Christian Long

Steven Hawking: Asks Big Questions About the Universe

In TED Talks on April 12, 2010 at 10:41 pm

Reflection by ANDREW R.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Steven Hawking:  Asks Big Questions About the Universe

In this video, Stephen Hawking asks some crucial questions bout the universe. The three questions he proposes are concerning how the universe began, how life began, and whether or not we are alone in this universe. People have been asking these questions for hundreds of years, but Professor Hawking speaks about how we might go about answering these questions.

People’s beliefs that the universe was consistent and unchanging remained up until the 1920s when it was discovered that the universe was literally expanding. Galaxies within the universe were shifting farther and farther away from us. Logically thinking, this implied that in the past, they had been closer together. If you really think about it, that means that all of the galaxies and planets must have been on top of each other about 15 billion years ago, as Hawking explains. This phenomenon was known as the Big Bang.

Hawking questions whether there was anything before the Big Bang. If there wasn’t, how could a sudden “bang” form the universe as it is? Long ago, it was believed that the universe was split into two halves. Hawking brings up notions such a Maxwell’s equations and general relativity to explain how this may have occurred.

Hawking continues to use scientific laws and formulas to suggest how the Big Bang worked. He speaks about probability and the actual material of the initial universe’s states. WMAP satellites have been making observations of the entire universe to try to find out how it was made.

Hawking then turns to the next question of whether or not we’re alone. If life was formed on Earth, why couldn’t it be formed on other plants and universes? The only problem with that theory is that we have yet to understand how life began, which is another question Hawking had asked earlier in his talk. The oldest fossils of organisms date back to 3.5 billion years ago, when the Earth was formed 4.6 billion years ago.

But how is it possible to believe that there might be life on other planets if we have yet to be visited by so-called “UFOs.” On the other hand, humans have only been to the moon, so how would the beings of the other planets (if they existed) know that we exist? These questions have haunted scientists for many years, and they are hungry to find the answers.

In conclusion, Professor Stephen Hawking speaks about all of the issues and questions he has faced throughout his career. He obviously hopes to find the answers to these mind-boggling questions about the mysterious universe we live in.


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