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Post Prof. Hawking, RIP
Created by John Eipper on 03/14/18 5:11 AM

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Prof. Hawking, RIP (John Heelan, -UK, 03/14/18 5:11 am)

On the day when the UK grieves the loss of one of its most brilliant minds, we should remember Hawking's quote, "On why the universe exists:  If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason--for then we would know the mind of God."

Hawking's quote made me think of Tor Guimaraes's arguments for "God the Universe as a Sentient Being."

JE comments: Stephen Hawking passed away on Einstein's birthday (March 14th). There's a poignant closure in that.

Perhaps Prof. Hawking has finally found the answer to why the universe exists.

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  • Thoughts on Prof. Hawking, God (Tor Guimaraes, USA 03/15/18 9:02 AM)
    I am happy that John Heelan (March 14th) thought about my opinions on God the Universe as a sentient being. Thank you for thinking of me.

    While I feel great admiration and respect for Stephen Hawking personally, I cannot appreciate the SH quote that John forwarded: "If we find the answer to [why the Universe exists], it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason--for then we would know the mind of God."

    To me it is a major distraction, a waste of time on a question we are not capable of knowing; probably never.

    Our focus must be on God the Universe that we know does exist. We must study God and find its rules because such knowledge will give us increasingly greater and more valuable choices, can improve our quality of life, might save us from expected and unexpected destruction.

    Following are three insights from my book God for Atheists and Scientists:

    16. God the Universe is the most beautiful and wonderful thing that exists in reality. The rest is man-made artifacts and much are imaginary distractions, sometimes just worthless but often destructive and evil.

    15. God is everything everywhere, including your enemies. Thus, logically when you destroy something, you are destroying part of God. We must be more careful about that.

    14. Based on mythology and superstitions, religious faith can move mountains but often in the wrong direction. Only science can sooner or later move mountains in the right direction.

    JE comments: I hope we can get a larger discussion going about Stephen Hawking. To start the ball rolling, did anyone in WAISworld know him, meet him, or at least see him speak?

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    • My Encounters with Stephen Hawking, Cambridge (Istvan Simon, USA 03/15/18 2:53 PM)
      John E asked if anyone in WAISdom saw or met Stephen Hawking.

      The answer is yes. I saw him frequently at a distance of less than 15 feet in 1983 in Cambridge. I never spoke to him, but I saw him often, almost daily, in his wheelchair, usually surrounded by graduate students. He did not yet have a voice synthesizer at that time, and still his students tried to understand what he articulated with his own feeble voice. It was horrible to see him slumped in his motorized wheelchair. I also saw him often driving that motorized wheelchair home by himself.

      I understand that he divorced his first wife, Jane Hawking, in 1995, after 30 years of marriage to marry a younger woman, Elaine Mason. Everyone has only one life to live, so who am I to make judgements. Moreover, I do not know all the details of their relationship. Nevertheless I always thought that this was possibly a blemish on his character, because Jane deserves a medal for staying with him through thick and thin, and taking care of him for so many years.

      Jane Hawking not only took care of him for 30 years, but also had children that he fathered. For me, though I never met her personally, she is like Leonora of Beethoven's Fidelio, a larger-than-life heroine. May she always be honored for the marvelous example and act of love that she gave to all of us.

      I would like to also share what I heard on NPR which interviewed one of his students, a woman astrophysicist. She was asked what Hawking thought of his horrible affliction and the fact that he was able to live with it for 55 years after diagnosis, surely almost a miracle. She said that she suggested to him that Beethoven's Op. 131 late quartet may best describe his struggles. She said that he smiled, and said to her, "No, the quartet that symbolized my struggles best is not Op. 131 but Op. 132." I have played Beethoven's Op. 132 in A minor many many times myself, both the first violin and the second violin part.

      I love this quartet as a whole, but particularly the most I love in it is the coda to the first movement, (9:08 - 9:28 in the recording below), which starts in pianissimo and ends in anguished fortissimo cries of deep despair in the first violin and second violin parts under the heavy weight of terrible blows of fate.

      The third movement of this quartet, (17:27 - 32:22), was written in gratitude after Beethoven recovered from an illness. One cannot say that Stephen Hawking ever recovered from his illness, but still he was given a kind of reprieve.

      Stephen Hawking was born on January 8, 1942, exactly 300 years after the day Galileo died on January 8, 1642, and died on March 14, 2018, exactly 139 years after the day Albert Einstein was born on March 14, 1879. May he rest in peace.

      I enclose a recording of Beethoven's Op. 132 in honor of these three extraordinary scientists by the Alban Berg quartet:


      JE comments:  Thank you, Istvan, for this most appropriate tribute.  Hawking must have been as much a ubiquitous presence at Cambridge as Einstein was at Princeton.

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