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STEPHEN HAWKING'S INTO THE UNIVERSE
8 p.m. Sunday
The Discovery Channel
When discussing the universe, it would be hard to imagine a better guide than all-around world's smartest dude Stephen Hawking. The former Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at England's Cambridge University (a title that I'm assuming came with a really bitchin' parking space), Hawking hasn't let his crippling ALS keep him from having been called the scientific successor to Albert Einstein since he was in his early 30s. He doesn't think about little stuff. Balancing his checkbook? What to make for dinner? Whether or not he needs to get his oil changed? I'm pretty sure he has volunteers standing in line to do that kind of mental ditch-digging for him, just so he'll have more time to muse on black holes, what was before the Big Bang and how much wood the vast, multi-dimensional woodchuck at the center of our galaxy could chuck if a multi-dimensional woodchuck could chuck wood. Given that, you know his new effort for The Discovery Channel is gonna be good. This is not some George Foreman Grill of a name-only endorsement, either. Word is that Hawking has been involved in the show from beginning to end, from writing the narration to overseeing the amazing computer-generated illustrations of his theories. Last week, I caught the first episode of the show, in which Hawking tackled the issue of what alien life might be like (in a nutshell: Ask Montezuma how much fun it is to be visited by aliens with superior technology, and you'll see why Hawking cautions against efforts to broadcast the location of our all-you-can-eat buffet to the stars), and I can tell you that it's a stunner. This week, Hawking is squarely in his element with a new discussion of how the universe was created, and how it will end. Definitely recommended.