The Universe Explained in One Minute

Paul Davies is a theoretical physicist, cosmologist, astrobiologist, and bestselling author. He is Director of the Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science and co-Director of the Cosmology Initiative, both at Arizona State University. Previously he held academic appointments at the Universities of Cambridge, London and Newcastle upon Tyne in the UK, before moving to Australia in 1990, initially as Professor of Mathematical Physics at The University of Adelaide. Later he helped found the Australian Centre for Astrobiology in Sydney.

Davies’s research focuses on the “big questions” of existence, ranging from the origin of the universe to the origin of life, and include the nature of time, the search for life in the universe, and foundational questions in quantum mechanics. He helped create the theory of quantum fields in curved spacetime, with which he provided explanations for how black holes can radiate energy, and what caused the ripples in the cosmic afterglow of the Big Bang. In astrobiology, he was a forerunner of the theory that life on Earth may have come from Mars. He is currently championing the theory that Earth may host a shadow biosphere of alternative life forms.

Davies has lectured on scientific topics at institutions as diverse as The World Economic Forum, the United Nations, the Commission of the European Union, Google, Windsor Castle, The Vatican and Westminster Abbey, as well as mainstream academic establishments such as The Royal Society, The Smithsonian Institution, and the New York Academy of Sciences. Davies devised and presented a series of 45 minute BBC Radio 3 science documentaries and a one-hour television documentary about his work in astrobiology, entitled "The Cradle of Life." Among his bestselling books are "The Mind of God," "How to Build a Time Machine," and "The Goldilocks Enigma." His latest book, "The Eerie Silence," was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2010.
  • Transcript


Question: Could you explain the universe—past, present, and future—in one minute?

Paul Davies:  Okay, the universe is by definition everything there is, but of course we only see a small patch of it.  We see only out as far as the speed of light will let us and so we think it began, are sure it began with an explosive outburst called the Big Bang, which may have been the origin of space and time as well as matter and energy or it might just have been one bang among an infinite number scattered throughout space and time, but certainly our region in the universe had this dramatic hot explosive origin, and it’s expanding and cooling and it has become ever more enriched and complex over time, and so life and thinking beings like us have emerged who wonder what it all means, and as for its ultimate fate the best evidence at the moment is it is going to expand faster and faster and faster and become totally empty and utterly boring and it is a rather dismal fate for what is a rather glorious cosmos.

Recorded April 15, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allen