The acclaimed physicist Stephen Hawking's final message to the universe is a plea for unity in the insulated and insular & # 39; era of Brexit and Trump, and his fear that a "global uprising against experts" the next Einstein could solve. our biggest problems.
Hawking's family gathered Monday at the Science Museum in London to launch his latest book, Short answers to the big questions, which he started, but was not finished before his death in March, at the age of 76.
With tears in her eyes, Lucy Hawking listened to her father's stories about an animation in which he explained his insights into the paradoxes of black holes: a problem he examined – and published research – until his death.
"It sometimes feels like he is still there," she said.
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But if he were he would not only speak about the exotic problems of basic physics and cosmology.
"He was deeply concerned that at a time when the challenges that arise are global – and we need to get together and work together – we have become increasingly local in our thinking," said Lucy Hawking. "That we were increasingly broken and divided at a time when we had to demand unity.
"I think that was a big concern for him and one that you will find all through the book … it is a call for unity, it is a call to humanity to bring ourselves together again and really meet the challenges. to face the front of us and to work together to find a solution. "
The book is a collection of Professor Hawking's favorite answers to the questions he was constantly asked about his critically acclaimed career, such as "Will we survive on Earth?" and "will artificial intelligence outsmart us?"
He started to pull it together before his death, but the project was completed by his family and colleagues.
The tenth and final question in the book is "how can we shape the future?"
In his answer, Hawking emphasized the importance of education and research, regretted that funding for science was significantly shortened.
"We also run the risk of becoming culturally isolated and insular," he wrote. "With Brexit and Trump engaging new forces in immigration and educational development, we are witnessing a global uprising against experts, including scientists."
But science kept the answers to urgent problems such as the greenhouse effect, the growing population, renewable energy and epidemic diseases.
By making science more accessible to different population groups and young people "this increases the chances of finding and inspiring the new Einstein, wherever it is".
In the book Hawking also said:
* Colonization of the solar system "is perhaps the only thing that saves us from ourselves … if we stay [on Earth] we run the risk of being destroyed ".
* When computers become smarter than we do, we need to know for sure [they] have goals aligned with ours ".
* In the future we will communicate via brain computer interfaces that are connected to our skulls.
* Somewhere in this century we will be able to use genetic engineering to improve our memory and lifespan, but "unadorned" people will not be able to compete with the new "race of self-creating beings".
* Scientists have a duty to alert the public to the "unnecessary risks" of climate change.
Hawking concluded that "there is probably no heaven and life after death," and there is no reliable evidence for a God who created the universe or directs our destiny.
It is just wishful thinking, he said. We have only one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe.
"When we die, we return to the dust, but there is a feeling in which we live, in our influence and in our genes that we pass on to our children."
Lucy Hawking said that her father & # 39; very honored & # 39; would have been through the decision to bury his ashes in Westminster Abbey – between the tombs of Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.
"He never liked to be alone, he always wanted to be at the center of everything," she said.
"I like to think that he will never be alone again between Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin."
– Sydney Morning Herald