Some Hawking quotes

My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.

If there is an afterlife, then he has that complete understanding now.


One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it. Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don’t throw it away.


We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.


Quiet people have the loudest minds.


Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny.


For millions of years, mankind lived just like the animals. Then something happened which unleashed the power of our imagination. We learned to talk and we learned to listen. Speech has allowed the communication of ideas, enabling human beings to work together to build the impossible. Mankind’s greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking. It doesn’t have to be like this. Our greatest hopes could become reality in the future. With the technology at our disposal, the possibilities are unbounded. All we need to do is make sure we keep talking.


My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus.


 

R.I.P. Stephen Hawking

Teeshirt reads: Obey gravity. It's the law!
Obey gravity. It’s the law!

When I was twelve, my father recommended I read a book. It is the only book one I can think of that he has ever made to me. But, I have to say, it was probably the best recommendation anyone has ever made to me. See, when I was a kid, I loved space technology and astronomy. I could recite fact after fact about NASA missions, the planets, and the stars. Anything I could learn about them was appreciated.

A Brief History of Time by Hawking opened up to me cosmology, physics, and quantum mechanics. Reading about these topics stretched my brain and put me in my happy place. I save up the books about this stuff for when I feel at my lowest because diving into them will correct my mood. A difficult week at work? Definitely, time to remove thinking about that stuff by thinking about the multiverse, chaos, and quantum entanglement. Perspective is everything.

Dr. Hawking also represented something I think science desperately needed: celebrity. His popularity and brand recognition showed that academic papers are not the only way to talk about science to the masses. He paved the way for Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Brian Greene. Scientists are writing great books on their areas and the masses are gobbling them up because there is interest. It makes me happy that a society we think of as having gotten intellectually lazy has a hidden interest in science.

It makes me sad that he is gone because he provided me so much more than I could ever adequately explain.

2012 Reading List

I had three reading goals:

Complete unfinished novel series.

  1. A Song of Ice and Fire
    1. DONE — A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1) — George R.R. Martin
    2. DONE — A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, #2) — George R.R. Martin
    3. DONE — A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, #3) — George R.R. Martin
    4. DONE — A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, #4) — George R.R. Martin
    5. DONE — A Dance With Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5) — George R.R. Martin
  2. Wicked Years
    1. DONE — Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Wicked Years, #1) — Gregory Maguire
    2. DONE — Son of a Witch (Wicked Years, #2) — Gregory Maguire
    3. NOT DONE — A Lion Among Men (Wicked Years, #3) — Gregory Maguire
  3. The Malazan Book of the Fallen
    1. DONE — Deadhouse Gates (The Malazan Book of the Fallen, #2) — Steven Erikson
    2. DONE — Memories of Ice (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #3) — Steven Erikson
    3. DONE — House of Chains (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #4) — Steven Erikson
    4. DONE — Midnight Tides (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #5) — Steven Erikson
    5. DONE — The Bonehunters (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #6) — Steven Erikson
    6. NOT DONE — Reaper’s Gale (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #7) — Steven Erikson
    7. NOT DONE — Toll the Hounds (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #8) — Steven Erikson
    8. NOT DONE — Dust of Dreams (The Malazan Book Of The Fallen #9) — Steven Erikson
    9. NOT DONE — The Crippled God (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #10) — Steven Erikson
  4. Barsoom
    1. DONE — A Princess of Mars — Edgar Rice Burroughs
    2. DONE — The Gods of Mars (Barsoom, #2) — Edgar Rice Burroughs
    3. DONE — The Warlord of Mars (Barsoom, #3) — Edgar Rice Burroughs
    4. DONE — Thuvia, Maid of Mars (Barsoom, #4) — Edgar Rice Burroughs
    5. DONE — The Chessmen of Mars (Barsoom, #5) — Edgar Rice Burroughs
    6. DONE — The Master Mind of Mars (Barsoom, #6) — Edgar Rice Burroughs
    7. DONE — A Fighting Man of Mars (Barsoom, #7) — Edgar Rice Burroughs
    8. DONE — Swords of Mars (Barsoom, #8) — Edgar Rice Burroughs
    9. DONE — Synthetic Men of Mars (Barsoom #9) — Edgar Rice Burroughs
  5. Millennium
    1. DONE — The Girl Who Played With Fire (Millennium, #2) — Stieg Larsson
    2. DONE — The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (Millennium, #3) — Stieg Larsson
Total: 28. Done: 23. Failed.

American History and Decision Making

  1. DONE — Discover Your Inner Economist: Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Dentist — Tyler Cowen
  2. DONE — The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book that Will Change the Way You Do Business — Clayton M. Christensen
  3. DONE — The Innovator’s Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth — Clayton M. Christensen
  4. DONE — Our Endangered Values: America’s Moral Crisis — Jimmy Carter
  5. DONE — The Federalist Papers — Alexander HamiltonJames MadisonJohn Jay
  6. DONE — 1776 — David McCullough
  7. DONE — All the Devils are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis — Bethany McLeanJoe Nocera
  8. DONE — Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet — Jeffrey D. Sachs
  9. DONE — American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House — Jon Meacham
  10. DONE — At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA — George Tenet
Total: 10. Done: 10. Completed.

Science

  1. DONE — The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About Genetics, Talent and IQ is Wrong — David Shenk
  2. DONE — The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2010 — Freeman DysonTim Folger
  3. DONE — The Theory of Everything: The Origin and Fate of the Universe — Stephen Hawking
  4. DONE — The Nature of Technology: What It Is and How It Evolves — W. Brian Arthur
  5. DONE — The Demise of Guys: Why Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do About It  — Philip ZimbardoNikita Duncan
  6. DONE — Mind Wide Open: Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life — Steven Johnson
  7. DONE — NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children — Po BronsonAshley Merryman
  8. DONE — The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World — Michael Pollan
  9. DONE — The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement — David Brooks
  10. DONE — What We Believe But Cannot Prove: Today’s Leading Thinkers on Science in the Age of Certainty — John Brockman
  11. DONE — The Cosmic Landscape: String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design — Leonard Susskind
  12. DONE — A Different Universe: Reinventing Physics from the Bottom Down — Robert B. Laughlin
  13. DONE — Being Logical: A Guide to Good Thinking — D.Q. McInerny
Total: 13. Done: 13. Completed.

Not Your Oprah’s Book Club (FacebookGoodreads) selections:
(Facebook page for Athens book club)

  1. DONE — The House of Mirth — Edith Wharton
  2. DONE — Love is a Mix Tape — Rob Sheffield

Re-read to watch the movie:

  1. DONE — The Hobbit — 
  2. DONE   — 

Offlist:

  1. DONE — The Picture of Dorian Gray — Oscar Wilde
  2. DONE — Ubik — 
  3. DONE  Free Will — Sam Harris
  4. DONE  Free Will: A Response to Sam Harris  Kurt Keefner
  5. DONE — The Three Musketeers — Alexandre Dumas

Cyborg Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking missed his 70th birthday party this past weekend. He was not feeling well. There has been quite a bit floating around the Internet about how he as survived decades after getting an estimated months to live. Even Intel talked up how they are working on a way to help him speak faster.

Speaking late Sunday on the sidelines of a conference celebrating Hawking’s 70th birthday in the English city of Cambridge, Intel Chief Technology Officer Justin Rattner said his company had a team in England to explore ways to help the celebrity scientist communicate more quickly.

There is a job available assisting him with the computer.

Given research into thought powered devices, I would really like to see a cyborg Stephen Hawking controlling things digitally. There are some cool bio feedback techniques to control cursors and pick out items from a screen. From what I understand, picking out the word he wants with where he looks from choices is getting slower from missing. Bypassing the eyes which used to be fast and going straight to the brain through electrodes could be very cool.

The problem is… Electrodes are invasive, often heal very slowly, and get infections. Too bad helmets which read our brain waves a la Macross proved much less effective. (Accuracy is paramount and anything sitting on a head is likely to miss.)