Monday, 16 May 2011
Britain is a country in a world in a universe with 'no heaven or afterlife' for an old cosmologist called Stephen Hawking
An article in 'the Guardian' newspaper featuring 69 year old Stephen Hawking, cosmologist and Britain's most eminent scientist, was entitled :
'There is no heaven or afterlife...that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.'
Things you possibly didn't know about Stephen, that he :
* was born the son of Isobel and Dr. Frank Hawking, a research biologist who headed the division of parasitology at the National Institute for Medical Research.
* attended St Albans School, where he was a 'good', but not 'exceptional' then went on to University College, Oxford to specialise in physics and where his tutor said in 'The New York Times Magazine' :
'It was only necessary for him to know that something could be done, and he could do it without looking to see how other people did it. He didn't have very many books, and he didn't take notes. Of course, his mind was completely different from all of his contemporaries.'
* had a result in his final exam, 'on the borderline between first and second class honours' which meant he had to have an 'oral examination' of which his tutor said :
' And of course the examiners then were intelligent enough to realize they were talking to someone far more clever than most of themselves.'
* left Oxford University for Cambridge, where he studied theoretical astronomy and cosmology and started to develop symptoms of motor neurone disease which would cost him almost all neuromuscular control.
* was elected as one of the youngest Fellows of the Royal Society in 1974 and
accepted a visiting professorship at the California Institute of Technology to work with his friend, Kip Thorne.
* by 1974, was unable either to feed himself or get out of bed and his speech became slurred so that he could be understood only by people who knew him well and in 1985, caught pneumonia and had to have a tracheotomy, which made him unable to speak at all.
* was helped by a Cambridge scientist who built a device which enabled him to write onto a computer with small movements of his body and then have a voice synthesizer speak what he typed.
* was presented with the 'Presidential Medal of Freedom', nation's highest civilian honour, by President Obama in 2009.
Was reported in today's newspaper article as saying :
"I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I'm not afraid of death, but I'm in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first. I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark."
The article made the following points, that :
* his book 'A Brief History of Time' sold a reported 9 million copies, propelled him to instant stardom which led him to guest roles in 'The Simpsons', 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' and 'Red Dwarf'.
In 'The Simpsons' :
In Star Trek :
* One of his greatest achievements in physics is a theory that describes how black holes emit radiation.
* in a talk at the Google Zeitgeist meeting in London, he will argue that tiny quantum fluctuations in the very early universe became the seeds from which galaxies, stars, and ultimately human life emerged and said :
"Science predicts that many different kinds of universe will be spontaneously created out of nothing. It is a matter of chance, which, we are in."