This is at the CNET website: Stephen Hawking waxes dismal on time travel and the afterlife.
There’s nothing especially new here, but it’ll drive the creationists crazy. Besides, if it’s Hawking, that’s good enough for us. After some unnecessary introductory fluff, they say:
[I]n a BBC documentary that aired this week, astrophysicist Stephen Hawking offered nothing but bad news. Hawking was speaking with Dara O’Briain, a comedian who also happens to have studied theoretical physics.
That’s an interesting background for a comedian. They provide a brief video from the documentary if you want to watch it: Dara O Briain meets Stephen Hawking. It’s only three minutes long. Then CNET tells us:
O’Briain was keen to know whether time travel was possible, especially the back-to-the-future kind. He mentioned that in 1992 Hawking had offered the “chronology protection conjecture,” which insisted that if time travel were possible, it certainly could never be backwards time travel. O’Briain, therefore, sniffed that Hawking had ruined the Terminator movies.
Wikipedia has a writeup on that: Chronology protection conjecture. We have our own “Curmudgeon Protection Conjecture,” according to which nature allows no tampering with the past because it might interfere with the existence of your Curmudgeon. Anyway, how did Hawking respond? Let’s read on:
Hawking wasn’t impressed. He wasn’t impressed with the idea that we might one day be able to use black holes to travel back in time, either. He said: “If you jump in a black hole, you will meet an unpleasant fate.”
No argument there. The article continues:
Not even messages, said Hawking, could be sent back in time. This led O’Briain to muse, as Hawking was sitting there: “All science fiction is dead. Thank you, Stephen Hawking.”
Humbug! SF writers — and presumably most readers — don’t literally believe in time travel, but it’s a fun fictional concept. Here’s more:
Hawking wasn’t any more optimistic about humans reaching distant planets. He said: “The present breed of humans won’t reach the stars.” The distances are too great. The radiation exposure would be too severe.
That’s depressing. Moving along:
The only hope he offered — one that surely excites many at Google — is to “genetically engineer humans or send machines.”
There’s no explanation about why that idea would excite “many at Google.” Another excerpt:
But then O’Briain reached the subject of God. Hawking explained he wasn’t persuaded that the Earth was created by God in seven days. He prefers the scientific explanation of the Big Bang.
It was six days, but that’s a trivial matter. On with the article:
Hawking has previously declared that he doesn’t believe in God. But what about an afterlife? Couldn’t we still believe in that? Couldn’t we hope that there might be something beyond this absurd existence?
This is Hawking’s answer:
Hawking sniffed: “I think the afterlife is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”
So there you are. We’re looking forward to the creationists’ reaction.
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