Brief Answers to the Big Questions

Here’s a slight departure from the usual technical blog - so, the holiday’s are a distant memory, yet, the scene outside my window right now looks like something out of “A Christmas Carol”, by Charles Dickens. This time of year is a strange one for us; both December and January are truncated by the holidays which can mean playing catch-up on the work-related items to recover from the time spent during family reunions.

Last year, 2018, saw the passing of a somewhat revered, sometimes contentious, but never ignored figure, Dr Stephen Hawking. During the Christmas period, I received a gift, a gift that has clearly made an impression - the book ‘Brief Answers to the Big Questions’. I mention this because it’s people like Hawking that have dedicated sufficient headspace to think and reflect on the bigger ideas, concepts and science that us mere mortals may not have the time or will to consider. So, it’s a kind of lazy way of letting the scientist do all the mental leg work so we don’t have to!

Mercifully, working on engineering projects in the virtual world using software automation technology affords us a little breathing space of our own from time-to-time for reflection. Whilst the humans at GreyMatters are taking a time-out with our families over the holiday periods and weekends; our diligent computers are hard at work, without complaint, crunching out the billions of equations needed in order to deliver safe earthing designs for our clients on the critical infrastructure projects.

It is humbling to reflect on what is going on. The complexity we now take for granted solving multiple fault and lightning event scenarios in the virtual environment, using electromagnetic finite element analysis tools like the hi-freq version of CDEGS, DIgSILENT and ETAP.

I would encourage everyone to read and have this book in their library. In audio, paper or Kindle. As one reviewer puts it - “one to read before you die!” No, I’m not on commission or royalties, however, there are some pieces of work that are worthy of a special mention and this is one such piece that can help lift our collective heads above the forest canopy and take a glimpse at the future that has a reasonable probability of happening.

You don’t have to be a scientist to understand the intuition and learnings someone who has spent 50+ years at the top of their game can impart so eloquently, insightfully and with humour too. From black holes to AI and the survival of our species - thought-provoking stuff.

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments field below.

Other thought-provoking articles - What Is Reality?

Success in creating AI would be the biggest event in human history. Unfortunately, it might also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks.

Stephen Hawking

General relativity + quantum mechanics = theory of everything

Ian Griffiths SelfieIan Griffiths

This post is written by Ian Griffiths, Principal Engineer at GreyMatters, an Earthing & Lightning Consultant of 27 years, one of the top 1% accredited CDEGS consultants and professional advisor to international utility companies, data centre and infrastructure developers.

"Working with GreyMatters has totally changed my expectations of a professional engineering consultancy firm … for the better! Technically, they were on the money! More importantly however ... they kept me updated throughout the entire project, which was so refreshing, and therefore quickly put my mind at ease that things were being taken care of." (C. Turgis)
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