'this difference in the forces would stretch him out like spaghetti...'
Posted 2013.02.13
My volunteer work for WFYI's IRIS gave me a grand excuse to read an updated version of Stephen Hawking's classic A Brief History of Time. I've read about all the subjects he covers before, but I had never been witness to the superb way in which he presents quite complicated subjects. I now understand much better the ideas behind Heisenberg's uncertainty principle and the togetherness of space and time, and the book has made me love science's power to explain even more than I already had.

Near the beginning of January, I recorded chapter 8 of A Briefer History of Time, and then I took it home on a USB drive as a bit of proof and a memento. Of course, this also means I can show it off to you guys here. I hope you enjoy it, especially the Stretch Armstrong astronaut bit at about 26 minutes. A few other things to take note:

  • About 17:30- "The descriptors 'wave' and 'particle' are concepts humans created, not necessarily concepts that nature is obliged to respect by making all phenomena fall under one category or another." In other words, nature says, "Screw labels! I do what I want!"
  • 29:41- Apparently, I still have some leftover British from my time in London, because I let loose a betwixt-vowel-endings 'r' at "supernova explosion."
  • About 31:00- This part reminded me of Neil DeGrasse Tyson's Most Astounding Fact, told during a TIME magazine interview. It's quite inspiring.
  • 10:45 - 12:35- For those of you inclined to a theological sort of thing, Hawking's got a bit of a... let's call it a treat/bait-and-switch. He floats the apparent impossbility of a generally uniform universe occurring naturally, but then he pulls everything back into naturalism with the idea of inflation. Basically, he says that, even if the first conditions of the Big Bang weren't fine-tuned enough to result in what we have today, the very rapid early expansion of the universe provides a natural explanation for how things would (almost literally) smooth out.

Here's the audio (35:23). I hope the chapter blows your mind as much as it did mine, which may be enough to buy the book.

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