The Very Ordinary Person’s Grasp of Stephen Hawking

I am somewhat amazed that ‘The Grand Design’ was a bestseller in Amazon within days of being printed because…I find it hard to believe so many people understand it.

(of course, that feeling might be pique at being one of the minority who didn’t get the theories he expounded on in his previous book. i was pretty hopeless at string theory too when i studied mathematics.)

Title of Book: The Grand Design

Author(s): Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow

Synopsis:

[Take Amazon’s word for it because I certainly cannot summarize this. Wait, apparently, no editor at Amazon understood the book either because Hawking himself wrote the editorial review, part of which I quote here.]

“In The Grand Design we explain why, according to quantum theory, the cosmos does not have just a single existence, or history, but rather that every possible history of the universe exists simultaneously. We question the conventional concept of reality, posing instead a “model-dependent” theory of reality. We discuss how the laws of our particular universe are extraordinarily finely tuned so as to allow for our existence, and show why quantum theory predicts the multiverse–the idea that ours is just one of many universes that appeared spontaneously out of nothing, each with different laws of nature. And we assess M-Theory, an explanation of the laws governing the multiverse, and the only viable candidate for a complete “theory of everything.”

The book generated a fair amount of controversy because Continue reading

Forging a Common Humanity

I have decided to wean myself off my JGS – addiction by not writing about k-dramas for a week and focusing on other things. Anyway, before this site was absorbed by k-dramaland, I initially intended it to be personal scribblings so that I remember the ideas that I read, watch and encountered, so, this week will shift it towards that direction.

MUIS (The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore) held its annual public lecture last Friday night. The lecture was open to all regardless of race, language or religion and usually drew a good response because the speakers were well-known and quite varied. Since the lecture series started in 2006, the speakers had included an Egyptian religious leader, a Christian archbishop, a rabbi and an agnostic writer of religion. Places were usually hard to come by.

I decided to go at the last minute when my brother-in-law said spaces are still available so, I was without company when I arrived. I regretted it during the mingling before the lecture when glittery people sampled salmon-and-quail-egg canapes and exchanged name cards while I curled up in a corner trying to avoid tripping over the waiters.

Looking at the theme and the number of political figures in attendance made me wonder whether the session would be a top-down exhortation on how moderate Islam should be practised.

Theme of Lecture: Forging a Common Humanity

Speaker: Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. Imam Feisal is a prominent Muslim leader from New York and is currently serving as chairman for the Cordoba Initiative.  [The Cordoba Initiative was in the news recently for controversially proposing the building of a community centre near Ground Zero. ]

Chairman: Dr. Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Environment and Water Resources. [Oh dear, every time I see him, I think of clogged drains and the ‘once-every-50-years’ flash floods, of which there were 3 in the last 2 weeks.]

Interesting quotes (from speaker):

“When you reduce the multiculturality of a country, you diminish it.”

“When we bear witness in the truest sense to the presence of God, we will naturally be led to embrace humanity.”

Starting out cynical is almost as bad as Continue reading