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Stephen Hawking

Birthdate: 8. January 1942
Date of death: 14. March 2018
Other names: Stephen William Hawking, Стивен Хокинг

Stephen William Hawking, is an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge. His scientific works include a collaboration with Roger Penrose on gravitational singularity theorems in the framework of general relativity and the theoretical prediction that black holes emit radiation, often called Hawking radiation. Hawking was the first to set out a theory of cosmology explained by a union of the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. He is a vigorous supporter of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.

Hawking is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the US. In 2002, Hawking was ranked number 25 in the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons. He was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge between 1979 and 2009 and has achieved commercial success with works of popular science in which he discusses his own theories and cosmology in general; his book A Brief History of Time appeared on the British Sunday Times best-seller list for a record-breaking 237 weeks.

Hawking has a rare early-onset, slow-progressing form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis that has gradually paralysed him over the decades. He now communicates using a single cheek muscle attached to a speech-generating device.

Works

„It matters if you don't just give up.“

—  Stephen Hawking

Attributed in Going Within (1990) http://books.google.com/books?id=buVs1VVUZakC&lpg=PP1&pg=PA303#v=onepage&q&f=false by Shirley MacLaine, p. 303
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„We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn't want to meet.“

—  Stephen Hawking

Also quoted in "Stephen Hawking warns over making contact with aliens" http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/8642558.stm at BBC News (25 April 2010).
Context: If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn't turn out well for the Native Americans. … We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn't want to meet.

„My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.“

—  Stephen Hawking

As quoted in Stephen Hawking's Universe http://books.google.com/books?id=lkntNIwunAAC&pg=PA77&dq=hawking+%22my+goal+is+simple%22&ei=q5HtSvCOIoLklQTU_cWhDA#v=onepage&q=hawking%20%22my%20goal%20is%20simple%22&f=false (1985) by John Boslough, Ch. 7 : The Final Question, p. 77

„I have noticed that even people who claim everything is predetermined and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.“

—  Stephen Hawking, book Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays

Source: Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays (1993), pp. 133–135.
Context: The ultimate objective test of free will would seem to be: Can one predict the behavior of the organism? If one can, then it clearly doesn't have free will but is predetermined. On the other hand, if one cannot predict the behavior, one could take that as an operational definition that the organism has free will … The real reason why we cannot predict human behavior is that it is just too difficult. We already know the basic physical laws that govern the activity of the brain, and they are comparatively simple. But it is just too hard to solve the equations when there are more than a few particles involved … So although we know the fundamental equations that govern the brain, we are quite unable to use them to predict human behavior. This situation arises in science whenever we deal with the macroscopic system, because the number of particles is always too large for there to be any chance of solving the fundamental equations. What we do instead is use effective theories. These are approximations in which the very large number of particles are replaced by a few quantities. An example is fluid mechanics … I want to suggest that the concept of free will and moral responsibility for our actions are really an effective theory in the sense of fluid mechanics. It may be that everything we do is determined by some grand unified theory. If that theory has determined that we shall die by hanging, then we shall not drown. But you would have to be awfully sure that you were destined for the gallows to put to sea in a small boat during a storm. I have noticed that even people who claim everything is predetermined and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road. … One cannot base one's conduct on the idea that everything is determined, because one does not know what has been determined. Instead, one has to adopt the effective theory that one has free will and that one is responsible for one's actions. This theory is not very good at predicting human behavior, but we adopt it because there is no chance of solving the equations arising from the fundamental laws. There is also a Darwinian reason that we believe in free will: A society in which the individual feels responsible for his or her actions is more likely to work together and survive to spread its values.

„So what is real and what is imaginary? Is the distinction just in our minds?“

—  Stephen Hawking, book The Universe in a Nutshell

The Universe in a Nutshell (2001), p. 59
Context: One might think this means that imaginary numbers are just a mathematical game having nothing to do with the real world. From the viewpoint of positivist philosophy, however, one cannot determine what is real. All one can do is find which mathematical models describe the universe we live in. It turns out that a mathematical model involving imaginary time predicts not only effects we have already observed but also effects we have not been able to measure yet nevertheless believe in for other reasons. So what is real and what is imaginary? Is the distinction just in our minds?

„Mankind's greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking.“

—  Stephen Hawking

British Telecom advertisement (1993), part of which was used in Pink Floyd's Keep Talking (1994) and Talkin' Hawkin'<nowiki/> (2014)
Context: For millions of years, mankind lived just like the animals. Then something happened which unleashed the power of our imagination. We learned to talk and we learned to listen. Speech has allowed the communication of ideas, enabling human beings to work together to build the impossible. Mankind's greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking. It doesn't have to be like this. Our greatest hopes could become reality in the future. With the technology at our disposal, the possibilities are unbounded. All we need to do is make sure we keep talking.

„For millions of years, mankind lived just like the animals. Then something happened which unleashed the power of our imagination. We learned to talk and we learned to listen.“

—  Stephen Hawking

British Telecom advertisement (1993), part of which was used in Pink Floyd's Keep Talking (1994) and Talkin' Hawkin'<nowiki/> (2014)
Context: For millions of years, mankind lived just like the animals. Then something happened which unleashed the power of our imagination. We learned to talk and we learned to listen. Speech has allowed the communication of ideas, enabling human beings to work together to build the impossible. Mankind's greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking. It doesn't have to be like this. Our greatest hopes could become reality in the future. With the technology at our disposal, the possibilities are unbounded. All we need to do is make sure we keep talking.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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