Sun, Oct 21, 2018 - Page 9 News List

Hawking’s final book offers brief answers to big questions
霍金最後遺著 簡答人類大哉問

Son and daughter of British scientist Stephen Hawking, Timothy Hawking, left, and Lucy Hawking, second left, watch a presentation at the global launch of Stephen Hawking’s final book Brief Answers to the Big Questions at the Science Museum in London on Monday.
英國科學家史蒂芬·霍金的兒女提莫西‧霍金(左)與露西‧霍金(左二),週一於倫敦科學博物館舉辦的史蒂芬‧霍金最後遺著《大問小答》(暫譯)全球發表會上觀看新書的簡介短片。

Photo: AFP
照片:法新社

Stephen Hawking’s final work, which tackles issues from the existence of God to the potential for time travel, was launched on Monday by his children, who helped complete the book after the British astrophysics giant’s death.

Hawking was forever being asked the same things and started work on Brief Answers to the Big Questions last year — but did not finish it before he died in March, aged 76. It has been completed by the theoretical physicist’s family and academic colleagues, with material drawn from his vast personal archive.

“He was regularly asked a set of questions,” his daughter Lucy Hawking said at the Science Museum in London. The book was an attempt to “bring together the most definitive, clearest, most authentic answers that he gave.”

Hawking, who was wheelchair bound due to motor neurone disease, dedicated his life’s work to unravelling the mysteries of the universe. The cosmologist was propelled to stardom by his 1988 book A Brief History of Time, an unlikely worldwide bestseller. It won over fans from far beyond the rarefied world of astrophysics and prompted people into asking the mastermind his thoughts on broader topics, answered in his final work.

The 10 questions Hawking tackles are: “Is there a God?”; “How did it all begin?”; “What is inside a black hole?”; “Can we predict the future?”; “Is time travel possible?”; “Will we survive on Earth?”; “Is there other intelligent life in the universe?”; “Should we colonize space?”; “Will artificial intelligence outsmart us?” and “How do we shape the future?”

In his book, Hawking says humans have no option but to leave Earth, risking being “annihilated” if they do not. He says computers will overtake humans in intelligence during the next 100 years, but “we will need to ensure that the computers have goals aligned with ours.”

TODAY’S WORDS
今日單字

1. astrophysics n.

天文物理學

(tian1 wen2 wu4 li3 xue2)

2. unravel v.

解開 (jie3 kai1)

3. intelligence n.

智能;智慧

(zhi4 neng2; zhi4 hui4)

4. aligned with phr.

與…一致 (yu3…yi2 zhi4)

5. information paradox phr.

資訊悖論 (zi1 xun4 bei4 lun4)

6. entropy n.

熵 (shang1)


Hawking says the human race had to improve its mental and physical qualities, but a genetically-modified race of superhumans, say with greater memory and disease resistance, would imperil the others. He says that by the time people realize what is happening with climate change, it may be too late.

Hawking says the simplest explanation is that God does not exist and there is no reliable evidence for an afterlife, though people could live on through their influence and genes. He says that in the next 50 years, we will come to understand how life began and possibly discover whether life exists elsewhere in the universe.

“He was deeply worried that at a time when the challenges are global, we were becoming increasingly local in our thinking,” Lucy Hawking said. “It’s a call to unity, to humanity, to bring ourselves back together and really face up to the challenges in front of us.”

In his final academic paper, Hawking shed new light on black holes and the information paradox, with new work calculating the entropy of black holes.

(AFP)

英國天文物理學巨擘史蒂芬·霍金的最後遺作,在週一由協助完成此書的子女們公開發表,書中探討上帝存在與否和時間旅行的可能性等議題。

霍金生前不斷被問到相同的問題,遂在去年開始動筆,寫下《大問小答》(暫譯)一書,卻來不及完成就在今年三月溘然長逝,享壽七十六歲。該書後來由這位理論物理學家的家人與學術界同僚協力完成,其中包含來自他個人龐大檔案庫的資料。

女兒露西‧霍金在倫敦科學博物館表示:「霍金生前經常被問到一組問題」,而這本書就是嘗試「將他所給出最具決定性、最清晰、最真實的答案整合在一起。」

因罹患運動神經元疾病而使行動受輪椅所限的霍金,將畢生志業致力於解開宇宙的多項謎團。一九八八年出版的《時間簡史》看起來並不像是全球暢銷書,卻把這位宇宙學家推升到明星般的地位。該書贏得書迷愛戴,遠遠超過天文物理學的專業領域,並促使人們詢問這位智多星對於多個廣泛主題的個人看法,這些都在他的最後著作中獲得解答。

霍金探討的十個問題是:「上帝是否存在?」、「這一切是如何開始的?」、「黑洞裡面有什麼?」、「我們能否預測未來?」、「時間旅行是否可能?」、「我們能否在地球上生存?」、「宇宙中是否還有其他智慧生命?」、「我們是否應該殖民太空?」、「人工智慧是否會超越我們?」,以及「我們該如何形塑未來?」。

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