As noted in our report on his passing last week, a number of Star Trek: The Next Generation alums turned to social media to offer personal memories of Professor Stephen Hawking, recalling his cameo in sixth season finale, “Descent.” Now in a new interview with The Wrap, “Descent” writer Ronald D. Moore is offering some of his personal memories of creating the iconic scene for the renowned physicist.
Moore describes how after being told to add a scene with Hawking, he turned to science consultant (and his former College Roomate and future The Expanse showrunner) Naren Shankar, saying:
“Naren had a Ph.D. in applied physics, so I brought him in, and he was also tickled at the idea of writing lines for Stephen Hawking. So he was the one who came up with the idea of the joke being that Stephen keeps busting the chops of the other scientists and that Isaac Newton is a jerk and that Einstein and Stephen keep bagging on him. Once we had that, the scene just wrote itself.”
Moore, who was one of the few people allowed on set for the big moment, says that Brent Spiner was “extremely nervous” about sharing a scene with Hawking. He added:
“We were all just so amazed because here is this guy who totally expanded what we know about space and it turned out that he was a ‘Star Trek’ fan. It felt so amazing to have that connection as people who have created stories in this universe.”
Hawking on being associated with show that breaks Einstein’s speed limit
You can get a glimpse of the behind the scenes on the shooting of Hawking’s episode from a 1993 clip from CNN. The clip features executive producer Rick Berman, actor Brent Spiner and Hawking himself, talking about how he had no problem appearing on a ship that broke Einstein’s limit of the speed of light.
Hawking’s final theory could test the existence of the multiverse
It turns out that Stephen Hawking isn’t done pushing the final frontier, with one last theory that could lead to a space mission that sounds like something suited for a Star Trek crew. According to the Times of London, a final theory submitted Professor Hawking just days before his death last week describes how other universes may be detected. This could lead to proof of the existence of a “multiverse,” something very familiar to fans of Star Trek.
“We set out to develop methods to transform the idea of a multiverse into a coherent testable scientific framework. This was Hawking: to boldly go where Star Trek fears to tread.”
The paper, which has yet to undergo peer review, details a new mathematical model to describe the multiverse. In 1983, Hawking’s work predicted that the Big Bang resulted in the instantaneous creation of an infinite number of universes. The problem with this, although the math was correct, was that there was no way to test whether this was true. This new model refines Hawking’s previous work and suggests that the multiverse may be smaller than previously thought. The reason this is so exciting? The new math also suggests that the creation of a finite multiverse might have left traces in the cosmos that we can measure. In other words, Hawking has provided a way to test whether multiple universes exist.
The Times quotes Durham University cosmology professor Carlos Frenk, saying “These ideas offer the breathtaking prospect of finding evidence for the existence of other universes. This would profoundly change our perception of our place in the cosmos.”