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We were there!

Stephen Hawking Has Finally Weighed In On Zayn Malik Leaving One Direction | Vanity Fair - The Snook and I went along to the Opera House last night to see Stephen Hawking's lecture. We joked ahead of time that it was a bit silly, paying $100 for tickets to "essentially watch somebody on Skype." But they actually justified it pretty well. They had his daughter Lucy out to give a talk about their family and introduce him, and then he was actually projected as a life-size hologram there on stage. They also had a big screen above that zoomed in on him. He gave a long talk on his career and the people he'd worked with, as well as some of things he'd gotten wrong. (He mentioned his propensity to be on the wrong side of losing bets involving physics.) He showed a clip from the time he was on Star Trek: TNG, and he also talked a little about the recent movie and how weird it was to see himself portrayed by Eddie Redmayne. (He said it was the nearest thing he'll ever get to actual time travel.) The voice and the pauses between sentences took a little while to get used to, but I was impressed by how well the whole thing flowed. (Did he write out all the responses ahead of time and merely trigger them? That's my guess. I assume that's why they invited us send in questions ahead of time.)

I remember at one point thinking, damn, the odds of a person surviving as long as he has with MND are staggering. And for that person to also be one of the greatest minds of our time? How does that happen? Are they somehow related? He was already a brilliant theoretical physicist before the condition manifested, but did it somehow free him to make the discoveries that he did? Obviously a lot of the physics was way, way above my head, but at one point he showed a map of cosmic microwave background radiation captured by a satellite and explained how it related to the origin of the universe. For just a second it all clicked. It was incredibly beautiful and poetic, and I felt really humbled and amazed and overwhelmed (the way I always do with space stuff. It was dazzling. I left feeling really inspired to stop taking things for granted and to try to appreciate how really fortunate I am (and really, if you're reading this, you are too).

And yeah, the One Direction joke at the end was pretty friggin' funny. I actually missed the bit about a universe where she was married to him because we were all laughing so hard. Thanks, Professor Hawking!