Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Brief History of a Time I encountered Stephen Hawking or a glocal culturally simplistic challenge to the scientific theory of everything

My Collission With Stephen Hawkings, Seeing Stars...

..You might say I was, as he is, motor-challenged myself; or  a co-incidence of space and time or a confluence of coincidences, or a conspiration of global forces that culminated in this headlong collision with Stephen Hawking.
As brief in history as it was in current as well as in the vast time scale of universal occurrences, it remains indelibly impressed on memory as it must be on the memory of the world because of its momentous nature.
A beautiful day in spring in the fork in the part between the river Cam...
        ****
I become aware that someone is looking at our antics. I turn. My attention is drawn to the twinkle in his eyes. His face twitches and he nods, I think. It is the twinkle that holds my attention before I notice that the face belongs to a frail man in a wheelchair. I smile embarrassingly, nod back, and turn and whisper to John that we are being watched. He looks in the direction of my nod.
‘Stephen Hawking,’ John whispers, surprising me. The usually sardonic  drawl contains a hint of awe. The frail man seems to nod again, at us eyes still twinkling, clearly enjoying our clowning.
I had been teasing John, trying to deflect his growing exasperation at my hopeless inability to balance on the bicycle from which I had already taken several tumbles. The bikes - one of the amenities of the Nuffield Foundation Press Fellowship that brought us with three other journalists to Wolfson College, Cambridge - had been presented to us with much fanfare as a means to get around the sprawling campus and its surroundings which was the size of my city, Port-of-Spain, times ten.
I continue ribbing John, which exasperates him even more. Trying to lighten his mood, I drew his attention to the swans regally commanding the River Cam. He is easily distracted.
“They are protected, you know,” he says.
“John knows everything,” I taunt him, mounting the bike again as he reaches to poke me. I try to cycle out of his reach. He follows on his bike.

That’s when I almost collide head long onto the lap of Stephen Hawking, staring directly into those twinkling eyes with its power to interpret twinkling starts in the universe. I am face to face with the man who was making science fiction real. He is on one of what I would come to recognize as his regular afternoon strolls on The Backs, in the foreground of the River Cam. 

     *****

View from the Cosmos
  
This Hole inside me, has become larger than life, so large that it is no longer inside me, but I am inside It. It is expanding to cuddle the world on which It let me lose. Into an infinitude of space, encompassing the planet, the stars, the universe, and beyond, still expanding.
I fall into the dark depths of sleep. ‘Hawking radiation’ is emanating light rays around me and I am inviting him to explore inside me.
“What you are trying to detect thousands of light years away, is right here inside me,” I taunt him ... The twinkle in his eyes warm me with confidence.
....Stephen Hawking and I are staring at this hole inside me.
“It has helped me. Maybe It can help you prove how black holes lose their primal energy and ‘disappear’. Maybe it can show you how they reveal their secrets, as It has released Its secrets to me,” I tell him, and then you can get your Nobel after all.”
A range of experiences and incidents that I thought random and unconnected floated out and connect themselves, like a fast paced slideshow, linking one episode to the other. I feel as if I am piecing together the moments of my life and simultaneously presenting it to Hawking for his expert opinion on this my theory of the human as a microcosmos, an exact replica of the vast universes that were his domain of curiosity.
“Your Nobel might be just this Hole away,” I tease. The most famous scientist in the world has not been awarded a Nobel Prize,. It was not a matter of if, but when. It was a matter of some restlessness in the scholarly world that the man dubbed the World’s Greatest Scientist had not received a Nobel because of insubstantial proof of his theory, though the Nobel Committee has defended some of its more controversial awards. A dreamer myself, and touched by how he has defied the odds for more than fifty years with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) for which at 21 he was given only five years to live. I feel some complicity. We have both been challenge to defy death and live with life-challenging conditions ...

This is an Extract from my Upcoming Biography, LIFE! HoleHeartedly
and .A Brief History of a Time I encountered  Stephen Hawkings or a glocal culturally simplistic challenge to the scientific theory of everything...