And the winner (will be): M-theory!
Hawking’s Last Great Prediction?
Hawking, Stephen, and Mlodinow, Leonard, The Grand Design Bantam Books, New York: 2010.
Very sure of himself, Dr. Stephen Hawking wrote that the M-theory, once it is confirmed by observation, will be acknowledged as the theory of the universe. All we need are those pesky observations.
I finished reading this book two days before Dr. Hawking died on Wednesday, March 14, 2018. Admittedly, I probably understood less than 20%, and that’s after reading some chapters twice!
“Philosophy is dead” he begins on the first page of the first chapter. That leaves science to pursue the deep mysterious questions.
A system has not just one history, but every possible history. (p. 6)
We humans use model-dependent realism to understand the universe around us. (7) The raw data that our brain receives from our senses sends a very poor and incomplete picture to our brain. (40) Our brains then fill in the blanks and smooth out the rough edges so we can get enough information to survive.
M-theory is really a group of related theories that each describe a part of our physical universe. But why does the universe behave the way it does? (9) Ancient peoples concentrated on the “Why” rather than “How.”
With the development of more careful ways of measuring the world, scientists were able to discover the laws of nature. Kepler’s laws of planetary motion and Newton’s law of gravity are some rules for our universe.
Eleven space-time dimensions?
And are we creating history by observing it? (140)
Do we have free will? If so, when in our evolutionary history did we become so endowed? While the work needed to predict human behavior might be theoretically possible, it would take billions of years. According to Hawking, we humans by nature act according to the laws of nature. Trying to predict an action would be impractical. (32)
The chapters on quantum physics and Feynman diagrams were major challenges.
I am sure of one thing though. I am not sure what Hawking was trying to sell: do we have free will? I thought he was trying to say “NO”, but I may be wrong, I need to re-read this part, too.
“Bodies such as stars, or black holes cannot just appear out of nothing. But a whole universe can.” (180) It’s comments like this that lead me to recommend this book to you.
No doubt, Hawking saw M-theory as the answer to the ultimate question, and the answer is not “42.”
Please read it. Then let’s talk about it. Maybe you can help me better understand.