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“A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking

Stuff Jeff Reads

BriefHistoryTime

This book has been on my list for a while and I finally got around to reading it. I had high expectations for a couple reasons. First off, I am fascinated by theoretical physics. Wormholes, black holes, quantum mechanics, string theory, all that stuff I find intriguing. But more importantly, as a technical writer, I am very interested in how other writers of scientific and technical information are able to present complex ideas in a manner that is digestible for the lay person. From this perspective, Hawking excels in communicating deep and complicated ideas in a clear and concise manner that we commoners can grasp.

There is a lot of deep information and I could not do the book justice by trying to summarize it. So instead, I will cite a few quotes that sparked some thoughts and questions for me. The first one concerns event horizons associated with black…

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Knowledge of Science Increases Faith in God

The Whirlpool Galaxy (Spiral Galaxy M51, NGC 5...

The Whirlpool Galaxy (Spiral Galaxy M51, NGC 5194) is a classic spiral galaxy located in the Canes Venatici constellation. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Misam Hasan Naqvi

Everyday, we see so many buildings around us. These buildings are meant for various purposes like residential apartments, offices, schools, colleges, hospitals and shopping malls etc. Whenever we come across a building that is planned out in such a manner that it best serves the purpose for which it is built and also offers maximum facilities and convenience to the people using it, we can easily understand that there was an efficient architect behind it.

No matter how efficiently a building has been designed, there will still be room for improvement. But when we look at the universe, we simply find it to be flawless. No scientist could ever point out that it would have been better had the distance between any two planets been greater.

Our very own earth has everything that is essential for the existence of life. Air, water, soil, gravity, sunlight, plants, animals and so many other bounties which we could not have even imagined, have been made available to us. Now did all this happen on its own or was there some intelligent designer behind all this? Nobel laureate Physicist, Charles Town states, ‘No one can deny that the universe is the outcome of intelligent placing. It is unusual. We, too, are unusual. To make it possible for life to exist, special physical laws are required. So I would say that this is a very special universe. It has been intelligently planned. How can anyone confute that? So, there is indeed a spiritual world; a Creator.’ (Ref: The Speaking Tree column of Times of India).

Many people like Stephen Hawking have argued that it is all due to the consequence of the laws of physics. Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist was quick to agree by stating, ‘Darwinism kicked God out of biology but physics remained more uncertain. Hawking is now administering the coup de grace.’

English: Planets and dwarf planets of the sola...

Planets and dwarf planets of the solar system, sizes to scale. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I agree that a scientific approach may be adopted while trying to understand a natural phenomenon. But science is merely the study of these phenomena and not their creator. Therefore, the study of the creator is beyond the scope of science. But how the study of science will affect the faith of a person depends upon his/her initial understanding of God. If a person thinks that God is sitting somewhere in a physical form, holding a sprinkler to make it rain, then it is quite natural that on learning the true scientific cause behind rains, the person will lose faith in God. But if a person understands that God is the creator of all phenomena, and he has designed all the systems, then that person\’s faith can only become stronger with the increasing knowledge of science. So Darwinism or any other theory cannot pose any threat to faith.

Every time I watch the discovery channel or animal planet, or come to know about the scientific cause of any event through books or magazines, I find that the level of my faith has only increased.

Therefore, every person who believes in God cannot be labeled as irrational or vice-versa. In fact, science is the true means to understand the majesty of the Almighty.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/religion-articles/knowledge-of-science-increases-faith-in-god-7235046.html

About the Author

Misam Hasan Naqvi is a student of Islamic studies. He is also a qualified journalist.


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Scientific Reasons to Believe in an Intelligent Universe

English: Artist's conception of the spiral str...

Artist’s conception of the spiral structure of the Milky Way with two major stellar arms and a central bar. “Using infrared images from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, scientists have discovered that the Milky Way’s elegant spiral structure is dominated by just two arms wrapping off the ends of a central bar of stars. Previously, our galaxy was thought to possess four major arms.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Author: Lee Hager

Scientists have been working toward a ‘Theory of Everything’ (TOE) for some time. Many scientists feel such a theory would not only be a triumph of human reason, it would also be a way to nullify the existence of God.  Their goal has been elusive, and in fact, much of their research points toward the existence of intelligence working within the universe.

Scientists use terms like ‘accident, coincidence’ and ‘lucky break’ when they explain why life on earth is possible. But how many of these fortuitous occurrences must take place before the evidence demands a different explanation? Let’s look at several scientific discoveries that carry the stamp of intelligent design.

The Big Bang and the Theory of Inflation

Scientists estimate the visible universe came into existence nearly 14 billion years ago during a colossal explosion known as the Big Bang. The name implies that the birth or the universe was a mishap, but let’s look at evidence that tells quite a different story.

Alan Guth first suggested the theory of inflation, which is now supported by research. Guth proposed that when the universe was less than a trillionth of a trillionth of a second old, it experienced an extremely brief, hyper-explosive growth spurt.  Steven Hawking compares it to expanding a small coin to ten times the size of the Milky Way in far less than a second! Hawking explains that if this expansion had been slower, the universe would probably still be cooling.

When an explosion takes place on earth, debris flies erratically, but the big bang caused the universe to expand in an extremely uniform manner. However, the expansion still contained just the right amount of dense irregularities needed for gravity to bring stars, planets and galaxies into existence.  Without this delicate balance of uniformity and irregularity, galaxies that support life couldn’t exist.

The combined forces in the big bang meant that our entire universe came into existence from an infinitesimally tiny amount of ‘source material.’ How small? Research demonstrates it was somewhere between one ounce and a billionth the size of a subatomic proton! Some scientists claim the universe came from nothing. But the Upanishads, written by ancient spiritual sages, said that God made the universe from Self. Evidence supports the Upanishad, but that shouldn’t surprise us. After all, life on earth is reproduced using the ‘source material’ of the parents.

The universe has been expanding ever since the big bang and scientists have calculated the expansion is speeding up.  If that’s the case, what keeps the universe from flying apart?  Although the universe appears to be filled with ’empty space,’ it’s far from empty. Two thirds of the universe is a seething ocean of quantum energy that far outweighs matter. Scientists have been unable to explain why this impossible disparity exists, but they do feel that this ‘dark energy’ opposes gravity and is responsible for keeping the universe stable as it expands. This ‘cosmological constant’ is very finely tuned. Without it, the universe would have either imploded or been ripped apart.

Goldilocks Zone and the Anthropic Principle

In the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Goldilocks wasn’t satisfied until she found the chair, bed and porridge that were ‘just right.’ Scientists liken the placement of the earth in the Milky Way Galaxy to this story since it’s ‘just right’ to sustain life.  If earth was in a star system with two suns, our planet would travel too close and too far from those suns to sustain life.  As it is, the orbit of planets in a one sun system varies from nearly circular to nearly oval. An oval obit causes a planet to experience huge temperature extremes.  However, the earth’s orbit is very close to circular, which allows it to remain within the ‘just right’ temperature ranges that support life.

The earth would be frozen or broiled if the sun’s mass, or the earth’s distance from the sun, weren’t in perfect balance or the earth’s axis wasn’t tilted exactly as it is. This safe zone allows water to remain liquid, and as we all know, water is essential to life. The safe zone is quite small and even minor changes could cause catastrophic problems.

Many scientists ask whether earth was made perfect for us, or are we the only possible result of the conditions we enjoy?However, scientists agree that life is possible only because of the very specific way the universe was formed and the extremely delicate ‘fine tuning’ that keeps it operating.  The ‘anthropic principle’ suggests that the entire universe was purposely prepared in advance with all the necessary elements needed to support the specific type of life that exists on earth.

Carbon is essential to life, but carbon is not among the elements that first appeared after the big bang (hydrogen, helium and lithium).  The formation of carbon demands very specific circumstances that take place within aging stars. However, this process also requires a perfect set of circumstances that will allow stars to explode, scatter their elements and then let the elements reform as new stars and planets.  Physicists estimate this process took 10 billion years to unfold.

The energy levels needed to produce the large amounts of carbon necessary for life are statistically highly improbable, yet this energy was found.Fred Hoyle, the scientist who predicted its existence said, ‘A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature.’ Hoyle had been an atheist until his calculations were proven correct.

Life depends on the fine tuning of ten critical properties such as gravity and electromagnetic, strong and weak nuclear forces.  Scientists agree that the tiniest differences in any of these factors would produce an entirely different outcome. There are also thirty or more ‘constants,’ that may also be subject to fine tuning. And remember, these forces and constants have operated harmoniously for billions of years! So far, scientists have been unable to find any laws that would account for these forces being adjusted as they are.

Evolution

It takes only a moment on the internet to find several mathematical equations demonstrating the impossibility of evolution. There are incredible odds against the universe coming into existence as the result of coincidence. The odds against life springing from a collection of chemicals are even greater. Estimates suggest the statistical odds that one single celled organism could come into existence by chance during a period of 5 billion years, is 1 x 10 to the 100 billionth power.

Evolution requires thousands of purposeful intermediate transitional forms that supposedly occur over millions of years.  But even considering the billions of years the universe has existed, it’s still not nearly long enough to accommodate the math. On top of that, scientists have no idea how information was encoded within DNA.  Again they turn to chance, but this additional problem just adds an even greater degree of mathematical impossibility.

Although scientists say the fossil record is quite complete, it contains no transitional forms between ‘kinds,’ ‘types’ or ‘Species.’ During the Cambrian period (500-550 million years ago), an explosion of highly complex life forms suddenly showed up, but they had no ancestors they could have evolved from.  This sudden arrival of complex, unrelated life forms is a pattern that has taken place again and again throughout the history of the earth.

But evolution has an even greater problem: Consciousness. Material realists believe only matter exists. They claim that consciousness is a brain function that evolved from matter and is itself a form of matter. However, quantum physics has quite a different story to tell.

Our Conscious Universe

If you could see the universe at its most elemental level, you would find no separate forms. Why? Everything in the universe is one thing.  Our universe is actually a seething field of interconnected, indivisible energy that’s permeated by consciousness. Everything in the universe, down to the smallest particle, is alive and conscious.

Consciousness also plays an extremely important role in creation. Subatomic particles exist in a state of potential with no set or stable state until they’re influenced by consciousness.  Once a conscious choice is made, all other potential possibilities collapse and the energy appears in a set state as matter. When Genesis tells us ‘And God said, ‘Let there be light.’ And there was light,’ it is quite accurate in the description of thought bringing matter into existence.

Evolutionary scientists tell us that the universe came out of nothing, by accident, and continues to exist through an incredible series of lucky breaks. Quantum physics tells us that all energy is life and life is energy. Scientists agree that energy can transform into matter and matter into energy, but nothing is lost in the process. In other words, everything that’s always been within the universe is still there, and always will be. It’s all alive and will remain alive. So, within the universe we find the consciousness, energy and life force needed to spark the big bang, keep the universe finely tuned and cover the earth with life forms.

Our Shifting Paradigm

Many scientists have turned to evolution because they find no scientific basis to believe in a creator that exists outside the universe.  But many physicists have recently come to the conclusion the quantum model solves that problem. How?  They understand the energy, matter and consciousness filled universe to be one thing; God and the universe are synonymous. This agrees with the teachings of many spiritual sages, but it also creates a problem for religionists who insist God creates and manages the universe from outside it.

Quantum physics offers the opportunity for a vital synergy between science and religion, but each will have to be willing to listen to what the universe is trying to tell them. Regardless of what scientists or religionists do, we are all free to let go of outdated concepts and step into the emerging quantum/spiritual paradigm.

Copyright ©Lee and Steven Hager

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/spirituality-articles/scientific-reasons-to-believe-in-an-intelligent-universe-4485545.html

About the Author

Lee Hager and her husband Steven are the authors of The Beginning of Fearlessness: Quantum Prodigal Son, a spiritual quest and scientific adventure based on Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, quantum physics and the gnostic gospels.

For more information on the synergy of science and spirituality and a free 6 part video eCourse, ‘Obstacles to Spiritual Growth,’  visit their website and blog at: http://www.thebeginningoffearlessness.com

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Into the Future

This is a wonderful segment about time travel from Stephen Hawking’s Into the Universe DVD, which I watched last night. Hawking seems to believe that time travel is possible, but only into the future.

However, I’m wondering if a subtler type of time travel could be possible. Not time travel involving the body but rather, the soul and, by implication, consciousness.

Many religious believers report the experience of feeling heavenly graces. And this feeling differs from say, a runner’s endorphin rush or the physiological responses related to falling in love or eating chocolate (apparently they’re similar).

If the soul/consciousness can feel graces from heaven, then might not it sense other souls in other places and times? I think it quite possible that the soul could sense blissful souls in heaven, tormented souls in hell, along with souls living in the past and in the future. After all, the soul resides in the body but it also differs from the body. And when we die, the soul goes on and on and on. At least, this is what most religions teach.

I loved Hawking’s video and inspiring example but he always seems to fall a bit short when discussing – or should I say ignoring – the spiritual side of life. I imagine it’s because he’s a brainy physicist, hardwired and habituated into thinking long and hard about problems in a primarily conceptual way. He’s no mystic. At least, I don’t think so. If he is, he sure doesn’t seem like one!

You can read more about Hawking’s views here: http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/551152-when-people-ask-me-if-a-god-created-the-universe

—MC


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Stephen Hawking on Larry King Tonight – Top Three Tweets

Top Three Tweets

More alternative headlines at twitter.com/earthpages

  1. No God needed? Stephen Hawking and O.C. priest on Larry King – OC Science : The Orange County Register: http://bit.ly/9CIY1g via @addthis
  2. AFP: China to launch next lunar space mission: http://bit.ly/dA31Hx via @addthis
  3. Facebook inches past Google for Web users’ minutes – Yahoo! News: http://yhoo.it/bU5AvZ via @addthis

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Extraterrestrials in the news, and maybe in America

Stephen Hawking NASA 50th (200804210001HQ)

Stephen Hawking NASA 50th | Photo Credit: NASA/Paul E. Alers

By Steve Hammons
May 1, 2010

This article also appears on Transcendent TV & Media and AmericanChronicle.com.

Recent news and related accounts such as those described in the online article “Human-looking ETs secretly in U.S.?” seem to have resonated with many people.

Factors involved in the apparent large amount of interest probably include statements by astrophysicist Stephen Hawking on the potential hazards of contacting extraterrestrials.

His comments in a Discovery Channel documentary program have been covered by many journalists and media platforms.

Recent news articles about the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) program have also probably provided synergy regarding interest in this topic.

And, NASA recently held an open teleconference on astrobiology, the science of the search for extraterrestrial life. NASA has several projects on the drawing board to expand the search for extraterrestrial life.

Additionally, other scientists, experts and interested people have weighed in on this fascinating topic.

PUBLIC SAFETY AND PREPAREDNESS

Is the apparent convergence of these and other current events some kind of “synchronicity” – seeming coincidences that actually have connections, meaning and intelligence? This possibility might be worth considering.

There might also be an education or preparedness plan of sorts in the works.

Many individuals and groups are interested in greater understanding and the availability of information about the possibility or probability that we have been visited by extraterrestrial and/or extra-dimensional intelligent beings, cultures and civilizations.

Bringing more appropriate information on these kinds of topics into the public media and public consciousness may have some benefits, and some drawbacks.

Anxiety or concerns about extraterrestrial visitors, famously evidenced in the 1930 “War of the Worlds” radio show that caused widespread panic in the U.S., are and should be a legitimate concern.

As noted in the 1992 firefighter training manual Fire Officer’s Guide to Disaster Control, psychological impacts of UFOs and related phenomena are a major hazard involved in public safety.

The authors of Fire Officer’s Guide to Disaster Control point out that “one of the reasons often cited for the tight secrecy on government UFO research findings is the need to prevent the possible panic that a revelation of the truth might arouse.”

Additionally, the Fire Officer’s Guide states that secrecy seems to cut both ways. “One reason given is that military intelligence may view the UFOs as a tool of either a known or unknown potential enemy. If these vehicles prove evasive and surreptitious, all the more reason to suspect them … the probability looms large that the minds behind these vehicles may well be gathering intelligence of their own.”

“Another reason for secrecy may lie in the hope of obtaining knowledge relating to advanced propulsion methods and anti-gravity systems before other potential enemies on Earth may acquire it. Hence, though many nations are secretly investigating UFOs, they are reluctant to share their findings,” according to the Fire Officer’s Guide.

The authors also point out that “ … if the apparent visits by alien beings and their space vehicles should pose any type of threat, it will, as always, be the fire service that is called upon to provide the first line of life-saving defense and disaster mitigation.”

CODES, COMMUNICATION, CONTACT

In an April 30, 2010, article titled “Stephen Hawking alien warning: Could we talk to them?” on the Christian Science Monitor Web site, CSM staff writer Peter Grier tells readers that a respected cryptologist at the U.S. National Security Agency wrote an unclassified paper decades ago about developing communication methods for contact with extraterrestrials.

NSA cryptologist Lambros Callimahos “developed and taught the NSA’s most intensive senior cryptology course,” according to the article.

Callimahos’ paper, “Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence,” proposed communications concepts and methods that could be used.

“Fascinated from childhood by both music and codes, he volunteered for cryptology during World War II, and eventually developed and taught the NSA’s most intensive senior cryptology course,” Grier noted in his article. “He died in 1977 and was inducted into NSA’s Hall of Honor in 2003.”

Grier’s article also explained that Callimahos apparently had a positive view of human contact with a superior extraterrestrial intelligence. “Like Hawking, Mr. Callimahos assumed that any aliens who contact Earth probably will be our technological betters.”

“Unlike Hawking, Callimahos thought this would be great,” Grier wrote. Callimahos reportedly noted “the enormous potential gain from our contact with a superior civilization” in a 1966 article he wrote for the NSA Technical Journal.

In sync with Grier’s enlightening information about Callimahos’ formal interest in this topic going back at least to the 1960s, other accounts of U.S. government interest and activities regarding possible ET contact also claim that much work has been discreetly conducted in these kinds of areas.

SPECIAL OPERATIONS

One of the most interesting reports is the claim that Steven Spielberg’s 1977 movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind actually was based on a true U.S. operation in the portrayal of a secret, special 12-person U.S. team in a planned rendezvous with ETs on U.S. soil.

According to information that has been catalogued on the Web site Serpo.org, in the early 1960s, after many years of preparation following the Roswell incident and other related situations, certain U.S. military personnel were screened and trained for a planned 10-year exchange program.

They reportedly went to the home planet of apparently friendly extraterrestrial representatives.

As in the Close Encounters movie, the operation allegedly did proceed, and at a landing of the ETs’ spacecraft within the U.S., the 12-person team boarded with years’ worth of supplies and equipment for the extended mission.

The Project SERPO accounts are claimed to be accurate, at least in the broad sense and with regard to the core story. Information about the program was reportedly released for the public by current and former officials of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency. However, the accuracy of these reports has also been questioned.

Now, there are similarly-based reports of a U.S. intelligence operation that investigated and apprehended a human-looking male ET who was conducting some kind of activities involving a female federal employee.

The alleged Operation TANGO-SIERRA carried out by U.S. intelligence community personnel reportedly came to the attention of then-president Jimmy Carter, according to the recently-released information.

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