Stephen Hawking’s Universe: A Visualization of His Lectures with Stars & Sound

It's a little random. It's very cool. It's Jared Ficklin's interactive art project that takes Stephen Hawking's Cambridge Lectures and then uses an algorithm to turn the physicist's words into stars. The video pretty much explains all that you need to know. I should only add two things. 1.) Ficklin is one of the speakers at the big TED show this week, and 2.) it looks like you can snag The Cambridge Lectures (or pretty much any book you want) as a free audio download from if you sign up for their 14 day, no-strings-attached, free trial. Get more details on that here.

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  • Dan says:

    Love the posts and this one in particular, but it seems a bit disingenuous to say “Check out this link to” when what you really mean is “This is our affiliate link to”.

    It makes it seem like you think we’re naive, unable to distinguish between useful content (which, admittedly, is) and promoted content.

    That said, I could be completely wrong, in which case I apologize for being presumptuous.

  • Dan Colman says:


    To answer your question, we have a relationship with Audible (happily) precisely because their Free Trial offer can provide useful content. In this case, Hawking’s lectures aren’t freely available on the web. So the next best thing seemed to be a free download via Audible, which gives you access to the same recording mentioned in the video. We’ll mention Audible in these relevant cases about 4-5 times per year. I hope that seems like a judicious use of the offer.


  • John Rudkin says:

    An open letter to Professor Stephen Hawking on thenpublication of his book My Brief HistorynnDear Professor HawkingnnYour new book will consolidate the universally admiration and respect you have earned for your outstanding personal courage in confronting severely-debilitating illness, exceptional innovative thinking, and for lectures, writings and television presentations which havenwidened and deepened popular interest in science. In pursuing your goal – which, you have said, is to achieve a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all u2013 you have demonstrated that major advances in scientific knowledge can arise from fundamental theoretical consideration.nnWith the above in mind, this letter is written in the hope of interesting and encouraging you to turn your brilliantly-insightful intellectual ability to the remarkable,nwell-attested anomalies that challenge our understanding of the nature of reality of human experience. Einstein said: u201cThe most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and scienceu201d. However, science seems largely determined to ignore many significant mysteries, the number and nature of which are such that they clearly show that the current commonly-accepted scientific view of reality mustnbe far very from complete. What may seem to be mysterious or anomalous can turn out, of course, to be due to error, artifact or even fraud, and thenunscientific u201dnew age” or “occultu201d are of no interest or value in this context. As a retired pragmatic professional scientist and engineer, my reference is to only those anomalies for which the evidence is so robust thatnthey cannot be dismissed or explained away, as is the case in the following examples, for which chapter and verse are available.nnThere are many recorded instances of one identical twin being hurt – in one case by being shot dead – and the other, elsewhere, not only simultaneously feelingnpain, but even suffering a bruise in the same place on the body. It has been shown in laboratory studies that the sudden shining of a bright light into the eyes of a subject evokes electrical responses in the brain of the subject asnexpected, but also, simultaneously, in the brain of a distant person who has been in recent close association with the subject. Further, the results of numerous, extensive, rigorously-controlled, replicated studies, particularly those independently carried out in New York, Edinburgh and Gothenburg have demonstrated that information can be anomalously transferred between individuals with odds of greater than a thousand million to one against it having been by chance.nnA meticulously controlled, five-year research study led by the Professor of Experimental Physics at the Universityn of London demonstrated that, purely by the exercise of intention, children can produce measurable mechanical electrical, magnetic and structural effects in metals.nnDevices which produce outputs of random sequences of zeros and ones have been used at Princetonn University to study the effect of human intention at the sub-atomic level. More than two decades of scientific studies have shown consistently that such sequences can be influenced by the pre-stated volition to produce, for example, more zeros than ones – or vice-versa. The substantial body of accumulated data is such that thenstatistical odds against the results being due to chance are many million millions to one.nnImpartial analyses have been made of the results of thirtynformal scientific investigations into attempts by intention alone to influence the autonomic nervous systems of distant persons. The inescapable conclusionnwas that there were characteristic, significant biological variations during distant intentionality periods when compared with randomly interspersed controlnperiods. The results of a specific, exhaustive, two-year laboratory research programme at The Connecticut Health Centre show that human intention isnreproducibly able to promote the growth of human tissue.nnRecent acoustic investigations have demonstrated repeatedly that the characteristics of sounds made normally u2013 for example, by rapping a tabletop with knuckles – differ significantly from those produced as meaningful responses to questions by an apparently non-material consciousness. Although indistinguishable to the ear, normally-produced sounds show an almost-instantaneous rise to peak amplitude, whereas the anomalous sounds have a significantly slower rise to peak, similar to that shown by an earthquake.nnMany hundreds of in-depth studies have been made of children, mainly between three and eight years of age, who say spontaneously that they have lived previousnlives. In a normal waking state they typically give details about distant places, previous families, occupations and circumstances of death .Thorough investigations find close correspondences between apparent memories andnhistorical facts. The findings are especially remarkable in the cases where a child bears a scar corresponding in nature and location to the injury which, research reveals, was responsible for the death that ended the rememberednprevious existence.nnThere are many recorded cases of individuals involuntarily having more than one personality, with uncontrollable switching between personalities. The personalities can differ very significantly in age, gender and character There are even cases of one personality in two people at the same time.nnA common feature of these remarkable anomalies is mind, or consciousness, which itself must surely be the biggest anomaly of all. It is unexplained by materialisticntheories of reality that are based on belief in the primacy of the material world. However, relativity and quantum mechanics have demonstrated the inter-connectedness of everything, and that space and time are not absolutes,nbut also that an observer – or consciousness u2013 is an implicit component of the reality that we experience. The steadily-accumulating evidence strongly indicates that consciousness is not just a function of the physical brain – nor confined to it. Our understanding of reality is moving in the directionnof a new paradigm, one in which the primary reality is mind, rather thannmatter.nnBrilliant scientists who have recognized the fundamental significance of consciousness in the fabric of reality notably include Sir Arthur Eddington, Max Planck, SirnJames Jeans, and your contemporaries Professors Sir Roger Penrose, Brian Josephson, and Bernard Carr – who was once your student at Cambridge. All things considered, however, it seems that you may be uniquely able to initiate and stimulate radical new scientific thinking which could lead to a more complete understanding of thennature of reality that includes consciousness. nnSuch progress would surely be the most important advance ever made in science.nnWith every good wishnnYours sincerelynnJohn Rudkin n

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