Revolution #126, April 13, 2008

Check It Out

George’s Secret Key to the Universe

We received the following “Check It Out” from a reader:

“Pigs don’t just vanish, thought George as he stood staring into the depths of the very obviously empty pigsty. He tried closing his eyes and then opening them again, to see if it was all some kind of horrible optical illusion. But when he looked again, the pig was still gone, his vast muddy pink bulk nowhere to be seen. In fact, when George examined the situation for a second time, it had gotten worse, not better. The side door of the pigsty, he noticed, was hanging open, which meant someone hadn’t shut it properly. And that someone was probably him.”

This is how George’s Secret Key to the Universe starts. Then we’re off for an out-of-this-world “roller-coaster ride through the vastness of space,” where in the midst of an exciting adventure you’ll discover the awe, wonder, and scientific laws of the universe. This book can be found in the children’s section of bookstores. But woven into this story are scientific facts and theories that most adults, along with kids, will find deeply amazing, challenging, and fun.

People may be familiar with Stephen Hawking from his multi-million copy best-selling book, A Brief History of Time, or his more recent book, still topping the charts all over the world, The Universe in a Nutshell. Now he and his daughter, Lucy Hawking, have written this fantastical tale that starts when George meets his new neighbor Annie. Annie’s father Eric, who is a scientist, invites George to join the “Order of Scientific Inquiry for the Good of Humanity.” George meets Cosmos, a super intelligent computer that can open portals in time and space to anywhere in the charted galaxy. Annie and George hitch a ride on a comet and take off for a hair-raising adventure across the universe. They are hit by an asteroid storm and dodge black holes and barely escape to get back to earth. Cosmos’ amazing abilities to travel through space and time lead George and Eric into a dangerous situation when an old ex-colleague steals the computer and George is faced with tracking Eric deep into the universe.

For those who might shy away from complicated questions of science, you will find this accessible and scientifically engaging. For those who are more deeply attuned to cosmology, this is a story where all the adventures are based on real science. It is a journey across space to learn more about the universe in which we live and a journey through physics and the laws that govern the universe. You’ll learn more than you might think! Just go to the website Take the quiz and see how you do. (Click on Cosmos and then Quiz.)

Did you ever wonder about the latest ideas on black holes? Or what would happen if you fell into one of them? Or how one is made? Have questions about how the universe came into being? What is mass and matter? A neutron star? Or have you ever just looked up at the sky and wondered about the stars—how they got there and how long it takes for their light to get to earth? How they are born and how they die? Each chapter gives explanations and details about all the scientific facts that this adventure takes you on.

A big plus of this book are the breathtaking pictures of Saturn, its moons, Jupiter, and photos of a panorama of Mars that was taken in 2005 by the exploration rover Spirit and the many galaxies that comprise our universe—and much more.

What’s so striking about this book is that it immerses the reader in a real understanding of the laws that govern the universe—it’s not a fairy tale and it doesn’t water down the basics of physics and cosmology. It speaks to the real origins of this world without some religious myth that obscures the truth of how we got here. Stephen and Lucy Hawking were recently on Charlie Rose talking about their new book and Stephen said: “Physicists believe that the universe is governed by scientific laws, these laws must hold without exception or they wouldn’t be laws. That doesn’t leave much room for miracles or god. I regard the afterlife to be a fairy tale for people that are afraid of the dark.”

For readers with imagination and curiosity, who are intrigued by the idea of the “Order of Scientific Inquiry for the Good of Humanity,” check out George’s Secret Key to the Universe.

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.

What Humanity Needs
From Ike to Mao and Beyond