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Archive for March 14th, 2018

Stephen Hawking and the Stars

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Today, we lament the passing of celebrated physicist and best-selling author Dr. Stephen W. Hawking.  Dr. Michio Kaku, a professor of theoretical physics at the City University of New York, had this to say about Mr. Hawking’s life: 

“Not since Albert Einstein has a scientist so captured the public imagination and endeared himself to tens of millions of people around the world.”

And as his New York Time’s obituary observed, “what is equally amazing is that he had a career at all,” having been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease as a grad student in 1963 and then given only a few years to live.

In fact, he lived on this planet 55 more, and transcended the physical limitations of the disease with a brilliant and active mind and, later, through the use of modern computer speech technologies that allowed him to continue to communicate with the world.

The Times’ obituary highlighted Hawking’s breakthrough work:

He went on to become his generation’s leader in exploring gravity and the properties of black holes, the bottomless gravitational pits so deep and dense that not even light can escape them.

That work led to a turning point in modern physics, playing itself out in the closing months of 1973 on the walls of his brain when Dr. Hawking set out to apply quantum theory, the weird laws that govern subatomic reality, to black holes. In a long and daunting calculation, Dr. Hawking discovered to his befuddlement that black holes — those mythological avatars of cosmic doom — were not really black at all. In fact, he found, they would eventually fizzle, leaking radiation and particles, and finally explode and disappear over the eons.

The next year, he would connect gravity and quantum mechanics in an article in Nature entitled “Black Hole Explosions?”

The image of Hawking that will always stay with me was his gleeful ride aboard a Boeing 727 in April 2007, a literal attempt to defy gravity and physically transcend for a few fleeting moments the confines of his wheelchair.

When he spoke of the experience, Dr. Hawking responded: “I want to show that people need not be limited by physical handicaps as long as they are not disabled in spirit.”

It’s safe to say his spirit remained intact throughout his remarkable life, one that served as an inspiration to so many around the globe.

RIP, Dr. Hawking — we’ll see you in the stars.

Written by turbotodd

March 14, 2018 at 9:37 am

Posted in 2018, obituary

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