A Brief History of Time: Three Tales from Hawking’s Masterpiece

Apart from being a legendary non-fiction masterpiece selling over 10 million copies, Stephen Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time” is a little bit more than just a popular science book…it’s also a story book with hundreds of interesting tales. Here are three of them:

A well-known scientist (some say it was 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 center 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!”

When (St. Augustine) was asked: What did God do before he created the universe? Augustine did not reply: He was preparing Hell for people who asked such questions. Instead, he said that time was a property of the universe that God created, and that time did not exist before the beginning of the universe.

Throughout his life, Einstein’s efforts towards peace probably achieved little that would last-and certainly won him few friends. His vocal support of the Zionist cause, however, was duly recognized in 1952, when he was offered the presidency of Israel. He declined, saying he though he was too naïve in politics. But perhaps his real reason was different: to quote him again, “Equations are more important to me, because politics is for the present, but an equation is something for eternity.”

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