Life Lessons People

Stephen Hawking and a Cold Night, By Pascal Nwaizu

I stood on the curb of the Ibadan roadside. The night was cold, it had drizzled earlier leaving the air chill and light. I pulled my clothes tighter and drew my schoolbag closer to my back; I did not want to lose body heat. The cold did not really bother me for I was engrossed in this conversation with my nerdy friend on Stephen Hawking.

We were discussing Black holes, Particle Physics, Mathematics and Stephen Hawking. How he was bold enough to postulate theories and laws about them. How mind like his and Einstein’s and Nash’s were able to be curious about the universe and to discover waters uncharted in the vast infinity that is space and time. We considered many questions, amongst which were these:

• Stephen Hawking was a wonder. If he pondered the mathematics of the universe, how did he do it? His hands almost paralysed, one can only imagine he did these immense calculations in his mind. It is not lost on me how amazing that feat was. While his body was feeble and seemingly weak, perhaps his mind travelled to the 1 billionth decimal number of Pi. How does one develop his mind to reach its peak? It’s easy according to the great Italian St Francis of Assisi, “start by doing what is necessary, then do what is possible and suddenly you are doing the impossible”.

The Impossible can be done

• Hawking explained the most fascinating things in our universe. His mind saw far into the future. Piercing the skies from a Cambridge cottage home. Did he consider the supernatural? It would seem that he did because he definitely concluded there was no supernatural intelligence controlling the heavens and moving things according to a predetermine formulae, some of which Hawking’s had himself uncovered. Does his life prove conclusively that there is no God? Why could his mind so apt at processing cosmological existences not see that Intelligence must have ordered all things?

• Another thing which of itself remains a lesson from Hawking’s life is that life can be beautiful and ugly; small and large; perfect and imperfect. Many of the things which we ardently desire were lacking in this bright mind. He did no workout to get muscular abs or drive a nice car; he couldn’t do any of these things. Yet he did more. I am still amused at his zero gravity experience and the numerous conferences which he gave. A full life doesn’t usually mean the media’s definition of it.

• Finally, we considered whether abortion was morally justified if one discovered that a child was genetically defective. Our discussion drifted to the sanctity of human life and how care needs to be taken in questions regarding it. A friend has aptly commented on this in his blog.

Stephen Hawking helped make the universe smaller and best of all more understandable. He spiked my interest in science and taught me many things; I am grateful for a man like him.

Meanwhile the night got colder, the day got darker, the streets got emptier and the lights everywhere got dimmer — it was time to end the conversation and go home.


This was first published on Medium

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