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Is Hawking worth it?

  1. Aug 23, 2010 #1
    Hello, I've heard Hawking is giving a lecture this october in England (I myself am a Belgian) and I was wondering if it's worth the trouble to attend it? I'm a 2nd year college student and passionate about physics, but Hawking has never really gripped me, but that's maybe because I don't know much about the man. Apparently he is going to talk about his new book The Grand Design. If it were a lecture by, say, Heisenberg (rip), I'd be jumping up and down to get there, but somehow Hawking talking about his new book doesn't unleash a fire. I'm not asking you guys to make up my mind for him, but I'm not sure what to expect (I've never been to a lecture before): is it my moral duty as a passionate physicist to grasp this opportunity to see one of the most proclaimed physicists of our time in a lecture? And if so, are his lectures scarce?

    Thank you
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 23, 2010 #2


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    I'd say, go. It's not likely you will regret going, but someday you will probably regret it if you don't go.
  4. Aug 24, 2010 #3
    Well, if the only thing that excites you is a physicist coming back from the dead and doing a lecture, this will be one boring life.
  5. Aug 24, 2010 #4
    Professor Hawking is a very interesting speaker when he's on a roll, which is pretty much all the time.
  6. Aug 24, 2010 #5


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    I wouldn't spend hundreds of Euros and days off to travel to wherever to listen to Hawking talk about a book. Instead, I might read the reviews, and if they are good, I'd buy the book and read it instead.

    There are probably plenty of great public lectures to attend in Belgium that are only about science and do not carry the added baggage of being a promotional tour for selling something.
  7. Aug 24, 2010 #6


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  8. Aug 24, 2010 #7
    Dude, I'm not even a particularly passionate physicist, and I'd jump at the chance to see a lecture by Hawking. Of course you should go!
  9. Aug 24, 2010 #8
    People travel for far duller reasons, a trip to Cambridge (I assume) in rainy October can be pleasant, you'll have time to visit one of the town's nice pubs and have a reasonable anecdote to tell in the future.

    Of course if finance is tight then it's probably not worth it, eurostar from Brussels + london-cambridge return will be expensive, even on a student rate ~€100.

    Remember, Hawking's biggest discovery (black hole evaporation) isn't even verified by observation and Bekenstein has prior claim to the more important earlier calculation of BH entropy (They'd both get a nobel if BH observations are ever verified). Hawking's fame isn't due to his scientific work, the previous Lucasian professor, Dirac, was far less famous but much more important as a physicist. (And Hawking's succesor ,Green, will be entirely forgotten if String Theory doesn't succeed)
  10. Aug 24, 2010 #9
    I dunno - how much money do you have to spend? Thinking about taking a vacation anytime soon? Why not combine trips? A couple of days in Cambridge might be fun! Lots of history.
  11. Aug 24, 2010 #10

    Ivan Seeking

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    Neither would I. I saw Hawking some years ago, but it was only about an hour away and I think about $30.

    I had almost forgotten about it completely. The most interesting part was when he answered preselected questions from the audience.

    "If you could go anywhere in the universe that you wanted to go, where would it be?

    Any guesses at the answer that Hawking gave?
  12. Aug 24, 2010 #11
    Thank you for the replies.

    I seem to share most of the ideas of Gokul and Ivan: if it was in Belgium I'd definitely go, but especially traveling to England would lay too much pressure on the lecture itself which would then bound to be disappointing relatively speaking. (and the suggestion of combining it with a holiday was nice, but don't like the idea when I got classes at the same time :P -- I think anyway, unless it happens to be a week off)

    Thanks again for your time, appreciate it
  13. Aug 24, 2010 #12


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    If I could survive public transport and a crowded lecture hall, I still wouldn't go. Hawking's replies to questions are going to have to be pre-recorded, so there goes any spontaneity, right off the bat. Ditto for clarifications on any ideas that he has failed to elucidate clearly in the lecture. I'd love to get a few of the SDSS principle investigators in a closed room though. The stuff that they have laid out re: high-redshift quasars puts a lot of cosmological theory on shaky ground.

    If Strauss and Fan schedule a lecture near you, GO!!!!
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