Some questions are better not asked when you are trying to put a school-going kid to sleep. Googlies such as “How large is the universe?” and “Are there any aliens out there?” can leave even the most thick-glassed scientist or the most bushy-bearded philosopher stumped, leave alone a hapless parent.
But if there’s one person that all of the above — including the thick-glassed scientist — will want to learn the answers from, it’s Stephen Hawking, 68, theoretical physicist and Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge. And answers they shall get in the form of ‘Stephen Hawking Special’, a programme that beams into living rooms every Monday and Friday this month.
Now for one of the questions that has kept even bearded films directors such as Stanley Kubrick and Steven Spielberg up in the night: if there are aliens, what do they look like? Will they be simple green slimes, or fantastic creatures that bite? Will they be seen as huge organisms at the heart of a star system, or as a huge community of micro-organisms that look like a cloud of dust from far?
One parental guidance is needed: as these questions suggest, some of the stuff may not be digestible to someone in Class 2 — but maybe Class 5 science will be good enough.
'Stephen Hawking Special' airs on Discovery Channel every Monday at 9 pm till July 26. The episodes will be repeated every Friday at 4 pm