Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A remarkable man

This week the New York Times published a brief interview with Professor Stephen Hawking. Here is one of the questions and answers:
Q. Given all you’ve experienced, what words would you offer someone who has been diagnosed with a serious illness, perhaps A.L.S.?

A. My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well, and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit, as well as physically.
Good advice for anyone, disabled or not: focus on what you can do (well), not on what you can't do (well).

Professor Hawking was one of my heroes growing up (he still is) and one of the people who inspired my interest in science and technology.

I remember going round to my ex-primary school headmaster's home one afternoon to borrow his copy of A Brief History of Time. (Finding, let alone buying, the book was out of the question for me then for various reasons.) It had just come out and was making headlines around the world. As he handed it to me, he said in that wonderful Canadian accent of his: "It's a strange sort of book. Doesn't seem to answer any questions. Only seems to raise more!"

I later came to realise that that is the very essence and engine of science and technology: always asking questions.

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