If we can avoid disaster for the next two centuries, our species should be safe as we spread into space. If we are the only intellegent beings in the galaxy we should make sure we survive and continue. . . . Our only chance of long-term survival is not to remain inward looking on planet Earth but to spread out into space. We have made remarkable progress in the last hundred years. But if we want to continue beyond the next hundred years, our future is in space.
One can imagine that God created the universe at literally any time in the past. On the other hand, if the universe is expanding, there may be physical reasons why there had to be a beginning. One could imagine that God created the universe at the instant of the big bang, or even afterwards in just such a way as to make it look as though there had been a big bang, but it would be meaningless to suppose that it was created before the big bang. An expanding universe does not preclude a creator, but it does place limits... Read more »
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.
Any physical theory is always provisional, in the sense that it is only a hypothesis: you can never prove it. No matter how many times the results of experiments agree with some theory, you can never be sure that the next time the result will not contradict the theory.
You may see a cup of tea fall off a table and break into pieces on the floor... But you will never see the cup gather itself back together and jump back on the table. The increase of disorder, or entropy, is what distinguishes the past from the future, giving a direction to time.
In A Brief History Of Time I used the word "God" like Einstein did as a shorthand for the laws of physics. However, this is not what most people mean by God, so I have decided not to use the term. The laws of physics can explain the universe without the need for a God.
When I was young, Stephen Hawking wasn't the world's most famous physicist. The fame didn't arrive until the publication of "A Brief History of Time," by which time I was in my late teens. When I was a child, he was well known among physicists, but they are a fairly select, serious bunch, not much given to celebrity idolizing.
This required abandoning the idea that there is a universal quantity called time that all clocks measure. Instead, everyone would have his own personal time. The clocks of two people would agree if they were at rest with respect to each other but not if they were moving. This has been confirmed by a number of experiments, including one in which an extremely accurate timepiece was flown around the world and then compared with one that had stayed in place. If you wanted to live longer, you could keep flying to the east so the speed of the plane added... Read more »
The world has changed far more in the past 100 years than in any other century in history. The reason is not political or economic but technological-technologies that flowed directly from advances in basic science. Clearly, no scientist better represents those advances than Albert Einstein: TIME's Person of the Century.
I think the brain is essentially a computer and consciousness is like a computer program. It will cease to run when the computer is turned off. Theoretically, it could be re-created on a neural network, but that would be very difficult, as it would require all one's memories.
"With genetic engineering, we will be able to increase the complexity of our DNA, and improve the human race. But it will be a slow process, because one will have to wait about 18 years to see the effect of changes to the genetic code,"By contrast, computers double their speed and memories every 18 months. There is a real danger that computers will develop intelligence and take over. We urgently need to develop direct connections to the brain so that computers can add to human intelligence rather than be in opposition."
Ever since the dawn of civilization, people have not been content to see events as unconnected and inexplicable. They have craved an understanding of the underlying order in the world. Today we still yearn to know why we are here and where we came from. Humanity's deepest desire for knowledge is justification enough for our continuing quest. And our goal is nothing less than a complete description of the universe we live in.
Maybe I'm being a bit harsh on philosophers, but they have not been very kind to me... I have been variously called nominalist, an instrumentalist, a positivist, a realist, and several other ists. The technique seems refutation by denigration: If you can attach a label to my approach, you don't have to say what is wrong with it... I am sure that Einstein, Heisenberg and Dirac didn't worry about whether they were realists or instrumentalists.
I think the next [21st] century will be the century of complexity. We have already discovered the basic laws that govern matter and understand all the normal situations. We don't know how the laws fit together, and what happens under extreme conditions. But I expect we will find a complete unified theory sometime this century. The is no limit to the complexity that we can build using those basic laws.