Stephen Hawking Discusses Quantum Physics and ALS
Aired December 25, 1999 - 9:00 p.m. ET . Larry King Live!! I saw this at 1 - 2 AM 12-26-99!
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, an incredible man, an amazing intellect.
It's been said that he can sell physics
better than Madonna can sell sex. We're honored to have Professor Stephen Hawking with us for the full hour.
It's all on LARRY KING LIVE.
Welcome. The words brilliant and genius probably get used way too
much. But my guest tonight deserves both of
them and more. Professor Stephen William Hawking is an intellectual icon, best selling author, the greatest mind
in physics since Albert Einstein. A couple of notes about what you're going to see and hear. We traveled to Cambridge
University in England to talk to Professor Hawking. The first interview was so fascinating we wanted more and our guest
was gracious enough to agree.
As you probably know, Stephen Hawking suffers from a disease known as ALS.
While he thinks in a lot more dimensions
than most of us, he's wheelchair bound and uses a voice synthesizer to talk.
Operating that synthesizer isn't an instant kind of thing. So we gave
Professor Hawking our questions in advance.
There were some long pauses in the interview and we have cut them out.
But we've kept every word from Stephen Hawking because the man who says he
aims to understand the universe,
why it is the way it is, why it exists at all is someone you don't want to edit.
KING: As a scientist, what would you say, professor, has been your biggest accomplishment?
PROFESSOR STEPHEN HAWKING, CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY:
I am glad to have advanced our understanding of the big bang and black holes, the beginning and end of
time. I almost said to have shed light on black holes but maybe that is the wrong metaphor.
KING: Did you have this gift of knowledge as a child or did you develop it? Were you a very brilliant kid?
HAWKING: All children ask questions. How do things work? Why are they the way
they are? But as they
grow up they get told these questions are stupid or that they don't have answers. I am just a child that has
never grown up. I still keep asking these how and why questions. Occasionally I find an answer.
KING: How, professor, do you regard yourself, teacher, researcher, scientist, all the above?
HAWKING: I would describe myself as a research scientist. I don't teach or
lecture to undergraduates, but I
have advised about 30 graduates for their Ph.D.s and in some cases almost written the thesis for them.
KING: Did you have a mentor?
HAWKING: I have had a number of good teachers and a few not so good but none
that I would call my
mentor. The nearest would be Roger Penrose (phD), whose work introduced me to the big bang and black
holes. But he was more a colleague and collaborator than a mentor.
KING: Why, professor, did you choose the field you chose? Why physics? Why this area of study?
HAWKING: My father was a research scientist in tropical medicine so I grew up
thinking that a research
scientist was a natural thing to be. But I felt biology was too vague and descriptive so I went into physics,
the study of the laws that govern the universe, because it was the most fundamental of the sciences. My
father was disappointed I didn't go into medicine, but was consoled when my sister did so.
KING: You have been called, Professor Hawking, the most intelligent person on
earth. What's it like to hear
something like that? I imagine -- do you agree with it?
HAWKING: That is media hype. Newspapers have these ridiculous lists of the
hundred most something
people. Recently I was listed as the second most intelligent person in Britain but the first was Richard
KING: Mr. Branson, of course, owns an airline. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD BRANSON, CHAIRMAN, THE VIRGIN GROUP:
I certainly don't consider myself more intelligent than Professor Hawkings.
He is the sort of person who also
doesn't take no for an answer, thinks outside the box and the difference is that he knows what's outside the
box and he knows what's the other side of the universe. He can out brain anybody in Britain. He certainly
can out brain myself. I left school at 15. What the hell's he talking about? (END VIDEO CLIP) (END VIDEOTAPE)
KING: Stephen Hawking says he never was very coordinated. He had lousy
handwriting when he was a kid,
didn't care much for sports but he started having real physical problems, stumbling, clumsiness, while he
was a graduate student at Cambridge. In 1963, he was diagnosed with ALS and he was just 21 years old.
Doctors told him he probably had about two years to live and they were wrong. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
KING: ALS is the wasting disease that killed Lou Gehrig, baseball's legendary
iron horse, and there's no cure
for it. Not very long ago, Professor Hawking told an audience in Chicago that his greatest achievement is
HAWKING: I have ALS, a motor neuron disease. This is a condition in which the
muscles die off but the sensory nerves continue as before. It is not supposed to affect intelligence but
maybe I'm too far gone to notice. One form of ALS is linked to a defective gene, but most ALS seems to
occur at random and its cause is not known.
KING: How has the disease affected your work?
HAWKING: Had I chosen almost any other career, my ALS would have ended it. But theoretical physics is
all in the mind, so I was able to carry on. Obviously there are practical
difficulties like handling books and
papers, but I have found ways to deal with them. It is a lot easier now that everything is on computers. I can
download physics papers on the Internet and don't need physical paper.
KING: Has the disease -- this is strange -- in any way been an aid to your work?
HAWKING: I can't say that my disability has helped my work but it has allowed
me to concentrate on
research without having to lecture or sit on boring committees.
KING: Professor, the normal life expectancy for someone with ALS is two to
three years max. You've had it
for 21 years. How do you explain that?
HAWKING: ALS seems to be a condition that can result from different causes.
The variety I have must be
different from the most common form, which kills in two or three years. Maybe my ALS is caused by bad
absorption of vitamins. My wife says I'm an alien in the morning before I have my vitamins.
KING: What, professor, is your daily life like?
HAWKING: I lead a reasonably normal life but I need help with most things and
the routines like getting up
or eating take me longer. I am very fortunate in the help I receive from my wife and lucky that I can afford
nurses to assist me.
KING: How do you deal with the inevitability that one day you will lose your ability to communicate?
HAWKING: We all face the inevitability of death one day. While I am alive, I
will make sure I communicate
one way or another. (END VIDEOTAPE)
KING: When Stephen Hawking says he will communicate, you've got to believe
him. A pneumonia nearly
suffocated him in 1985. Doctors did a procedure that let him breathe through an opening in his throat and a
tube put into his trachea. His life was saved but his voice was lost. Still, as you've heard, the man speaks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAWKING: For a time, I could communicate only by raising my eyebrows when
someone pointed to letters
on an alphabet card. This is pretty slow and limiting. I couldn't hold a conversation and I certainly couldn't
write a scientific paper. Fortunately, I have enough movement in my hands that I can press and release a
single switch in my hand quite rapidly. This is used to control a computer program in which a cursor moves
down the screen and then across. In this way, I can select words from lists on the screen. The words I have
chosen are printed on the lower half of the screen. When I have built up what I want to say, I can send it to
a speech synthesizer.
The synthesizer I use is 13 years old but I stick to it partly because I now
identify with it and partly because
it doesn't speak in a monotone but varies the intonation in an almost human way. It is very important that
those who have to use artificial speech should have a voice they can identify with and feel happy with. No
one wants to sound like a machine or Mickey Mouse.
With the computer program I use, I can manage 10 to 15 words a minute. By
contrast, normal speech is 120
to 180 words a minute. This means that for speeches and lectures I have to write them in advance, save them
on disk and then send them to the speech synthesizer sentence by sentence. It is possible that a different
computer program might be slightly faster, but there is a basic limit to the rate that information can be
transmitted by pressing a single switch.
In computer terms, I have a baud rate of about three that responds to the
information in about 20 words a
minute. By contrast, a political speech has a word rate of about 150 and an information content of zero.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: It may take Hawking as much as 40 hours to prepare a 45 minute lecture.
By the way, some people
think the synthesizer sounds Scandinavian. Hawking sometimes jokes about his computer's American
accent. We'll be back with more. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KING: Welcome back. Stephen Hawking was born January 8th, 1942, 300 years to
the day of the death of the
astronomer Galileo. Even when he was a little boy, he wanted to figure out how the world worked.
He says that he loved taking stuff apart. Unfortunately, he wasn't very good at getting it back together.
In 1962, Hawking earned an undergraduate degree with first class honors from
Oxford and then headed to
Cambridge to study cosmology. He stayed on there after receiving his Ph.D. Hawking has wracked up all
kinds of honors, including a dozen honorary degrees. He's also received the most prestigious prize in
theoretical physics. It's named after the man Hawking calls the best scientific mind of the century.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAWKING: Undoubtedly the greatest scientific figure of the century is Albert
Einstein. He revolutionized
our ideas of space and time with his general theory of relativity. It is said that space and time are not just a
fixed background in which events take place but that they are curved and warped by the matter and energy
in the universe. We are still working out the implications of general relativity.
After Einstein, I would rank people Werner Heisenberg, Irwin Schroedinger,
and Paul Dirac, who developed
quantum theory, the other major advance this century. It changed our picture of the universe and of reality
itself. When we have found out how to combine these theories we will understand how the universe began,
is evolving, and will end. (END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Since 1979, Hawking has been the Lukesian (ph) professor of mathematics
at Cambridge. Sir Isaac
Newton, the man who discovered gravity, held that same post three centuries ago. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
KING: Did you ever want to be anything besides a research scientist? Did your
incredible intelligence in any
way make you feel like you had to go into science for the betterment of man regardless of your own
HAWKING: Before I got ALS I considered a number of other careers including
being a political leader.
Because I wasn't born in the U.S., I couldn't be president but I might have been British prime minister.
However, I'm glad I left that job to Tony Blair. I think I get more job satisfaction than he does and I expect
my work will last longer.
KING: Did you ever consider changing direction when you got ALS and focus on
taking that mind of yours
and finding a cure for it?
HAWKING: I don't think I would be much good at research on ALS and I wouldn't
want to engage in it even
if I could. I am happy to follow research from a distance but I want to get on with a fairly normal life and
forget about ALS.
KING: What did you think of the movie "Good Will Hunting?" Could
you associate with the lead character,
a kind of genius?
HAWKING: I was very encouraged to see a film about real intellectual struggle
but I wasn't convinced by
the central character. She seemed to regard the discoveries she made as just mathematical tricks and didn't
get pleasure from them. In my experience, when you discover something that no one knew before that
is the most wonderful feeling in the world. It is like sex but it lasts longer.
KING: One could only imagine what that's like. You said before there was a
50-50 percent chance that your
string theory would be proven out by the end of this century. How's that coming and for definition, what is
the string theory?
HAWKING: In 1980, I said I thought there was a 50-50 chance we would find a
complete unified theory
within the next 20 years. String theory would be one aspect of that unified theory. Although we have made
a lot of progress since then, we don't yet have a complete unified theory of the universe. Nevertheless, I still
think there's a 50-50 chance we will find a complete unified theory in the next 20 years. But that 20 years
KING: Helping in the quest for a unified theory, a super computer called
Cosmos. It lives at Cambridge
University. Its task? Nothing less than tracing the origins of the universe. Talk about looking way back.
Scientists figure the universe is about 15 billion years old.
HAWKING: I think everyone wants to know where we came from and how the
universe began. Cosmos can
help us find answers to those questions. Hopefully, when we understand how the universe began it will
give us a clue as to why it began the way it did or even why it began at all. (END VIDEOTAPE)
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
KING: Is there anywhere, professor, in the world that you have not been that you would like to go and why?
HAWKING: Where I would really like to go is not anywhere on earth but out in
space. If I were someone
like Bill Gates I would hire the space shuttle. It would only cost a few hundred million dollars.
KING: What advice would you give an intelligent, open-minded young man or
woman contemplating a
future career? Would you recommend science and research? If you had to start all over again in the year
2000, would you choose what you've chosen?
HAWKING: I think science and research are more satisfying than just making
money. But if I were starting
now, I might choose molecular biology rather than cosmology. We may find the basic laws that govern the
universe but we will never exhaust the complexity of possible biological systems.
KING: What, Professor Hawking, do you consider the most important discovery of this millennium?
HAWKING: I think the invention of printing was a breakthrough for the human
race. It meant that
information and discoveries could be disseminated widely and not just on a one to one basis by word of
mouth or handwritten manuscript. It led to an ever increasing rate of scientific and technological
development. This has now made printing almost obsolete and replaced it by the Internet.
KING: What do you expect will be the biggest change in the way we'll live in the future?
HAWKING: I think genetic engineering with humans is going to occur whether we
like it or not. It will
change our standard of what is human but it will be a gradual change because there's so much we don't
know and because humans take time to grow up. We won't change much in the next 100 years but we might
KING: Professor, where will you be, what will you be doing on, at midnight on December 31st?
HAWKING: We are having a Simpsons fancy dress party. People are coming as
Springfield characters. The
great thing is I can go as myself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE SIMPSONS")
HAWKING: I don't know which is the bigger disappointment, my failure to
formulate a unified field theory
DAN CASTELLANETA, ACTOR: I don't like your tone.
HAWKING: If you are looking for trouble, you've found it.
CASTELLANETA: Yeah, just try me you -- oh. The guns are openers. Come on, you
idiots. We're taking
back this town.
HAWKING: Time for this hawk to fly. Wrong button.
CASTELLANETA: Did you have fun with your robot, buddy?
YEARDLY SMITH, ACRTRESS: Dad! Oh, Dr. Hawking, we had such a beautiful dream. What went wrong?
HAWKING: Don't feel bad, Lisa. Sometimes the smartest of us can be the most childish.
SMITH: Even you?
HAWKING: No, not me. Never. (END VIDEO CLIP) (END VIDEOTAPE) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KING: Stephen Hawking has written extensively in the field of theoretical
physics, most of his work is highly
technical. Intellectual heavy lifting to say the least. But in 1988 he wrote the book "A Brief History of Time".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAWKING: My original aim was to write a book that would sell on airport book
stalls. But for that, maybe
the publisher should have put a naked woman rather than me on the cover.
MARK BARTY-KING, PUBLISHER: Stephen always saw this book as being a great
mass market book. And
I think publishers found that quite difficult to assess at beginning, because it was, you know, a very difficult
book, and very much a science book. And it was probably one of the first science books that ever broke out
into the mass market, in the way that Stephen had predicted.
HAWKING: All over the world, people come up to me and say how much they have
enjoyed my book. They
may not have understood it all. If they did, they would be ready to start a Ph.D. in theoretical physics. But
they have got a feeling of being in touch with the big questions: Where did we come from, and how did it all
BARTY-KING: I certainly couldn't understand the book, and, however, I did
read it with some enjoyment,
always expecting to be able to understand it. And it was so lucidly written it was actually a pleasure -- a
pleasure to read. But we didn't -- we didn't know that this book was going to break out in the way that it did.
We started with a very small printing of, I think, 5,000 copies. (END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: "A Brief History" practically took up residence on the
best-seller list when it came out. It's been
translated into some 30 languages and sold about 10 million copies worldwide. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARTY-KING: Whether Stephen is contemplating a sequel if any kind at this
point, I don't know, but it
would be nice if he was. (END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: A sequel to "Brief History?" Who knows. But the book did
inspire a movie, and we'll show you
highlights from it later. All this has made Hawking something of a media darling and a commercial hit.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SPACEAVERS OPTICANA COMMERCIAL")
HAWKING: I had always spoke to see this in my lifetime. I have been wondering
about the mysteries of the
universe since I was a child. Yet, looking at the beauty of these things still fills me with wonder. For me,
physics is about seeing further, better, and deeper. And from here, I can see forever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: What, Professor, is cosmology?
HAWKING: Cosmology is the study of the whole universe, its origin, evolution,
and eventual fate. It is a
background to all our lives.
KING: What, in your area of study, Stephen, do we know the least about?
HAWKING: We feel we are tantalizingly close to a complete Unified Theory, but
we might be miles away or
barking up the wrong tree. If I had a wish, it would be to know whether we are on the right track.
KING: What is a black hole?
HAWKING: A black hole is a region that is so warped by gravity that light
cannot get out. Or at least
people thought that light could not get out of a black hole, until I showed that the Uncertainty Principle of
quantum mechanics allows light to leak out slowly. Some people call this Hawking Radiation.
KING: When, Professor, did the universe begin, and do you know when it'll end?
HAWKING: We have good evidence the universe began in a big bang, about 15
billion years ago. We are
less certain how it will end, but recent observations suggest a universe will expand forever at an ever-
KING: Do you believe in life in other places, other planets?
HAWKING: Life appeared on earth fairly soon after the earth was formed, 4.5
billion years ago. That
suggests that primitive life will appear spontaneously on any suitable planet. On the other hand, intelligent
life seems very rare. It has yet to be detected on earth.
KING: Do you believe in a sixth sense, a spirit world, another level of existence?
HAWKING: I do not believe in a sixth sense, if you mean extrasensory
perception. That would not be
consistent with my belief that a universe is governed by a mathematical laws. Spiritual values belong to a
different category to the physical universe.
KING: Do you believe in God?
HAWKING: Yes, I do, if by God you mean the embodiment of the laws that govern
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME")
HAWKING: If you were watching an astronaut foolhardy enough to jump into a
black hole, at some time on
his watch, say 12:00, he would cross the event horizon and enter the black hole. But no matter how long you
waited, you would never see the astronaut's watch reach 12:00. Instead, each second on the watch would
appear to take longer and longer, until the last second before midnight would take forever. The astronaut
wouldn't notice anything special when his watch reached midnight, and he crossed the event horizon into
the black hole, until, of course, he approached the singularity and was crushed into spaghetti.
(END VIDEO CLIP) (END VIDEOTAPE) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME")
HAWKING: Einstein never accepted quantum mechanics because of its element of
chance and uncertainty.
He said, "God does not play dice." It seems that Einstein was doubly wrong. The quantum affects of black holes
suggest that not only does God play dice, He sometimes throws them where they cannot be seen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: What, Professor, puzzles you the most? What do you think about the most?
KING: Welcome aboard. Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future?
HAWKING: I see great danger for the future. But I'm an optimist. I expect we will find a way forward.
KING: What do you think is the biggest challenge that we have to overcome?
HAWKING: I think the biggest challenge we face is from our aggressive
instincts. In caveman -- or
caveperson days, these gave definite survival advantages and were imprinted in our genetic code by
Darwinian natural selection. But with nuclear weapons, they threaten our destruction. We don't
have time for Darwinian evolution to remove our aggression. We will have to use genetic engineering.
KING: What's your biggest worry for society?
HAWKING: My biggest worry is population growth. If it continues at the
current rate, we will be standing
shoulder to shoulder by 2600. Something has to happen, and I don't want it to be a disaster.
KING: Do you think we'll ever cure disease?
HAWKING: We are already able to cure most diseases of the past. But unless we
become immortal, we are
bound to die of something. We can extend our lives, but it is probably more important to improve the quality
while we are alive. (END VIDEOTAPE)
KING: As you heard a minute ago, Professor Hawking is deeply concerned the
world is getting overcrowded.
What about the possibility that it's getting overheated, too? His thoughts, now, on global warming.
HAWKING: The temperature of the earth has gone up and down in history, so one
might argue that a recent
warming was just a natural fluctuation. But there is no question that the level of carbon dioxide in the
atmosphere is now far higher than it has ever been in the past. Carbon dioxide is produced when we burn coal,
oil, or gas. It is what is called a greenhouse gas. That is, it let's in heat from the sun, but makes it difficult for
the heat to escape again. So the large amount of carbon dioxide now in the atmosphere will inevitably cause
global warming. How much the warming will be, we don't know.
If it were only a few degrees, that would be serious, but we could adapt to
it. But the danger is the warming
process might be unstable and run away. We could end up like Venus, covered in clouds and with the
surface temperature of 400 degrees.
It could be too late if we wait until the bad effects of warming become
obvious. We need action now to
reduce emission of carbon dioxide. And that action must include the U.S., since you have by far, the highest
emission per head. (END VIDEOTAPE) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION")
HAWKING: ... but then I said "In that frame of reference, the perihelion
of Mercury would have recessed in
the opposite direction."
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: That is a great story.
BRENT SPINER, ACTOR: Quite amusing, Dr. Hawking.
DATA: You see, Sir Isaac, the joke depends on an understanding of the
relativistic curvature of space-time.
If two non-inertial reference frames are in relative motion...
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Do not patronize me, sir. I invented physics. The day
that apple fell on my head
was the most momentous day in the history of science.
HAWKING: Not the apple story again.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: It's your bet.
HAWKING: I raise $50.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: All the quantum fluctuations in the universe will not
change the cards in your
hand. I call.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: You are bluffing.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: And you will lose.
HAWKING: Wrong again, Albert.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Well...
JONATHAN FRAKES, ACTOR: Red alert. All personnel report to duty stations.
SPINER: We will have to continue this another time. End program. (END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Well, we all watched "Star Trek," and you have worked with
time and travel and the like. Do you
think we'll ever travel from Britain to Japan in an hour?
HAWKING: Britain to Japan in an hour is quite possible. But to do it in half
an hour would require more
than orbital velocity, and would be very difficult. You would need a rocket to hold you down to earth.
KING: Do you like science fiction, Professor? Can it be harmful, or helpful, or neither?
HAWKING: I think science fiction is useful, both for stimulating the
imagination and for defusing fear of the
future. But science fact can be even more amazing. Science fiction never suggested anything as strange as
KING: Professor, do you believe in the concept of time travel?
HAWKING: Time travel seems to be allowed by Einstein's General Theory of
Relativity in certain situations,
but if you combine General Relativity with Quantum Theory, it looks like you would be wiped out by a bolt
of radiation before you could travel into the past. We certainly haven't seen any tourists from the future.
KING: Where do you believe that our research dollars -- and we have plenty of them -- would be best spent?
HAWKING: There isn't a single answer to that question. There are a whole
range of projects in different
fields. In my own field of physics, I would say more satellites to observe the universe about the atmosphere.
And something to replace the SSC Particle Accelerator that was being built in Texas, but which was
canceled in 1994 when the U.S. went through a fit of feeling poor.
KING: Professor, what do you think of the Y2K bug? Are you worried what's going to happen January 1st?
HAWKING: I think the Y2K bug has been exaggerated. I expect January the 1st,
2000, to be a great
anticlimax. A few things will go wrong, but it won't be the end of the world if ATM machines don't work.
KING: Do you surf the net? What do you think of this Internet thing?
HAWKING: I use the Internet each day to get physics papers and to get the
news from the BBC or CNN.
But I regard surfing the net as as mindless as channel hopping on television.
KING: What is the most intelligent person in the world do for fun?
HAWKING: I have told you it's ridiculous to call me the most intelligent
person. And what I do for fun is
private. (END VIDEOTAPE)
KING: We respect the professor's privacy, of course. Still we managed to have
him tell us what kind of
music he likes. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
HAWKING: It was in 1963 that I first developed an interest in Wagner, or
Wagner, as my speech
synthesizer pronounces him. I had just been diagnosed as having ALS, or Motor Neuro Disease. and given
a distinct impression I didn't have long to live. I regarded Wagner as music that was dark enough for my
mood. My mother bought me tickets to go to the Wagner festival at Bayreuth in Germany, and I went with
my sister, Philippa. It was magic. His personal use and conduct were pretty objectionable. But his music,
though sometimes pompous and long-winded, reaches a level no one else does. (END VIDEOTAPE)
KING: Welcome back. We've shown you many sides of Professor Stephen
Hawking. One you haven't seen yet is
Stephen Hawking the sports fan. Well, fan of one sport, anyway. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
HAWKING: My younger son, Tim, is very keen in Formula One racing, and it's an
interest I can share with
him. We know Frank Williams, who runs the Williams Team, and who is in a wheelchair like me. We have
watched several races from the Williams pits. It is exciting to see behind the scenes, but the noise is terrific.
KING: You have three children, Professor. Did they have the best science fair
projects in school? What are
the kids doing now?
HAWKING: Only my eldest son, Robert, was interested in science. He's now a
software engineer with
Microsoft in Seattle. My daughter, Lucy, studied French and Russian, and is now a journalist. My younger
son, Tim, is at university doing French and Spanish. And I have a grandson, William, who is learning to talk
and is fascinated by computers.
KING: You mentioned earlier we'll all die of something. Do you think you can
live another 30, 40 years with
this disease? Do you think this disease might be cured?
HAWKING: I don't look too far ahead, but I'm now thinking of my 60th birthday
in 2002. I don't expect to be
cured of ALS. It will be enough if it just doesn't get worse.
KING: What keeps you going? We all can see and are aware of your condition
and how well you deal with
it. What is that inner thing that keeps you going?
HAWKING: Curiosity. I want to know the answers. I enjoy life. I will keep
going as long as I can. What else
can anyone do?
KING: And finally, happiness is relative, of course. Are you a happy man?
KING: Thank you, Professor. What an hour!!! (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME")
HAWKING: If we do discover a complete theory of the universe, it should in
time be understandable in broad principle
by everyone, not just a few scientists. Then we shall all -- philosophers, scientists and just ordinary people --
be able to take part in the discussion of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would
be the ultimate triumph of human reason. For then, we would know the mind of God.
(Fade and END Videotape)