Sunday, March 02, 2014

Stephen Hawking. The Theory of Everything (2002)

     Stephen Hawking. The Theory of Everything (2002) I like reading Hawking. His disability makes writing tedious and slow, and encourages an economy of words that makes for astonishing clarification of difficult ideas. The style also shows that these ideas are difficult only in that they are unfamiliar and often counterintuitive. Simplicity is more difficult to grasp than complexity. Hawking has a playful and sometimes mordant wit, which adds to the pleasure.
     The book outlines the current state of cosmology, reminding us how tentative such theories must be. The result is a vision of the Universe as a grand drama, whose plot we discover as we live through it (at least in the minuscule scenes in which we play a part), but which has no purpose beyond its own existence. As recently as the 1990s, that existence was guessed to be limited; time would eventually have a stop. Now, it’s not so obvious what may happen. The latest theories suggest that the Universe is much larger than what we can or could observe, though what “larger” means in this context is somewhat less than clear. Highly recommended, but if this is your first excursion into this realm of ideas, you will have to read the book at least twice to make sense of it. **** (2012)

No comments: