In 1962, future Pulitzer Prize–winning author Alex Haley sat down with jazz musician Miles Davis for what would become an institution of American journalism—the Playboy Interview. To celebrate the Interview’s 50th anniversary, Playboy has culled 50 of its most (in)famous Interviews and will publish them over the course of 50 weekdays (from September 4, 2012 to November 12, 2012) via Amazon’s Kindle Direct platform. Here, a glimpse at our conversation with theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking from the April 1990 issue.
“The history of human civilization has been one of gradual discovery of more and more and more scientific laws that govern a bigger and bigger and bigger part of our experience. I see no reason why it should not continue until we have a complete unified theory for everything in the universe. I don’t hold with mysticism. I think it is a soft option for those not willing to make the effort to understand the rational laws that govern the universe. I think that from the time of Galileo, Church leaders have learned better than to pronounce on cosmology.”
“A white hole is the time reverse of a black hole. The white hole may be in another universe, or another part of our universe. We could use this method for space travel. Otherwise, the distances are so vast it would take millions of years to go to the next galaxy and return. But if you could go through a black hole and out a white hole, you could be back in time for tea.”
“I leave open the question of whether God exists and what His nature would be. One can never prove that God doesn’t exist. What I did was show that it was not necessary to appeal to God to decide how the universe began,  because that is determined by the laws of science. However, one could say that the laws of science were God’s choice for how the universe behaves.”
“The realization that I had an incurable disease that was likely to kill me in a few years was a bit of a shock. Why should it happen to me? Why should I be cut off like this? But while I was in the hospital, I saw a boy die of leukemia in the bed opposite me. It was not a pretty sight. Clearly, there were people worse off than I. Whenever I feel inclined to be sorry for myself, I remember that boy.”
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