« Desert Island Discs

Classic Desert Island Discs: Stephen Hawking

2018-04-15 | 🔗
Another chance to listen to the theoretical physicist speaking to Sue Lawley in 1992. Stephen Hawking wrote the best-selling A Brief History of Time and was the founder of the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at the University of Cambridge, where he was also the Emeritus Lucasian Professor. He talked to Sue Lawley about his life and work, and the illness which left him severely disabled, as well as selecting the eight discs he would choose to take to the mythical island. Favourite track: Requiem by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Book: Middlemarch by George Eliot Luxury: Crème brûlée
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Welcome to desert island discs. We're currently take a break, and so we thought it to be a good opportunity to Ok, some of the best additions from extensive treasure chest. We hope you enjoy them. This is the BBC hello, on Kirsty young, and this is a podcast from the desert island discs archive for its reasons we ve had to shorten the music The programme was originally broadcast in ninety. Ninety two and the present was soon ali. My customary for christmas is a scientist he didn't excel at school, but one a scholarship to oxford. Once there he worked the equivalent of one hour a day and got a first shortly.
After his twenty first birthday, he was told that he was suffering from motor neurons disease and had only a few years to live this discussion. Transformed apathy into enthusiasm, and today, thirty years later, he's achieved ignition, is one of the greatest theoretical scientists. Since einstein, although defied that original prognosis for his life? His visit, who condition has deteriorated he's almost too lee paralyzed and can only communicate through a voice synthesizer. He is best selling author of a brief history of time, stephen hawking. Many ways. Equal stephen you're, already familiar with the isolation of a desert island cut off from normal physical life and deprived of any natural means of communication. How lonely is it for you What regard myself as cut off from normal life- and I don't think people around me would say I was I don't
feel a disabled person Someone with certain malfunctions of my motor neurons her ass. If I were colorblind suppose my life can hardly be described ass usual, but I feel normal in spirit nevertheless, you ve, you really already proved to yourself, unlike most castaways on desert island discs, that you are mentally and intellectually self sufficient? Haven't you that you got enough theories, an inspiration to keep yourself occupied suppose I naturally abandoned reverted and my dear The commission communication has forced me to rely on myself. But I was so great talker ass, a boy Discussion with your people to stimulate me, the mere fact having to organise my thoughts so I can explain to us all Show me the way forward that was about
emotional fulfillment, Stephen, even a brilliant physicist must need the people to find that out. We carry on with my life, I only had physics, Everyone else I need warm love and affection, again, I'm very fortunate, much more for it many people with disabilities a great deal of love and affection. Sick is also very important to me. She wants the fence. Disc you put on on your desert island. Gloria a glory. I first in the summer and s pen, colorado, in the summer- they have six meetings. Next work on the physics centre. That's an enormous turned where the old music festival asking. Is working out what happens when black holes evaporate? You can
a reverse cells, ideal. Bones. My two main pleasures, dixon real sick. If I can both on my desert island. I will want to be rescued that is until I have made a discovery and theoretical physics that I want
the travel everyone about.
No a cartel singing part of prolonged gloria in G major with the course and national orchestra of french radio. Radio can hide a physical shortcomings, but on this occasion it's disguising something else, because, seven years ago Stephen hawking, you literally lost your voice. Can you tell me what happened? I was over at surrey, particle accelerator in the summer. Of nineteen. Eighty five cod pneumonia and was the hospital, the hospital if a sick test it on my life, that it was not we're keeping on the life support machine. But she was not having any of that. I was blown back to then brooks hospital cambridge, whereas And called writer great carried out a tricky asked me that offer
Saved my life, but molly my voice. That. Your speech was in any case by then very slurred and difficult to understand. Wasn't it so presume the power of speech, would have deserted you eventually, anyway, it all my voice was slurred and difficult to comprehend people close to me still understand me good, good seminars through an interpreter, a knife addicted scientific papers. But for a time after my operation, I was there, the stated I felt at I couldn't get my voice back. That was not carrying on and then The californian computer expert read about your plight and and sent you a voice. How does it work. His name was Lola world us.
Current law, have had the same condition as me, so he had developed a computer program to help her communicate a cursor moves across the street. When sunday option you want pereda switch by head, or I am movement or in case by hand. In this way one can select words, when one has built up what one wants to say you can send it to sleep synthesizer or say that on disk, but it's slow business. It is slow, roughly in turn the speed of normal sneak british teeth? Describe what that some european but be aware consider the scandinavian or irish anyway. Whatever it is. Everyone can understand it
my youngest son, who was only six at the time of my ricky, asked me. Never gonna make me out before now. He has no difficulty. That means a great deal to me it also means that you can demand good notice of any individual questions and need only answer when you're good and ready to her. Recorded programmes like this. That helps to have noticed some questions in a way that gives me more control but I really prefer to answer questions off the cuff. I do after seminars unpopular lectures but, as you say, the process means that you have controlled, and I know that that's quite important to your your family and friends, sometimes call you stubbornness bossy. Do please guilty to being those things, with any knows that call stubborn at times I would
refer to say I was determined if I had when thoroughly determined, I wouldn't here now. Second record. A bronze violin, concerto. Was the first l p. I bought. That was nineteen, fifty seven Three european records had recently appeared in Britain would have regarded it ass, recklessly self indulgent, thereby erect player, but I persuaded I've got a simple one from parts that I could buy a cheap. That appeal to him ass, a yorkshire man. When I first heard this red gordon the shop. I thought It sounded rather rude, and I was not sure I liked it, but I I had to say I did
However, over the years it has come to mean a great deal to me. The The.
The. Part of brahms violin concerto, indeed major played by David oyster and the national orchestra of french radio conducted by otto clearer Family friends even said that your family, when you were a boy, was- and I quote, highly intelligent, very clever and very eccentric, looking do you do as a fair description comment on whether my family were intelligent, but we certainly do feel we were eccentric we may have seemed so like the standard Some say that weapons, which was pretty state place we lived there and your father was a specialist in tropical diseases. Research and tropical medicine? Keep often went to africa to try out
drugs in the field. So it was your mother. Would you say that the greater influence on you and if so, how would you character? I, like my father, was a greater influence I told myself on him. Ass, he was the scientific research her. I felt that scientific research was a natural thing to do when Grew up, the only difference was that I was not attracted a medicine or biology. Because they seem to exact undisturbed, I want that something more fundamental and I found it in physics you mother said did: did you always had what she described as a strong sense of wonder? I could see that the stars could draw him. She said. Do you remember that. I remember coming home late one night from london. Two days later,
thus greed lights out at midnight to save money. I saw the night sky ass. I had never seen it before a milky way going right across their, monsieur red lights on my desert, island selection, get a good view of the stars obviously what you are very bright as a child. You were very competitive, apparently in games at home with your sister, but you could come practically bottom of the class at school and not care about it at all. When you. That was my first year at say: thou open school, I should say that it was a very bright glass benighted, much better and examinations than last work, I was sure that I really do well. That was my handwriting general untidiness caused meat, we placed so low. I could number three.
While I was an undergraduate at oxford, I read This actually novel point. Your point, What's in turn good our support of the nineteen earth ease and have an enormous cast characters there. One that was obviously model done, huxley himself. This the leader of the british fascists, Let a party, no, he had done it on purpose, gramophone records of beethoven string quartet opus in the early to middle of movement he answered the door was shot. The fascists I note that a tidal wave was on the way to overwhelm desert island. I would please
the third movement of this poor chet,
not a beethoven's quarters in a minor played by the amadeus quartet, and the theme of that section is a thanksgiving on recovery from illness. You and up to oxford, stephen to university college, to read mass in physics way. You worked by your own calculations, an average of about an hour a day, although it has to be said, you rode, drink beer and played silly tricks on people with pleasure. According to what I have read. What was the problem? Why couldn't you be bothered to work? It was the end of the fifties, an almost like people were disillusioned with what was called the establishment. There seemed nothing to look forward to but affluence affluence Conservatives have just wonder third election victory with the slogan Ever had it's so good, I, most of my contemporary shut. Oxford were bored with life,
I didn't see anything you were working for. Nevertheless, you still managed to solve in a few hours problems that your fellow students couldn't do in as many weeks. They were obviously aware from what they ve said, since that you had an exceptional talent. Were you aware using course at oxford. At that time was really your ladyship one could get through go into any lectures, but just we're going to learn nor tutorial so weak. Remember many facts: just a few the populations but it was at oxford. Wasn't it the two first notice that your hands and feet were quite doing. What you wanted them to do. How did you, explain that to yourself at the time the fact First thing I noticed was I couldn't drawers culling both properly. A bad fall down the stairs
the college you're, a common rule. I went to college doktor after the fall because I was worried that I might have brain damage. However, there was nothing wrong untold. To cut down on a beer. After my final at oxford, I win a person for the summer I definitely weaker when I came back, but I thought was caused by a bad stomach upset that I had had Point did you give in and admit that there was something really wrong and decide to get medical advice I off christmas It was a very cold winter of sixty two sixty three, my mother, persuaded me to go and get on the lake and said I will buns I know I was not really up to it. I fell over and had great the guilty getting up
I realise there was something wrong. She took me to the full emily doctor and then three weeks in hospital, and they told you the worst. I watch for two weeks. Have tests, but they never, actually told me what was wrong, except that was not a mess and that it was not a typical case they did. Tell me what the prospects were, but I guess to know tat. They were pretty bad, so I didn't to ask Finally, in fact, you were told you only had five years or so to live. Let's pause that point in your story and have your next records team You react one her, I was diagnosed with motor neurons decision. Nineteen sixty three. Learner ass, someone who suited the dark and apocalyptic mood. I what said Anne Fortunately,
we've synthesised sure. It's not very well educated. Pronounces wagner. I have to spell him, be a r and d to get it to sound approximately right before offer us observing cycle. Our voting greatest work. To see merit in germany, with my sister philippa Nineteen sixty four, I didn't Well at that time, during the second around a cycle made a tremendous impression on me.
Me, the. Not one woman Shush showing
lost layman and lower its milk. Your singing part of act, one vagueness develop, carry with the vienna philharmonic conducted by bruno shelter. Reading about you Steven, it almost seems as if that death sentence being told you had only a couple of years or so to live. Woke you up. If you like, made you concentrate on life, was to depress me or ashamed getting worse early rapidly. There didn't see any point in doing anything or work, no my phd, because I didn't know live long enough to finish it, but then things started to improve their condition: develop more slowly and I began to make progress in my work for a check, more lead and showing the universe must have had a beginning. A big bang,
but you ve even said in one interview that you thought you were happier now than before. You got ill. Certainly at hearing before motor neurons disease. I was bored with life, but the prospect of an early made me realize life was really worth living there is so much one can do so much at anyone, Can do I have Real feeling of achievement that I at made a modest but significant contribution, No one, not knowledge, despite my condition, of course, I am very fortunate. But everyone can achieve something. The dry hard enough. Would you go as far as to say that you might end have achieved. All you have had you not have moved to neuron disease, or is that is too simplistic
a neuron disease can be an advantage to anyone, but it was less. The disadvantage of me then, to let your people repressive, didn't stop What I wanted, which was tat, And understand how the universe operates, your other, inspiration when you are trying to come to terms with the disease. Was a young woman called Jane wild whom you met at a party and fallen in love with an? frequently married, how much Of your success, would you say: do you owe to her to Jane? I certainly wouldn't have managed without her we gave to her lips let me out of this law of despond. I was soon look after many single handed, as my condition got worse at that stage, no one was suffering to help us when we surely, you couldn't afford to pay for help, and
together, you defied the doctors not only because you went on living, but also because children. You had robert in nineteen sixty, seven lucy and seventy, and then Timothy in seventy nine, how short twelve day, the doctors. In fact, the doctor diagnosed me His amounts of me he felt that there was nothing could be done, I never saw him after the initial diagnosis. In effect, I thought your became my doktor manette lester am my turn for advice. Me, there was no evidence that the disease was hereditary mandate. To look after me and two children. It was only after the earth child was born that badly gerda nurses, to look after me,
but now you and jane on together anymore. After my request on the operation I needed when before our nursing, greater and greater strain on your marriage. We now live separately. Let's have some more music needles please please me after my four men are serious choices. I would need some light relief. For me, It's been many years came ass, a welcome breath of fresh air.
The beatles and please please me despite all the others that have been heaped upon new stephen hawking, and I should specifically mention the troll occasion, professor of physics, at cambridge- that's isaac, newton chair. You decided to write a popular book about your work, for I think very ample reason. You needed the money, I thought I might make a modest amount from a popular book domain.
Can I rode a brief history of time less, because I am delighted I was excited about a discoveries that have been made in the last one. Five years when I want, Tell people about them. I never expected to do ass well, ass, it did indeed it's broken. The records and got into the guinness book of records the length of time has been on the best seller list and still there nobody seems to know how many companies have been so worldwide worldwide, but it certainly excess of ten million and not even in paper back yet is it people buy it obviously, but the Question goes on being asked: do they read it. I know Bernard eleven got stuck on page twenty nine, but I know plenty of People have not fervour all the world people how much they have been provided they may,
not half finished it or have understood ever They read, but they have at least the idea that we live in a universe. Overrun by rational laws that league and discover and understand. It was, of course, the concept of the black hole that first appeal to the public imagination and attracted renewed interest in cosmology Did you ever watch all those star trek to boldly go where no man has ever gone before and so on, and if so did you enjoy them? a lot of science fiction. When I want such a nature, but now I find science fiction, a bit vessel. That is so easy. You don't have to make a part of a consistent picture Real science is much more exciting. We proceeded Actually happening out their science fiction, writers, never suggested black holes before fishes
all of them, but we now have good evidence. For a number of black holes, but would happen. If you fell into a black hole everyone science fiction knows what happens, following a black hole, you get me wait until spaghetti, but Much more interesting is that black holes are lately black they send out articles and radiation daddy, read this causes black hole to evaporate slowly, but let it and happens to a black hole in its contents. There's not known is an exciting area of research, but sire. Fiction writers have not caught up with the let them radiation. You mention is, of course, called hawkins radiation. It wasn't you who discovered the black holes, although you gonna,
food than that, but it was their discovery which made you begin to think more closely about the origins of the universe. Wasn't it or collapse or to form a black hole, many ways like the time reverse of the expansion of the universe, theirs important difference. We are outside the black hole, but we are The universe, but both are characterized by thermal radiation. You say, though, that it's not known what eventually happens to a black hole in its contents, but I thought that the theory was that Whatever happened, whatever disappeared into, the black hole in including an astronaut would eventually be recycled as your as Pawkins radiation arrest, really have the astronaut be recycled, ass radiation sent out by the black hole, but he asked
himself origin particles? which made won't come back out of the black hole. So the question is what happens to them? Do they get destroyed or Pass into another universe, that is, No. I would dearly like to know not that I'm thinking of something. Into a black hole. Do work Those stephen on intuition. That's too said: do you arrive at a theory that you rather like an appeal to you and set about proving it or as a scientist, you always have to make your way. Logic clay towards a conclusion, and you dare not attempt to guess it in advance. I rely on intuition a great deal. I guess a result, but I had to approve it at this stage
I often find that what I had thought- that's not true. Something else is the case that I had. Your thought. That is how I found black holes are completely black. Who was trying to prove something else. No music. Sort has always been one of my favorites for my fiftieth birthday. Earlier this year, I was given sleep works on cd overtook, Without us of it, I'm still working my way through it the greatest there's a reverie sector before the report was finished
drawing we are about to here was the only part completely written, an orchestrated by Mozart, passive midsummer requiem played by the vienna symphony orchestra conducted by car,
them too. Oversimplify your theories hugely, and I hope you forgive me for this stephen. You once believed I understand that there was a point of creation and big bang. But you no longer believe that to be the case, you believe there was no beginning and that there is no end. The universe, is self contained. Does that mean this. There was no, active creation and therefore there is no place for god. Yes, you have simplified. I still believe the universe has sub beginning in real time at a big bang, but there some kind of time imagined retirement at writing. You're a real time in which the union I have no beginning nor end this we await a universal again would be determined. By the laws of physics. One wouldn't have to say that,
Chose to set a universe going somewhere, but very late, that we couldn t understand that certain about whether or not god exists, he does not arbitrary. But how? If There is a possibility that god doesn't exist. How do you account stephen for all this? things two beyond sands love and the faith. For have and have had a new, and indeed in your own inspiration, but a reality, the law a different category to physics, you again Did those one should behave from a loss, physics, but one good hope alive. Go thought at six and mathematics involves working one also once more illegal behavior, but I think that man,
People do feel that you have you stephen hawking have effectively dispensed with. God. Are you denying that them all my work has shown is that new dawn. I have to say that the way the universe began was, personal. Limb of god. But you still have your question. Why does alone Respond virtual exist, if you like, look undefined lot of me the answer to that question. This africa number seven. I am very fond of opera One had taught me burner, Generally, I decided. Not your showed me pertaining to run. Is by far the greatest opera, but again he died before he.
It the.
Placidia domingo and category generally singing part of the second act of the Chinese turned out played by the vienna philharmonic conducted by herbert fun carryin, So tell me stephen. What does christmas mean to you? A shepherd the american giving a time, me with one's family and a good thanks for the year passed it is also the time to look forward to the year ahead, the light by the birth of a child in a stable ended. Materialistic about it. What presence of you asked for our? You were so well off these days that you're the man who has everything surpluses if one asks for something specific one glaring nor have any freedom or opportune I saw her imagination, but I don't mind known. I am fond of chocolate
through our cells. So far, then stephen, you ve lived for thirty years longer than predicted youth forum. Children, you were told you'd, never have you written about sailor. You ve turned angel beliefs about space and time on their heads. What else you planning to do before you quit this planet all aspen possible only because, I've been fortunate enough to receive a great deal of help? I am pleased with it I have managed to achieve, but there a great deal more. I would like to do before Pass on won't talk about my bride, but life, but silent Finally, I would like to know how one should learn gravity with quantum mechanics and the other four sense of nature. Or attract more, I won.
I know what happens to a black hole when evaporates nostril. I will have to get you to pronounce this. My speech, sure some american hopeless trend. Leave pyre singing I regret very about sums up my life. The minutes. Mr Lamy run me those my body and is a good model burning.
Nah Edith ps engine with greater vigour. Now stephen, if you could only take one of those eight records which one would it be if we have to meet, sorry to have. I could listen to that Until a better reason, why just like men ran out and you cosette. The complete works of shakespeare in the bible are waiting for you, I will take middle mark by George w. I think someone, maybe that was Your world said it must support for adults, not sure I'm grown up yet, but I will that's right and you luxury, I will ask for a large supply of dream rule it for me
it is the academy of luxury, Chocolate truffles then allow supply criminally instead, doktor steve Looking thank you very much indeed, for letting you see your desert island discs and happy christmas for. Choosing me. I wish you all a happy christmas from my desert island.
You ve, been listening to a podcast from the desert. Island is archive for more podcast. Please visit bbc dot curdle uk slash ready for this Is the bbc. Hi, I'm simon king and before you go, I just wanted to tell you about a new podcast from myself and plan, as it is called
Under the weather and in its were joined by a range of experts to explore some of what is most interesting and challenging questions, should we still been worried about the hole in the ozone layer is a big question. There are all sorts of approaches to come up with a technique that could call the planet that's under the weather, and you can find it. Where have you found this.
Transcript generated on 2022-06-12.