New Delhi: In his final book, to be out in October, Stephen Hawking has covered important existential questions such as the creation of the universe, black holes, alien intelligence, and the existence of God to space colonisation and artificial intelligence.
The Stephen Hawking Estate announced today that rights to the final book by the world-famous theoretical physicist were sold to Nick Davies at John Murray (Hachette) for the UK and the Commonwealth including India; and to Bantam for North America.
"Brief Answers to the Big Questions" will be organised into four parts: Why Are We Here? Will We Survive? Will Technology Save Us or Destroy Us? How Can We Thrive?
The book was in discussion at the time of Hawking's death in March, and his Estate decided to go forward with the project, which is a selection of his most profound, accessible, and timely reflections from his personal archive, the publishers said.
Daughter Lucy Hawking on behalf of the Estate said, "Communication was so important to our father in his lifetime and we see this book as part of his legacy, bringing together his thoughts, humour, theories and writing into one beautiful edition.
"We are very pleased to support 'Brief Answers to the Big Questions' and happy to have the opportunity to finalise a project our father loved."
According to Hawking's agent Robert Kirby, the idea for the book rose out of the thousands of requests Hawking received from people for answers to some big questions of our time.
"With his characteristic wit and brilliant mind, he began writing and collating his responses and I'm delighted his Estate has agreed to support publication of the last book he was working on before he died," he said.
Nick Davies, managing director of John Murray Press said Hawking did more in his lifetime to deepen our understanding of gravity, space and time than anyone since Einstein.
Thomas Abraham, managing director of Hachette India said, "We are delighted that we will be publishing Hawking's last work in India, particularly in the year of our two big anniversaries - our tenth year and John Murray's 250th year."
Hawking, who is known for his work in cosmology and theoretical physics, notably for Hawking radiation and his work on black holes, was the director of research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology and Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge.
At the age of 20, he was diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease) and was given two years to live. His abilities to move and communicate were increasingly limited, as he was confined to a wheelchair and eventually forced to speak through a voice synthesiser.
When he died in March, at the age of 76, he was the longest living MND survivor. His battle with the disease was featured in the film "The Theory of Everything" for which actor Eddie Redmayne, who played Hawking, received 2015's Best Actor Oscar.
Hawking was the author of 'A Brief History of Time', which has sold over 13 million copies worldwide and shot back to the top of bestseller lists after his death, and many other books.
A percentage of the royalties of the new book will go to the Motor Neuron Disease Association and the Stephen Hawking Foundation.