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To celebrate the publication of Brief Answers to the Big Questions, we have commissioned a PhD student at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics – Stephen Hawking’s department at the University of Cambridge – to set the international Big Questions Puzzle. The competition questions, which have been inspired by the ten big questions in the book, will be released each week from this site, with the final five published on the book’s publication date (16 October 2018). The answer to each question is a nine-letter word. The first nine answers, put into a nine-by-nine grid, form the basis for the tenth question.

The entry form to submit your full set of answers will also go live on 16 October.

The prize for first person to correctly complete all the puzzles will be an exclusive print of the famous signed Thorne-Hawking bet on the existence of black holes, made between Stephen Hawking and Professor Kip Thorne in 1974, and donated by the Stephen Hawking Estate.  Professor Kip Thorne, a long-time collaborator and friend of Stephen Hawking, has written the introduction to BRIEF ANSWERS TO THE BIG QUESTIONS.

The first entrant to correctly answer and submit all ten puzzles will win the first prize and the following 5 fully correct answers submitted will each win 1 of the 5 runner-up prizes.

The puzzles have been designed and tested by a team at DAMTP and the competition will be open to entrants from around the world*.


*Competition open to UK, US, India, Australia and New Zealand, entrants must be 18 or over. 

For full Ts&Cs for UK, India, Australia and New Zealand residents visit here and for US residents visit here.



To be announced


Monday 15 October 2018


Royal Institute




Wednesday 17 October 2018


The Cavonius Centre 

The Stephen Hawking Building
5 West Road


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