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DVD Review: Stephen Hawking and the Theory of Everything

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There are countless things about our world, the solar system, and the universe that I just flat-out don’t understand. I can’t begin to understand quantum mechanics, physics, or most of the other sciences. I took earth science in high school because I thought it would be easy. Good Christ, was I ever wrong!

And so I stand in awe of the geniuses and remarkable men and women who are able to grasp these aspects of our existence. These individuals work to understand where we came from, how we came about, when we came about, and so on. The mysteries of life excite them and give them pleasure much in the same way that a great piece of music or art gives me joy.

Perhaps there is nobody in the field of science more renowned and more joyous as relates to discover than Stephen Hawking. The world’s most famous living physicist, Hawking’s life is an amazing journey and a race against the clock of his own mortality and physical limitations.

With Stephen Hawking and the Theory of Everything, this brilliant mind is examined and his theories about our origin, about space, and about, well, everything are discussed.

It is enthralling to watch Hawking in action. Crippled by ALS, he’s now almost completely paralyzed. As he strives to answer life’s questions, Hawking doesn’t let anything stand in his way. He works untiringly, pouring more energy into his work and his life than I could ever imagine. His “theory of everything” is so tantalizingly close that it must both pain him and excite him.

The documentary, produced for the U.K.’s Channel 4, aired on Discovery Science in the United States as a show titled Master of the Universe. Now viewers can explore the 90 minute documentary, which is efficiently divided into two episodes, on DVD.

Stephen Hawking and the Theory of Everything explores his theories regarding black holes, the origin of the universe, string theory, the space-time continuum, and his quest to unify Einstein’s theory of relativity with elements of quantum mechanics. In seeking a single explanation for the entire universe, Hawking is bold, adventurous, and unspeakably brilliant.

The DVD features interviews with Harvard’s Lisa Randall, the California Institute of Technology’s John Scharz, Roger Penrose, and Michio Kaku from the City University of New York. Other luminaries also help bring the material home, simplifying many of Hawking’s more advanced theories with the use of computer graphics, display pieces, and clear language.

Stephen Hawking and the Theory of Everything is a tremendous examination of Hawking as a man and of his theories. His brilliance is matchless and the extent of his discoveries and theories are unrivalled. For a lucid, succinct look at many of those theories, this is the DVD to purchase.

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About Jordan Richardson

  • Prof. Tipler’s below 2005 Reports on Progress in Physics paper demonstrates that the correct quantum gravity theory has existed since 1962, first discovered by Richard Feynman in that year, and independently discovered by Steven Weinberg and Bryce DeWitt, among others. But because these physicists were looking for equations with a finite number of terms (i.e., derivatives no higher than second order), they abandoned this qualitatively unique quantum gravity theory since in order for it to be consistent it requires an arbitrarily higher number of terms. Further, they didn’t realize that this proper theory of quantum gravity is consistent only with a certain set of boundary conditions imposed (which includes the initial Big Bang, and the final Omega Point, cosmological singularities). The equations for this theory of quantum gravity are term-by-term finite, but the same mechanism that forces each term in the series to be finite also forces the entire series to be infinite (i.e., infinities that would otherwise occur in spacetime, consequently destabilizing it, are transferred to the cosmological singularities, thereby preventing the universe from immediately collapsing into nonexistence). As Tipler notes in his 2007 book The Physics of Christianity (pp. 49 and 279), “It is a fundamental mathematical fact that this [infinite series] is the best that we can do. … This is somewhat analogous to Liouville’s theorem in complex analysis, which says that all analytic functions other than constants have singularities either a finite distance from the origin of coordinates or at infinity.”

    When combined with the Standard Model, the result is the Theory of Everything (TOE) correctly describing and unifying all the forces in physics.

    F. J. Tipler, “The structure of the world from pure numbers,” Reports on Progress in Physics, Vol. 68, No. 4 (April 2005), pp. 897-964. Also released as “Feynman-Weinberg Quantum Gravity and the Extended Standard Model as a Theory of Everything,” arXiv:0704.3276, April 24, 2007.

    Out of 50 articles, Prof. Tipler’s above paper was selected as one of 12 for the “Highlights of 2005” accolade as “the very best articles published in Reports on Progress in Physics in 2005 [Vol. 68]. Articles were selected by the Editorial Board for their outstanding reviews of the field. They all received the highest praise from our international referees and a high number of downloads from the journal Website.” (See Richard Palmer, Publisher, “Highlights of 2005,” Reports on Progress in Physics website.)

    Reports on Progress in Physics is the leading journal of the Institute of Physics, Britain’s main professional body for physicists. Further, Reports on Progress in Physics has a higher impact factor (according to Journal Citation Reports) than Physical Review Letters, which is the most prestigious American physics journal (one, incidently, which Prof. Tipler has been published in more than once). A journal’s impact factor reflects the importance the science community places in that journal in the sense of actually citing its papers in their own papers. (And just to point out, Tipler’s 2005 Reports on Progress in Physics paper could not have been published in Physical Review Letters since said paper is nearly book-length, and hence not a “letter” as defined by the latter journal.)