Hawking Radiation

This is truly late to the party.  Truth is, I’ve had trouble coming to grips with Professor Hawking’s passing.  Am I a nerd?  Yes – notice there’s not a damn thing here about Leonard Nimoy, who I still mourn.

The late, great Professor Hawking

I won’t waste much time here because Hawking pretty much established that time is more or less irrelevant.  Even in his recent death, he’s got a paper up for review that could possibly earn him a Nobel Prize – finally if posthumously.  Win or lose, he doesn’t need it.  They’re burying him next to Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.  That, all by itself, is credential enough to the magnitude of his being.

Professor Stephen Hawking, in spite of his life’s challenge of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), managed to will himself to live decades longer beyond the normal end point of his affliction.  Lucky us, because we now know that black holes really exist.  Not only that, they can, in fact, radiate energy and evaporate.  His final paper, referenced above, may well serve as the foundational document that after some proof will determine that the universe – with us clinging to it – will die a slow death of expansion and heat death.  This has been postulated and theorized, but it has not been calculated in a way that enables proof.  In fact, Professor Hawking may have a successor, which we will watch with bated breath… no sarcasm either.  Because we as a species need people like this, in spite of ourselves.

You have to admire a person who couldn’t even hold a pencil that formulated a proposed proof of that.  Most of us have trouble spelling our own names within a half-hour of waking up.  I mentioned this post took a while because I’m shaken, and right down to my roots.  I truly am.  The day he died, I walked in the door from work and asked my tiny but powerfully smart wife, “Stephen Hawking died… so what the fuck are we all going to do now?”  She had no answer.  Hawking would probably cue a computer-generated laugh because he helped make science cool by lending his very self to mainstream culture.

Hawking, on the Simpsons
Because awesome

It is amazing to me to think that I lived in a time along with a man who, in spite of his affliction, managed to be the demonstrably smartest human on the planet.  By any measure of IQ, potential, or contribution, the entire human race could arguably be decremented in collective mind power by Hawking’s death.  The fact that few would even try to argue that assertion is a testament to one humble man’s life.

Carl Sagan, another man that I dearly miss, once said this: “The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.”  I am very certain that Dr. Sagan is correct, and because of that, through Professor Hawking, the universe has experienced quite a view.  I’m not sure a person could hope for much more.  Again, he’s being buried next to Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.  Jesus…  … well, Jesus is likely jealous he didn’t just remain dead.

If I could commemorate a man of such awesomehood as Professor Hawking, I’d say something like this:  “Thanks, Steve, for your incomprehensible maths that proved such amazing things.  You probably don’t know it, but there are more people on this planet who know of you and respect you than you imagined.  Every one of us mourns you now.  And also, thank you for your humor and willingness to be your very basic self in front of us all, because you have made being smart, handicapped, and nerdy something to look up to.”


6 Responses to “Hawking Radiation”

  1. That last line says it all. I love this.

  2. You found the words I was unable to write – thank you!

    And strangely enough, you mentioned Leonard Nimoy as well – another death I still struggle to come to terms with.
    How strange, to mourn so for people I never knew. Except …
    It is amazing to me to think that I lived in a time along with a man who, in spite of his affliction, managed to be the demonstrably smartest human on the planet…

    Thank you.

  3. I had trouble reading this through my nerdy tears. Thanx guy. 😀

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