Hawking's History of Time: A Plea for the Missing Page

One of the outstanding achievements of recent cosmology has been to offer some prospect of a unified explanation of temporal asymmetry. The explanation is in two main parts, and runs something like this. First, the various asymmetries we observe are all thermodynamic in origin – all products of the fact that we live in an epoch in which the universe is far from thermodynamic equilibrium. Second, this thermodynamic disequilibrium is associated with the condition of the universe very soon after the Big Bang – the essential point being that in the rapidly expanding universe of the time, gravity is able to create organisation much faster than other processes can destroy it. The stars, galaxies and other forms of organisation we find in the present universe are all products of this early period. Such concentrated energy sources themselves make possible the kinds of asymmetric phenomena with which we are most familiar, such as life itself. If this explanation proves to be right it will surely rank as one of the most impressive achievements in the whole of natural philosophy. Where else do we find this breathtaking scale, this extraordinary conjunction of fundamental physics, the first moments of Creation, the possibility of life and the basic character of human experience? And it is very much a contemporary achievement: even if its roots go back on one side to the investigation of time asymmetry in nineteenth century statistical mechanics, and on the other to Hubble's discovery in the 1920's of the expansion of the universe, the body of the picture has only begun to be filled in in the last twenty or thirty years. This fascinating story has recently been given some well-deserved publicity in Stephen Hawking's bestseller, A Brief History of Time – well-deserved, not least, because Hawking himself is responsible for a considerable part of the story as it presently stands
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Revision history
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 30,765
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Added to PP index

Total downloads
188 ( #26,517 of 2,214,617 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #239,034 of 2,214,617 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature