World-famous cosmologist Stephen Hawking was in the Seattle spotlight Monday night to explain the big questions: Why does time seem to move always forward but never backward? Why does he think running time backwards the only way to solve the universe’s biggest mystery? But the small questions can be just as intriguing: For example, how does Hawking “autograph” a book? When he composes a sentence on his gesture-controlled computer, does he blink or does he sneer?
Here are some insights into those questions, great and small, gleaned during a close encounter with Cambridge University’s frail genius: The title of Hawking’s advertised talk was “The History of the Universe Backwards,” but he actually delivered two lectures – one looking back at his own career in physics, and another focusing on his latest theories about a “top-down” approach to cosmology.