A Brief Comment on Stephen Hawking

He changed our view of the universe forever, and now he is  gone.  Stephen Hawking, 76, passed  away on Pi Day, Einstein’s birthday, early this morning.  It  not that surprising, really.  Doctors didn’t think he’d  live to see 25.
I sometimes wonder  how  much his genius, his  uniqueness, was attributable to  his  disability.  Did being deprived of a normal, physical  life, like  just  the  walking  around part, push  him  to live, and do greater  things, inside his own mind?  Perhaps that’s part of it, but a lesser intellect couldn’t have  done  it, no  matter what.

So, the Big Bang theory.  I’m not really a believer.  Well, yes and no.   I accept that the universe (this universe) began with a big  bang.  Whether all the stars and planets will continue to fly  apart from each other until you have large numbers of  barren rocks stripped of atmospheres, drifting in an impossibly large sea of  empty space, or whether all the stars  and planets will fall back into each other into one impossibly dense singularity, which  explodes in another big bang, and this process goes on forever, I don’t know.

What I believe in is  the  flag paradox.  Say  an intrepid astronaut from the 24th century makes it out to the edge of the universe.  He pokes a flag out over the edge, so now THAT’S the edge of the  universe.  He makes his way out to the new edge of the universe and extends the flag again.  And so on forever because the universe is infinite and it’s turtles all the way down.  Or, he’s sticking his flag  out into emptiness, but suppose you travel another quintillion grazillion light years or so beyond the edge, out into the emptiness, you’re  bound to strike another universe sooner or later.
Because if our universe began with a massive explosion after all its matter was condensed into one small dot, there is no reason to think that other universes weren’t as well, somewhere far away across the silence.  Nothing is forever.

Wherever the human race winds up, however, we will be able to thank Stephen Hawking for leading the way for awhile.  Farewell, brave genius.  You  did well.

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