Hawking’s courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world. He predicted the existence of mini black holes at the time of Big Bang. These black holes would have shed mass until they vanished, potentially ending their lives in an explosion that would release vast amounts of energy. World renowned physicist Stephen Hawking died peacefully at the age of 76 at his home in Cambridge. The British scientist was famed for his work with black holes and relativity and wrote several popular science books including A Brief History of Time.
At the age of 22, Prof Hawking was given only a few years to live after being diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease (ALS). He was the first to set out a theory of cosmology as a union of relativity and quantum mechanics. He also discovered that black holes leak energy and fade to nothing like a phenomenon that would later become known as Hawking radiation.
With Oxford mathematician Roger Penrose, he showed that if there was a Big Bang, it must have started from an infinitely small point known as singularity. Black holes radiate energy known as Hawking radiation, while gradually losing mass. This is due to quantum effects near the edge of the black hole, a region called the event horizon.
In the 1970s, Hawking considered whether the particles and light that enter a black hole were ultimately destroyed if the black hole evaporated. He initially thought that this information was lost from the universe. But the US physicist Leonard Susskind disagreed and these ideas became known as information paradox. In 2004, Hawking conceded that the information must be conserved.
When Hawking began his graduate studies, there was much debate in the physics community about the prevailing theories of creation of the universe such as Big Bang and Steady State theories. Inspired by Roger Penrose’s theorem of a space-time singularity in the centre of black holes, Hawking applied the same thinking to the entire universe. During 1965, he wrote his thesis on this topic and it was approved in 1966.
He received research fellowship at Gonville and Caius College. He obtained his PhD degree in applied mathematics and theoretical physics, specialising in general relativity and cosmology. His essay about Singularities and Geometry of Space-Time shared top honours with one by Penrose to win prestigious Adams Prize.
Hawking expressed concern that life on the earth is at risk from sudden nuclear war, genetically engineered virus, global warming or other dangers that humans have not yet known. Such a planet wide disaster need not result in human extinction if human race were to be able to colonise additional planets before the disaster. Hawking viewed space flight and the colonisation of space as necessary for the future of humanity.
He stated that aliens may exist in the vastness of the universe but that contact with them should be avoided. He warned that aliens might utilize the earth for resources. In 2010 he said, “If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans.”
Hawking also warned that super technological artificial intelligence could be pivotal in steering humanity’s fate. Success in creating AI would be the biggest event in human history. It might also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks.
We are focused on creating the life of machines in our own images. Hawking argued that computer viruses should be considered a new form of life. He stated that the virus form of life we have created so far is purely destructive. It is fact that human nature might be decisive.
In the late 1960s, Hawking’s physical abilities declined due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. He began to use crutches and ceased lecturing regularly. As he slowly lost the ability to write, he developed compensatory visual methods, including seeing equations in terms of geometry. This is the evidence of strong visual computation processed usually in the sensory cortex of brain.
Physicist Werner Israel later compared the achievement of unique visual computational power to Mozart composing an entire symphony in his head. Hawking was fiercely independent and unwilling to accept help or make concessions for his disabilities. He preferred to be regarded as a scientist first, popular science writer second. And in all the ways that matter, a normal human being with same desire, drives, dream and ambition as the next person deserves.
Mathematics and physics are the key subjects to understand the creation of the universe. Hawking was the first scientist to set out a theory of cosmology explained by a union of the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics.
We can learn the mystery of genius brain and the mystery of longevity from Hawking’s life and his research work. The world will also know the mystery of brain learnography from Hawking’s working life. It is fact that genius is generated in the dorsal and ventral streams of visual cortex, but processed in the posterior region of cerebellum. The behavior of genius activities is distinct in the cerebellar learnography of brain, ultimate learning of science and technology.
Shiva Narayan Jha
Golden Star Secondary School