Stephen Hawking has a new book coming out (The Grand Design, with Leonard Mlodinow). Among other things, he points out that modern physics has progressed to the point where we don’t need to invoke God to explain the existence of the universe. This is not exactly a hot flash — I remember writing an essay making the same point for a philosophy class my sophomore year in college — but it makes news because it’s Hawking who says it. And that’s absolutely fine — Hawking has a track record of making substantial intellectual contributions, there’s every reason to listen to him more than random undergraduates waxing profound.
This issue is, of course, totally up my alley, and I should certainly blog about it. But I can’t, because I’m on hiatus! (Right?) So, as an experiment, I made a video of myself talking rather than simply typing my words into the computer. Radical! Not sure the amount of information conveyed is anywhere near as large in this format, and obviously I didn’t sweat the production values. I fear that some subtleties of the argument may be lost. But if we’re lucky, other people elsewhere on the internet will also talk about these questions, and we’ll get it all sorted out.
Let me know if the Grand Video Experiment is worth repeating and improving, or whether it’s just a waste of time.
Something that I should have said, but didn’t: there doesn’t need to be some sophisticated modern-physics answer to the question “Why is there something rather than nothing?” The universe can simply exist, end of story. But it’s still fun to think carefully about all the possibilities, existence and non-existence both included.