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PostStephen Hawking (David Gress, Denmark, 01/14/12 4:13 am)
I have seen Stephen Hawking twice. The first time was when he gave his inaugural lecture as the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics in the University of Cambridge--the chair once held by Isaac Newton--in 1980. Even then he could not speak coherently, but had an assistant who "translated" for him. The point of the lecture, as I recall, was the anthropic principle, which says that the fundamental values of the universe, that is, of nature, are such that they allow carbon-based and hence human life to exist.
The second time was in 1994, when I was visiting fellow of Hawking's college in Cambridge, namely Gonville and Caius. He was wheeled in for a lunch, fed to him by a nurse, and evidently unable to absorb any external communication. I agree that his surviving 50 years with Lou Gehrig's disease is probably a world record. The man must have an incredible will to live, despite his debilitating handicap.