Friday, July 31, 2009

Black Holes And Baby Universes and other essays


Mind is a marvellous thing. From the beginning of civilization, human has tried to know the mystery, miracles and destiny. His search is still going on. Is it going to end or is it never ending process? What is the origin of universe? What is its future? Is everything determined? There are thousands of question which stirs the mind with huge complexity and sometimes to think them; to understand them appears beyond our ability. But Stephen Hawking has made it an exception. His book “Black Holes and Baby Universes and other essays” has streamlined these complex issue in such a simple narrative format, with a stimulating wit   that even a non-scientific person can understand. The book is collection of essay that he wrote over the period 1976 to 1992, contains fourteen chapters, written in autographical way. The first few essay deals with his childhood, his studies in Oxford and Cambridge and how did he cope with his incurable disease precisely known as Motor Neuron Disease. His lines are motivating and encouraging. In one of his essay, he writes,” Before my condition was diagnosed, I had been very bored to life. There had seemed to be anything worth doing. But shortly after I came out of hospital, I dreamt that I was going to be executed. I suddenly realized that there were lot of worthwhile things I could do if I were reprieved.” There are other captivating moments like how he saw the boy, suffering with leukaemia and felt realized that there were people worse off than him. In the next chapters, he has dealt with public attitude towards science. About the conventional studies of science in schools, he writes, “Science, in schools, is often presented in dry and uninteresting manner. Children learnt it by rote to pass the examination, and they don’t see its relevance to the world around them.”
In further chapters, he explains what a complete and unified theory is and if there is such theory how we can model it. He says that modelling physical reality comprises two parts.
First we have to find the local laws that govern various physical quantities and second we should have sets of boundary conditions that tell us the state of some regions of the universe at a certain time and what effects propagates into it subsequently from the rest of the universe.
He further explains what the greatest mistake was made by Einstein(which Einstein himself accepted) and how he realized it.  A detailed discussion was made on the origin of universe, starting with different school of thoughts and then reaching to the modern concept of singularity that most of the scientists accept. He gives us optimistic thought of finding the one of the complex question,” How did the universe begin.” But why it bothers to exist, will be mystery.”
In the next chapters he explains the quantum mechanics of black holes, black holes and baby universe and rules out any possibility of space travel in near future due to uncertainty principle .In his essay entitled “Is everything determined?  He says,” yes, it is. But it might as well not be, because we can never know what is determined. “
About the future of universe, he lucidly explains the different possibility of universe in future. With a clear understanding of words like ‘chaos’, ‘singularity’, ‘critical density’, ’law of inflation’ he gives us insight that really  thrill us to catch a glimpse of dark mystery of universe.
 Read this book, you will as enjoy as you enjoy your favourite science fiction movie. You will never find such a simple book, without any equation (except E=m.c^2), on such a convoluted topic.  

1 comment:

Rohini said...

Lovely post with lots of expression and meanings well conveyed.

I liked it.