Author 193954


English Theoretical Physicist, Cosmologist, Author, Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States, Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, Research Chair at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario

Author Quotes

calculations show that a change of as little as 0.5 percent in the strength of the strong nuclear force, or 4 percent in the electric force, would destroy either nearly all carbon or all oxygen in every star, and hence the possibility of life as we know it. Change those rules of our universe just a bit, and the conditions for our existence disappear!

In the Game of Life, as in our world, self-reproducing patterns are complex objects. One estimate, based on the earlier work of mathematician John von Neumann, places the minimum size of a self-replicating pattern in the Game of Life at ten trillion squares?roughly the number of molecules in a single human cell.

The Ionian idea that the universe is not human-centered was a milestone

Consider the apparent dimension of the universe. According to M-theory, space-time has ten space dimensions and one time dimension. The idea is that seven of the space dimensions are curled up so small that we don?t notice them, leaving us with the illusion that all that exist are the three remaining large dimensions we are familiar with.

It is hard to imagine how free will can operate if our behavior is determined by physical law, so it seems that we are no more than biological machines and that free will is just an illusion.

The laws of M-theory therefore allow for different universes with different apparent laws, depending on how the internal space is curled. M-theory has solutions that allow for many different internal spaces, perhaps as many as 10500, which means it allows for 10500 different universes, each with its own laws. To get an idea how many that is, think about this: If some being could analyze the laws predicted for each of those universes in just one millisecond and had started working on it at the big bang, at present that being would have studied just 1020 of them. And that?s without coffee breaks.

Descartes, for instance, in order to preserve the idea of free will, asserted that the human mind was something different from the physical world and did not follow its laws. In his view a person consists of two ingredients, a body and a soul. Bodies are nothing but ordinary machines, but the soul is not subject to scientific law.

La capacidad humana para sentirse culpable es tal que siempre podemos hallar maneras de acusarnos a nosotros mismos.

The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible. ?ALBERT EINSTEIN

Do we really have reason to believe that an objective reality exists?

Many people throughout the centuries has attributed to God the beauty and complexity of nature that, in his time, seemed to have no scientific explanation. But as Darwin and Wallace explained how the apparently miraculous design of living forms could appear without the intervention of a Supreme Being, the concept of the multiverse may explain the fine tuning of the physical laws without a benevolent Creator who made the universe our advantage.

The philosopher John W. Carroll compared the statement All gold spheres are less than a mile in diameter to a statement like All uranium-235 spheres are less than a mile in diameter. Our observations of the world tell us that there are no gold spheres larger than a mile wide, and we can be pretty confident there never will be. Still, we have no reason to believe that there couldn?t be one, and so the statement is not considered a law. On the other hand, the statement All uranium-235 spheres are less than a mile in diameter could be thought of as a law of nature because, according to what we know about nuclear physics, once a sphere of uranium-235 grew to a diameter greater than about six inches, it would demolish itself in a nuclear explosion. Hence we can be sure that such spheres do not exist. (Nor would it be a good idea to try to make one!) This distinction matters because it illustrates that not all generalizations we observe can be thought of as laws of nature, and that most laws of nature exist as part of a larger, interconnected system of laws.

Feynman once wrote, I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.

Nature and Nature?s laws lay hid in night: God said, Let Newton be! and all was light.

The true miracle is that abstract considerations of logic lead to a unique theory that predicts and describes a vast universe full of the amazing variety that we see.

How do I know that a table still exists if I go out of the room and can?t see it? What does it mean to say that things we can?t see, such as electrons or quarks?the particles that are said to make up the proton and neutron?exist? One could have a model in which the table disappears when I leave the room and reappears in the same position when I come back, but that would be awkward, and what if something happened when I was out, like the ceiling falling in? How, under the table-disappears-when-I-leave-the-room model, could I account for the fact that the next time I enter, the table reappears broken, under the debris of the ceiling? The model in which the table stays put is much simpler and agrees with observation. That is all one can ask.

Our universe and its laws appear to have a design that both is tailor-made to support us and, if we are to exist, leaves little room for alteration. That is not easily explained, and raises the natural question of why it is that way.

The universe expanded by a factor of 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 in .00000000000000000000000000000000001 second. It was as if a coin 1 centimeter in diameter suddenly blew up to ten million times the width of the Milky Way.

If nature is governed by laws, three questions arise: What is the origin of the laws? Are there any exceptions to the laws, i.e., miracles? Is there only one set of possible laws?

Our very existence imposes rules determining from where and at what time it is possible for us to observe the universe. That is, the fact of our being restricts the characteristics of the kind of environment in which we find ourselves. That principle is called the weak anthropic principle.

There might be one history in which the moon is made of Roquefort cheese. But we have observed that the moon is not made of cheese, which is bad news for mice. Hence histories in which the moon is made of cheese do not contribute to the present state of our universe, though they might contribute to others. That might sound like science fiction, but it isn?t.

If the Earth stopped spinning, then according to Newton's law of any object not tied to the Earth will continue to move at the speed of rotation of the Earth (1100 miles per hour, or 1770 km per hour at the equator)

Quantum physics is a new model of reality that gives us a picture of the universe that in many fundamental concepts for our intuitive understanding of reality meaningless.

Traditionally these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead. Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics. Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge.

A few years ago the city council of Monza, Italy, barred pet owners from keeping goldfish in curved goldfish bowls. The measure?s sponsor explained the measure in part by saying that it is cruel to keep a fish in a bowl with curved sides because, gazing out, the fish would have a distorted view of reality.

Author Picture
First Name
Last Name
Birth Date

English Theoretical Physicist, Cosmologist, Author, Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States, Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, Research Chair at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario