The Illustrated Theory of Everything: The Origin and Fate of the Universe

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There's no God; no one directs our fate, says Stephen Hawking in final book

Read More August 28, - Published on Amazon. Verified Purchase. I felt smarter when the book arrived. Now that I have consumed it, comprehended it, enjoyed it. That man was beyond genius.

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More like Perseus, a gift from whatever gods may be. August 22, - Published on Amazon. Bought it for my husband. He loves these kinds of books.

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February 9, - Published on Amazon. I purchased this as a gift for my sister but I simply had to sneak a peak before giving it to her. This said that each body inthe universe was attracted toward every other body by a force which wasstronger the more massive the bodies and the closer they were to each other. It was the same force which caused objects to fall to the ground.

The story thatNewton was hit on the head by an apple is almost certainly apocryphal. AllNewton himself ever said was that the idea of gravity came to him as he sat ina contenplative mood, and was occasioned by the fall of an apple. Newton went on to show that, according to his law, gravity causes the moonto move in an elliptical orbit around the Earth and causes the Earth and theplanets to follow elliptical paths around the sun.

The Copernican model gotrid of Ptolemy's celestial spheres, and with them the idea that the universe hada natural boundary.


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The fixed stars did not appear to change their relative posi-tions as the Earth went around the sun. It therefore became natural to supposethat the fixed stars were objects like our sun but much farther away.

This raiseda problem Newton realized that, according to his theory of gravity, the starsshould attract each other; so, it seemed they could not remain essentiallymotionless. Would they not all fall together at some point? In a letter in to Richard Bentley, another leading thinker of his day,Newton argued that this would indeed happen if there were only a finite num-ber of stars. But he reasoned that if, on the other hand, there were an infinitenumber of stars distributed more or less uniformly over infinite space, thiswould not happen because there would not be any central point for themtofall to.

This argument is an instance of the pitfalls that one can encounterwhen one talks about infinity. In an infinite universe, every point can be regarded as the center because everypoint has an infinite number of stars on each side of it. The correct approach,it was realized only much later, is to consider the finite situation in which the stars all fall in on each other. One then asks how things change if one addsmore stars roughly uniformly distributed outside this region.

According toNewton's law, the extra stars would make no difference at all to the originalones, and so the stars would fall in just as fast. We can add as many stars as welike, but they will still always collapse in on themselves. We now know it isinpossible to have an infinite static model of the universe in which gravity isalways attractive. It is an interesting reflection on the general climate of thought before thetwentieth century that no one had suggested that the universe was expandingor contracting.

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It was generally accepted that either the universe had existedforever in an unchanging state or that it had been created at a finite time inthe past, more or less as we observe it today. In part, this may have been dueto people's tendency to believe in eternal truths as well as the comfort theyfound in the thought that even though they may grow old and die, the uni-verse is unchanging.

Instead, they attenpted to modify the theory by making the gravitational forcerepulsive at very large distances. This did not significantly affect their predic-tions of the motions of the planets. But it would allow an infinite distributionof stars to remain in equilibrium, with the attractive forces between nearbystars being balanced by the repulsive forces from those that were farther away.

However, we now believe such an equilibrium would be unstable. If the starsin some region got only slightly near each other, the attractive forces betweenthem would become stronger and would dominate over the repulsive forces. This would mean that the stars would continue to fall toward each other.

Onthe other hand, if the stars got a bit farther away from each other, the repul-sive forces would dominate and drive them farther apart. Another objection to an infinite static universe is normally ascribed to theGerman philosopher Heinrich Olbers. In fact, various contemporaries ofNewton had raised the problem, and the Olbers article of was not eventhe first to contain plausible arguments on this subject.

It was, however, thefirst to be widely noted. The difficulty is that in an infinite static universenearly every line or side would end on the surface of a star. Thus one wouldexpect that the whole sky would be as bright as the sun, even at night. Olbers 'scounterargument was that the light from distant stars would be dimmed byabsorption by intervening matter. However, if that happened, the interveningmatter would eventually heat up until it glowed as brightly as the stars.

The only way of avoiding the conclusion that the whole of the night skyshould be as bright as the surface of the sun would be if the stars had not beenshining forever, but had turned on at some finite time in the past. In that case,the absorbing matter might not have heated up yet, or the light from distantstars might not yet have reached us. And that brings us to the question of whatcould have caused the stars to have turned on in the first place.

One argument for such a beginning was the feeling that it was necessary tohave a first cause to explain the existence of the universe. Another argument was put forward by St. Augustine in his book. The City ofGod.

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He pointed out that civilization is progressing, and we remember whoperformed this deed or developed that technique. Thus man, and so also per- haps the universe, could not have been around all that long. For otherwise wewould have already progressed more than we have. Augustine accepted a date of about B. It is interesting that this is not so farfrom the end of the last Ice Age, about 10, B. Aristotle and most of the other Greek philosophers, on the otherhand, did not like the idea of a creation because it made too much of divineintervention.

They believed, therefore, that the human race and the worldaround it had existed, and would exist, forever. They had already consideredthe argument about progress, described earlier, and answered it by saying thatthere had been periodic floods or other disasters that repeatedly set the humanrace right back to the beginning of civilization.

Illustrated Theory of Everything: The Origin and Fate of the Universe

When most people believed in an essentially static and unchanging universe,the question of whether or not it had a beginning was really one of meta-physics or theology. One could account for what was observed either way. Either the universe had existed forever, or it was set in motion at some finitetime in such a manner as to look as though it had existed forever. But in ,Edwin Hubble made the landmark observation that wherever you look, distantstars are moving rapidly away from us. In other words, the universe is e?

This means that at earlier times objects would have been closer together. In fact, it seemed that there was a time about ten or twenty thousand millionyears ago when they were all at exactly the same place.