Happy Birthday Stephen Hawking!
“It surprises me how disinterested we are today about things like physics, space, the universe and philosophy of our existence, our purpose, our final destination. Its a crazy world out there. Be curious.” — Prof. Hawking
Image: Noted physicist Stephen Hawking (center) enjoys zero gravity during a flight aboard a modified Boeing 727 aircraft owned by Zero Gravity Corp. (Zero G). Hawking, who suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) is being rotated in air by (right) Peter Diamandis, founder of the Zero G Corp., and (left) Byron Lichtenberg, former shuttle payload specialist and now president of Zero G. Kneeling below Hawking is Nicola O’Brien, a nurse practitioner who is Hawking’s aide. At the celebration of his 65th birthday on January 8 2007, Hawking announced his plans for a zero-gravity flight to prepare for a sub-orbital space flight in 2009 on Virgin Galactic’s space service. Credit: NASA
Stephen William Hawking, CH, CBE, FRS, FRSA (born 8 January 1942) is a British theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author. Among his significant scientific works have been a collaboration with Roger Penrose on gravitational singularities theorems in the framework of general relativity, and the theoretical prediction that black holes emit radiation, often called Hawking radiation. Hawking was the first to set forth a cosmology explained by a union of the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. He is a vocal supporter of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.
He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. Hawking was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge between 1979 and 2009.
Hawking has achieved success with works of popular science in which he discusses his own theories and cosmology in general; his A Brief History of Time stayed on the British Sunday Times best-sellers list for a record-breaking 237 weeks. Hawking has a motor neurone disease related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a condition that has progressed over the years. He is almost entirely paralysed and communicates through a speech generating device.
A new era in space exploration began early Tuesday as SpaceX successfully launched the Falcon 9 rocket at 3:44 a.m. EDT at Kennedy Space Center.
The launch — the first by a private company — was the second try this week after a glitch in one motor halted Saturday’s launch one second before liftoff.
As the rocket headed for the International Space Station with SpaceX’s hopes to begin supplying the orbiting laboratory, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden saw the launch as the first step in bringing space jobs back to the United States.
With the retirement of the Space Shuttle, Russia currently resupplies the space station.
“I want to congratulate SpaceX for its successful launch, and salute the NASA team that worked alongside them to make it happen,” Bolden said.
“Today marks the beginning of a new era in exploration; a private company has launched a spacecraft to the International Space Station that will attempt to dock there for the first time. And while there is a lot of work ahead to successfully complete this mission, we are certainly off to good start.”
Under President Obama’s leadership, he said, “the nation is embarking upon an ambitious exploration program that will take us farther into space than we have ever traveled before, while helping create good-paying jobs right here in the United States of America.
“We’re handing off to the private sector our transportation to the International Space Station so that NASA can focus on what we do best — exploring even deeper into our solar system, with missions to an asteroid and Mars on the horizon.
The decision to end the shuttle program back in 2004 was a difficult one, he said. “But with the kind of hard work, determination and ingenuity for which NASA and this nation are known, we’re now on the brink of a new future.
“A future that stands on the shoulders of Mercury and Gemini; Apollo and Shuttle. A future that embraces the innovation the private sector brings to the table, and a future that opens up the skies to endless possibilities.