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Melbourne, 29 August 97
Dear Professor Hawking,
I don't expect you would bother reading this letter. I know I would only be laughed, misunderstood and even hated. Whatever, I still want to write because I admire you.
Ninety years ago, when Einstein first published his famous book "Relativity", an unknown reader wrote a letter to him praising the theory. At a time there were only three people understood relativity, we doubt if that young reader truly understood it, but apparently it touched Einstein, and he wrote replying that he was glad that young people these days could find joy and beauty in such a complex scientific theory.
Sometimes I wish I could do just that. To write a letter saying that I've read your book "A Brief History of Time," that it has made me understand much more about Einstein's relativity. You would be happy. I would be happy too. And that's what understanding is all about.
But the truth is I don't understand it. If I did a 7-year Physics course in uni, I think I could only get that far to your 17th page at most. And worse, I know I would still not agree with you. Even Professor H. Dingle did not agree with Einstein, what luck then should I have? I don't know why I cannot pretend to understand it. I just can't. Something wrong with it, or something wrong with me. I must be an idiot in Physics. That's the only thing I could deduce from reading twenty books about relativity.
Whatever, the truth is, you're my idol in science. I love you as much as I love Albert Einstein. But more, you're my hero as you've done what no one can expect you can do, to write a book while you cannot even write. You've set out a model for young people to dare achieve what they cannot possibly achieve. Thousands of people have everything they need, to get what they dream, yet they never do it 'cause they fear. You're the exception. Trapped in a medical condition that if you chose to be an invalid pensioner only, no one could ever blame you. Yet, you fly higher than ordinary people dream, become a scientist, a top physicist, a professor teaching thousands brightest students, write famous books, and hold the chair that only the greatest Isaac Newton could ever hold. Forget about your other great contributions to science, your only guts, will and determination overcoming all natural misfortunes are already the greatest only true champions can prove.
Unlike you, I never had guts to do anything. I'm not talking about becoming a top scientist, a famous mathematician which I'm never interested. I'm only talking about being an ordinary person having guts to say what he believes right just within his own ordinary world. Things like what is time, the space we live, and this addition c + c = 2c. Didn't you write a same book about those without need of any math equations? Isn't that because they're simple things that a pre-highschool student should already have enough authority to voice his thoughts? Yet, I never dared for I was scared.
At the age of 17, I could already draw a 4-D object in a true 4-D space-time showing a straight line in 4-D never be seen as a curve in 3-D. Yet I never dared to say it for I was scared. I have found the definition of time, and therefore have all needed arguments, more than Einstein, to show why his time dilation is just a misconception. Yet I never dared to say it for I was scared. I've found all the damn reasons to believe better pornography would be accepted and even children would be allowed to watch it in future. Yet I never dared to say it for I was scared. I was scared I would be wrong, laughed, humiliated, hated, and misunderstood. I was scared for not having qualification or knowledge, for saying things I should not say, doing things I should not do, though I never hurt anyone. Now if I didn't believe I was right, I should be scared, yes. But here, despite of having total faith in what I'm doing, I was still scared to hell to say it. That's what we call a coward.
But then I look at you and I say I got to follow you. Like any heroes, had you chosen not to do what you believed you should do, you'd certainly have more excuses not to do it. Boris Becker should not have won Wimbledon for he was only 17. Paul Keating should not have been a prime minister for he dropped out from highschool. Bill Gates should not have been the richest man, for he didn't finish uni. Einstein should not have changed the course of Physics for he was only a clerk. And Stephen Hawking should not have written a book for he can't even write. Excuses are always plenty. But true reason is only one: beyond all impossible, do what you believe. It's you who has changed me. It's your will that I want to follow. It's your fight that I want to learn. And I want to thank you for giving me this blind courage to write this book, and now write you this letter.
There's only one thing that I want to raise with you in this letter, and it's Einstein's second postulate. Why can't you step out from Einstein's shadow and change relativity, Professor Hawking? Why should you accept Einstein's second postulate that the speed of light is absolute, resulting all paradoxes about time dilation? Why should you accept that c + v = c, in the sense that a light spent from Earth to a spaceship has to be measured as c regardless how fast the spaceship is travelling relative to Earth? How much evidence have you truly seen? You must've seen more times David Copperfield make the Liberty statue disappear, would you then try to explain that the statue has actually disappeared, or just simply that you cannot see it? Imagine Einstein says the statue has disappeared, would you then believe him? Would his answer be the end of explanation? Or hundred other questions are next to be answered? Such as, where the hell on Earth the statue has disappeared into? Why can other people still touch it? Physical existence must be relative? Or something else, etc,... Of course all these questions, if we enjoy them so much, for the sake of logic argument, can always be answered. But where would all those answers lead us to? The end of explanation?
And that's exactly what has happened with Einstein's time dilation for 90 years since we accepted his second postulate. Enough interesting and boring arguments, discussions, seminars, essays, books have been made, yet are all questions answered? No. They're still coming. Your students would still keep asking the same questions your teachers have asked before. Many people are still confused. Some understand but cannot explain to idiots. Some don't understand but have stopped asking to stop being called idiots, too. And why should we deserve this? Why should we waste time imagining what our world would be like since Einstein said light is absolute? Why don't we go back and ask what if Einstein is wrong, that light is not absolute, that in fact c + c = 2c?
If there's one scientist can do it, you are the one. If you go back to history, you'll see Einstein has never proved his second postulate. A century ago when scientists were stuck with Michelson-Morley experiment's negative result, Einstein took the bold step and made his claim about the absoluteness of the speed of light. Did Einstein prove it as a fact? No, he did not. He never did. He only gave it as an explanation on which details would be discussed, and a new theoretical world would be built. If David's magic show cannot be the proof to say the Liberty statue has in fact disappeared, then Michelson-Morley experiment cannot be the proof to say Einstein's second postulate is a fact, either. It's only Einstein's explanation we should be free to choose, not a fact we must accept unconditionally. And if Einstein can give an explanation, why not Professor Hawking? If Einstein can make a gigantic and outrageous statement that, c + v= c to explain that single experiment, then what's wrong if Professor Hawking makes a simple, modest, and humble statement that c + v > c, but that experiment has nothing to do with it? Given they're both explanations from two scientists, what actually sounds more outrageous? Einstein or Hawking?
I have a dream, that one day Professor Hawking would write the first non-Einstein relativity book with an opposite second postulate, and I would be one of first readers congratulating you for helping me understand it. I'm sure it would be a better theory. If it's made by Professor Hawking, it has to be a better theory in common sense, logic sense, and free sense. Why does it have to be a limit on human's imagination? Why does it have to be a limit on human's calculation? Euclid says from one point outside a straight line, you can draw only one line parallel to that line. Of course, it's absolutely true. Yet, another mathematician came and made an outrageous statement that we could draw two, and a new non-Euclidean geometry invented with its own authority. Here is the opposite. If you say c + c = 2c, you certainly could make more sense than Einstein's postulate saying c + c = c. Yet where is non-Einstein relativity? Why can't you invent it, Professor Hawking? What has stopped you?
I'm not a scientist. I'm writing a book about other little things that little humans on Earth more often involved and confused with. I wrote about Einstein in only one chapter which is already too much given that I'm never interested in Physics. Had Einstein never stepped over my little territory, I would agree unconditionally with everything he says for he's also my hero. I wrote about him to answer my own questions about my little space and time distorted by relativity, that all pro-Einstein relativity books can never explain. I have found the truth for myself. And there's no need for me to go further. It's not my job. It's yours. The world needs you, Professor Hawking. Theoretical physics needs you to make a change. Science needs you to make a move. We stick long enough with Einstein's second postulate, with hundred questions asked then answered then asked again, and no one ever mentioned about why not departing? How can we possibly discover new oceans, if we never have courage to lose sight of the shore? There's only one scientist with full authority can lead the world to the first non-Einstein relativity, and again change the whole course of theoretical physics. You are the one.
I'm sorry to write a long letter. If it sounds rude somewhere, never it be my intention and I'm sorry for it. As the same time, I know you wouldn't bother reading it anyway. It's ok, as I've learnt from a prostitute who once said, "I know I do not deserve saying this. But I love you."