“Hawking’s parting gift to humanity . . . a book every thinking person worried about humanity’s future should read.”—NPR
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Forbes • The Guardian • Wired
Stephen Hawking was the most renowned scientist since Einstein, known both for his groundbreaking work in physics and cosmology and for his mischievous sense of humor. He educated millions of readers about the origins of the universe and the nature of black holes, and inspired millions more by defying a terrifying early prognosis of ALS, which originally gave him only two years to live. In later life he could communicate only by using a few facial muscles, but he continued to advance his field and serve as a revered voice on social and humanitarian issues.
Hawking not only unraveled some of the universe’s greatest mysteries but also believed science plays a critical role in fixing problems here on Earth. Now, as we face immense challenges on our planet—including climate change, the threat of nuclear war, and the development of artificial intelligence—he turns his attention to the most urgent issues facing us.
Will humanity survive? Should we colonize space? Does God exist? These are just a few of the questions Hawking addresses in this wide-ranging, passionately argued final book from one of the greatest minds in history.
Featuring a foreword by Eddie Redmayne, who won an Oscar playing Stephen Hawking, an introduction by Nobel Laureate Kip Thorne, and an afterword from Hawking’s daughter, Lucy, Brief Answers to the Big Questions is a brilliant last message to the world.
Praise for Brief Answers to the Big Questions
“[Hawking is] a symbol of the soaring power of the human mind.”—The Washington Post
“Hawking’s final message to readers . . . is a hopeful one.”—CNN
“Brisk, lucid peeks into the future of science and of humanity.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Hawking pulls no punches on subjects like machines taking over, the biggest threat to Earth, and the possibilities of intelligent life in space.”—Quartz
“Effortlessly instructive, absorbing, up to the minute and—where it matters—witty.”—The Guardian
“This beautiful little book is a fitting last twinkle from a new star in the firmament above.”—The Telegraph
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About the Author
Date of Birth:January 8, 1942
Date of Death:March 14, 2018
Place of Birth:Oxford, England
Read an Excerpt
People have always wanted answers to the big questions. Where did we come from? How did the universe begin? What is the meaning and design behind it all? Is there anyone out there? The creation accounts of the past now seem less relevant and credible. They have been replaced by a variety of what can only be called superstitions, ranging from New Age to Star Trek. But real science can be far stranger than science fiction, and much more satisfying.
I am a scientist. And a scientist with a deep fascination with physics, cosmology, the universe and the future of humanity. I was brought up by my parents to have an unwavering curiosity and, like my father, to research and try to answer the many questions that science asks us. I have spent my life travelling across the universe, inside my mind. Through theoretical physics, I have sought to answer some of the great questions. At one point, I thought I would see the end of physics as we know it, but now I think the wonder of discovery will continue long after I am gone. We are close to some of these answers, but we are not there yet.
The problem is, most people believe that real science is too difficult and complicated for them to understand. But I don’t think this is the case. To do research on the fundamental laws that govern the universe would require a commitment of time that most people don’t have; the world would soon grind to a halt if we all tried to do theoretical physics. But most people can understand and appreciate the basic ideas if they are presented in a clear way without equations, which I believe is possible and which is something I have enjoyed trying to do throughout my life.
It has been a glorious time to be alive and doing research in theoretical physics. Our picture of the universe has changed a great deal in the last fifty years, and I’m happy if I have made a contribution. One of the great revelations of the space age has been the perspective it has given humanity on ourselves. When we see the Earth from space, we see ourselves as a whole. We see the unity, and not the divisions. It is such a simple image with a compelling message; one planet, one human race.
I want to add my voice to those who demand why we must ask the big questions immediate action on the key challenges for our global community. I hope that going forward, even when I am no longer here, people with power can show creativity, courage and leadership. Let them rise to the challenge of the sustainable development goals, and act, not out of self-interest, but out of common interest. I am very aware of the preciousness of time. Seize the moment. Act now.