Saturday, September 18, 2010

How low will you go?

Stephen Hawking is known for many things, not least of which is stealing his idea for a donut-shaped universe from Homer Simpson. As you may have heard, he has a new book about the beginning of the universe which, sadly, makes you think he'd be better off getting more of his ideas from Springfield.

The quote which has been headlining the promotional material for this book - what they view as the strongest selling point, the message they most want to get out - is utterly absurd. Consider the intellectual dishonesty and intentional self-deception required for a physicist like Hawking to write something like this:

"Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist."

This is beyond ridiculous, and Hawking has to know it. What he knows - what everyone who has even the slightest knowledge of gravity knows - is that gravity describes the forces of attraction between things. In classical Newtonian form, the force is proportional to the product of the masses divided by the square of the distance between them. General relativity covers extreme cases such as singularities and massless particles, but even in these cases the objects involved must exist (they have mass, momentum, spin, energy, etc). Where there is no mass/momentum/energy, there is no gravity. For Hawking to pretend otherwise, to claim that a description of interaction between things matters when there is nothing, is delusional beyond imagination (well, almost).

Hawking's nonsensical idea of gravity mattering when there is nothing would be laughable - if not for the tragic ending of those so determined to be 'free' from our sovereign creator.


Robert said...

Unfortunately, most people could care less to understand what gravity really is. I know it because I'm an engineer, but if I try to explain that to one of my secular non-engineer friends to counter this argument they still wouldn't take me seriously. Because I don't have the name recognition...people are easily swayed by those with influence and power. Which is scary when you think about how few people take time to study and learn things for themselves.

John said...

The real chuckle is that he has to go out of his way to postulate that "philosophy is dead". As in "don't you dare question my lunacy!"