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    Re: Stephen Hawking
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2018 Mar 20, 11:08 -0700

    Francis Upchurch, you wrote:
    "but as a doctor, I think the great unexplained mystery here, greater even than black holes etc., is how he managed to survive for so long with motor neurone disease which usually has a maximum life expectancy of 5 years"

    It's venturing further off-topic, but maybe you could comment on the two theories (not mine!) that I have seen on this issue:
    1) He was mis-diagnosed, slightly. There are a variety of neurological diseases that could show similar symptoms and can't be distinguished until after death.
    2) This specific neurological disorder has a reduced impact when it strikes at an earlier age (it hit Hawking in his early twenties).

    Earlier, Geoffrey Kolbe, you wrote:
    "though I remember Dr. Stan Raimes, our undergraduate maths lecturer at Imperial College (London) where I did my degrees, being rather sniffy about Einstein's work, saying that Einstein was only famous because of the publicising efforts of his wife! Einstein was certainly a 'pop star' of his day too."

    Yes, Einstein also became quite a "pop star" especially later in life. And I don't fault either of them for it. They excited the public in a way that few others could. On a much smaller scale, there are people like Brian Cox (famous in Britain) and Neil deGrasse Tyson (limited fame in the USA), who are relatively inconsequential as physicists in terms of their own research but seen by the some of their public audience as "great physicists". It's not a problem as long as the confusion isn't abused, and these people are communicators. They bring science to the wider world. It's a long and fine tradition going back to Michael Faraday's Christmas lectures.

    But I'll say this to your old instructor Stan: Einstein completely revolutionized physics at least twice. He's in the same category as Isaac Newton. Hawking, as I mentioned, was in the top 500. Even in the much narrower category of British physicists with interests in black holes and cosmology, I would count Roger Penrose as more creative and probably more significant in the long-term than Hawking. Oh, and if Einstein's wife was an unsung contributor to Einstein's fame (or as some others have suggested, even to his fundamental science), then let's give her credit. But that won't change the colossal, wide-ranging revolutions launched by Einstein Incorporated.

    Frank Reed
    PS: Sorry for the non-navigational post. We will wind this down quickly.

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