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Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays.

James H. Stevens Jr. is a financial adviser and speaker who lives in Overland Park, Kan.

In his new book Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays (Bantam Books, 175 pages $21.95), Stephen Hawking tickles the neurons. His concepts expand the mind; they will require you to rethink what you thought you knew about the world in which we live and the universe of which we are all a part. In the end, I found my belief in God reaffirmed and at the same time refined.

Perhaps the most brilliant theoretical physicist since Einstein, Hawking explores the fundamentals of our current knowledge of the universe through a series of essays. It is as brilliant a work as his first book, A Brief History of Time.

Is everything determined by the laws of physics? Yes, says Hawking, at least at the macro or very large level. Yet, at the smaller levels of the universe such concepts as the uncertainty principle of quantum mechanics and chaos theory come into play, in such a way that the universe has a whole series of possible histories and possible futures. This means that we can never know what is determined and that our actions can have far-reaching consequences.

Hawking explores whether or not the universe had a beginning and will have an end. Again he says yes, but only in ordinary, real time. In the so-called imaginary direction of time, the universe has no beginning and no end; it goes on forever. Imaginary time is the direction of time that moves at right angles to real time. Ordinary, real time, states Hawking, is linear, moving from the past to the Imaginary time is the up and down component of time, moving at right angles to red time. I am still grappling with this concept but Hawking states that our children will be as comfortable with this idea as we are with the fact that the earth is round and not flat.

Where is God in all this? Hawking concludes that "he is not arbitrary," since God has chosen to work by well-defined principles. So what of his concept of God? Hawking states that if you choose you can define God as the answer to the question, "Why does the universe bother to exist?"

Heady stuff! Mind-expanding!. A great thought-provoking book by one of the world's greatest minds.
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Author:Stevens, James H., Jr.
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Nov 19, 1993
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