Thursday, January 03, 2013
"Stephen Hawking and the Theory of Everything" (compiled from Discovery Channel)
The biographical documentary “Stephen Hawking and the Theory of Everything” (directed by Gary Johnstone) is offered on DVD by Acorn Media (distributed in 2009), as a repackaging of material that had originally appeared on the Discovery Channel as “Master of the Universe”. The “film” is presented as two 45-minute halves.
After very briefly explaining Hawking’s profound physical disability, the film starts by presenting Hawking’s professional relationship with professor Roger Penrose at Oxford.
It soon explains (with Kim Weaver) the current theory of gravity and how gravity affects space. It then explains the concept of black holes as Hawking and Penrose developed it. This leads to the concept of a singularity, from which an entire universe could appear. Black holes react with tiny pockets of energy at their boundaries, releasing radiation and losing mass to “negative matter”. Eventually, after billions of years, a black hole can heat up from mass loss and explode, maybe creating a quasar. The degradation of a black hole shows how the theories of the “very large” and “very small” interact.
If consciousness is stored in black holes (as some mystics suggest), then the amount of space for souls in a black hole could be finite, and it actually would not last for all eternity. It could be slowly moth-eaten by negative energy. Maybe there is moral significance to this in the theology of the afterlife.
Part 2 looks at gravity further, and starts out as Lisa Randall discusses the weakness of gravity in relation to other forces. Michio Kaky explains how the “superforce”, at one time symmetrical, broke down during creation into the four forces (through “spontaneous symmetry breaking”). The world we see today is asymmetric, with no two objects “equal”, but with a need for nature to operate through complementarity, an idea with profound implications in religious morality.
The film then shows how Michel Green’s string theory looks at the universe. Gravity may be as “strong” as any other force, but it looks small to us because it lives in remote “dimensions” in curled strings.
String theory predicts that miniature black holes could form and then evaporate in the Hadron Collider, validating string theory. Perhaps miniature black holes can transport individual conscious “souls”.
Hawking, however, says that universes can seem to have come from nothing, with no creator. They might come about when “branes” collide.
Hawking says we will all have to leave our home planet some day.
The Acorn Media link is here.
Sam Blackburn explains how Hawking’s voice system was designed in the 1980s. Hawking has lived a half century longer than had been expected.
See book review of Hawking’s “The Grand Design”, Sept. 19, 2010 on Books blog. The 1988 book was “A Brief History of Time”
There is a 2004 TV docudrama "Hawking" about the scientist's early life from BBC.