Brief Answers to the Big Questions Summary
Brief Answers to the Big Questions was written by the distinguished theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking (8 January 1942–14 March 2018). It is a work of popular science, meaning that Hawking was writing to make cutting-edge scientific work clear and accessible for people with no specialized scientific training. Hawking was working on this book at the time of his death, and it was completed by his colleagues and estate and published on 16 October 2018.
Brief Answers to the Big Questions collects various essays, lectures, and speeches composed by Hawking. They are divided by topic into four main sections:
- Why Are We Here?
- Will We Survive?
- Will Technology Save Us or Destroy Us?
- How Can We Thrive?
Under these general rubrics, Hawking addresses big questions in the areas of philosophy, science, and technology.
The scientific parts of the book focus on cosmological and physical issues, such as the nature of black holes, the origin of the universe, asteroid collisions with Earth, the Big Bang, and the future of the universe.
The discussions of technology include large issues concerning the future of humanity, such as the impact of artificial intelligence, the future of space travel, nuclear power, genetically modified humans, and nuclear war.
On a philosophical level, Hawking discusses the nature of God, arguing that, while no personal God exists, one can think of the laws of nature as resembling some conceptions of the divine. He also talks about the nature of time and the nature and origin of life. He emphasizes the importance of education and science in creating a better future world.