“Properties of Expanding Universes” has proven so popular that it crashed the library web site, with more than 60,000 views yesterday.By contrast, “other popular theses might have 100 views per month,” says Stuart Roberts, deputy head of research communications at Cambridge.
"This crime, every crime," he writes, "has an individual private aspect but also a social one; the first concerns only the victims and their close relatives, but the second concerns us all and is the reason justice is required to intervene in our name."This disappearance, during which the community has the ability to march and protest and exert political power, has become a stand in for all those other disappearances about which speaking up had meant death.All the early cosmologies were essentially stationary and even Einstein whose theory of relativity is the basis for almost all modern developments in cosmology, found it natural to suggest a static model of the universe.However there is a very grave difficulty associated with a static model such as Einstein's which is supposed to have existed for an infinite time.The observation in no way diminishes Hawking’s accomplishments--it might, ideally, spur those of us with an interest in his work to look at how it developed in conversation and debate with others, like eminent Cambridge physicist Fred Hoyle.We can begin to do that now by going back to Hawking’s graduate days and reading his doctoral thesis, which has been made available for free download by the Cambridge University Library.And the weight of that historical memory is as present for those who suffered through the Dirty War as it is for their children, all "members of an army defeated long ago whose battles we can't even remember and our fathers don't dare to face." The venality and violence that mark the facts of the Burdisso case fade before the communal need for an impossible catharsis, and where a normal detective story ends with the narrative pointing out a guilty party who will be punished and thus allow the universe to return to a state of order, Pron's narrative points in all directions.The reader is given no comforting or definitive answers, merely a mandate to continue the search.The book begins in Germany, told by a shiftless, rootless, and decidedly unreliable narrator who admits at the outset, "my consumption of certain drugs made me almost completely lose my memory, so that what I remember..pretty vague and sketchy." Essentially homeless by choice, he prefers sleeping on a variety of friends' couches to staying in one fixed place, and claims, "something had happened to my parents and me and to my siblings that prevented me from ever knowing what a home was, or what a family was," though what that thing was he doesn't understand.Nor does he evince much interest in his past, saying, "I'm not really all that curious about myself."Unshackled from knowledge of his past and from any sense of community, the narrator at first reads like a modern update of Sartre's Roquentin from Nausea, existing purely in the present and faced with the burden of existential freedom.For, if the stars had been radiating energy at their present rates for an infinite time, they would have needed an infinite supply of energy.Further, the flux of radiation now would be infinite.