must not fly slow where generations of people will take the ship to a new planet. We need to find the planets first and fast, and then the World Ships have to get there fast. We currently do not have the ability to put people to sleep for a hundred years or more. But, there are engineers and theoretical Physicists out there and within the BIS, who need to be taken seriously, and build a light speed engine that will power our ships much faster to our new homes.

Perhaps Daedalus is not that far off what we need to drive a massive ship holding perhaps a million or more people to the stars.

Hawking’s most recent doomsday warning is to be detailed in a new BBC documentary called Expedition New Earth, which will air on June 15th.  I must talk to the BBC about this!

Black Holes and Quantum Mechanics

In 1993, without people really knowing, Hawking went back to his first love, Black Holes. During this time period, he pursued his work in physics and quantum gravity. He published a collected edition of his own articles on black holes and the Big Bang.

So what is Quantum Gravity?  It’s a field of theoretical physics that tries to describe principles of Quantum Mechanics where Quantum effects cannot be ignored near astrophysical objects like Black Holes where the gravity is strong. So what does Theoretical  Physics Mean?  It’s an idea, a theory of what could happen if we had a ship that could get close to a Black Hole, and get very close to The Event Horizon where measurements could be taken of the Gravity being exerted upon an object while it is being pulled into the Black Hole. Most of this is purely theoretical, but this is what Theoretical Physics is all about.

Questioning what will happen when we finally get there and observe that which is happening around a Black Hole. To be able to measure the amount of gravity that is being used to pull stars and planets into its Event Horizon. At the moment we can only theorise the gravitational forces a Black Hole has, how it works and where do the stars and planets go to?

Are they crushed to nothing or is there an exit for the matter, these are the theoretical questions that need to be answered and many different instruments are used to collect as much information as possible from Black Holes and the space around them. We can also create some particles inside the Hadron Collider at CERN, which will help Cosmologists and Physicists to understand how particles work and we can create new ones.

Many things in Quantum Mechanics, are pure theory, there are no real rules, anything can happen and can be explained. This was Hawking’s dream, to fully understand Black Holes.  What are they for in relation to our Universe? Yes, we can see them absorbing stars, planets and entire solar systems, but everything needs a reason to be here, in our universe. It’s a shame he never managed to fully prove a theory that was more than likely conceived between us, the true need for Black Holes to be in our universe if the Multiverse truly exists.

In my paper, The Layered Universe which he read in 1970, I suggested to him that Black Holes were gateways to other universes and that we could enter the Event Horizon and exit along the side of the Black Hole into another Universe. Even now astronomers have noticed that a few galaxies have dips in them, does this mean the Universe above is collapsing into ours? Let us hope not!

Hawking’s work into Black Holes has been spread over decades and he has theorised many ways to explain the full workings of a Black Hole. When we eventually get there, it will no longer be a theory; it will be Law, Hawking’s Law.

Hawking and Roger Penrose wrote a collaboration on gravitational singularity theorems, (Black Holes) in the framework of general relativity and the theoretical prediction that black holes emit radiation, often called Hawking Radiation. But, is the radiation emitted from the side of the black hole or the Event Horizon?

I’m afraid all the work on black holes is purely theoretical except the work on the Event Horizon. We know there are vast amounts of gravity that pull stars and matter into the Event Horizon, but are they crushed to death, or ejected and is the ejected radiation that we see, from another Universe?

Theoretical Physics and Theoretical Cosmology are just like Marmite, you either love them or hate them. I Love them!! (Not Marmite)

So Stephen Hawking – not just a master of Theoretical Physics and a Theoretical Cosmologist – has left us. He has so many times taught us things we did not visualise and he has come up with so many ideas that other astronomers and physicists have worked on. He was a Giant in his field; we may never see another like him. He will be missed by so many people and we will remember him and his life for many years to come.

Was he another Einstein? Of course he was and he should be remembered as such, to sit with the Giants before him.

By Terry Henley FBIS

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