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Hawking, Stephen

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President Barack Obama talks with Stephen Hawk...

President Barack Obama talks with Stephen Hawking in the Blue Room of the White House via Wikipedia

Stephen Hawking (1942- ) is a British theoretical physicist and an outstanding summarizer of recent ideas in physics. His bestselling book, A Brief History of Time (1988, 1996), helped to catapult him into the public eye.

In that work Hawking didn’t entirely dismiss the idea of God. However, his comments about God were usually couched in the language of theories that depend on sense observation (e.g. The Big Bang, Black Holes, Relativity Theories, the Beginning and End of Time).

Not much serious discussion is given to the possibility of immanent, spiritual powers (and realms) existing beyond yet influencing the observable universe. This isn’t surprising because Hawking is a leading physicist, and not a leading mystic nor theologian.

Having said that, Hawking is open-minded enough to rethink the nature of time and consider the possibility of backwards causality. And his use of the phrase “angel-eye’s view” to describe this process suggests that he’s not averse to using metaphors that, at least for others, would point to a spirituality existing beyond sensory and conceptual realities (although Hawking’s usage here does seem entirely literary and whimsical):

“Observations of final states determine different histories of the universe,” says Hawking. “A worm’s-eye view from inside the universe would have the normal causality. Backwards causality is an angel’s-eye view from outside the universe.”¹

The supermassive black holes are all that rema...

A black hole concept drawing by NASA via Wikipedia

To this Rob MacRiner adds:

Answer to Question: Why does time seem to exist only in a forward direction?

Time seems to only exist in a forward direction because the universe is expanding. If the Universe reaches Critical Velocity and starts to contract ….then time, as we measure time will reverse according to the Big Bang / Big Crunch Theory. The reason for this is that time does not exist without change or movement….. (change or movement of particle matter or energy as we know it). If matter has no movement either expanding or contracting then time does not exit for that matter. However Time can exist around non moving particle matter if something is either expanding or contracting around it.

If the expansion of matter increases as in the case of our universe, or an expanding object, or even light…then time increases relative to the rate of expansion. Example: if carbon A is heated and expands faster than carbon B (which is not heated) then time increases in carbon A relative to carbon B…However as Einstein pointed out…time is relative to the observer…and you need something of contrast to make that comparison….fortunately our universe offers lots of contrast …otherwise we would have a very difficult time figuring this out. Time being relative to the observer can exist at different speeds based on the rate of expanding matter. If you are on riding on a beam of light than time is much different than your friend riding on a sound wave.Of course time is relative to the observer, therefore your time is much faster only to him, or any body else who is not on a beam of light.

If matter contracts or condenses then time actually reverses…as in the case of a contracting universe…so Planks Quantum would be measured as zero time for the entire Universe…and time starts at the point of the Big Bang (once matter is on the move again)… In the case of a black hole, relative to our expanding universe)… there is also no time. (except for matter being sucked into a black hole….this matter would be reversing in time, until at which point it becomes part of the black hole mass, then time (in a Black Hole) as in Planks Quantum is zero….which is odd because the Universe is still expanding around the black hole…but it is consistent with the theory that. Time can exist around “non moving matter” if something is either expanding or contracting

Time as we know it is measured in a forward direction and will continue until the point of critical velocity…at which point time starts to reverse…and for a brief moment…the point where the Universe changes from expanding to contracting…time will again be zero…as in Planks Quantum. However…during the forward direction of time…(while the Universe is expanding)…black holes are continuing to suck up matter…and should in theory at some point converge with other black holes….Therefore…as the universe is expanding from the big bang…there is multitude of matter which is not expanding (black holes)…which might well be unexploded Planks Quantum matter from the big bang…and the black holes with their massive gravitational force are sucking up matter which was attempting to expand but was not able to overcome the stronger force of the black hole…like mini-Plank Quantum’s converging within the universe …When the Universe reaches Critical Velocity and then all matter in our Universe starts to contract…heading towards the Big Crunch….the multitude of black holes converging (up to that point) should in theory rapidly increase the speed of reverse time …acting as an accelerant force of a contracting Universe with there collective gravitational force …so the reverse of time.(the journey the contracting Universe is taking towards the Big Crunch)…should happen much quicker than the time it took for the Universe to go from the Big Bang to Critical Velocity…That is of course Time relative from the Big Bang to Critical Velocity ……in contrast to …….Time Relative from Critical Velocity to the Big Crunch..… » See in context

Click for larger animation.

Animated simulation of gravitational lensing caused by a black hole going past a background galaxy via Wikipedia

More recently, Hawking has argued that our universe has no need for an intelligent creator.

The laws of nature themselves tells us that not only can the universe have popped into existence like a proton and have required nothing in terms of energy but also that it is possible that nothing caused the big bang.²

¹ New Scientist, “Exploring Stephen Hawking’s Flexiverse” 20 April 2006, Amanda Gefter, cited at http://okgrouputer.blogspot.com/2006/05/heisenberg-lsd-stephen-hawkings.html.

² http://www.christianpost.com/news/stephen-hawking-something-out-of-nothing-is-possible-53589/

Related Posts » Parallel universes, Process Theology

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18 thoughts on “Hawking, Stephen

  1. Rob MacRiner rmacriner@sympatico.ca , robmacriner@hotmail.com

    Answer to Question: Why does time seem to exist only in a forward direction?

    Time seems to only exist in a forward direction because the universe is expanding. If the Universe reaches Critical Velocity and starts to contract ….then time, as we measure time will reverse according to the Big Bang / Big Crunch Theory. The reason for this is that time does not exist without change or movement….. (change or movement of particle matter or energy as we know it). If matter has no movement either expanding or contracting then time does not exit for that matter. However Time can exist around non moving particle matter if something is either expanding or contracting around it.

    If the expansion of matter increases as in the case of our universe, or an expanding object, or even light…then time increases relative to the rate of expansion. Example: if carbon A is heated and expands faster than carbon B (which is not heated) then time increases in carbon A relative to carbon B…However as Einstein pointed out…time is relative to the observer…and you need something of contrast to make that comparison….fortunately our universe offers lots of contrast …otherwise we would have a very difficult time figuring this out. Time being relative to the observer can exist at different speeds based on the rate of expanding matter. If you are on riding on a beam of light than time is much different than your friend riding on a sound wave.Of course time is relative to the observer, therefore your time is much faster only to him, or any body else who is not on a beam of light.

    If matter contracts or condenses then time actually reverses…as in the case of a contracting universe…so Planks Quantum would be measured as zero time for the entire Universe…and time starts at the point of the Big Bang (once matter is on the move again)… In the case of a black hole, relative to our expanding universe)… there is also no time. (except for matter being sucked into a black hole….this matter would be reversing in time, until at which point it becomes part of the black hole mass, then time (in a Black Hole) as in Planks Quantum is zero….which is odd because the Universe is still expanding around the black hole…but it is consistent with the theory that. Time can exist around “non moving matter” if something is either expanding or contracting

    Time as we know it is measured in a forward direction and will continue until the point of critical velocity…at which point time starts to reverse…and for a brief moment…the point where the Universe changes from expanding to contracting…time will again be zero…as in Planks Quantum. However…during the forward direction of time…(while the Universe is expanding)…black holes are continuing to suck up matter…and should in theory at some point converge with other black holes….Therefore…as the universe is expanding from the big bang…there is multitude of matter which is not expanding (black holes)…which might well be unexploded Planks Quantum matter from the big bang…and the black holes with their massive gravitational force are sucking up matter which was attempting to expand but was not able to overcome the stronger force of the black hole…like mini-Plank Quantum’s converging within the universe …When the Universe reaches Critical Velocity and then all matter in our Universe starts to contract…heading towards the Big Crunch….the multitude of black holes converging (up to that point) should in theory rapidly increase the speed of reverse time …acting as an accelerant force of a contracting Universe with there collective gravitational force …so the reverse of time.(the journey the contracting Universe is taking towards the Big Crunch)…should happen much quicker than the time it took for the Universe to go from the Big Bang to Critical Velocity…That is of course Time relative from the Big Bang to Critical Velocity ……in contrast to …….Time Relative from Critical Velocity to the Big Crunch..… Rob MacRiner rmacriner@sympatico.ca Nov 2007

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  2. Hi… this is very interesting material but I’m not a physicist so had to wait until I had enough ‘time’ to digest it. When reading your post, one thought came to mind, which perhaps you could clarify for me. (It might very well be my relative ignorance of physics that’s at issue here.)

    You said:

    “The reason for this is that time does not exist without change or movement….. (change or movement of particle matter or energy as we know it). If matter has no movement either expanding or contracting then time does not exit for that matter. ”

    Now I’ve read that some physicists are talking about so-called ‘matter’ in terms of “wave packets.” Wouldn’t this energy exist in some kind of vibrational (or, at least, dynamic) state? And if so, wouldn’t this throw a monkey wrench into the above idea (especially the second sentence)?

    If you could clarify this point that would be much appreciated. Thanks.

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  3. In therory a wave pocket would be at the moment of Planks Quantum still, no wave activity, until another Big Bang. However the question remains, how long would that wave pocket be still? along with the rest of the Universes Matter?

    If you buy into the idea that time can not exist without change, including no movement in a wave pocket… then once everything in the Universe has contracted to Zero Time (no movement or activity of any matter, including a wave pocket) ….then..you must ask yourself….how long is Zero time…a minute..a second…20 trillion years..etc….before another Big Bang?

    Time in this case could only be measured if the Universe was within another Universe that was either expanding or contracting…..otherwise there would be nothing to measure time against…..??

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  4. Thanks. Your answer is very helpful. In reply to your last sentence, I guess, as Hawking put it, there’s always the “angel eye’s view”–i.e. the possibility that a realm or realms exist beyond the usual sense of ‘universe’ or ‘universes.’

    Some may say that’s just speculation but I think we could also say that physics gets pretty deep into interpretation and informed speculation. Moreover, we have the writings of various mystics in most world traditions, which some believe should be treated as a kind of scientific data.

    I suppose what stops most people from taking the latter seriously is that the raw data (i.e. religious experience) isn’t as commonly observable as the former (i.e. physics experiments).

    Very interesting!

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  5. I’m not sure at which point science crosses philosophy, obviously there is a point. Clearly anything outside our universe is philosophy. I think however that even scientist can get focused on ideas that they believe are true and then set about to validate that belief. There really is no other way to approach it, they have to start somewhere…..and all is good provided pure science and objectivity stay intact. Philosophy can, and should play a big role in this pursuit.

    Metaphysics, existentialism and cosmology are in many ways very much on the same page….but only science can give us clear answers…and as you know that often takes a very long time…Hopefully scientist can be patient, open minded and diligent…and slowly we move towards a truth….or at least a glimpse at the truth…It’s hard to believe the real truth could every be realised…..but we can not assume defeat, we have to keep moving forward regardless how complicated and some times fruitless it seems….and you just never know…..what we will find along the way.

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  6. Again, interesting and thought-provoking. Your post got me thinking about Descartes and his “clear and distinct” ideas. I’m no expert on Descartes but it seems to me that an axiom, no matter how ‘sure’ it must seem, is still subject to some kind of secondary interpretive process and thus involves some kind of assumption or, perhaps we could say, belief.

    If this is true (perhaps a meta-truth?), then anything that follows, be it a scientific, philosophical or religious truth claim would involve some degree of belief.

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  7. Good for you, …unfortunately at some point our belief in an idea, often overwhelms pure thought….and no matter how objective we think we are…it is still just our belief…Our ego is very a diificult thing to be objective about, regardless if we are Mother Theresa or Donald Trump, …..we still can’t help believe that what we think is in some way right, or at least pointed in the right direction.. Kant and his critic of pure reason also had an interesting take on this subject with his cones of reality….and all of the complexities that only Kant could illuminate..To me Kants perceptions models both the self and physics.

    Perhaps one of the benefits of philosophy is that it enables us to deeply examine many of these factors…and in that pursuit..again..combined with science..(we might if we are lucky)…get just a little glimps of pure truth.

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  8. Hi… my feeling is that some thinkers in phil. and physics are so wrapped up in their intellectual systems that this might prevent them from certain types of experience that could, in turn, extend their perspectives. Even a “necessary abstraction” like the following might fall short for the same kind of reasons:

    http://www.azw.at/otherprojects/soft_structures/allgemein/the_cone.htm

    http://synworld.t0.or.at/level3/text_archive/the_cone.htm

    What, one might ask, could extensive “small-i” intellectualizing hinder access to? Here I return to the idea of mysticism and some preliminary attempts to rigorously conceptualize it (i.e. Rudolf Otto and C. G. Jung):

    http://web.ncf.ca/dy656/earthpages5/otto.htm

    http://web.ncf.ca/dy656/earthpages3/articles_numinosity.htm

    Thanks again for your thought-provoking input!

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  9. Ep.

    Here is an example, of a philosophical question relative to the reversing time concept. …I’m not suggesting that Time will reverse itself as one would rewind a movie. The point is that time as we know it can not exit without particle matter either expanding or contracting. Imaging a container of colored sand 5″ high ..packed in a 50 ‘glass tube on a space shuttle. The color images of sand particles seen from outside the glass, might look like some kind of landscape. Now the sand explodes in the 50’ glass tube ….while the shuttle is docked ..and those sand particles hurl in a forward or expansive direction…up the 50’ glass tube…after the explosion. But all of a sudden the space shuttle takes off, and the G forces are very intense, at the same time the particles of sand reach their maximum expulsion. The G forces would bring the sand back down to the base of that glass tube, in a hurry, but when they arrived packed back at the base, now once again 5″ high….Would they represent the color image of the landscape that was seen before the explosion?…I doubt it…the image would be much different….I think most of us can reason that image.. Forward time would be the expansion of the sand after the explosion. Reversed time for the sand would be as the G forces drive the sand back to the based of the glass tube, and pack those colored sand particles back to it’s original 5 “. That is the image of reverse time that I see.

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  10. That’s fascinating and I should probably think about it before replying… but as I’m quite interested in the notion of time, I’ll venture to say this off the top of my head:

    Apparently while in states of meditation (measured scientifically) some people say that they believe they transcend time. To me this opens an exciting possibility: While humanity can’t travel physically through time – now or perhaps ever – in a significant way (e.g. taking tours like we do with conventional travel), it might be that some do this psychologically… or, at least, believe that they do.

    A whole host of related issues come up here, but I don’t want to put the cart before the horse…

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  11. EP

    I agree, I think one of the fundamental problems with thought is that it’s limited to perception. We perceive a concept and then we set about to reinforce that concept. It is difficult to think how we can transcend time, outside what know of our watches and calendars..

    The problem is that if we just venture outside of conventional thought….then it’s like a ship in a strong wind without a rudder…this of course is not a reasonable pursuit….But if we can capture abstract ideas that seem plausible in what we see daily… we might find ourselves pursuing a different thought process….and in the course of that pursuit…again find perhaps just a glimpse of truth…This to me is why it is important to attempt to understand cosmology, physics and other sciences..at the same time as embracing philosophy. Science keeps us on course..and philosophy enables us to plan new journeys

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  12. Thanks for your comment. For me it’s my faith that is central to keeping my proverbial ship headed in the right direction. But everyone is different and will have a different ‘anchor,’ ‘rudder’ or what-have-you. I think it might depend on who we are and what we’re meant to do in this life. Some find science is their ontological ground. Others philosophy. And yet others hedonism!

    Again, for me it’s my faith. What I’ve found is that new insights come out of that. Not all spirituality need be stormy and difficult. IMHO true spirituality is personal, peaceful and gives one a serene sense of being “home.” All the other stuff, I’d say, might be an inferior type of spirituality.

    Jung tried to discuss this with his idea of the archetypes. He said that the archetypes have a twofold nature–their effect may be healing or destructive.

    I tend to view Jung as a baby when it comes to spirituality. Not ‘wrong’ but certainly not mature.

    Just my opinion, of course… 😉

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  13. EP

    Faith is an important virtue; I’m not one that believes in a religious doctrine. I’ve studied most of them and feel that they’ve evolved out of hope and fear at time when little was known, and they are mostly predicated on two very basic wishes; 1) there is something after death, and 2) while we are here on this planet…some higher power loves us…. and will protect us……

    However all that said we still know very little….2500 years later. I’m of the belief that we just don’t know enough to make any solid judgements. To say that a religion, or religion in general is not valid, in my opinion is equal to saying that it is valid…..I believe that neither side knows…. I …Rob…am comfortable with that, but that is just me. Religion, Spirtuality, Philosophy or any other thought which take form enough have a name…. is ok to me. If it helps us feel comfortable, gives us meaning and enables us to contribute to a collective society..without harming anyone, I find it hard to fault that type of belief. Any belief system that promotes good will, plus provides a sense of purpose and cohesion ..is ok in my book…. However when people become so entrenched in their beliefs and completely indignant at the idea that one or more (of the other 6 billion of us) might not share the same concept….then we have a problem…and unfortunately history has proven this point…over and over again.

    I doubt in my life time, if this will change,… it seems to be an unfortunate characteristic of humans, or at least some humans. Their credo is “Believe what I believe..or there will be consequences”. Fortunately the vast majority of the 6 billion of us do not harbour such strong beliefs. Unfortunately many do…and some are simply extremists…and destructive as a result.

    I….Rob…would like to believe that education and time will solve this, however the key phrase is “ I Rob would like to believe”….But reality is that, no matter how much I wish, no matter how strongly I believe, no matter how much I’m convinced my idea is good, right and just…..it is just my belief…and it doesn’t mean it’s true, will happen or even should happen…”it is just the way that I see it” ……..and you know what? …acceptance of this can be a huge relief…and even cathartic…..Then I can get on with living the life I have and making the best of what I can…keeping an open mind, learning more as I go…and changing course as I see fit.

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  14. Hi Rob… excellent post. I agree with so many things you say. When I say I have faith in (a) a loving God and (b) an afterlife it’s more about having “reason to believe” on the basis of everything I’ve gleaned from my 45 years here on Earth! But since this enters into phenomenology, certain difficulties arise re demonstrating these “reasons to believe,” as I’ve suggested earlier. So I tend to draw on data from other writers.

    I suppose my primary focus over the years has been shifting from “How can I get things here and now for temporary pleasure?” to “What should I be doing here and now?” It’s just a shift of emphasis. I still have fun. And I still engage in some temporary pleasures, to be sure. But it wouldn’t be fun if I felt it was out of line with what my Creator wanted of me at this point in my life.

    Something tells me that you, Rob, and I, Mike are really not so different. I think I understand what you’re saying about stripping away all the conceptual overlay. But I guess I’m more about reason following or being informed by faith, which you (since you’ve studied phil.) will know is an old idea.

    Do I uncritically swallow every single teaching of a particular religion? This isn’t the same thing, in my books, as a 21st century understanding of “reason to believe.” I think I’ve updated the idea of “reason to believe” by blending it with prayer, action, dialogue, analytical reflection and, as far as possible, empiricism.

    Hence the new type of holistic science I’ve been alluding to. Others are also trying to define just what this is or could be… each in his or her own way, of course!

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  15. Good feedback Mike, thanks for the insight.

    I’m now off on a sailing vacation…leaving tonight for two weeks, another avid passion of mine. This is my 23rd year of bareboating in different locations worldwide. To me skippering a yacht is very much like the adventure of life. One moment things can be perfect…and within minutes all hell can break loose. Understanding navigation, the forces of the wind, current and tides…helps make the journey a better one. The better I comprehend the factors that affect the yacht, the more prepared and able I am to get it, and my crew to a safe harbor. And in that harbor I enjoy the comforts of the good life, wine, music, dancing, atmosphere.. often wanting to stay forever….but passion drives me on to continue the journey….Navigating through life to me is very similar, I might have planned to sail from Nevis to Antigua, but if a strong east wind makes that journey difficult..(like in life) ….I have choices… I might continue my route to Antigua…or I might alter my course to sail south to Guadeloupe. The decision tree is based on what I know at that time…I don’t think it matter that much where I go, as long as I have a sail plan…..I simply have to weigh all of the factors…and assess the benefits of each port based on the effort to get there. To me the most important thing is to be going somewhere, have an understanding of my yacht a focus on a course, be willing to change that course if required…but more importantly “take charge of the adventure”…and not let the adventure take charge of me. Some people float around in circles lost at sea in misery,….what a waste, and a lost opportunity…. Understanding your surroundings, knowing navigation, knowing how to sail, having a goal that is flexible and passion in what you are doing….might not be the right answer for all….but it’s the right answer for me….. Best Regards…I will chat with you when I get back Rob

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  16. Good metaphor! Your writing reminds me a bit of Hemingway, Conrad, Steinbeck or perhaps that guy (Robert Pirsig) who wrote Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance! Have a great time… I imagine we’ll have more to discuss upon your safe and happy return. 😉

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  17. Pingback: Brave New World with Stephen Hawking – 21st Century Machines « Blog Rest and Play

  18. Pingback: Advocate TJ Shares Stephen Hawking is Wrong! « ADVOCATE – Theresa Morris Network Magazine

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