Wednesday, July 27, 2011
I have a confession to make: I love Stephen Hawking. I mean, I just love the guy! Do I think he is so great because he is an internationally acclaimed cosmologist? No. That would make him really, really cool, but that is not why I love him. Because he is a Christian like me? No. In fact, he calls the Bible a “fairy story”. I am enamored with Stephen Hawking, who is paralyzed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), because he is like Rambo in a wheelchair. He is just plain tough. Gutsy. A man’s man. But, the icing on the cake is the fact that he is Master of Paradigms. I will explain why he is a “tough guy”, and why he is MP (Master of Paradigms), but FIRST a little bit of background on Stevie, in case you have not yet heard of him. Most of America is focused on tripe like EHollywood and who is going to win the Super Bowl (while Rome is burning), so maybe you ain’t hip to Steve. For the rest, a refresher doesn’t hurt.
Dr. Hawking is a theoretical physicist by training, spent years as a distinguished professor of mathematics, and is now a cosmologist. A theoretical physicist uses mathematics and the principles of physics to understand and predict natural phenomena. A cosmologist studies the cosmos, i.e. outer space. But, Stephen Hawking is to Black Holes as Paula Deen is to butter. He likes the cosmos in general, but black holes are his thang. Paula likes cooking in general but butter is her “thang”. In fact, she is drawn to butter, like a fly to honey. Oh, correct that. She is drawn to honey too. Anyway…
Interestingly, theoretical physicists, worldwide, were asked to rate their peers. They were asked to list the 20 most talented TPs (theoretical physicists….I made that up myself) on the planet. Stephen Hawking was not on the list. Not surprising. He is very bright indeed, but some of his appeal is the fact that he is paralyzed and he is pretty darn good at PR (after all, he has been on Family Guy. He also has hosted some feature television documentaries). Among lay people (that’s me), you know, the average guy or gal who watches the science channel while sucking down some potato chips, he is numeral uno. They know Stephen Hawking. That is because he is macho and Master of Paradigms. Before I explain those points, just a couple of professional bullet points:
- His credo: “My goal is simple: A complete understanding of the universe, why it is what it is and why it exists at all”.
He, like most high-octane TPs, is searching for a universal theory. In lay terms it is, in essence, a theory about how all of creation works together. In other words, gravity, chemistry, electromagnetism, mass, velocity, etc., etc….scientists want to find a central design, a set of principles upon which links it all together and makes sense. This quest has gone on for decades, but has become even more focused with the advent of quantum physics, which reveals subatomic particles have no apparent rhyme or reason for what they do. How can you teach a schoolboy or girl principles of science, when no such principles are known to exist?
This is illustrated by the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. Fundamentally, it states that the more precisely a certain quality of a particle, the less precisely one can measure other qualities. For example, if we succeed at more precisely determining the positioning of a particle, the less we are able to measure the momentum. Why? Scientists are pretty much in a quandary about such things. But it eats at them, in part, because mankind, in its pride, MUST understand why all this happens. Many researchers, subconsciously, are searching for “god”. Even Stephen refers to god, but to him, god is an overriding unified force that binds the universe together in a systematic, comprehensible manner. We know that force is the Holy Ghost, but that is revealed by Spirit, not intellect, so people with high IQs, who rely exclusively on their brains, are quite handicapped. Anyway, this is his lifelong quest.
- Without delving into all the mumbo jumbo that led up to these results, here are some things he “determined” (all theory of course, as in science, NOTHING is ever proven. All is theory):
He deduced from Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity that universes started with a
Big Bang, and end with Black Holes.
This unified Einstein with quantum mechanics, in essence, bringing science a step closer to a Unified
Because Black Holes (allegedly) result from Big Bangs, they emit radiation and
eventually evaporate (don’t ask, I don’t completely understand this concept).
In contradiction to many TPs, he theorizes the universe has no boundaries in imaginary
time (A truly fascinating subject. I wrote a previous blog on imaginary time).
HERE IS WHY STEPHEN HAWKING IS MACHO:
We live in a time, in America, where pro football players won’t play because they are bruised. I work with guys who think they are tough, because they go to the gym and create shapely muscles. But, a guy can do all this and be a gutless, whiny, “girly girl”. There is always some guy who whines to everybody, “I just can’t do that today (Cough Cough), my throat is sore. Or grown men wrap their arms around themselves and cry, “I am SO cold”.
Here we have a man who is totally, completely paralyzed, and has been for most of his life. When he is barely able to make a sound, it is nearly inaudible. Yet, with a synthesizer, he can be heard. He dictates complex scientific papers to an assistant by using eye motions that correspond to letters of the alphabet, much as Morse code, as it is too exhausting for him to speak for extended periods. He is the man, the legend, Stephen Hawking! That takes guts. He does not complain. Here are some of his observations about his life (condensed):
“Before my condition had been diagnosed, I had been very bored with life. There had not seemed to be anything worth doing. But shortly after I came out of the hospital, I dreamt I was being executed. Another dream, that I had many times, was that I would sacrifice my life to save others. If I was going to die, I might as well do some good before I go. I didn’t die … I have had a motor neuron disease all my life, but it has not prevented me from having a very attractive family, and being successful in my work … I am lucky that my disease has progressed more slowly than is often the case. But, it shows that one need not lose hope.”
He is the very picture of tenacity:
“It is no good getting furious if you get stuck. What I do is keep thinking about the problem but work on something else. Sometimes it is years before I see the way forward. In the case of information loss and black holes, it was 29 years.”
And I should dare say,”It’s not fair”, or “it’s too hard, I can’t do it”? Nah, I won't say that stuff.
HERE IS WHY STEPHEN HAWKING IS MASTER OF PARADIGMS:
This blog is all about paradigms. Theoretical physics is all about challenging old paradigms and establishing new ones. That is what makes it so fascinating, so compelling. Even within a profession that inherently challenges paradigms, he is often a rebel, challenging the paradigm challengers, as it were (I was never sure what “as it were” means, but it seems appropriate and I always wanted to say it).
For instance, he has promulgated the theory of “wormholes”, which could theoretically be portholes for time travel. Many prominent physicists say that is just a bunch of poppycock.
He looks at our world in from a perspective none of us may ever have considered, in his case, a mathematical perspective of the highest order. He challenges us to think, to question, and not to assume. In the long run, I want him to realize the ultimate object of his quest is God, with the Big G.
In the meantime, he inspires us to do something we all should - use the gray matter God gave us and think. Don't just accept the information, opinions, and paradigms dictated by lost souls in this world. Don't just regurgitate slop you learned in school. Question. Think. And never give in and stop blubbering. Stephen Hawking can distinguish himself, and so can you.
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Summertime in Pittsburgh….the Pirates are winning. Sweet. As the fair weather fans remember how much they like the Pirates, and the old perennials, we decide to go “catch a game”. That’s me, Lydia, and her friend Kelly.
Sometime, oh I don’t know, right before the 7th inning stretch, I noticed something. Huh? I looked at the diamond, with particular emphasis on 2nd base because of an outstanding double play that had just taken place. The Cubs were just getting into position for the next batter, but there were TWO men standing at second. Not one, but two. Well whaddya know? It was the Ump. I opened my eyes real wide and said to old Chuck (me), “Hey old Chewey (me again), look at the umpires all over the field..first base….second …..third….outfield…..and of course, home plate.” We tend to notice the home plate guy, because he is always running his mouth (ha,ha). “Strike”, “ball”, “safe”, etc. However, I know the other guys are there, but I just kinda forget about them. I quit thinking they are there because (no offense umpires), but nobody CARES about them. They don’t care about them. They come to see the team, and umpires are only useful as somebody to occasionally yell at, and even then that is usually just the home plate guy.
I have talked to others, and I am not the only one who thinks this way.
Do you ever watch boxing? There are three guys in the ring at all times. How many of you guys get caught up in the fighting and forget for a time that another guy is standing right there? How’s about the basketball referees? (yins). How often do you drive the same path, never noticing a certain business? My daughter (who writes a better blog than I) once pointed out how we often do not notice the homeless. I would like to build on that: How often do we not see pain, loneliness and desperation among those around us? One last illustration, if I may: Have you ever gotten a new car, AND THEN you notice all of them on the road? It goes something like this, “Hey Marge, look. That’s OUR car. I never noticed, but there are a lot of these on the road. My wife and I will look at a bumper sticker and say to each other, “Look…Marine Corps”. If either of us has had a lot of caffeine or sugar, we may follow that statement with a “hoorah”.
Here some of my personal take-aways on this whole failure to notice the other guy standing at second base:
- How often do people see no evidence of Jesus in the world, thinking those who believe are ridiculous, or at least a bit dim? YET, these people are simply not focusing on Him. They are captivated by the world, and all the things that are going on around them. They are not looking for Jesus, as we don’t look for the umpire, so naturally, they don’t see Him. But, he is standing there the whole time, and he sees all. In fact, He is watching them.
- Conversely, when someone truly believes, he or she focuses on Christ, and does not really see the inane activity of the world. That Christian knows it is there, and that person should be cognizant of what is going on in this world, in order to be used….that is a different path, which we will not go down. But the point is, we see what we focus on.
- How often does divorce happen because someone is so focused on themselves (MY dreams, MY fulfillment, MY needs) that they fail to see the treasure before them…the spouse and/or the children with whom they have been gifted?
- How often do people focus on their problems (addictions, failures, wrongs they have suffered, self-doubts that plague them), when they never open up and SEE the people around them who just MIGHT be their friend, encourager, or helper). Instead, they focus on their hurt, in fact nurturing it as some kind of sick self-identity. Often, the answer is right there along. I am not offering flippant answers to life’s very real pain and complex issues that often seem intractable. I am only saying people fail to see what is right in front of their nose. Sometimes they CHOOSE that path. I have an unnamed relative, whom I love dearly, but who is bound and determined to see no answers out of his self-imposed dilemmas. He says, in essence”, “Nope, I do not care what you say. “I am miserable, depressed, worthless, and hopeless, and NOTHING you say or do will talk me out of it.” I have to be very frank with you…how sick. There is no complex way out for this. It is simple (but not easy): God is standing RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF YOUR NOSE. He is waiting for you to get your eyes off the losing ball game and look at HIM. He is the ultimate umpire, but we gotta see Him and listen. He DOES have the answers. They may be hard, but they ARE the answers.
7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall[a] on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;
12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.
From Psalm 139