What’s it like inside the mind of theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking? Is it an electro-cosmic dance party narrated by Carl Sagan? I would like to think so. So would director Will Studd of Aardman Studios who created the hip promo video above, which also includes audio clips from Hawking himself and fellow physicists Brian Cox and Andrew Strominger, with music by Max Halstead. Pretty cool, but what’s it for?
Well, Hawking will very soon join a long line of distinguished public intellectuals when he delivers two Reith Lectures, the annual BBC Radio event established in 1948 and inaugurated by Bertrand Russell (access an audio archive of the lectures up to 2011 here). Hawking’s first lecture, “Do Black Holes Have No Hair?” will debut today (and we’ll post it here for you). The second, “Black Holes Ain’t as Black as They Are Painted” will broadcast next Tuesday. So what’s with the funky titles?
Ask Hawking—or rather, read his paper (or one of the layfolk summaries), “Soft Hair on Black Holes,” which he posted a couple of weeks ago on Cornell University’s arXiv, an open access database of physics, mathematics, and other scientific research. Of Hawking and other physicists’ theory, Tia Ghose at Live Science writes, “black holes may sport a luxurious head of ‘hair’ made up of ghostly, zero-energy particles.” These “hairs” may store quantum information that would otherwise be lost forever. In the second part of his lecture, Hawking will expand on his theory of black hole radiation. Get a brief summary of that theory in the video clip above, and watch this space for Hawking’s sure-to-be-enlightening black hole lectures.