Stephen Hawking – Remembered

As you’ve no doubt heard, physicist, writer, and role-modelStephen Hawking Remembered Stephen Hawking died peacefully in his sleep on March 13th.

I first heard the news from my mother-in-law within minutes of the announcement on her local news. My first reaction was disbelief, and then a quiet acceptance of something that my wife and I had known was inevitable.

I first came across Professor Hawking’s work, not long after I started working at my local library. It was around the time that “A Brief History of Time” came out, and the book was constantly on the reserve list, because people wanted to find out exactly why it was such a big seller.

I was 14 at the time, and interested in science and computers. But it took only a quick look through the start of the book to realize that I wasn’t going to understand a lot of what it talked about. However, it did inspire me to go on and study physics and when I picked up the book again it was about 10 years later, and I understood a lot of what I was reading, even though I’d almost flunked physics.

Regardless of being able to understand everything, or not, I made a point of learning about Hawking, and his work, and found myself inspired on many levels.

Diagnosed with motor neurone disease (also known as ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease) at the age of 22, Hawking was told he probably had no more than 2 years to live. That was back in 1963, and he was already making great strides in the realms of theoretical physics, where he would continue to make his mark for another 55 years.

To say that Hawking surpassed the expectations of medical is an understatement, and his work has revolutionized many fields of science. But there was more to Hawking than just his capacity for living with a condition that has an exceptionally high mortality rate, and still managing to produce groundbreaking work.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen Hawking present his work to audiences, explaining his theories through the use of a specialized computer and speech synthesizer. Or his guest appearances on TV shows, where he played himself or took part in interviews with a sharp wit and cheeky grin.

That wit and humor couldn’t have been displayed better than by his most famous party, which no-one attended except Hawking himself. Not surprising when you consider he was inviting only time travelers from the future. Although I have to admit, I was disappointed to see that attendance was so low. Just the possibility of time travel has been an inspiration for so many science fiction writers.

There are many other reasons to be inspire by Hawking, but we all have the things we’ll remember him for. I think that, for me, this quote sums up why I found Hawking such an inspiration.

Stephen Hawking - Success

Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts in the comments…

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Reflections On The Terror Attacks In England

I’m not normally one to jump on the news, and comment on it openly. Anyone who follows my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or other social media accounts will see that they remain clear of such things, for the most part. However, this last week has seen the second terror attack on London, in recent months, and I can’t help reflecting on how it affects people.

My heart and prayers go out to the friends, families, and victims of those who have been affected by these blatant acts of terrorism. Even though many of those affected by the attacks grew up with IRA activities as a fact of life, these recent attacks will leave physical and emotional scars that are hard to hide.

For my part, I’m here in Alaska watching the news very closely, and checking in with friends and family back in England whenever I can. Having been born British, and leaving everyone behind when I came to Alaska to marry an American, I can’t help but be concerned by the things I see in the news. And, so far this year, we’ve seen three major attacks…

Attack #1 – March 22nd 2017

  • Location: Westminster, London
  • Casualties: 50 people were injured, and 6 killed
  • A lone driver mounts the curb on Westminster Bridge, and drove through the crowd, then continued on toward Parliament before abandoning the vehicle and attacking people with a knife. He was shot dead by police less than 90 seconds after the attack started.

Attack #2 – May 22nd 2017

  • Location: Manchester Arena, Manchester
  • Casualties: 116 people were injured, and 22 killed
  • Suicide bomber detonated a home-made bomb in the foyer as fans were leaving a concert.

Attack #3 – 3rd June 2017

  • Location: London Bridge & Borough Market, London
  • Casualties: 48 people were injured, and 7 killed
  • A white van drove into pedestrians on London Bridge before three attackers got out of the vehicle and ran into Borough Market, where they stabbed several people, before escaping back into the street where all three were shot dead by police.

Investigations Are Ongoing…

That’s three major attacks in four months, and police are still investigating each of the incidents thoroughly. To date several arrests have been made in connection with the attacks, and time will tell how things move forward from here.

But there’s one thing I know for a fact…

Despite these attacks, it’s just going to bring people closer together…

How Do I Know This?

  • London, and other parts of the UK are no strangers to terrorist attacks, and bombings
  • During World War 2, German bombs fell on London, and other parts of the country on a regular basis.
    • Bombers flew over the cities and dropped tons of bombs in lightning raids
    • the dreaded V-1 flying bombs (aka the buzz bomb or doodlebug) which dropped out of the sky when their noisy motors ran out of fuel
    • the V-2 missile was the first true long range guided ballistic missile
  • When I was growing up, attacks by the IRA (and assorted splinter groups) were a fact of. Bombs went off, people were attacked, and attempts were made to bring down Canary Wharf.

What Happened As A Result?

During the war, and the terror attacks that came later, people refused to let those responsible change their lives more than necessary. During the war, they banded together in bomb shelters, and told stories to keep each other company and pass the time.

When I was growing up, I didn’t let the possibility of an IRA attack deter me from going into the city of London. Even in my mid-teens I’d go into the city on my own to visit museums, stores or the libraries. Sure, I was aware of the possibility of an attack happening, but even then I believed that if we let terrorists dictate our choices, then they had achieved their goals. And I wasn’t going to let that happen, but I did watch out of suspicious packages and activities just in case.

And It’s Happening Again!

In all of the cases above, including the attacks that took place this year, it brought people together.

Now this is the important take-away from all of this, and does nothing to detract from the horrors that people went through. But, people came together to help each other.

  • They came together to help the police and emergency services deal with the situations.
  • Photos and video have been given up for evidence willingly.
  • Witnesses and victims alike have given statements
  • Investigations have been started, and further arrests made in connection with the events.
  • Common people have proved to be heroes

But most importantly, they have stepped up, and proved that no matter who claims responsibility for the attacks, Brits are nothing if not stubborn, resilient, and will not bow down to terrorists.

For my part, I’m proud to have been born British!