Heaven’s a fairy story for those afraid of the dark

Heaven’s a fairy story for people afraid of the dark, physicist Stephen Hawking said earlier this week. There is nothing beyond when the brain flickers for the final time.

Hawking, diagnosed with Motor Neurone disease at 21, is now aged 69.

“I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first,” he told the Guardian newspaper. “I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”

Hawking’s comments go beyond those laid out in his 2010 book, “The Grand Design” which provoked a backlash from religious leaders for arguing there was no need for a divine force to explain the creation of the universe.

Hawking joined others including the chancellor, George Osborne, and the Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, at the Google Zeitgeist London event where he addressed the question: “Why are we here?”

His talk was focussed on M-theory, a broad mathematical framework that encompasses string theory, which is regarded by many physicists as the best hope yet of developing a theory of everything.

M-theory demands a universe with 11 dimensions, including a dimension of time and the three familiar spatial dimensions. The rest are curled up too small for us to see.


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