Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Stephen Hawking mentions the Chinese tale of the ten suns

In The Grand Design: New Answers to the Ultimate Questions of Life (2010), co-written by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow:
The Chinese tell of a time during the Hsia dynasty (c. 2205-c.1782 BC) when our cosmic environment suddenly changed. Ten suns appeared in the sky. The people on earth suffered greatly from the heat, so the emperor ordered a famous archer to shoot down the extra suns. The archer was rewarded with a pill that had the power to make him immortal, but his wife stole it. For that offence she was banished to the moon. (p. 149, Ch. 7 "The Apparent Miracle")
This does not entirely match my memory of the story (I am sure there are many different versions). Still, I am glad a Chinese legend makes an appearance in this interesting and influential book.


  1. It's always the lady who does something disobedient and gets punished... like Eve, or Lot's wife getting turned into a pillar of salt. So unrealistic! (Although a pill to make you immortal is worth stealing) ;)

  2. Indeed, G, the woman is always the culprit!


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