Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant the accuracy of closed captions. These are derived automatically from the broadcaster's signal.
Stephen Hawking's Grand Design -

View in ParlView

(generated from captions) bubble to the surface, threatening
to boil over into open conflict.

In this increasingly
precarious position,

Saladin's closest advisers urged him
to leave the Holy City

while he still could.

It was the Sultan's turn to agonise.

Should he stay to mount a hopeless
defence of Jerusalem,

or do the unthinkable and turn his
back on this most sacred city?

Baha' al-Din was beside Saladin
through a long

and tortuous night and he's left us

an extraordinary record
of the Sultan's state of mind.

He wrote that Saladin felt
a concern for Jerusalem

that could "move mountains",
and that it was

"a night entirely given over to
the concerns of Holy War."

By morning, the Sultan had made
a shocking decision.

He would abandon Jerusalem.

Here, in the Aqsa mosque, on Friday
3rd July 1192, Baha' al-Din watched

the Sultan "prostrate himself
and say some words,

"while his tears fell
on his prayer rug."

Richard was on the brink of victory.

Once Saladin marched from Jerusalem,
the city would be open to attack.

It seemed that the Lionheart was
hours away from achieving

a startling triumph.

But entirely unaware of Saladin's
astonishing decision,

the King's own resolve was weakening.

Richard was said to have looked upon
Jerusalem with its massive,

near impregnable defences
and to have had a change of heart.

He called a meeting
of leading Crusaders
to discuss what should be done.

But according to
Christian eyewitnesses,

his mind was already made up.

Having once again led his men to
within hours of the city,

the attack was called off.

For the Crusaders,
this was an appalling reversal.

After the vast sums raised and spent,

the months campaigning away
from his empire,

all the lives given up
in the name of Jerusalem,

his retreat was utterly shocking.

Richard apparently said that he was
unwilling to lead the crusade

on such a "rash venture" because it
would end in "terrible disgrace"

for which he would be "forever
blamed, shamed and less loved."

At this moment of crisis,
as the fate of Jerusalem

hung in the balance,

Richard refused to risk everything
on a direct assault,

at least in part out of fear
for his reputation.

Had he held his nerve,
the King could have defeated

Saladin's stricken armies
and conquered Jerusalem.

Instead, his crusade was torn apart,

without either side
scoring a victory.

Richard the Lionheart,
the legendary crusader knight,

left the Holy Land without ever
setting foot in Jerusalem.

When he returned to his
Angevin realm,

the kingdom was still his to rule

and he spent the remainder
of that decade

campaigning against his
European enemies,

until he was shot and killed by
a crossbow bolt.

Islam held onto its Holy City,

but despite his undoubted
military genius,

Saladin had been wholly unable to
prevent the Franks

from reconquering the coast.

The story of these two men

has so often been simplified
and manipulated,

cast as emblematic
of the great struggle

between East and West,
Christians and Muslims.

Even today, their images are still
appopriated and twisted.

Richard, the ultimate warrior,
the cruel king, lionhearted,

and Saladin, the clement hero of
Islam, avowed enemy of the West.

Their confrontation during
the Third Crusade

also revealed the complexity
of their characters.

Saladin was not simply
the pious defender of Islam.

He could also be ruthless
and self-serving.

And Richard was not just
the masterful warrior-king,

but a wily and skillful negotiator.

The bloody war for possession
of Jerusalem

had raged for 100 years.

In the century to come,

the final chapter of this
epic struggle

would be played out in Egypt,
as a saintly French King,

afire with crusading zeal,

and the most remarkable Muslim
in the Middle Ages,

fought for ultimate victory
in the East.

Captions by Red Bee Media Ltd


My name is Stephen Hawking,

physicist, cosmologist
and something of a dreamer.

Although I cannot move and I
have to speak through a computer,

in my mind...

VOICEOVER: I'm free... to explore the great
questions of the universe,

such as is there a meaning to life?

Is there a reason that we exist
here on our pale, precious world?

Finding out delves deep
into what it is to be alive... think... be a human being,

right to the limits
of reality itself.


HAWKING: Check it out.

We humans are a curious species.

We wonder. We seek answers.

So can we answer
the greatest question of all?

Is there a meaning to life?

You might think
it is a philosophical question

but I think philosophy is dead.

I believe science holds the key.

has changed everything,

not just the world around us
but how we see ourselves.

It's hard to overstate
how profound these discoveries are.

For a start, they force us
to leave our common sense behind.

When we look at the human race
clearly and objectively...


..what we see is
a pretty extraordinary creature.

We live and love
and enjoy ourselves.

We sometimes break the law
or behave badly.

We all have hopes
and dreams and desires.

But the first thing we must accept

as we go searching
for the meaning of life... that all this
is nothing more than physics.

You see, the entire universe works
according to the laws of nature,

such as gravity.

These laws control everything...

..from the inner workings of atoms

to the collisions
of colossal galaxies.

I see no reason why we tiny humans
should be the exception to the rule.

After all, we are made
of the exact same materials,

operating to the very
same principles.

So the challenge is to explain
what humans really are

and how we small, insignificant
beings relate

to the enormous, ancient, and rather
beautiful universe that produced us.

Only then, I think, can we discover
if there is a meaning to our lives,

and perhaps even
what that meaning is.

The first person to make any real
headway with this thorny question

was a man by the name
of Rene Descartes.

You may know Descartes
as the father of modern philosophy,

but I consider him to be a pioneering
forefather of science.

Descartes proposed that humans
are made of two distinct components,

the body and the mind.

He made careful anatomical
drawings of the body.

He saw it as a complex
biological machine.

But he was certain
the mind was different.

He proved this
with a simple thought experiment.

He tried to imagine
that he had no physical body,

as if he was floating around
like a ghost.

That was easy to do,
even though it's a little strange.

Then he tried to imagine
having no mind.

But he couldn't.

After all, with no mind
how can you imagine anything?

He summed it up rather neatly
with the phrase...

.."I think, therefore I am."

He believed that
the mind and the body

are fundamentally
different kinds of things.

Working out how they interconnect

is the next step for us
to find a scientific basis

for the meaning of life.

Here too, Descartes
was well ahead of his time.

He suggested the mind was connected
to the body at the pineal gland,

a small lobe at the top of the spine.

Although he wasn't entirely right,
Descartes was pretty close.

We now know that the conscious mind
is created by the brain as a whole... organ of such
stupendous complexity

that I find it mind-boggling.

The human brain is far more
intricate than you may realise,

although you would not be able
to realise anything if it weren't.

It contains as many brain cells

as there are stars in the Milky Way -

100 billion, give or take a few.

These cells are coupled together,

creating more connections than there
are galaxies in the known universe.

It may seem that studying
the brain is a job for neuroscience,

but since the brain
is governed by fundamental forces,

forces like electromagnetism,

then thinking itself
ultimately boils down to physics..., complex physics.

HAWKING: As a physicist,

I see the human mind as one of the
universe's more wonderful creations.

It's understanding how the mind
is aware of that universe

that will lead us to finding out
whether there is meaning to it all.

VOICEOVER: The ancient Greeks
were among

the first people to wonder

if the mind was subject to
the laws of nature.

That was such an unsettling idea

it was swept under the rug
for nearly 20 centuries.

HAWKING: After all, if we are
just biological clockwork

perhaps there
is no meaning to life...

..perhaps no meaning at all.

Well, let's not be too hasty.

VOICEOVER: Take a typical
human scene here in Cambridge -

three people having a pleasant
day out on the River Cam,

which winds its way
between the colleges.


These people, whose bodies
are controlled by their brains,

can interact with each other,

appreciate each other
and their surroundings.

They might even decide
to play a song...

..or fall in love.

Their world is not without meaning.

Quite the opposite.
Their world is full of meaning.

To them even a simple glance
can be laden with meaning... much so that it's easy
to get carried away.

So finding out where the meaning is

and it means delving into why
we have consciousness at all.

Enter one of the greatest theories
in science - evolution.

We know all life on Earth

evolved from complex molecules
called amino acids.

These molecules collided randomly

to create the first
simple living things.

Over billions of years these life
forms became ever more sophisticated,

until eventually

complex multicellular creatures,
animals with brains, arrived.


Complex animals need brains

in order to process
large amounts of information.

They need to be able to react
to the world around them

and even plan ahead.

The more aware an animal is
of its environment

the more successful it will be.

Eventually awareness
became so sophisticated

that one animal
became aware of itself.

And that is what we are -
self-aware animals,

animals that evolution has equipped
with the ability to be conscious.

But how is this possible?

How can a biological structure

possess the ability
to think, to feel...

..and to assign meaning to things?

Not easy questions to answer.

But there are theories
about how consciousness could arise.

Back in the 1970s, an unexpected
breakthrough was made

by a mathematician named
John Conway here in Cambridge.

He devised something
called the 'Game of Life',

a simple simulation

that shows how a complex thing
like the mind might come about

from a basic set of rules.

The simulation consists of a grid,
a bit like a chessboard...

..extending infinitely
in all directions.

Each square of the grid can either
be lit up, which he called 'alive'...

..or dark, which he called 'dead'.

Whether a given square
is dead or alive

depends on what is happening in the
eight other squares that surround it.

For example, if a living square,
like this one,

has no living squares nearby,

the rules say it will die
of loneliness.

If a living square is surrounded by
more than three other living squares

the square will also die -
of overcrowding.

But if a dead square is surrounded
by three living squares... becomes lit or is 'born'.

Once you set an initial state
of living squares

and let the simulation run,

these simple laws determine
what happens in the future.

The results are surprising.

As the program progresses, shapes
appear and disappear spontaneously.

Collections of shapes move across
the grid, bouncing off one another.

There are whole kinds of objects,
species that interact.

Some can even reproduce,
just as life does in the real world.

These complex properties
emerge from simple laws

that contain no concepts
like movement or reproduction.

It's possible to imagine

that something like the 'Game
of Life', with only a few basic laws,

might produce
highly complex features,

perhaps even intelligence.

It might take a grid
with many billions of squares,

but that's not surprising.

We have many hundreds of billions
of cells in our brains.

So I think the human mind
and the meaning it creates

arise from a large, complex system

operating to fairly simple rules.

Which means Descartes was right...

..the body and mind are different.

The body and the brain
are made out of physical matter.

The mind is a product of the
ever-changing state of this matter.

HAWKING: Our bodies
are the hardware.

Our minds are the software,

just like the software that
allows me to speak these words.

But this does pose a problem,
the problem of free will.

When I was a young man

my father wanted me
to become a doctor like him,

but I chose to study
physics instead.

Looking back, I'm pleased

because as things worked out I would
have made a pretty useless doctor.

the right choice.

Or did I choose at all?

Perhaps I am deluded
about my own free will.

After all, if my mind follows
the strict rules of nature,

maybe the path I chose
was predetermined.

In fact, scientists
have already discovered

that our decisions to do something
can be affected by many things,

not least electricity.

Now, I do hope you're not squeamish,

but let's imagine watching
a surgical procedure

called 'awake brain surgery'.

It's used to treat
neurological disorders.


The brain is exposed and stimulated
with electrical probes.

The urge to move a foot, hand
or face can be artificially triggered

by electrically exciting
appropriate regions of the brain.

All it takes is about 3.5 volts
in the right place.

The patient may think
he has made a choice,

but in fact, the surgeon
made it for him.

We can imagine a future

where advanced technology
could allow the doctor

to control someone's thoughts...

..perhaps even make them
fall in love.

The unfortunate subject would believe
he was acting out of free will.

But the opposite would be true.

It's all just physics in the brain.

For many people,
this idea is a horrific thought

for it seems to deny
our basic humanity

and would turn us
not only into machines,

but machines that can be controlled,
conceivably for evil means.



So perhaps I had no choice when I
decided between physics and biology.

Perhaps the laws of physics
predetermined my career.

Well, not necessarily.

Predictability isn't always
a consequence of the laws of nature.

It's hard to predict
an individual roll of the dice,

even though it's pure physics.

Scale that up to a really
complex system

and predictability
becomes impossible.

To see such a system
you only have to look outside.

Now, as you may know,

we English are slightly obsessed
by our ever-changing weather...

..especially when planning
a summer barbecue.

Wouldn't it be nice

if we could be sure of a sunny day
before inviting our friends?

Predicting a nice day
should be relatively simple.

After all, we understand pretty well

how the atmosphere
reacts to heat and pressure

to form clouds and thunderstorms.

But no matter how hard
we try to compute all the details,

it is impossible to say
exactly what the weather will be

at any particular place and time.

Instead, we make weather forecasts
using simplified models

that don't take into account
every single tiny variable.

But tiny variables
can have big consequences.

So if a butterfly flaps its wings
too hard in the Amazon

the barbecue might be a wash-out.

It's a complex system.

I think our brains
are just another complex system,

like the Earth's atmosphere.

We abide by the physical laws,

yet are impossible to fully predict.

The mind is like weather
inside our heads.

Free will is simply what we call
the process that happens

when this vastly complex
system faces a choice.

Let me try and explain.

Imagine a man wakes up at night
and feels thirsty.

Let's say I'm right
about the human mind

and this man's brain is working
according to the laws of nature.

Where exactly might
free will come into it?

Let's give him a choice to make...

..either orange juice or apple juice
to quench his thirst.

As he smells the apple juice

a storm of neurons fire
and a memory kicks in.

He is reminded of a special moment
in an apple orchard...

..and his mind is made up.

So his choice is not surprising.

He had to make a decision...

..he chose, and that is
what we call free will.

But it's all still
a matter of physics.

HAWKING: Looking back, I certainly
made the choice to be a physicist,

and I certainly feel
like I had free will

because free will is what we call
the complex physics that happens

when we decide.

VOICEOVER: But if our choices
are just physics,

does it mean we are deluding

and there is no meaning to life?

To find the answer
we have to go even deeper

and question the very nature
of reality itself.


Most of us share the same
commonsense view of what reality is -

the world around us
exists independently from us.

It's full of real things
that are really there.

But science is unravelling
this basic assumption...

..which handily leads us
to the meaning of life.

Take this little girl here,

walking round through a busy,
bustling market in Monza, Italy.

Her reality is a riot
of sound, colour,

taste and smell...

..all based on the many
bits of information

her senses are feeding her brain.

But once we accept that the mind is
like a weather system in the brain...

..governed by physics,
yet unpredictable,

reality itself begins to break down.

It becomes subjective.

My reality is different than yours

or this fish's.

Its reality appears distorted
by the round fishbowl.

Everything is warped and curved.

In Monza they thought it was so cruel

to keep fish in such
a distorted reality

that they actually banned
round fishbowls.


Speaking as a scientist,

Just because the goldfish's view
isn't the same as ours,

it doesn't mean that
it is living in a distorted reality.

Imagine that this goldfish
is something of a genius.

Even though he sees the world
differently than we do,

he could still work out
the laws of nature.

The mathematics
would be more complicated

to account for the distorted

But the physics would be the same.

If this clever fish

could work out how fast the
policeman's motorcycle was moving,

he could calculate
the right trajectory

and the right moment to escape.

I don't think that that one reality
is more valid than another...

..and that means that reality itself
is in the mind of the beholder.

When you think about it, even our
point of view is far from perfect.

It may seem that human eyes,
for example,

are pretty good at seeing
the world around them.

But in fact, they're not so great.

Our eyes only see a small area
with good resolution,

an area the width of your thumb
when held at arm's length.

The eyes then send electrical signals
to the brain down the optic nerve.

The area where this nerve
connects to our eyes

means we have two
blind spots in our vision...

..but we don't perceive
a blurry world with two black holes.

This is because of the incredible
organ that is our brain.

Our brains fill in the gaps,

transforming the crude signals
from the eyes

into a three-dimensional model
of the outside world.

It is these mental models
that each of us call 'reality'.

So how does this realisation bring us
closer to the meaning of life?

Well, at first, it would seem
to be bad news.

If reality itself is just a model
in each individual brain,

where can the meaning be?

What's more, perhaps there
is no real reality out there at all.


Make Christmas more Christmassy with the festive range from Instant Scratch-Its.

HAWKING: It may seem crazy to doubt
that our concept of reality is true.

But I think to find
the meaning of life

we must answer the question... there an independent
reality or not?


Imagine a scenario that is straight
from a science fiction movie.

The world around you

is actually nothing more
than an elaborate fabrication

of some unknown
superior intelligence.

A giant supercomputer provides
you with all your senses,

from what you see, to what
you smell, hear and touch.

But in fact, you have no senses.

Your body does not exist.

You are just a brain in a jar.

It may sound bizarre,

but this is a genuine
scientific hypothesis

called the 'simulation theory'.

For all we know,

every one of our perceived
realities is simply fed to us

by some all-powerful supercomputer...

..and the simulation is so perfect...

..that we never even notice.

But here's the crux -
it doesn't actually matter.

It's as Descartes said.

We think, therefore we are.

The hamburger could be nothing more
than a piece of computer code.

But our desire to eat it
is still our own desire.

We still feel hunger.

Our minds still exist,
even if we are in a simulation.

So doubting the true nature
of reality serves no purpose.

It's simpler to just accept

that there are fundamental limits
to what we can know.

Take this table, for example.

How do you know
if a table still exists

if you go out of a room
and can no longer see it?

the table could pack up
and disappear out of the window.

It could take a visit
to the International Space Station...

..perhaps even fly to the moon.

All this before returning
to the exact same spot

an instant before
you re-enter the room.

This, of course,
is a pretty unlikely scenario,

but one we can't rule out.

It is much simpler
to assume the table stays put

when we are not there.

It is our 'best fit'
model of reality.

what we do in science.

We create best fit models of how we
believe the universe actually works.

The ancient Greeks were the first
to build such scientific models.

They suggested that the Earth
was a large sphere,

motionless and fixed
at the centre of the universe.

But later, pioneering scientists

found a much simpler
and completely revolutionary model

to describe the same observations.

They proposed that
the Earth itself was spinning

and orbiting the sun
at the same time,

along with all the other planets.

But neither could be said
to actually be true

because they, like all models,
are just models in our heads

that best fit
the reality we perceive.

In fact, physicists
are forever creating

ever more sophisticated models,

and the truth of those models
is impossible to establish.

A good example of this
came in the 1960s

when physicists devised the theory
of really tiny bits of matter

called quarks.

These quarks were proposed
to be the building blocks

of the subatomic particle
called a proton.

The theory, or model,

suggested that these quarks
were held together by a force

that got stronger as you tried
to separate them... if the quarks
were bound by tiny rubber bands.

This model also implied

that there is no way one can
ever see a single isolated quark.

At first, some people were sceptical.

If something by its very definition
can never be seen...

..can it be said to exist?

Does it make sense to say
that quarks are real or not?

In vast particle accelerators,
like this one at CERN in Switzerland,

scientists are on the hunt for quarks
and other subatomic particles.

By smashing protons together
at incredible speeds,

we can study the behaviour
of the tiniest particles in nature...

..and although we haven't been able
to directly observe quarks,

we have seen evidence
of particle behaviour

predicted by the quark model.

So do quarks exist?

The answer...

HAWKING: they exist only in as
far as they are a model that works.

That is as far as we can go.

This is called the concept
of model-dependent reality

and I believe it leads us
directly to the meaning of life.

To my mind, science has taught us
something pretty remarkable.

We humans are highly complex
biological machines,

behaving in accordance
with the laws of nature.

Our brains create and sustain
our conscious minds

through an extraordinary network
of interacting neurons.

That consciousness

creates a three-dimensional model
of the outside world,

a best fit model
that we call reality.

This reality is much more
than what we see around us

in our everyday lives.

A vast array
of ground- and space-telescopes

have extended our senses,

allowing us to see deep into space...

..and build a much bigger model
than ever before.

As we peer further and further
into the cosmos,

our reality has grown
bigger and bigger still.

Where once we saw chinks
in heaven's floor

we now see distant stars
like our sun,

many with their own planets
and moons.

Then we discovered
distant galaxies...

..home to billions more stars.

We have peered back in time

all the way to the birth
of the universe itself.

All this,

the entire 13.7-billion-year
history of the universe,

exists as a model inside our minds.

So where does this leave us
with finding a meaning to life?

The answer, I think, is pretty clear.

Meaning itself is simply another
piece of the model of reality

that we each build
inside our own brain.

Take this mother and child.

They each create their own
little bubbles of reality

in their conscious minds.

The youngster can create a detailed
mental model of his surroundings...

..even though he may not
fully appreciate the fact

he's on the fifth floor.

The mother's reality
is also produced by her mind,

and for her, her love for her boy is
as real as the telephone in her hand.

In short, the brain is responsible

for not only the reality
we perceive...


...but for our emotions
and meaning too.

Love and honour, right and wrong

are part of the universe
we create in our minds,

just as a table,
a planet or a galaxy.

It's pretty remarkable
to think that our brains,

which are essentially
a collection of particles

working to the laws of physics,

have this wonderful ability
to not only perceive reality,

but to give it meaning, too.

The meaning of life
is what you choose it to be.

Personally, I like to think
that it is every one of us

that gives meaning to the universe.

We are, as cosmologist
Carl Sagan once said,

the universe contemplating itself.

HAWKING: Meaning can only ever exist

within the confines
of the human mind,

and in this way the meaning
of life is not somewhere out there,

but right between our ears.

In many ways,

this makes us the lords of creation.

Captions by The SubStation

How does it feel
being the only designer in the world

who has managed to last
45 years?

I feel wonderful.

Do you ever think of retiring
and giving up?

Well, maybe one day certainly...

What is the idea of glamour?

This is in my blood,
you know,

what I have to do.

Like I love a beautiful lady,

I love a beautiful dog, I love
a beautiful piece of furniture.

I love beauty.
It's not my fault.

What do women want?

Yeah, I know, I know,
I know what women want.

What do they want?

They want to be beautiful.

Wonderful, wonderful,

Forty-five years later,

and Valentino
is still leading the way in glamour.

Sexy, molto!

I had a hard-on the whole time.

Valentino's Haute Couture show
has sparked rumours

Valentino may be about to retire.

But the designer,
who's in his 70s, denied it.

And it was quite moving as well,
the show.

I hope it won't be his last one.

And everyone was standing up
and cheering

and I think he felt very emotional.

Valentino told us a story,
and it still is a good story.

It is like a book.
You read a chapter and go on,

and we want to arrive
at a good ending.

Was there ever a time,

when you didn't want
to be in fashion?

You could never remember... ?

I mean, you never wanted to be
like a fireman or a train driver?

No, no, no.

I remember very well
when I was young,

I was faking to sleep...
Pretending to sleep.

And I was dreaming,

dreaming about movie stars,

dreaming about everything beautiful
in the world.

My mother used to say,
"You are a dreamer."

"You always dream,
dream, dream, dream

"about stupid things"
she used to say.

I was always so attracted
by magazines, by films.

I had a sister,
and she took me for the first time

to see some films.

And to me,
the dream of my life

was to see those beautiful ladies
of the silver screen.