PASADENA, Calif. — Our universe didn’t need any divine help to burst into being, famed cosmologist Stephen Hawking told a packed house here at the California Institute of Technology Tuesday night.
Rod Pyle / Space.com
Enthusiastic attendees started lining up 12 hours early for Stephen Hawking’s 8:00 p.m. lecture at Caltech. The overflow crowd stretched for more than a quarter mile.
Many people had begun queuing up for free tickets to Hawking’s 8:00 p.m lecture, titled “The Origin of the Universe,” 12 hours earlier. By 6:00 p.m. local time, the line was about a quarter-mile long.
A second auditorium and a Jumbotron-equipped lawn, which itself was jammed with an estimated 1,000 viewers, were needed to handle the crowd. At least one person was observed offering $1,000 for a ticket, with no success. [Big Bang to Now in 10 Easy Steps]
Stephen Hawking began the event by reciting an African creation myth, and rapidly moved on to big questions such as, Why are we here?
He noted that many people still seek a divine solution to counter the theories of curious physicists, and at one point, he quipped, “What was God doing before the divine creation? Was he preparing hell for people who asked such questions?”
After outlining the historical theological debate about how the universe was created, Hawking gave a quick review of more scientific cosmological explanations, including Fred Hoyle and Thomas Gold’s steady-state theory. This idea hypothesizes that there is no beginning and no end and that galaxies continue to form from spontaneously created matter.