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The Big Question: What’s the Meaning of the Universe?

We asked U. of C. astrophysicist Dan Hooper, whose new book, At the Edge of Time, dives deep into the Big Bang.

Photo: Getty Images

“Over the last 20 years that I’ve been scrutinizing the universe, every nugget of insight I’ve ever got in that pursuit has only made me more convinced that the universe doesn’t have any meaning to give to us. That doesn’t mean I think there’s no meaning, but human beings impose it. Now, there are a number of ‘why’ questions that physicists and cosmologists are able to answer. ‘Why does the earth go around the sun?’ Because of force of gravity and inertia, et cetera. But for those answers, you can ask why again. ‘Why does the force of gravity work the way it does?’ Einstein has a pretty good answer to that. OK, but why again? Eventually, you’re gonna hit a wall. It’s the same thing when you’re dealing with a child who asks a question, and you give them an answer, and they say, ‘Why?’ Eventually you just have to say, ‘Shut up, kid! That’s just the way it is.’ ”

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