Black Holes and Baby Universes
Stephen Hawking’s pragmatic reason for collecting his speeches and writings in BLACK HOLES AND BABY UNIVERSES was to make money to pay for the twenty-four-hour nursing care necessitated by his debilitating illness, but he also wanted to satisfy the curiosity of those millions of readers who made his A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME a monumental bestseller and who wanted to know about his personal life and his new interests, such as how black holes give birth to baby universes (self-contained worlds that branch off from our own). Since several of these essays were delivered as speeches before audiences as various as college students and members of motor-neurone-disease societies, the book suffers both from repetitions and disparities in tone and in scientific intelligibility. However, Hawking’s insights into his own life and his enthusiasm for such abstruse topics as radiating black holes, a unified theory of physics, and the origin of the universe make these imperfections, which are inescapable in the genre of collected essays, seem negligible.
In the autobiographical essays of this collection, Hawking writes with frankness about his childhood in Oxford and St. Albans, his education at Oxford and Cambridge, and his experience with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS is called Lou Gehrig’s disease in the United States), a disorder that progressively destroys the patient’s control over the muscles of his body. When his ALS was first diagnosed, Hawking was...
(The entire section is 566 words.)