Just finished Into the Rectum and through the Bowels of the Universe with Stephen Hawking, my more-titillating and slightly-longer made-up title of what is really called Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking. Which is a new 2010 cosmology series on Discovery Channel (and not to be confused with Hawking’s also-good but slightly outdated 1997 PBS six-part series Stephen Hawking’s Universe, nor to be confused with the so-so Jon Krakauer book and utterly pointless film adaptation Into the Wild).
It appears, as far as I can discern at this point, to be in three parts: 1. “Aliens” (1 hour), 2. “Time Travel” (1 hour), and 3. “The Story of Everything” (2 hours). It seems to me the order should have been the other way around, but I was not consulted.
Regardless, for those intrigued by the big questions of the universe, where it came from, where it’s going, our place in it, what science currently has to say about such things, and if you have four hours to spare, I highly recommend watching. (Unfortunately, science is unable to answer the “why” question as of now, but many—yes, there are many other highly intelligent scientists alive today who are equal to Hawking in brain-power, believe it or not, they just aren’t as high profile because they don’t have badass synthesized voices—who are working hard at cracking that tough nut, and some exciting breakthroughs seem to be just on the cusp.) It’s well grounded while also being imaginative. With computer-generated imagery of rational extrapolations of possibilities of alien life (highly likely, both primitive and intelligent, though we haven’t found either, yet, sorry V fans), time travel (highly unlikely, or at least possible but traveling back in time does not seem to bode well for the living, sorry Back to the Future fans), and what the future may hold (both good and bad in the short to long term, depending, and definitely bad in the 30-billion-years-away really long term, sorry Jehovah’s Witnesses fans).
I’ve been following Hawking like a hawk since A Brief History of Time in 1988. (I realize this is ambiguous and could just as well mean: 1. I’ve been following Hawking’s work since 1988; 2. I’ve been stalking Stephen Hawking’s wheelchair-bound corporeal body since 1988; or 3. I’ve been following Hawking’s work since I read A Brief History of Time sometime after 1988—maybe 2000ish—which was published in 1988. You choose.) Science has learned much since then (1988? 2000ish? When I allegedly began stalking? Again, you choose)—and will continue to learn much more henceforth. Hawking stays on top of these latest developments and weaves it all together in a sensible framework of empirical realism mingled with childlike dreaming. This documentary also seems to be the pinnacle of his efforts over the past few decades to make these grand, sweeping, complex questions-and-answers easier to understand for as many people as possible. (I say “pinnacle” as I’m unsure he has much longer to live. We’ll see.) He uses the hooks of aliens and time travel to draw us in. Then he sustains that attention by using simple, every-day language, up-to-date analogies, and new cinematic techniques to engross us all visually and stimulate us intellectually.
But if you don’t give a damn about being engrossed or stimulated by a man with no self control over his bodily functions due to an incurable motor neuron disease causing him to drivel incessantly over his personal pictures of Marilyn Monroe (no joke, look it up), then never you mind, my child.
Never you mind.