If I had a column in the Delft op Zondag

(Not the real)
Delft op Zondag


16 JULY 2017

A Man of His Time

DELFT - The Dutch rightly know about those of their number who were significant in and after their time. A man such as Steven Hawking is one of our time's Great. That he is still alive at age 75 is itself remarkable, and it is due to his living as a cyborg. His body is ill; his mind is not.

I once made a go at reading his book, A Brief History of Time, but had to give it up. My brain is not very logical and my math skills do not exist. Thus, science easily baffles me. When I read an article that he rightly predicted Black Holes are not entirely black, and how they were not, I simply accepted it. All of that is in my memory in the bin with the question mark stenciled on it. This puts me squarely in the middle of people who have little science.


Hugo the Great has his statue in front of the New Church and facing, across the town square, the City Hall. He is sculptured in a Martin Luther-like pose. He is called Great because he advised on law between sovereign nations. He imagined order, its aspects and logic, then wrote it all out.

This pessimism is because he believes humans are too greedy and too aggressive so will not stop doing what keeps global temperatures going up. Mr. Hawking refers to various 'tipping points' beyond which abrupt and severe climate changes start to happen - and only become worse. He made the strong suggestion that we get ourselves into Space quickly. Cheerfully, he says we have about 100 years to do this.

The view that humans are an evolutionary branch that is about to be pruned is disturbing. If one is buying apples in the market, one is not also pondering extinction. How much are the apples and how fresh? Is it going to rain this week or do I have to water the garden? Note: buy snacks for tonight's football game; it's against Germany!

Mr. Hawking is up-to-today, neo-modern. He gives lectures, has TV interviews and uses Twitter. He was critical when he wrote, in precise words, that a certain public person was a dangerous demagogue.

He later replaced it with 'bad man' when it was reported many people did not know what the word meant. Basic English lists 850 words that it declares are all the words anyone really needs that almost everyone knows.

Demagogue is not on the list nor is Logistics. Just moving Mr. Hawking about, in fact keeping him alive, must be complex. The new technology and medicine available to him make it possible, and it is absolutely amazing.

Despite his physical limits, his mind seems to have few. His comments, opinions, are reflections of what he thinks about and what he observes. Recently, he offered the insight that Earth is likely damned and doomed.

I am in favor of science, apples and football. Mr. Hawking is convincing however. He is speaking to me, but it is not me whom he must persuade. He will have to lay it out using only the 850 words, or forget it.

G. Wiley / NLStrabo - © Copyright - All rights reserved - gwileynl@gmail.com
In memory of Herb Caen