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  • English Reading Exercise: Interview With Stephen Hawking

    Trying to improve your English reading skills? Here’s an English reading exercise with questions based on an interview about life, the universe and everything with Stephen Hawking.

    English Reading Exercise

    Is there a heaven and an afterlife? Do we only have the here and now? These are questions that have people have pondered since the dawn of time.

    To what do you believe we should attribute the universe?

    Do you think we should give this matter a little more thought than we actually do?

    Well-known physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking explained his take on these issues to the UK’s Guardian newspaper this week.

    Let’s read the text of the interview and then answer the questions afterwards:

    Interview with Stephen Hawking

    Photograph: Solar & Heliospheric Observatory/Discovery Channel

     

    Ian Sample, science correspondent, Sunday 15 May, 2011

    What is the value in knowing “Why are we here?”

    The universe is governed by science. But science tells us that we can’t solve the equations, directly in the abstract. We need to use the effective theory of Darwinian natural selection of those societies most likely to survive. We assign them higher value.

    You’ve said there is no reason to invoke God to light the blue touchpaper. Is our existence all down to luck?

    Science predicts that many different kinds of universe will be spontaneously created out of nothing. It is a matter of chance which we are in.

    So here we are. What should we do?

    We should seek the greatest value of our action.

    You had a health scare and spent time in hospital in 2009. What, if anything, do you fear about death?

    I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first. I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.

    What are the things you find most beautiful in science?

    Science is beautiful when it makes simple explanations of phenomena or connections between different observations. Examples include the double helix in biology, and the fundamental equations of physics.

    Questions

    What is the role to which Hawkins attributes science in the creation of the universe?

    What can we do when faced with this fact, according to Hawking? Are we powerless as a result?

    What is Hawking’s view of death?

    What is his view of the afterlife? Do you think it can be considered bleak or positive?

    Do you think Hawking’s perception of science is positive, negative or neutral?

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