Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hawking and Me

Did you know that I’m only one degree of separation from Stephen Hawking? This is indeed a fact. Back in the 70s I was in correspondence with a Sky and Telescope assistant editor, Dennis Overbye, who is now a science writer for the New York Times. I wrote him a letter about an article he had written about black holes in S&T, he liked it, and we wrote back and forth a few times.

He was on his way to interview Hawking, and asked me if I had any message for the great man. So yeah, I had a message. Something about black holes and the Hindu Goddess Kali, the black goddess, the destroyer. (It seemed feasible enough to me, being a frequent marijuana smoker at the time and all. There seemed to be some kind of archetypal correlation there.)

Well, Overbye wrote back in due course, and told me that Hawking called my idea "fashionable nonsense." Wow, Hawking actually shot two words my way, and key words at that! (Although I would argue with the "fashionable" bit.) I’m not surprised that a scientist would respond the way he did, but in my defense I need to mention the fact that there are realms of experience every bit as accurate and relevant as scientific logic, it’s just that we humans haven’t learned to navigate these realms very skillfully yet.

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