A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

1. Introduction:

Stephen Hawking is considered one of the best popular Science writers across the Globe. Especially his book ‘A Brief History of Time’ is the best seller among the books on popular science, dealing with evolution of Universe from Big Bang to Black Holes.

Various aspects of evolution haldanes of Universe on the basis of Physics have been dealt with, in a powerful manner in the book and it deserves best laurels. But any theory of Physics needs empirical proof and the undersigned author tried to analyse the theories with the experimental findings of a magnificent experiment at the order of recent CERN experiment, otherwise known as Hadron experiment. The results of the analysis are given below.

The purpose of this article is to first, present the theories put forward by Stephen Hawking in his book and second, compare it with the findings of CERN experiment and other popular books written by Erwin Schrodinger, Fritjof Capra, J.B.S.Haldane, Ernst Opik and to bring forth the point that the three major findings of the book lack experimental support.

2. The Questions Considered in the Book ‘A Brief History of Time’:

The primary questions put forward by Stephen Hawking in the book are:

Was there a beginning of Time?
Could Time run backwards?
Is the Universe infinite or does it have boundaries?

3. Question no1, Concept of TIME According to Stephen Hawking:

Stephen Hawking in this book has taken the concept of increase in Entropy as a measure of time. In fact he defines three concepts to define the concept of arrow of Time as:

1. The increase in Entropy,

2. The Psychological Time. In the order of sequence by which we serialise the happenings and

3. The direction by which the Universe is expanding (Chapter 9, Arrow of Time)

Though he considers all the above three as true reflections of Time arrow (Time moving forward) he gives prominence to Entropy because he considers increase in Entropy as a measurable quantity and reversible exactly in reverse direction to enable Time travel in both directions. We already know that Entropy (disorder) increases with increase in time. Hence he concludes that increase in Entropy is increase in time.

Earlier we studied that entropy is a measure of Disorder. The disorder of the Universe tends to the maximum, thus marking the death of the Universe. Hence Mr Hawking starts from zero disorder and measures the age of the Universe from the amount of disorder presently existing, somewhat akin to Carbon dating.

The postulate that Entropy in the reverse direction reduces time cannot be empirically proved. The disorder, one day the disorder may be totally nullified by some Natural Force and order may be restored. Hence measuring Time using Entropy is basically not possible unlike measuring Age of Earth using Carbon dating. Also Mr Hawking brings the concept of Negative Entropy, a measure of order for reversal of Time. For this, he is taking the example of a Jigsaw game (page 154)

He asserts that the initial position of Jigsaw pieces which constitute a whole image is in order and marks time as zero. Then its position becomes disordered marking a progress in time. When they are re-assembled, the Time reverses in the negative direction and becomes zero when perfect order is regained. The same is the case with a broken cup. During the forward journey it enters into total disorder and in the reverse direction, it brings back order.

For the sake of simplicity let me give the following flow chart of Time Arrow in both directions as envisaged by Stephen Hawking:

I. Movement of Universe in the forward Direction:

1.Zero Time represents Perfect order,
2. progress in Time means, disorder increases. (More Entropy)
3. End of Time means Maximum disorder OR Maximum Entropy (Singularity)

II.On the reverse side:

1.End of Time means.Maximum disorder
2.Regression in Time: Disorder decreases (order or negative Entropy increases)
3.Beginning of Time means Perfect order (Zero Entropy)

This is the vivid description of Time in terms of Entropy given by Stephen Hawking in his book ‘A brief History of Time”.

4. Discussions on Entropy and Negative Entropy:

Detailed discussions on this topic were already done by the author and a reference is invited to the article by the undersigned author in ‘what is Life?’- No 6488527 dated 2nd Sept, 2011 in which the concepts of Entropy and negative Entropy were discussed while reviewing the book of Erwin Schrodinger.

Both are only two forms of Energy. We cannot measure energy by reversing the order of Entropy. This is like saying, if the minute hand travels in the reverse side, Time also will travel in the opposite direction. The Energy is manifested in different forms. The total energy is always a constant which implies that there is no absolute Time as far as the whole Universal Energy is concerned. Time can be used to measure changes in Energy and not the reverse i.e. energy to measure time.

This answers also the question no 2 raised in the book. There is no question of Time running in the reverse direction because what we construe as Time, is only various forms of Energy, whether forward or backward and so there is no negative Time. For example, if I travel from India to London for 8 Hours, the travel from London to India is also 8 Hours and not -8 hours. No doubt, the distance is in the opposite direction i.e. negative. This will make it clear that any position of Energy will be measured by Time only in one direction and reversal is not possible.

This is the great secret of Time and Energy. Various forms of Universal energy are formed in such a way that Energy rules including Entropy, circumvent other rules to keep Time unchanged as for as direction is concerned.

This does not require any experimental proof. A deep insight will make this fact clear to those who think without bias.

5: Question 3: Is the Universe infinite or does it have boundaries?

Before analyzing the significance of this theory let us see the other aspect of his book i.e.formation of the Universe.

Stephen Hawking has put the total onus of formation and movement of the Universe on BIG BANG. His theory is that the Universe started from the big bang, its movement is because of its effect, TIME also started from that point. Hence Big bang is the starting point of both space and time. Let us see how CERN experiment totally contradicts it.

Note: Complete details and finer aspects of the experiment are not within the scope of this article. We shall see only the aspects relevant to the topic under consideration.

Let us start our study from Higgs Boson which the CERN experiment claims to have discovered.

6. What is Higgs Boson?

Higg’s Boson is a spin-zero particle with a non zero mass predicted by Peter Higgs (born 1929) to exist in certain electro weak forces which requires large accelerators (like W and Z Bosons) That is what precisely the scientists appear to have achieved on 3rd July of this year as a new particle at the LARGE HADRON COLLIDER (LHC) In 1960, Higgs hypothesised the existence of an energy field and an associated particle which enabled the particles to acquire mass without destroying the unification of forces. The latest data revealing the existence of a 125 GeV mass particle marks a high-point in precision experimental high-energy Physics. Scientists from CERN have announced that they have discovered the God particle- the key particle in the formation of the Universe. We shall see the following two theories regarding this aspect.

a. Prediction by Satyendra Nath Bose (1894-1974)

The Indian born Scientist Satyendra Nath Bose (in whose name the nomenclature BOSON came into being- Boson means particles obeying Bose-Einstein Statistics) predicted the existence of the fundamental particle and the entire Universe is formed by only these particles and their derivatives.

b.Tao of Physics and Boson Experiment:

Fritjof Capra (born 1939) had the realization that Oceanic waves, Radiations from the Sun and Thought waves are true reflections of atomic vibrations which can be named as Atomic Dances. Indian Saints used to visualize ‘Creation’ as an eternal process without either beginning or end and Scientists also visualise the Universe as an eternal process.

There is no stoppage for birth and death of both material particles and Life. Hence the dance of atoms never stops. Billions of atoms are formed and then annihilated every second which is known as ‘Cosmic Dance’.

The source of this activity is the Higg’s Boson, which the CERN experiments have confirmed now.

7. How do CERN experiments negate the theories of Stephen Hawking?

Scientists like Einstein have not approved big bang as the starting point of the Universe. Einstein has proposed a ‘steady state model’ wherein he supposed the existence of the Universe forever, resembling to Hindu Philosophy and also Holistic Philosophy. Ernst J. Opik’s model is an improved version of this Einstein’s model which states that Universe alternatively expands and shrinks. There is no unanimous view among scientists that Big Bang is the starting point of the Universe.

The enormous energy spent in creating or separating one Higgs Boson throws light on the tremendous energy required to make a big bang. Hence, it may be concluded that huge energy was there before big bang, during big bang and continues even today. Hence, as written in the above paragraphs, various forms of the Universe are only manifestation of the whole energy in various forms.

Regarding the boundaries of the Universe, it was clarified in earlier articles by this author, that OBJECTS create their own space and there is no separate entity known as SPACE and hence there is no question of boundary. Readers are referred to the book on ‘The Expanding Universe’ By J.B.S Haldane in this regard.

Hence, the conclusion of the author through this article is that:

1. Time is measurement of various changes in Energy levels. It has no directions.
2. Space is only created by objects and there is no closed boundaries for space.

This writer is not a great Scientist. But it is his humble suggestion that Scientists may come out of the myth of ‘Singular’ Big Bang and visualize various changes including various singularities in the Whole energy which always remains intact.


Hence it is concluded that the answers given for the three questions in Stephen Hacking’s book “A brief History of Time’ is insufficient in the light of findings of CERN experiment. The book may be studied along with Fritjof Capra’s ‘Tao of Physics’. E.Schrodinger’s ‘What is Life and other articles’, Ernst J.Opik’s ‘ The oscillating Universe’ and Albert Einstein’s ‘Steady State model’ to have complete answers for the questions raised by Mr Hawking and to have complete understanding of results of CERN experiment.

Let us have an open mind to study the grand design of the Universe and not close it with pre-conceived ideas.

I wish the readers all the best.

Dr B.Sathyanarayanan (65) is an experienced administrator, teacher and writer. He is M.Sc(Physics) from Annamalai University. He studied Psychology and Philosophy as two additional subjects for graduation. He worked as a PHYSICS LECTURER for 2 years (1969-1971). Later, he had to take up a bank job and continued Physics and Philosophy research privately. At the age of 50, he got voluntary retirement from banking service to devote more time for social,educational and research activities. In 2005, he took up Physics teaching once again and is teaching for the past 8 years as a regular professor of Physics.

He continued his interest in Psychology and got his PhD in Psychological counselling in 2000 and is counselling on HIV/AIDS matters. He conducted several intervention programmes. He is a well known writer in English in fiction and article writing. His writing is recognised internationally by listing in the directory of World Philosophers, Bowling Green State University, U.S.A.

All along his life so far, he remained a scientific philosopher in thought and deeds. He considers Albert Einstein as his role model in Science and J.Krishnamurti, in Philosophy. His first book ‘The Simple Truth”, a comparative study of Religion and Science, was published in 1987. He is publishing the annual magazine ‘Philosophy of Science’ (since re-started). He founded Holistic Philosophy Society for the study of Physics and Philosophy. His latest book ‘Glimpses of Holistic Philosophy’ has been widely acclaimed. He conducts regular meetings on various topics on Physics and Philosophy in Chennai. He recently conducted a “Two days seminar on Religion, Science and Social Services” in Chennai, India which was attended by senior Professors of Physics and Philosophy. As an experienced author, he is glad to present the above article for the kind attention of readers.


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