Cosmic Quote #98: R.I.P. Stephen Hawking

“Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny.”–Stephen Hawking

Hawking–his sense of humor was his secret to survival

Boy, can I ever relate to that philosophy.  It’s what underlies this blog.  It’s what keeps me going.  It  has kept my marriage alive for 40 years–so far.   Forget all his cosmic stuff–that quote is the best part of his legacy.


Cosmic Quote #22

“I like physics, but I love cartoons.”–Stephen Hawking

Who knew Hawking had such a sense of humor.  No wonder he hasn’t won a Nobel Prize.  Remind me to introduce him to Stephan Pastis; they might like each other, as the strip below suggests.

This one reads like it was written for Hawking!

This one reads like it was written for Hawking! (click for full image)

(Previously published in my review of Pearls Before Swine. Cartoon ©2012 Stephan Pastis)






Cosmic Quote #18

“Quantum mechanics is magic.”–Daniel Greenberger.

Image credit: Matthias Giesen

Image credit: Matthias Giesen

Quantum mechanics.  Niels Bohr said if you’re not shocked by it, you don’t understand it.  Richard Feynman said nobody understands it.  Albert Einstein said god does not play dice. Stephen Hawking said god does play dice and sometimes he hides the results.  I say who the hell cares, as long as they give me fodder for my blog.  Or my wife’s horse.  Or my accountant’s newt.  It all fills  space, thus proving the vacuum is not empty.  Isn’t physics fun?  [Note: vacuum is one of the few words in the English language containing “uu.”   But it’s not as cool as muumuu, duumvir or menstruum, proving that linguistics is fun, too.]


Conjecture #2: Inevitability (Part 2)

I Conjecture:  In an infinite multiverse we must exist.

Part Two: The impossibility of non-existance

“Needleman was rarely out of public controversy. He published his famous ‘Non-Existence: What To Do If It Suddenly Strikes You’.”–Woody Allen, ‘Remembering Needleman’ (short story)

Image credit: (click image for link)

If you think imagining infinity is difficult,  try imagining nothing.  No, I don’t mean blank your mind.  I mean imagine nothingness.  NO!  I don’t mean a vacuum–empty space with no matter and energy.  I mean absolutely nothing:  no space and no time.  I’m betting you can’t do it, even if you think you can; you’re not, even if you think you are.   I merely conjectured that the concept of infinity could not exist in a finite universe, but I am firmly asserting that a conscious entity is incapable of imagining absolute nothingness.  It’s an oxymoron. By the mere fact of imagining you have to imagine something.  And while it might be pure philosophy to suggest it couldn’t be because we are incapable of imagining it, there is strong scientific argument for the “something out of nothing” impossibility of non-existence.  From Hawking on down, physicists have come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as absolute vacuum, that space is full of quantum foam, seething with instability and particles of energy and matter popping in and out of existence.  If matter plus antimatter equals nothing, than by commutation, nothing equals anti-matter plus matter.  (Yes, I know. The intelligent design crowd will reject this and tell us that it is all too perfect.  God must have done it.  Really? So God can exist out of nothing but the universe can’t?  When they can tell me where god came from and offer some form of empirical evidence, I will consider their arguments; but they can’t, so I won’t.)  Final proof: we do exist. Maybe all other arguments are moot.  And anyway I have an out, as the prerequisite for this conjecture is “in an infinite multiverse.”  Let’s rest our neurons for the next installment: The Conjecture of the Future.

(As an entertaining aside, here is a YouTube video of Neal Degrasse Tyson rambling on some cosmic questions.   It includes his conclusion that intelligent life is inevitable.)

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