Speed Reads

Watch this

John Oliver interviews Stephen Hawking, Hawking wins

Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking is not just one of the smartest people on Earth; he's also very funny. On Sunday night's Last Week Tonight, John Oliver traveled to Cambridge to interview Hawking, the first chat in his "People Who Think Good" series. They discuss the danger of robots, Charlize Theron, alternate universes, drug deals, and the tenuous future of humanity, among other things. Hawking is at least as funny as Oliver, probably funnier, showing a quick wit (and quick typing skills).

It's not all laughs, though. When Oliver asked Hawking the one thing about his research he'd like people to understand, Hawking answered: "Imaginary time. People think it's something you have in dreams, or when you're up against a deadline. But it's a well-defined concept. Imaginary time is like another direction in space." This is the one part of Hawking's work that science fiction writers haven't used, he said, "because they don't understand it." They're not alone. --Peter Weber