Stephen Hawking has recently got together with his daughter, Lucy, to co-author ‘George’s Secret Key To The Universe’, in what will be the first of a trilogy of novels aimed at children between the ages of nine and eleven years. Said Hawking Snr., “The aim of the book is to encourage children’s sense of wonder at the universe. We want them to look outward. Only then will they be able to make the right decisions to safeguard the future of the human race.”

The story is about a young boy, George, and his cheery astrophysicist friend, Eric, who has a talking computer that provides access through a portal to the known universe. The two of them get their spacesuits on and use this entry point to head off in search of other planets to which humanity could escape from the irreversible effects of the warming of the planet Earth. The trip enables the two of them (along with the readers), to learn the basics of astronomy and astrophysics through illustrations, photographs and other means. Eric could well be Hawking’s alter-ego, as he has to depend on his computer to do just about anything – much like the severely handicapped Hawking does. Eric’s computer even has a ‘mechanised voice’, like the one that Hawking uses to convert his jaw movements into artificial speech. And when Eric’s machine is taken away, he is left in a black hole from which he can not communicate or emerge.

Hawking’s big break came when he established that black holes don’t just swallow everything, including the light and energy within their gravitational field, but that they also leak it all back out at an accelerating pace over billions of years. This phenomenon, known as ‘Hawking Radiation’, is what allows Eric to be rescued – particle by particle, from his black hole, and then reassembled so that the stories could continue by way of sequels.

The adventures result in George finally discovering that “…you don’t need an actual secret key to explore the universe. There’s one that everyone can use. It’s called physics.”

Here’s a quote from Hawking in Time from the article about the book: “The universe seems to be selected from a large class of possible universes by the fact that it contains intelligent beings who can ask the question: What is the universe like?”. And he answers this himself: “The universe is not indifferent to our existence – it depends on it.”

This statement made me flash on some of my earlier posts and comments with regard to ‘the nature of reality’, aspects of  ‘religion’, ‘being here and now’, ‘alternate realities’, ‘the joyous cosmology and others, including comments made in response to posts by Darwin, Janusis and a few more. The gist of what I was getting at is that the nature of consciousness is such that it only resides in, and depends on, the perception of the individual and, to put it in maybe an inadequate nutshell, with the ceasing of that individual consciousness, the universe ceases to exist.

So Hawking’s statement that “the universe is not indifferent to our existence – it depends on it” gave me a major boost, as it does (to me) confirm what I postulated, and as I have the highest regard for Hawking, it kinda made my day. Java, of course, had to put it in his own style:

Sheeet maan, like da gurus say – all is Maya.