Quote Of The Day

"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake - Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)"

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

It's Turtles All The Way Down....

35 years ago, I was lucky enough to be taught theoretical physics (for a while at least) by Professor Stephen Hawking. He had recently been elected Lucasian Professor of Mathematics when I went up to Cambridge and had started with tutoring both under-graduates as well as post-graduates. My own interests were cosmology, quantum gravity and general relativity and he was, and still is, the go-to guy in these fields. He soon gave up with us under-grads though as his health was deteriorating and he wanted to write a book. Therefore, I was one of the lucky ones in that brief window of time between him having enough energy to teach and him needing full-time nursing care in 1982. Six years later he had finished his book and A Brief History of Time was to go on to sell 12 million copies.

Therefore, it was with some excitement I ventured out last night to see him. It was his 75th birthday last week was due to give a lecture. Also his book has now become an app called Stephen Hawking's Pocket Universe so he was keen to flog that too.

Sadly he was not there in person though as he is ill at the moment so this place was taken by Martin Rees my old Master at Trinity College. Such a shame but Stephen had pre-recorded his talk for us and some answers to pre-submitted questions.

Short answer: robots *will* take over the world, information is never lost, everyone on earth will die eventually, there is no God and the Universe will expand into virtual nothingness.

And, what's this about turtles?

Bertrand Russell once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the centre of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy.
At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: "What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise."
The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, "What is the tortoise standing on?"
"You're very clever, young man, very clever," said the old lady.
"But it's turtles all the way down!"

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