To say that theoretical physicists, even the best of them, are generally less popular than movie stars is an understatement. They are incomparably less popular. They aren’t in the right kind of business to achieve mass public adoration or stir up paparazzi frenzy.
Still, there is at least one theoretical physicist who became a true star. He is a cosmologist, stars being his subject… among other subjects not quite as clearly understood by a layman, woman or child.
His name is Stephen William Hawking. His book, A Brief History of Time, was published on 1 April 1988, became a bestseller, sold some 10 million copies, and made him into a superstar of cosmology, styled as Master of the Universe.
Stephen Hawking is severely disabled by a type of motor neuron disease known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which has left him entirely paralyzed. He is the world’s longest suffering survivor of motor neuron disease, for almost 40 years confined to a wheelchair. He speaks using cheek muscles that activate predictive test software which is then translated into a synthesized voice.
After the astounding success of A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking also made several appearances in popular media, appearing as himself on Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1993. The same year, his synthesizer voice was recorded for the Pink Floyd song Keep Talking, and in 1999 for an appearance on The Simpsons.
In his new book, The Grand Design, Professor Hawking has claimed that modern physics leaves no room for a Creator. Science along could explain the origins of the universe.
The physicist has been spending a month at Caltech each year. On April 16th, over a 1000 people attended his lecture The Origin of the Universe.
Big Bang Didn’t Need God. Quantum theory and general relativity combined could best explain the beginning of the Universe, Stephen Hawking tells audience. The link would take you to the article in the Mail Online, a British tabloid, of all places. The article, in essence, gives a serviceable overview of the event and has a 2 minute video-clip. Curiously but predictably, it calls the attendees fans: Eager science fans began queuing 12 hours before the start of the lecture for a chance to see him in person.
Vatican, although not without reservations, admits that Big Bang theory is in tune with Creation. The director of the Vatican Observatory said that the Church is open to the scientific theory that the world began from a cosmic explosion billions of years ago.
An idea for a new Vatican fresco: God is sitting on something solid, which He must’ve just created, since He needed something firm to sit on while embarking on such an important project, hammer in hand, about to Bang Really Big!
And on a lot more serious note: Renowned Cosmologist Lawrence Krauss, whom I’ve met while he worked at Case Western Reserve University, explains how Something can come from Nothing… in something like 4 minutes, which is nothing compared with 13.5 billion years Universe is around after that hammer Banged Really Big… with a great sound effect!